November 11, 2008

From the Front: 11/11/2008

News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

In their own words:
Annex B: Veteran's Day - I used to think of Veterans as a group of old men who were once in the Army. Now that I am one, and I serve with so many young Americans abroad I have a different view. Veterans, young and old, men and women, have put on the uniform of our country and voluntarily served all over the world in conditions that cannot adequately be described....and we come back multiple times to do it again. Veteran's day comes and goes.Take a minute to think what others have done to make this a free and strong country. For the Veterans that I have the honor to serve with, I am sharing with you their faces and names. They are all truly great Americans. (READ MORE)

Dena Yllescas: Rob receives his Purple Heart - Yesterday, Rob's surgery went really well. They were able to finally close his abdomen. They also put the feeding tube in his belly and washed out his wounds. Today before Rob received his Purple Heart, the neuro dr came in and did an exam on Rob. He is again sedated so not responding. Although he was sedated, the dr felt Rob is moving in the right direction. It just remains a waiting game. I asked him about his MRI results. He said that he did see some brain damage in the middle part of his brain which may affect his speech. Again, in time, we will tell. When I asked him about the superficial vs deep bruises, he said he didn't really understand what the other dr meant when he was telling us that. Again, the other dr doesn't read MRI's so he's not familiar with the tests. He said superficial wounds on the brain affect thinking but he didn't really see this. Overall he was pretty optimistic from what I felt. Of course I am concerned about the speech issue, but hopefully, this will not be the case. (READ MORE)

Fobbits need ice cream too: Has he lost his mind? Can he see or is he blind? - So we're on the FOB up north, cruising over to billets to draw a tent, grab our rucks and rack out for the night. It rains heavy up north now, almost everyday. The FOB we usually take trucks to is a dusty, man-made KBR dump. When it rains it turns into a mud pit, and the entrance into the parking lot for gun trucks has mostly washed away. There are 4 foot deep trenches flanking either side of the entrance, and now the turn in is so narrow that a humvee can't fit through without taking one trench or the other. I did not see that it was deep on both sides; just my side on the left side of the truck because the driver in an 1151 cannot see the right side of the truck because of the radio brackets. I hit it on the right side, and Shitty TC flips the fuck out. (READ MORE)

Jake's Life: River Time - About the only luxury that we had where we were based was a manmade canal that came off of the Helmand River and ran right through the center of our camp. The river came down from the mountains, so even when it was 125 degrees outside, you could always count on the river to cool you off. When we first started operating, we would spend every single hour of the day that wasn't on missions down at the river. It had a pretty swift current, so guys would jump/dive/flip off of the bridge going over it and then let the current carry them down about 100 yards to a second bridge that we would grab and use to pull ourselves up and out. Everything centered around the river. Bottles of water so hot you can't drink them? Take them to the river and float em for a while. Need to do laundry? Go to the river. Smell like patrol? Go bathe in the river. Need to work on that tan? River. Used to swim in high school? Jump in and try to swim against the current. Everything centered around it. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Taliban hijack NATO convoy in Pakistan - A convoy carrying supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan was hijacked by the Taliban in Pakistan's lawless tribal belt. Thirteen containers of NATO supplies and at least one US Army Humvee were taken by the Taliban as the convoy traveled through the Khyber tribal agency en route to Afghanistan. Pakistani security forces have since retreived much of the supplies, Daily Times reported. A large force of fighters loyal to Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud was reported to have been behind the attack. "About 60 masked gunmen popped up on the road and took away the trucks with their drivers. Not a single shot was fired anywhere," a Pakistani government official told Reuters. "Baitullah's men are behind this as they're very well-equipped and trained," he said. (READ MORE)

Major (P) John: Home - I'm Home. More to follow later - I'm just enjoying it right now... (READ MORE)

Photography, Software, and Sand: Made it to Irbil - I took a convoy from Mosul to Irbil last night and got in late. I stayed up even later to watch the Giants take a win over the Eagles and I'm seriously regretting it -- I'm pretty exhausted today. The house I'm in is very nice... its in a quiet part of Irbil, which is in Kurdish territory. The Kurds do a good job of policing and have kept all the infighting outside of their territory. Its safe enough, in fact, that we dont need body armor to walk around the city. (READ MORE)

Two Brothers, Two Countries, One Army: Thank you - Last week alone we had over a 100 hits to the blog. THANK YOU!! It means a lot. Seeing the geographics of where the hits come from is pretty cool. We had a LOT of hits in Texas, (April??) and a lot in California as well. I'm sorry but I don't know anyone in California so I can't give props to you.... We also had a lot of hits from the New England area of the U.S. I'm not sure if it's from friends or family but TN took the number one place again this week. Seeing that we're from TN, I kinda guess that's why. I've got the country music going again so who knows how long I'll ramble tonight. In case you didn't know, I said night...but if you look at the time the post was written it will say around 1:45pm. We are 8 hours ahead of the east coast...that makes us what...12 hours ahead of the west coast. You all had daylight savings time kick in...well our time didn't change. It actually made it kinda better...I think anyway. (READ MORE)

Back but still writing:
Anry of Dude: The Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day... - In my classroom, I sit toward the front, flanked by students on opposite sides of the room. Their thumbs move in a mindless text message symphony, waiting for class to start. Their hair and clothes are impeccable. As the instructor walks in and greets us, the two students don't look up to say hello. They instead respond with a deafening click-click-click-click. I almost feel like apologizing for them. Are these the people I chose to surround myself with? Every day that goes by is a day apart from the men of second platoon. I have replaced my battlefield peers with classrooms full of students that don't know the stories or even the names of each other. I haven't tried to make friends. Why bother? My friends are not in Austin. They're in Chicago, Brooklyn, Green Bay, San Diego. They're everywhere except here, carving out their own destinies. Our shared past becomes more of a distant memory as time goes on. In a month, we will have spent the same amount of time home as we did in combat. (READ MORE)

Bill and Bob's Excellent Adventure: Information Operations: Pop Culture Pops Soldiers In The Eye - Ariana Huffington asked Scott Kesterson to gather the impressions of soldiers for The Huffington Post. He did it. Personally, I wish that he hadn't. If he had politely declined, I would have been spared discovering how what appears to be more than half of my country feels about soldiers and our political thought. This blog has maintained a largely apolitical stance. I do not address those issues, preferring to simply address the issues that I have something unique to add to. Political campaigns have even sought my approval, but I have maintained my stance as best I can. I encourage everyone to vote. If you did not vote when you could have, shame on you. If you give up on the process, you deserve what you get. (READ MORE)

RN Clara Hart: VETERANS DAY - With all the talk of the elections, the economy, the housing crisis and the financial bailouts, for too many Americans the wars have slipped into nonexistence. I was sickened listening to the radio one morning this past week; reporters speaking with people waiting in line at various polling places found the most prevalent thought in the minds of Americans was the economy. What about our troops? Has America forgotten our sons and daughters who fight on foreign soil? Or their families who struggle silently alone? For several weeks I have drifted south in a mire of sadness, depression and fatigue. War is what took me there, these wars most people seem to have forgotten. I walk into work and the war is clearly evident. It is heartbreakingly apparent -- from the patients lying in the beds, to the families sitting in the waiting rooms, to the returning nurses, medics and physicians whose battle has now become PTSD. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:
One AQI terrorist killed, 18 captured by Coalition forces - BAGHDAD – Coalition forces targeting al-Qaeda in Iraq networks throughout the country killed one terrorist, captured five wanted terrorists and detained 13 additional suspects Monday and Tuesday. Coalition forces operating in Baghdad on Monday targeted a long-time AQI operative in the city’s Karkh neighborhood. When ground forces moved toward the terrorist to detain him, he brandished a pistol. (READ MORE)

4 Iraqi citizens killed, 35 wounded in car bomb attack - BAGHDAD – Terrorists detonated a car bomb in the south Adhamiyah district of Baghdad at approximately 8 a.m. Nov. 10 that killed four Iraqi civilians and wounded 35 others, including an Iraqi Army soldier. Iraqi first responders immediately reacted to the attack with firefighters, ambulances, Iraqi Police and Iraqi Army soldiers in order to assist the wounded and secure the scene. Emergency personnel evacuated the wounded to medical facilities for treatment. (READ MORE)

Sab Al Bour Residents Emerge from Darkness, See Light at End of Tunnel - CAMP TAJI — Only a year ago, reliable electricity in Sab al Bour was just a dream. The city, just north of Baghdad along the Grand Canal, was practically deserted, with only diehard residents and pockets of insurgents sticking around in the dark. As of Nov. 8, residents in this small agricultural city are literally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, according to sheik Nadeem Hatem al Tamimi, an influential leader in the area. Outside the city’s new electrical substation, the sheik spoke literally and metaphorically about the town’s emergence from darkness. (READ MORE)

Sons of Iraq Complete First Phase of Iraqi Police Training - BAGHDAD — More than 1,000 former Sons of Iraq (SoI) recently completed their first phase of training at the al Furat Iraqi Police (IP) Training Center here. To kick off the program, 608 SoI registered for the training Oct. 31. Now with the first phase of training completed, 1,031 SoI are integrated into the IP training program. The second phase of training began Nov. 3, with the inclusion of 19 female recruits preparing themselves to be future Shurta (Police). (READ MORE)

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