Appalachian Patria

Appalachian Intellectual. To me that means plain thinking. I am A Non Commissioned Officer in the Army Reserves. Let me say...My views expressed here are mine and not those of The U.S. Army, Army Reserve or my fellow brethren in The National Guard. This is entirely Sua Sponte. This is My Thinking. I'm single and in my mid 30's. Politicaly, I'm a Libertarian. (Again, Sua Sponte.I do not represent the Libertarian Party.)I love my native Appalachia, Rock n Roll and...I love God.

Location: Brevard, North Caroilina

I started blogging for two reasons. I was concerned about the changes to the area I live in, Southern Appalachia and I was about to go to the war. I was in Iraq in 06 and 07 and now Kuwait in 11 and 12. Blogging was a means of documenting my experiences and hoping it would help gain clarity. I don't feel that way about it any more. It's said people write blogs because they are frustrated, that's why people read them too. That makes us sound apocalyptic. Are we? Let it be said, what I say here is of my own thinking. This is entirely Sua Sponte and not an official representation of the U.S. Military or the U.S. Government as a whole.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Another Post

The Bug Spray Fairy came to see me. When I got in the other day there were two cans of bug spray at my door conviently left for me to fight the Sand Fleas that infest my room. Now if he could just leave me one of these


Well, Ramadan rumbles on. One of our Interpreters…he’s such a geek…was cutting up about not being able to eat. He also informed me that he was not able to drink water or fight. Bare in mind he’s a geek, although a likable geek, you would just not imagine this guy fighting. I told him to tell that to the guy’s that had dropped mortars on us earlier that day. “Those are not Muslims…They come from Iran, Syria and Jordan. They just want to fight.”

I can’t blame any Iraqi’s for not wanting us here. If they invaded me, even to get rid of a tyrant, and face it we have a few, I’d defend my “National Pride”. But, mostly innocent people are killed here. They kill people for trying to better themselves. That’s what pisses me off the most about them. Anyone able to get out of Baghdad is doing so. The only ones immigrating to Iraq, other than Westerners to do work on the bases, are the Mujahadeen. At least they see themselves as Mujahadeen. Shooting 8 year old boy’s at Gas Stations is not a Holy ethic. Not that I place all blame on the Muj’. Every time I hear of us dropping a 500lbs bomb to kill a couple of guy’s I cringe.

A couple of things you don’t know from watching the news. And, it ain’t like this is classified information, it’s all on the web. The average age of Insurgent or Terrorist (take your pick) is 27 years old and less than 5% of them have previous experience in Jihad. Of course some want to restore the Caliphate and other’s the Ba’ath Party. Those statistics are for those wanting the Caliphate, they provided them.

Christian Iraqi’s do exsist, and they are most likely leaving if possible. I’ve met one or two Christian Iraqi’s. The neighborhood across the river from the IZ is one of the biggest Christian communities in Iraq. For a very long time Christians were able to live here.

Now, those of us fortunate enough to be from North America, know Crows and Ravens to be all black. In Iraq they are black and white. I saw them while I was in the IZ, and recently here on Taji. They have black heads (and something just flew in front of my face) with black tail ends, white in the middle…Lika an Orio. They act like Crows, but, I don’t know if they are as intelligent. There are great numbers of Pigeons.

Insects are aggressive here. Fly’s buzz your face no matter how much you swat them. You feel like the beast on National Georaphic with the birds sitting on them.

Mail doesn't come every day. Sometimes every other day. One of the guy's will not be in, it's his day off or he's on nights, so, we'll call them and tell them they have mail. So, you tell them they got a letter that reeks of perfume from a guy named Steve. One of the guy's is going on his four day pass to Qatar. I told him his wife mailed his bikini to him today. We cut up in little way's. Everyone laughs, they ussually play along with the joke.

No Joking...It's time for bed

The Appalachianist

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

It All Started With The Cusp Of The Moon...

I’ve rotated back to days. Nights were good, other than sleeping odd hours. There’s only one thing going on at night, Security. At night you can focus on a task…at least a couple of small tasks.

Ramadan started yesterday (23Sep). Good Muslims are not supposed to eat during day light hours for the next month. I’ve seen several eating during the day though. You crave, so you pursue. It’s like Christians not having sex out of Wedlock. I don’t knock them, it would be hypocritical. It started with the waxing of the moon. Sometimes it’s in October, sometimes, November. Allot like Easter varying for us Christians. Or, people that take advantage of the holiday. Undoubtedly, it’s an excuse for someone to fight.

We’ve lost several from Taji over the last week. I’m honoring the blackout with this post and not putting it up until it’s over. I’m not complaining, someone back home in the States had a bad day. If those words even describe it. I didn’t know any of them. One of the guy’s from my Detachment knew one. He lived in the same Pod as him. Pod is a hip name for a trailer park. About the most common thing people say when something like that happens is, “that sucks”. I can’t speak but so much, it’s not affected me too greatly, but, there’s not allot of lamenting. It just sucks.

Someone e-mailed me mentioning bringing something back made in Iraq. I laugh at that. There is not a great deal of craftsmanship here. Sure, they make some necessary things. Otherwise, they don’t make anything here but violence. The two great skills are thievery and hospitality.

I had read where when the Brits had invaded Afghanistan during the 1840’s (to impose Regime change) an Officer offered to stop and let his Afghan companion to pray. The companion declined, stating that he had once stopped to pray while on the trail and someone stole his horse. He didn’t pray anymore.

One of my most colorful Iraqi counterparts had Ali Babba give him a fake $100 US while he was home on leave. Then while he was gone Ali Babba stole his boots. I pointed to his tinny shoes. “Ali Babba” he replied. That said it all. Poor fellar, when he goes home Ali Babba will have stolen the door off of his house. He is getting Married to Wife #2 soon. It’s funny, he gets on the phone with the Wife. Every other word is Inshalla. Then he calls the Girl Friend and every other word is Inshalla too. If God wills it Ali Babba will leave him alone.

Two of our Jundis taught Ali Babba a lesson a while back. He doesn’t always win.
But, I won’t talk about that here.

The Appalachianist

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Love and Hate

The mornings have been cooler. 70F feels chilly. That’s relatively the highs back home. Maybe I’ve gotten too use to100F.

I’ve been pulling duty through the night. Monitoring the Iraqi Security Force, checking our parameter and observing things in general. The Jundis are doing as their told; several of the Warrant Officers over them have been mentoring them as we check them. I go around with an interpreter, and an IA Warrant Officer (which performs much like an American NCO). I make suggestions, ask if all is alright and spot check equipment.

Iraqi’s have a tolerance for obnoxious noises. I get frustrated every night when their Motorola’s are blaring and they are talking excessively on posts and over the radio. Then they stand in the open and turn on a light to log the visit. “Stand inside the tower”, I tell them. Their oblivious to harm. One of the interpreters spent eight years fighting the Iranians and lectures them more than me. Tonight I will take one by the hand and lead them into cover so they can shine that damn light! I tease them about the talking.

A lot of the time the Iraqis get their channels confused and you hear them calling for one another on your channel. “Naqeeb who ever Nejib”…Captain who ever answer. Not all Motorolas have channels numbered, like mine. They figure it out and move on. They steal each others channels too. It’s a trip.

Yet, they do speak in codes, their own codes. They reacted to one situation the other night with great vigor. I told myself I would stay away from love/hate relationships…Well, I’m in one now and I'm only getting kissing noises on the cheeks from skuzzy guy’s.

Alli Babba
Only in Iraq will you hire some one to put up a fence and he steals your neighbors fence to do it. You see, there are lots of little camps on the Iraqi side of Taji. A contractor took wire from one camp to do a project for us. One of the MP Advisors caught him red handed. What will Alli Babba do next? Trust me, he's already up to something.

Stay tuned and find out…
The Appalachianist

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

This is me just before going out to check on things the other night. More of life later...
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Friday, September 08, 2006

It ain't like you think

PBS Frontline came to see us yesterday. Of all day's they came on a Friday, the Muslim Sabath. It just happened to be one where we were low on fuel for the generators. It's Iraqi fuel, which is often being stolen from, being used up in to many generators, etc. That wasn't an issue. They wanted a story, something with juice. They were'nt getting it. They showed up late, made a quick run out in the yard, shot some clips and talked to the Iraqi Col. They were clearly unhappy. They seen a tiny portion of what takes place. I suggested to the camera man to come at a better time. Several of us got the impression that they were'nt seeing things as they expected it.

This is a problem. So many people come over here, Reporters, Beaucrats, Congressman, they all rush through quickly talking strictly to commanders and when it's safe. This is not alway's an orchrastration from the Military as much as it's their nature. They will tell you they know what goes on here. When, in truth they got the grand tour in snapshot portions. People higher up on the food chain than me have pointed it out.

It's been said that truth is the first casualty of war. Part of that is because the truth is so hard to orient on. People see things differantly from differant angles. Some people just can't put the peices together. Admittanly, most people lie.

Frontline seen so little of what happened, staying on their schedule. They will come up with a very well put togethor presentation, they alway's do. I'm sorry to say it will be an incomplete presentation. People want to know what it's like here, and, we can't explain it. At least not in a short and easily comprehindable way.

A word on Frontline. I told the lady today that through them I learned of someone I knew along time ago being killed here. She asked me who and I told her. She knew who I was talking of...Wes Batalona, I may not spell it correctly. I was a new Private in 3rd Ranger Bn, and he was an SFC just getting back into the Regiment then. She knew who he was calling him by full name. He was working for Blackwater and was killed in Falluja, prompting the Battle there. Him and two other guy's.

Last week or was it the week before, they run togethor sometimes, I was at the Iraqi Gate talking to the American Advisor there. There's alway's alot of people there that time of day and alot was going on around us. Sudennly a Uaz Jeep came flying by. Someone had been shot outside of the gate in a drive by shooting. The Adisor took off after it. I later learned that it was an 8 year old kid that had been shot. He never cried or complained. The Medics stabalized him and they flew him off to a CASH. Nothing else has been heard of him. Lord willing he's OK.

As well I was at the American Gate waiting for a 'terp, that never showed up. I waited for him for quite some time. An Iraqi man came wanting to speek to the claims office. One side of his head was flat, leaning towards his temple while a crease, almost as is his hair had been parted was in the back. He had papers and Xray's, spoke calmly and qiuetly through an Interprator to an NCO that had to tell him to come later. He had somehow been shot in the head. The Interprator said as he walked away that he was now nothing, unable to work, now sexualy impotant making him unable to marry, a small man in their society. A PFC made crude jokes about him. If he had been causing trouble and hurting innocent people, then it serves him rightly. If he caught the stray round, then it's a shame.

Allot goes on here that you don't hear about. Everyone is quick to point that out. Most people have their minds made up either way about things here. Both sides in justifiabe ways, but, few people understand the day to day here.

Last night I went to a cook out. An officer I deal with often was promoted. He's a good one, especially for a Leutinant. It was catered by an Iraqi. There was kabob, allway's a pickle salad, pita bread, meat cooked in the same way as that for giro's. It was delicous. I was stuffed. The Iraqi chow hall wasn't bad tonight. I had shyed from there latley because the quality of food has suffered. I walked in just to say hello to an Iraqi counterpart and it was insisted that I eat. As alway's. The will give you the shirt off of their back and steal your gas.

Shot Out...
The Appalachianist

Monday, September 04, 2006


Back home the Katydids are sounding. They go all night long, from dusk to dawn. On a hot night in August they can be so loud. Katydidit. Katydidit. Katydidit. It's a loveley rackett. As the nights get cooler they slack off to a simple "katy". Getting fewer by the night. Folks who've never been to the Appalachian Chain don't know the sound. If you are ever there in the late summer, listen and keep it in your heart.
I'm not in Appalachia though. I'm in Iraq on the Mesopatamian Plain. You don't hear singing insects here at night. The nights are still with the occasional sound of distant explosions. Some a little closer than the others. You hear it and then you learn what happened the next day. Sometimes. One morning a loud explosion woke everyone early. It woke people clear across Taji. Nobody's figured out where the thing hit. Luck, I don't know. It's been a while back.

The last few mornings have been cooler. My Interprators tell me that the rain is coming soon. They say it with a releiving smile. But, the rain brings mud. The ground here is clay, a grey powdery clay. Wind picks it up and carries it threw the air. Water sits on it though. Every "public" building has a mud scraper near the door. Everywhere you look you can see where trucks have made ruts in the muddy earth. Trucks spray the road with water to keep the dust down, for 15 minutes the mud slings onto vehicles and stays there. It's like glue.

Concrete is inferior here. It's not mixed with sand, but the dry clay dust. There are warehouses all over Taji that we bombed during the first war. Some may have been poorly built, but their falling down. I've seen where corigated card board was stuffed into supporting concrete beams as a filler of sorts. Where all of this is so poor to western standards, to the Arabs, it's not as much of a problem. I suspect it's partly due to their vision of time. If it's good today, then it's good enough. There is only today. Tommorow may never come. Inshalla...If God wills it. The Desert is an unforgiving place and I can see it evolve from there.
Meanwhile in the west we build houses to outlast us by many years. Like a monument to ourselves. As if we never see our society failing. We plan forward and sometimes that morphs into our perceived imortality. Being here and turning things over in my mind reinforces the notion of making the best of the day you have...while not losing sight of tommorow.
Time is a tool and time is a weapon. It's always in short supply and high in demand. Time is a space to be occupied, used, cherished, honored and gaurded. Time goes on forever and we can't get enough of it.

En Avant, En Avant...Viva le Appalachia
The Appalachianist

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Random Stuff

AFN Radio, which has a Planet Station feed from the States, played Helmet’s “Unsung”… “Dieing to young is far to boring these day’s”. Not bad for preprogrammed radio. Helmet is just plain cool. I always perceived the song to be about attention seeking assholes. Maybe that’s the reason I do this. It was never intended to be. But Blogland is full of people fishing for compliments. “Your will to speak clearly has gone too far”.

The last couple of days have been one chaotic event after the other. Friction…Clauzwits Friction. If you can’t laugh or be easy going then you’re going to burn out or become so pessimistic you’re useless.

I was talking to a Convoy Commander the other morning, a civilian; he pulls a Buckeye out of his pocket and rubs it. He has about rubbed through it. I made the comment I had one at home, but carried three crosses and a four leaf clover that had been giving to me. He pulls the same cross out f his pocket that was giving to me the other day. It was given to him by the same guy. They knew each other at anothe FOB. He was worried his Bird Dog back home had turned into a pet.

One contractor had an RPG shoot through the rear door windows of their armored F350. It went straight through, not going off. Don’t tell me God wasn’t looking after them. I’m pretty impressed with the Armored F350’s. I saw one that had been hit by a 155 shell wrapped in ball bearings. Fortunately from afar. It had several holes in it but none made it through. One had bounced off of the Gunners Box in the rear. Nobody got hurt.

It was a while back but some Marines had a mortar round come threw their HMMV and lodge in it.

I’ve also seen an unarmored IP truck where they were clearly shooting for the heads. One round had gone threw the hind part of the door of the passenger side and through the head rest. The round missed him, and may have hit someone in the back.

Bosco, which if you don’t know is my Dog, apparently got her self swatted by a bear. I’m told she has a place on her, but she’s fine. Man, she hates them things.

That picture is a Dust Storm. It coats everything when it does that. Iraq is the dustiest place on Earth.

The Appalachianist

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