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.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Poetry Wrapped In Strategy

Poetry sucks. People blather out a whole lot of sentimental nothing for the sake of nothing...All poetry sucks unless it has a useful quote. Like "the the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry..." So, your not getting any of that silly useless tear jerking drama stuff from me. Go some where useless for that. It's your right.

Some times I need a laugh, so, I read my horoscope on Free Will Astrology. He's a witty hippie.
Yet he has further inspired me...(Better read it before Wednesday and he runs a new one) My Horoscope. This has emboldened me to carry on my revolution of change for the way I think things ought to be.

Yep, this here is my bully pulpit.

Let's start with New Years. Someone is going to get drunk and make an ass out of themselves. Why? Because everybody knows the world is full of stupid people. Someones going to smile and kiss someone when it's their New Years resolution to ditch that person. Cops are going to frame people for DUI, pound their chest that they are protecting the public, then go home and beat their wife. Why? Because everybody knows the world is full of stupid people. Someone is going to overdose from celebrating with drugs.

I'm not trying to tell you your business, but if you see a stupid person...Run. Stupid people sow stupidity, so they reap stupidity. The trouble is, your the garden. Get way from stupid people.

Now, I ain’t gonna crawl upon no high horse cause I got thrown off of one when I was young and I ain’t no cowboy so I ain’t going where I don’t belong. I'm just saying it like it is. Honesty is my only excuse.

God bless you'll, I love yuns. But don't get stupid on me.

That ain't my title. A really cool lady friend said that about me once. She's poetry wrapped in a nice figure if you ask me. But, I got a real kick out of that.

Sua Sponte...And don't tread on me
The Appalachianist

Sunday, December 24, 2006

I can't think of a title

Merry Christmas...
bahumbug too. For some reason the Bold icon was unforgiving.
Everyone probably has this silly romantic picture you see on the news of GI's trying to enjoy Christmas...I'm pulling odd hours and other than a word to God treating it as any other day...except chow. It ought to be good...Speaking of good, I'm listening to the New York Dolls...New New York Dolls. Dance Like A Monkey!

A pleasant thing is the amount of Muslims that have said Merry Christmas to me. A couple of interpreters, a Jundi or two. One of my terps was telling me that the church in Baghdad was empty...Ramadan is supposed to be a time of peace, but it was a bloody month for everyone...why not there was a US election coming. That's even a great reason to kill each other.

It's natural to want to trust someone, but, in Iraq, you don't trust anyone. You don't completely trust your buddy because he's human, and while he will keep his mouth shut, or not steal your stuff, he's human and makes mistakes. But, by the nature of things you trust him with your life. As you work together a trust is earned. You don't trust the Iraqis period. It's nothing personal, they're desperate people. Despite their politeness, they are out for themselves. I know men who keep it secret from their own Brothers that they are in the Army. Or the terp that only his wife knew. No one trusted anyone here to begin with. Everyone is in tight cliques of family and tribe...Political ties.

The Shia are morbid people. (I mean no offense to my Shia friends) They often have a portrait of Hussein where ever they can put one. I've seen him on wall lockers, cell phones and stickers in in vehicles...Muqtadr Al Sadr is common too. For the most part Hussein's a handsome strong looking a man with a mission. But then sometimes you see him in that leadership pose with a slash across his forehead. He's staring as if the cut is nothing with blood running down his face. His life/death is commemorated every year in a display of blood.

Iraqis aren't dumb. Yet, there is a vast amount of ignorance among them. Saddam cut the schools out so he could fight Iran, no one works, physical activity is discouraged...unless it's foot ball (Soccer to us Americans).They also have a naive perception of the West through Media, both theirs and ours. They believe the US is a great big stock pile of everything...But, so do way too many Americans. They don't have scenes of the desert, they have scenes of lush, green places. They love a garden.

Music Videos are popular. I like the videos of the Arab World...some of the best come from Lebanon, which speaks Arabic, but is not Arab people. They often have innocent stories to them and the women I found charming and beautiful... yeah, ladies, you know what I like. Some are really funny. They are mostly in the quasi Eastern/Western world.

Iraqis have a knack for obnoxious music...I'm not meaning Hip Hop Gangsta Rap, or as some would point out my Metal and Punk. They tolerate obnoxious noises, it's like the explosion behind them, they keep grinning and talking...It wasn't close enough. They carry on conversation in small crowded rooms, smiling the whole time.

I like Jundis...they are Iraqi Privates. Though they suffer from leadership, their Officers are simply self serving, selfish and uncharismatic. If giving some leadership, they will perform dutifully. I know one named Ali. He loves being a Soldier. He's serious in his duties, decently smart, young and energetic. He has ability, but, no one will develop it.

It takes ten years to develop an NCO Corps...with Iraqi Officers running things it may take twice if not three times as long. Despite that I do know a few that are professional, intelligent men. It's a good thing to work with them.

Many of the men I know have relatives in Europe. Anyone who can get out does. But, from what I make out most left well before the US invasion. In the meantime the west commits suicide through Cultural Marxism...

Now, I don't mean to pick on the Iraqis. In many places they have been very kind to me. There are some things I enjoy about them. I can admire them in some lights. So, enough of that...Peace on Earth...Even Appalachia

As I post this it's 0530 on the East Coast...Youngins waking up their parents all excited, some poor American House Wife is stressing over getting something perfect, when it won't be. If your reading this...Relax. Jesus didn't mean for us to be all stressed out.

It's Christmas and no one is reading this today, so, I hope you had a Merry One.
The Appalachianist

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Big Wet Happy Mess

It drizzled some Friday. The ground became slimy and sticky. Saturday it rained and everything turned to slick, sticky mud. Driving on it is about like driving on ice. I had some minor fish tails. When you hit pavement you hear it slinging rocks…until the pavement is covered in it as well. Everything gets covered in mud. It sticks to your boots, you pick gravel up in the mud and you feel it stuck to your boots as you walk. I wanted to take a shower Saturday night (It is bath night traditionally…) but, I decided not to venture through the mud that covered the pavement…I’d just be covered in it when I came back. People would try to get it off their boots on any edge they could find. The mud is glue here. Everyone took it in stride, since it has not rained since the first of November. It was one great big, wet, happy mess.

The last two nights have been clear…

Monday night I had the chance to hop a Chinook going down south and back. There was a delivery being made and someone had to take the paper work down and get a signature. So, one of our guys was going alone. Tuesday is my usual day off so, if it turned into a late night it wouldn’t be so bad. I gave my Major a holler and said I wanted to go…its not good practice for one of us to go alone, to buddy up is better if we can. He didn’t mind so, I informed the 1sgt, got my stuff together and hit the flight line.

It was a good flight down, non eventful. The last time they took some small arms fire, but we didn’t have any moon, so it may have made it harder to spot us. Then it could have been all of the bad guys were taking the night off, or no one felt like taking revenge out for their Uncle that died in 1974 working for the Oil Company that sold Oil to the Americans. I had a good seat, right behind and between the pilots in the passage way. So, I could see the pilots, the controls and the lights of Sadr City plus several other towns as we went. I had a head set and was able to listen to the conversation; it would have been cool to listen to some Weezer though. I door gunned over Ft. Chafe Arkansas once while listening to some old Dylan. It’s been years since I was on a Chinook…I think I was sitting on the extra fuel tank…No, I think it was over the Panama Canal…I could have gotten some good footage, but, my digital camera stopped all of a sudden. I thought the batteries were dead; most batteries I get in care packages are just about dead. So, much to my disappointment when I got back to the light last night, I saw the battery latch barely loose…The thing has taken a beating over here and the latch will come loose sometimes. Next time, I’ll tape it down.

Contrary to popular belief I never make it out of the FOB. It was great to go somewhere besides the edge of Taji. Doing security I get to move around a lot, but never have too many reasons to go anywhere. You can go stir crazy here.

More pictures of random shit…

The other night we were watching a slide show one of the guys family had put together of some of his pictures and another guy’s. They did it to some crummy Kenny G music, but it was pretty good. There were pictures of random stuff. It showed allot of the character of being here. People ask us what it’s like, but we can’t fully explain the oddities and small but crazy little things that make up the day to day here. It’s hard to take some pictures, the Iraqis love to pose and will remember that picture for months. You just can’t keep printing pictures for them. We all agreed, we need to take more pictures of random shit.

All the way to F!*#@ing Baghdad!

I’ve been going through some loops trying to get a Radio Base Station set up for the Guards. I obtained it from a conversation, funny as it may sound, arranged for the Iraqi Signal School to set it up as a class project, had to get it programmed as a favor because the students had made a mistake and wrote simplified instructions to be translated into Arabic for the Guards. Then I was told today that when the American OIC of the Signal School came to help with a radio check today it wasn’t working. So, tomorrow it’s to trouble shooting. The darn thing was working the day before. All they had to do was have their electrician hook it up to the back up battery (better him for something so simple than them, I insisted it be done with real electrical tape). We put the antenna on the top of a building; the American LTC in charge of the Signal School said we should reach Baghdad with it. We’re going to have to trouble shoot it first.

Our Favorite Christmas card…

Doesn’t have naked women in it. It’s from a little boy some where’s that was sent to one of our Officers. It reads as follows:

Dear Major (insert hypothetical name here), we hope you survive.

Thanks for defending our country. Here is a song: We hope you

A merry Christmas we hope you a merry Christmas and we hope

You don’t die.

That little boy will probably work for Halmark one day…

OK, heathens, smile like you mean it

I’m in Iraq, I might as well have fun…

The Appalachianist

Friday, December 15, 2006

There is a war going on...

But, life stands still for Soccer. Today the Iraqis played Qatar at the Asia Games. The Iraqis were excited. This game decides who gets the gold...I'm sure the game is over as I write this. But, I hope they won.

I was talking to some more Security Contractors today, EODT. One of their convoys was rolling across the desert and passed a lone Iraqi Police vehicle. It had the lights going the whole deal. After it was past them it was hit by an IED. A whole convoy had rolled by it, but it took out the IP's.

Whats in a name...
We're surrounded by different IP Station boundaries. There is Taji itself, immediately below us, then, Mushada above us. Now, that's an active place. I often here explosions that way. We Americans all way's pause and listen for more explosions or gun fire...We're trying to put together what we hear and we exchange notes. The Iraqis don't phase any. rarely do they acknowledge it. Sometimes one will say Mu Zein...No Good, but mostly after they see us Americans reaction.

Beyond Mushada is Tarmiya, as one of my interpreters put it..."They don't like anybody". One of my counterparts often say's "Tarmiya mu zein". Yet, 300 men from Tarmiya joined the Army, under a Sheiks agreement that they all stay together as one unit. COHART is a good thing.
It's a joke that when the Jundis yell for someone to stop at night they wake up Tarmiya.

East, beyond the Tigris is Sheik Saad. I laugh, because I know of several animated characters named Saad, one more animated than the other...And, I've noticed I've not seen one in some time...I always see one of them all decked out like Joe Cool with the Shemagh and band around their head cutting deals for the tribe. I've not met a Saad, that i didn't like.

Below Sheik Saad is Boob Al Sham...go ahead, have fun with that one. Then, west of Boob Al Sham is Sab Al Bor. Which is anything but boring.

Then you of course have Baghdad.

Speaking of wars...Some may remember an incident where I handed Twister a live squirell. He e-mailed me this...I asked if it reminded him of something.

All Right, time for you'll to make your comments.
The Appalachianist

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Good News!

I just learned that Cracker has a new CD out with all new material. The bad part is, it's been out since June 6th, the day after my pass ended. I got to Kuwait on June 9th. I'm thrilled that they have a new one out. It's about time. That's it...I'm getting it for myself for Christmas. Horse Slayer didn't tell me about this. Did he even know?...better e-mail his ass. Oops. Sorry about the language...well, you'l are heathens anyhow.

I learned a couple of days ago that someone did an open letter break up with their partner on the day I got to Kuwait. I can't say my relationship is as bad as that. This person did what they had to do. They were open and honest. I wouldn't have thought of doing it that way...

Hey! But Cracker is doing something besides compilations and Country covers.

Can I take my Gun up to Heaven?

The Appalachianist

Sunday, December 10, 2006

It Does Read Oddly...

One of Us left...
The Captain got transferred up north. We now have an Air Force Major that specializes in Security. For some reason the Air Force decided to move around some of their Officers. So, they moved one away and another in.

So far he's cool with the make up of the section. We handle a more variety of Missions than most Security Forces. We're not perfect, but, we're unique.

The Iraqis threw a farewell party for the Captain and it was pretty nice. They don't have very spicy food, but, they have made me appreciate cucumber and onion salads. When I see them in the American Chow Hall I go for them now. I've allways liked both anyhow.

This is where it reads oddly...
We've trained another class of Guards. This is our second class. The first wasn't as good as this bunch. They were more mature and almost half had been in the Army before. One was a decent shot. Some more work and he'd be driving tacks. They caught on quickly.

We teach them in the Units recreation room, the Iraqi Unit, not us. We don't have one to ourselves. No one does. The Iraqis have a little store set up in it. They sell a variety of stuff...aresol cologne for example. One of their favorite snacks is Pumpkin Seeds and they are quick to offer you some. I'm not a seed fan. It's allot of work for a little food. I think the same way about crab legs. We ate crab legs after Bear Hunting last year and was starving to submission. You can expell allot of energy doing that, of course you wouldn't know by some guys, yet it's allot of work. OK, pumpkin seeds...I got to reading that they are good for the prostrate, so, there is a benefit to accepting the offer of them. Iraqis are very kind at times.

Which brings me to...
Yep, I'm on a health kick. I do that from time to time. I admit I didn't spend as much time in the gym as I should my first half of my tour (I'm now at mid tour in the 12 month theory). There are different reasons for that. I won't get into them. I was doing pretty good at Ft. McCoy though. I weighed a little less there as I did upon activation, but, I was eating more. So, now at mid tour I'm pouring it on...
Come to find out while I was on leave there are some people walking around Butthoeville thinking I'm a few years younger than what I really am. The Lt. even said I look that age today. Hey! I gotta exploit success!

Now, you'l that know me keep your heathen mouths shut. I find this amusing. Now you other heathens that don't know me like that well take a look at my predeployment picture up there. How old do you think I am? Please, my ego has gotten a taste of this and wants to have fun with it. I'm not conceded often, OK?

Anyway it's fun to go burn off 350 calories on the elyptical machine to some Social Distortion. And now let my ego fall a notch, running to Dogs with a Bear bayed up was kicking my ass. But, I did it. And, being here on the low humidity, low altitude Mesopotamian Plain was not of real help to the humid Appalachians. So, I'm exploiting success. It's that or get my ass kicked again next year.

I'm not alone. To many peoples surprise it's not hard to gain weight here. The KBR Chow halls want to ensure you don't leave hungry. The food is good, but after a while, it gets old after a while. We have fast food too. Pizza Hut, Burger King, Popeye's, Taco Bell and a Seattle Best/Cinnabun, all served out of carnival trailors. The chow hall has Ice Cream, all kinds of desert, you name it. And, I've already discussed the Iraqi sweet tooth. So, after a while, allot of us lose our appetite and hit the gym.

That's all for tonight...
The Appalachianist

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Iraqi Dogs

It appears me and the Iraqi Lt. patched things up. He smiled, shook my hand and looked me in the eye today. All I did was make it a point to be engaging.

We've got wild dogs here. They don't pay you much mind. Lately over at the Iraqi Base HQ a dog has been hanging around with her pups. She apparently is weening them. They follow her around like sick puppies. I've managed to pet them some, but it doesn't look good for them. We're not allowed to adopt them and the Iraqis won't. They don't care much for Dogs. They're very scared of them for the most part.
Over in my area I'm authorized to shoot Dogs, but, every time I've seen them I've had something pressing. The main concern is disease. They pack up and go into yelping fits. But, if it was a great enough problem I'd hunt them. What I would do is bait them and get it over with. I'm not a Dog Lover, I'm a Dog Admirer.

The other day we had a convoy from Armor Group roll in. They had been hit by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) on the way. It was on the other side of the road and only managed to crack the wind shield on one of the Gun Trucks (armored F350's). Later they had to stop for an IED further up the road. The area was cordoned off and a Dog ran out to the IED and set it off.

The guy that told me the story is from New Zealand. It's hard to keep up with what h's saying sometimes. he's a good fellar though.

The Appalachianist

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Ladies Man


I want to introduce you to one of my Iraqi Counterparts. “The Ladies Man”. He is a Warrant Officer, which act somewhat like Senior NCOs. As far as planning is concerned that is, they don’t have direct interaction with the lower enlisted though. I’m not sure what to make of their role.

Me and The Ladies Man hit it off right away. He’s a likable, handsome, good natured, well humored Iraqi “country boy” with a bushy mustache. One of the ‘terps called him a country boy once. He’s always got a smile… “Agh! Wilson! Shlonek?...Zein?” “Habibi!”, he calls me.* He is attentive to his job. He’s on top of things, for the most part, he works the gate. If there is something out of the ordinary he gets a worried look on his face and looks to me , for example we don’t allow Gun Trucks into the compound. Once I had agreed to let one on for a special reason, he didn’t understand what me and the South African guys had agreed to, but, I said OK and he nodded slowly and said “OK…OK, zein.” And a thumbs up.**

I was on leave when the guys went to the range with him. I heard his pistol shooting is a sight to see. He kept putting his thumb behind the slide in an indescribable fashion with his arm cocked funny. The slide from his Glock took the skin off of his thumb with each shot. They tried to show him how to hold it, but it was no use. He had to get patched up after firing.

I call him The Ladies Man for several reasons. He likes women. His eyes dart around the pages of a Maxim, he beams when ever a female comes through the gate. He’s giddy to have his picture taken with one. It goes on and on. He has a masculine profile, is naively good natured, well manicured and smells nice. Once I gave him a ride to the Iraqi “Super Market” where he insisted I have something sweet***. The Super market refuses payment from Americans…It’s a gift. He tries several aerosol colognes. He looks serious; you can see the debate in his mind…”the musky one or the muskier one?” He breaks into a grin, he found the one. In the truck he fiddles with a few odds and ends he got then sprays the cologne onto his self. I turn to say something to him…Our funny Pigeon language of English/Arabic…I get a mouth full of the cologne. He’s spraying me down with a beaming grin. “Ha! Wilson, good, very good!”. He’s laughing and I’m trying to get the stuff out of my mouth.

He’s the one that wanted me to marry into his tribe that time. I said I couldn’t do that, that I would need an interpreter for everything we would do. I could see Rhino, the scruffy face terp with a drab, unpleasant manner lying between the two of us in bed with the covers pulled up to his chin. “She says good night, habibi”. A few minutes later, “She asks when you going to turn off light. You know light? You shine it on book to read. It bother her eyes.”

He carries on about his carnal desires. Makes obscene mouth gestures at the girls in the magazine, but is quite a gentleman around them.

You would think that he would have at least two wives. He makes enough to support them, others do on his income. But, once it came up in conversation…he held up one finger. So, I joke to myself besides his going on about his verilness he is hen pecked at home, not allowed to look at other women etc. etc. Maybe there are no more relatives left. Iraqis distrust each other so much; they will only marry someone close sometimes. Like a relative such as a cousin. If from a plural marriage, maybe a half cousin. I had to explain to an Iraqi Major one night that in American cousins aren’t allowed to marry. I also explained what 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th cousins were.

I’ve rode with him once. After going to a Security meeting once he asked to drive. So, I let him. He sat behind the wheel like a Grand Mother, looking at the road the same way he looked at the cologne. We’re passing someone on the traffic circle…blow the horn, grin, wave…go back to the serious look. Yep, he’s something else.

The Iraqi Lt.

Yesterday we were on the range with some new Jundi’s we’ve been training up. I was running it, being the one that gave the commands. The Iraqi Lt. kept barking commands as I was trying to relay commands through a terp. I had messed up at first and was in the process of getting things straight and here this Lt. is barking something different at them. Finally I blurted out “who’s running the damn range?!” The Captain then told the terp to tell the Lt. to stand back and stay quiet. He didn’t say it any worse than I did. He would have been fine help, but, I was running the range and he was confusing the Jundis. I get everything in order and the Lt. is walking around behind the range. I get aggravated with this guy because he is never here. He shows up a couple of days out of the month, yells at the Jundis and takes off a couple of days later. So, the Captain go’s and smoothes things out with the Lt. After the range we all grin and say Shukran, Kuola Zein. The Lt. shakes the Capt.’s hand, but, wouldn’t look me in the eye. I made him lose face. I’ve bee rather patient, but, the slightest thing sends them sulking. The range is the wrong place to assert your superiority. The relationship may never be repaired. He doesn’t hang around long enough for it to. I have two masters here, the American People and the Iraqi People. So, I have to be honest, he is NOT a good Officer. Very few of them are.

I hit my groove after the second shot series and everything worked well.

*Habibi means “my love” which is reserved for anyone your close to. Some will say for either sex and some will say for the opposite sex. But, men aren’t allowed to be close to women because women are beneath men. Even in marriage. T. E. Lawrence sad this caused homosexual relations between them.

**I was taught before this means “Up yours!” but, they have realized it is a good thing to Americans.

*** They have a big sweet tooth. I’ve been told by mercenaries that have been here two or three years that Pepsi is one o the greatest currency’s you can have out on the roads. Their food is not very spicy, but, when it’s sweet its sweet.

That’s enough for now. Hey! Wanna read a good one? Go here.

The Appalachianist