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.

Monday, January 29, 2007

I better Bite My Tongue Next Time

“Everything’s a damaged dysfunctional fit, got a bad reputation that just won’t quit”*

Jundis Gone Wild
We had some of our parameter guards decide to hot wire some of the F350’s and joy ride. They wrecked three of them, two are undriveable, one just has a tail light out. None of them would confess, so, the three posts that it happened at are in jail. Throwing someone in jail is an Iraqi solution, I’ll suggest to Sadi to put them to hard work. Make little rocks into big rocks kind of stuff. Another decided to joy ride a Humvee. I watched him beg for mercy…”Sadi, be patient with me”…”Your going to jail”. Which is fine with me. The kid was a trouble maker, the Iraqi’s own words. The other day I caught him laying down on post. He jumps up when he sees me. Then gives me the “poor me, I’m sick” routine. He points to a nasty scratch on his side, which must have hurt upon impact, but, was nothing. I told the Iraqi Colonel he was not a good guard and should be taken off of the Guard force. He agreed.

The truth is, despite wrecking $40,000 trucks, they didn’t do anything an American Soldier wouldn’t do. The trouble was, they were the guards. Your not supposed to guard the guards. These are poor kids from Sadr City mostly. In a way they are being just that, kids. But, they’re being kids costs.

Iraqis have a good pain tolerance. I was told by a Medic of an Iraqi Jundi being brought in with 2nd and 3rd degree burns to the Iraqi clinic. The Iraqi doctor goes straight into treating the wounds. The US medic asked if he was going to give him something for pain. The Iraqi doctor said he would give him something after he treated him. The Jundi stayed straight faced. I’ve heard of an IP getting shot in the shoulder by another and refusing treatment because it would come out of his pocket, plus he wouldn’t get paid for the day. Yet, give them the sniffles and it’s a tragedy. They are whining and wanting to lay down.

Women have a higher tolerance of pain then men. I suppose for child birth. I think God gave it to men so we know when to stop.

“It was me against the world, I was sure I’d win, but the world pushed back punished me for my sins”**

I’m An Asshole…
I snapped at my Iraqi Counterpart the other morning. He’s in the back seat of my truck and lights up a cigarette. There is nothing unusual about this, it happens all of the time. I tolerate it, it’s their culture. We’re not supposed to smoke in our vehicles, Commanders policy, I don’t smoke, I don’t care. A whiff hits my nostrils…”put the cigarette out Chief.” “Jack”, my interpreter instantly relays the message. Not a word, he puts it out. The radio had been blairing, the usual chatter…It caught me the wrong way. I then explained about the smoking rule. The next morning, I told him my commander said he could. He asks before he lights up now. I shouldn’t have snapped. It’s the way they are, and I’m a way too. We’re different, and we know it. I've had a bad soar throat, he was smoking and I caughed, he apoloagised as I said don't worry. We are considerate of each other. They still grin at me and ask, “shaku maku?”, where I answer “safia dafia”, and they laugh. . …Not!

I Love My Friends…
The Jolly Red Head Giant wrote me. He’s telling me to watch my ass and come home without a bullet hole and not in a bag. Well, it’s not like I’m out of the wire, but, things can happen, so never say never. What’s funny to me, and you would have to know him, seriously, what he said to me when I got orders last March. He had retired already, so I call him. “Yep, 545 day orders, definitely going to Iraq”. He tells me to get an ACOG. “I can’t afford one”. “Yes, you can, their about $350(More than that!)” “I’ll get one when I come home”. “If you come home”…said like a true Ranger(I grin at this). Thanks, dude. Now, if you know this boy, you’re rolling right now. He never got up with me about Bear Hunting when I was home …Three Hill Billy Ranger Bat’ Vets, with Guns, Dogs and lots of woods…Damn that’s scary.

*This actually comes from a positive song called “We’re all in love”

**This is some Social Distortion from “White Light, White Heat and White Trash”, I was listening to it during a transition time of my life, I heard it on the radio…then ordered the CD, because I had it on cassette. I just felt like quoting it.

Time for your snide comments that don’t bother me
The Appalachianist

Friday, January 26, 2007

Knock On Wood, Brotherly Love and Two Other Things

Oughta Knocked on Wood
I had to open my mouth. My Iraqi Counterpart that I liked was replaced after all. I should have knocked on wood. I’ve not had much of any chance to work with the new one. I don’t know him. We’re getting new faces. I’m going to pry where this guy came from. There are other Iraqi WO’s, that we have had a while, but they are not the ones being put in charge. Some of these guy’s I like, but they shift responsibility.

I don’t like prying. I’d like to be told stuff right out. But, here, if you want the truth, you have to pry. Then you have to ask the question three different way’s to get the close to right answer. “Truth is the first casualty of war” in many different ways.

Iraqis will throw trash down where ever they want, such as a guard post. It piles up. Then it’s time to clean it up, and the blame game gets started. I’ve been inspecting the posts every morning this week. The Iraqi Counterpart follows me. In the morning, it’s his. Now he has to take the lead. We’re trying to get more trash cans for them, but, they are going to have to empty them out themselves. Contractor Life Support is very lacking here.

Just like me and my Brother
The other morning as we were posting Guards some Jundis from the night shift got to playing rough throwing water bottles and yelling. I thought they were fighting and broke up the fight. (When I was a Drill Sgt. I had two Privates that were fighting hold hands in front of the Company) “Maku Mishkula, Mister”. My Interpreter told me they said “stop, the American is coming”. My last counterpart didn’t step up. I had to tell him not to let them play that way. When I was a kid me and my Brother would play and one of us would get hurt and it would turn into a real fight (Ain’t that right, Bro). These guy’s have AK47’s with live rounds. If the general took their TV’s away because they were fighting over the news, then they shouldn’t play in such a way.

The Arabic language is an excited one. Often I’ve asked my Interpreter what they are arguing about, only to be reaffirmed that they are just talking. If you want to show them you mean business, you have to pound your fist on something. People may not know what to think of me when I get back.

Once Upon a Time In Appalachia
This Blog is about Appalachia as much as anything. I’ve discussed most everything but it lately, even Women’s Lingerie. Which reminds me of another annoying tag, but more on that later. I was eating hot wings in the chow hall and got to thinking about Wasbi Peanuts. Once while off Bear Hunting in the Nantahala’s Twister offered me some. I threw a handful in my mouth. I’m not broadly food educated. I didn’t know what Wasbi Pea Nuts were. Hey, they’re green, what could they hurt? Well, it hurt my mouth. Those things are just plain hot. I had a mouthful of fire. We ain’t talking about cinnamon balls either. Twister sees the tears well in my eyes as I roll down the truck window. He laughs loudly as I forcefully blow the things out of my mouth and down the side of the mountain. He does that to me again, I’m handing him a live squirrel or something. He did about knock my ear drums out with a 12.Ga blasting at Grouse once. The thing about this is we were two people from Appalachia doing Appalachian things in Appalachia.

Oh, yeah, that annoying tag
We have something great, heavy weight Polypropylenes. But, for some reason they sew the tag right in the seam of the bottoms. You Military and former Military know that those tags are stiff. Well, you can only imagine where they go…Yeah, were not getting that personal. As a result I tear them out. They probably put them there for that very purpose. We want to take care of our Soldiers, but, it’s funny if it ain’t comfortable…

I may have posted about my painful Wasbi experience. For some reason I got to thinking about it today.

That’s all I’m saying for right now
The Appalachianist,

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Something Works

I bought a knife sheath today, Spec ops brand. I intended it to be for my Air Force Survival Knife. That knife has been with me since HHC 3/75th, I think February '88. The sheath I have is not the original leather, but a black nylon one. That was back in the day when black was the only choice in unofficial gear. The new one is desert tan, but could be dyed. It doesn't fit the knife. It's too loose. I don't think I have a knife at home to fit it. Maybe Twister does (I have your addy, I'll mail it to you if you want it) Anyone that knows me knows I don't like black gear, black guns, etc. About the only thing I like most women in black lingerie. Now why do you women have those black sheer panties with white tags in the back? Cut em' out.

Something is working. Escort. The Iraqis are doing the mission. They are meeting contractors and convoy's at the gate, bringing them to the site and back to the gate. The biggest issue is they haven't had much fuel to do the mission, often begging us. They can only get fuel from Ministry of Defense (MOD), the US Army has cut them off. This article mentions the situation.

I have too Staff Sgt's handling that and several Iraqis. The big thing is getting them to communicate to know what is expected at the gate. Which sometimes you never know. I'm concentrating more on Security it's self. We're having to hold the Iraqi's feet to the candle doing Guard Mount.

I was almost in the middle of an Iraqi Soap Opera the other day. My new counterpart said he was leaving Security. At first he wanted to, than after we fixed some C-wire damaged from a wind storm, he changed his mind. He wanted me to talk to the Iraqi Colonel. I did, turns out the Iraqi Lt. doesn't like him. The Lt. won't hang around long. Never does. If anyone needs to go it's him. He's someones Golden Boy though.

I'll find out in the morning if we have him or not. It's been an effort to keep them from handing off weapons on post, and he has helped in rectifying that. I don't want him to go. The Iraqi PM is full of shit that they don't have enough weapons.

I'm going to throw on some Cinderella from back in the day's when I jumped out of Air Plains with some damn fine fellars. You'l can comment now.

The Appalachianist

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Not all shabby

The last couple of weeks has been “Be ticked off with the Iraqi’s” weeks for me. They see no shame in pestering you to death. They don’t keep track of things well, make a fuss over things…I could go on.

I have a new counterpart. He’s business. He’s at tentative to his job, staying on the Jundi’s to do the right thing. His voice is whiney in a sense, not being the carrying one everyone imagines in a leader (I remember staying horse when I was a drill Sgt). Most Iraqis are very sociable, asking you about your family. He hasn’t brought it up once, which doesn’t matter too much either way. Every time I see him, he’s doing his job. I like working with him.

Eery now and then you get a case of defy the Americans and I try to avoid that. They are just different than us.

So, this week is being “I’m cool with the Iraqi’s” week for me.

Call me what you will, but just here recently I’ve learned you can right click on the red squiggly line and it will give spelling options…God Bless the Nerd that came up with that.

If we had the Fair Tax, we wouldn't be having things like this. I don't think that we will get it with this Congress. We'll get more of the same.

This is just about all I feel like saying at this juncture…

The Appalachianist

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Yesterday's date escaped me. I didn't realize it until today. Twenty one years ago yesterday I joined the Army. I didn't realize on that day that it was also the anniversary of the Battle of Cowpens, which my ancestors had fought in. That's one reason I've stuck with it all of these years. I don't see what they did as glorious, but, I have stayed in their spirit. They faced painful death, were hungry, had walked miles and were hungry. Next year i will walk that battle field.

There are terrible atrocities here. Seventeen killed in a market in Sadr City yesterday. My own Scottish Highlander ancestors boarded people up as they worshiped in their church and burned them. It was a rival Clan (I'm Clan Gunn). My Cherokee ancestors (I descend from the Middle Towns, what I refer to came from the Over Hill Towns) made a raid on their own people claiming they had made a raid on the Creeks...All for War Honors. Jerusalem was ankle deep in blood at the hands of "Christians". They were to be forgiven for their sins. Then there was the Spanish Inquisition. That was to win people to Christ. Jesus does a better job than us. So when you see the stuff over here, just think. None of what I mentioned here went unavenged or worked.

The Appalachianist

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Lazy Terp's and Things That Spin

The “Ladies Man’s” hand is swollen up like a boxing glove. Something has bitten him. There is no such thing as a passive insect in Iraq.

The Iraqi’s use Uaz jeeps. I like the things in general. I told Twister while I was home they would be great for Bear Hunting. He shot me down though by asking what kind of heater they had. At that time it was in the upper 90’s here. Well, the other morning it was cold and raining and I was riding with one of my counterparts (that could be a funny story of it’s own…every day could have a story) he went into his caravan and I sat in the jeep. I stuck my hand down near the heater and they had taken the cover off. I stuck my finger into the fan. I yanked it back awfully quick. The heater works pretty decently. It would be easy to replace. It sits right under the dash.

Yep, that’s me, stuck my hand in the machine. Every time I have it’s cause I didn’t know what I was doing. It was dark and the fan was turning fast, I couldn’t see it.

I don’t think we’ll ever have one any how. My New To Me Toyota will do just fine.

At the time it was colder here than back home. It frosts here some. As soon as the sun goes down, so do the temperatures. There’s no reason t lament how muddy it is here.

I had a new interpreter today. I aint ever worked with him. He’s new to us. Darn that boy is lazy. I had to prod him all day. “OK, let’s go”. “Come On”. “Let’s get going”. Some are not so lazy, they will volunteer. I had one digging for a hidden cell phone one time. Some will tell you that someone is blowing smoke at you. “Trust me, I’m Iraqi, He’s lying. He doesn’t intend to do it”. I was inventorying their weapons today. The boy just stood there like he’d rather sit down.

“Come on, contribute to the common good here”…They are worried about themselves. “Me first…me first…” We have to remind them they will get theirs, just deal with the situation at hand. They have this look on their face like a twelve year old that had their video taken away.

Well, we still manage to laugh and cut up.

Like the winner of a John Doe Look alike contest…
The Appalachianist

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Burden Of Lies

In the last few months I was in 3/75 I had a room mate that was some character. He was in his sophomore year of college and decided to join the Army after seeing the movie Platoon. He would have you rolling on the floor. He was full of lots of funny little college stories. He was smart…A little too smart. Every morning when I woke up I saw his Girl Friends face. She was beautiful and reeked of personality from her pictures he had placed on a ceiling tile as a bulletin board. She loved him…Everyone did. The two of us would have never been friends other than being Rangers together. But, we were friends.

After a while his stories seemed a little too much. We started catching him in things. It didn’t seem real. He never lied during any of our duties about them though.

Every morning I saw the girls face I saw her alone. He was never there. He had another Girl Friend actually a couple. I can’t remember exactly how it went, but the pretty blond headed girl from a Mid Western University caught him…unintentionally as far as we knew. Or as his story went, you didn’t know what to believe in him. It seems he acted as if it was her problem. He did say she was really upset though. I remember joking with him to leave her pictures up that I was kind of used to her. He looked at the floor agitated and said “I’m heading out, Willy”.

Me and another of my buddies sat there in the room that day looking at her pictures. He was older, a prior service from the Navy. Women were objects to him. He liked them, but didn’t see them as something to get attached to. He said it though. “He’s done lied to her, messed around on her, and fed her full of bull shit. She’s a good looking girl and because of his shit she hates men now. A fucking waste.”

My room mate started seeing one a little more after that. Another guy in the Battalion had dated her. That would happen and guy’s would rub it in the crudest of way’s they could. It was just cruel joking. When it came around to him he just shrugged and frowned.

The girl he spent the most time fooling around with he decided he was going to get rid of. He tried fixing her up with me. “Willy, you need a girl friend?” “No, but I could use one”. “I ought to fix you up with Name.” That was his college girl friends name, but that’s not who he was talking about. “No, I don’t like the way that sounded”. “Fuck! I don’t know what I’m going to do”.

It was just three weeks later he was married. I was advanced party in Puerto Rico and met him coming off of the Drop Zone. “I got married Willy”, he said. “Who to?” “Name”.

“I guess this means your moving out of the room?” “Yep”.

He was in Ranger School when I left Bn. After calling and catching up with them after Panama went down I learned that the Leadership had referred him to a Psychologist.

He and his Wife split accusing each other of cheating.

I don’t think a Psychologist would have done him any good. When you make plain things into exciting things people like it. Somewhere along the line he learned that. It was a part of his show…The girl from the Mid Western University loved a facade. We were laughing at things that where being blown way out of proportion and events that didn’t happen. Lying got results, so, he lied. It’s a form of manipulation. He was smart and his lies were well crafted. I really can’t forgive him of that. I’d feel sorry for him if I believed in feeling sorry for people.

He was my friend, but, he was a liar, a womanizer and full of shit…And, I’d love to see him. The last I heard of him, twelve years ago, he was a male stripper in Florida. Perfect for him, good looking and full of shit. I wouldn’t know what to believe from him today. But we would laugh while cutting up and I’d do him about any favor I could. He really hadn’t crossed my mind in years, not since we were fighting the Black Beret being issued out to everyone. I thought I saw him on the petition.

Me and the “Texican” were talking about it the other morning. Iraqi’s will lie to save face. They lie to please you. They lie to get out of responsibility. It can be aggravating. But, I can’t hold it against them. They don’t know any better and we’ve all done it. What makes me mad is when they lie about not taking care of their Soldiers, which is chronic.

It’s selfish. Lies are selfish manipulations. Untruths for someone’s selfish gain.

Truth shines through the fog of a lie sooner or later. No matter how carefully crafted. Despite how horrible this world is its God’s world and he is ultimately in control. He simply leaves us to our own devices. He allows the truth to be known. We realize the fools we were.

You’ll can probably use a dose of cheer up after reading this. That stuff is non alcoholic and can’t be gotten in the store. I don’t intend to talk bad about the boy. Like I say he was my friend, but the truth is the truth. He was a liar, a womanizer and full of shit. He was right there in it with us though. He’s not the only liar I’ve known. The pretty disrespected girl friend most likely got over it. The offended wife has long since moved on. The majority of us have lost contact with each other. We’re loyalties that cross each others minds anymore. It's said the best thing you can do is be yourself, but after a while where does the self end?

The Appalachianist

(sorry about the language)

Saturday, January 13, 2007


Sun Rise on Taji
She makes brushing your teeth a little easier...
A bomb crater from the "Gulf War".

Iraqis are not always the best aim with an AK47 or a camera. But, I like this picture none the less.

Yep, a lazy mans post. There is another one coming though

The Appalachianist

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Taji Log 10 Jan 07

I about shot a Dog Sunday.Me and an interpreter was doing a post check in my truck when heard a dog bark a few feet away. I stopped, got out and saw the dogs. Two of them were walking away from us. I followed them along to angle the shot and make sure it was a clean one...After all, I was using my 9mm. I heard the interpreter, "Pablo" yell "they have babies". I looked back across the cement pad and saw a puppy scramble under neath it. I couldn't shoot anything with a baby. I let them go. We did manage to get the camera under the pad and snap a shot.

The other night I was out on our parameter and saw several walking along in a pack. I was too busy chewing the Iraqis for bunching up. One of the Officers from the BDU MTT team wanted to see the view from our towers at night. So, everyone of the mobile patrols were racing to it worse than the cops back home. I promptly got out of the truck and lit into them that they were leaving other parts vulnerable.

This is Taji. It was quite a base at one time. One of the interpreters said that many of the ware houses were empty. it did have infrastructure though. Now everything runs on generators. Today I saw some LN contractors trying to get a generator to run. I joked with some other GI's that I didn't know that if people were to ask us what Iraq is like we should say everyone is worried about generators. These boy's figured it was because they didn't have any gas. They can't keep fuel in them, other than Coalition generators. That's a funny thing about this place. It's sitting on top of all this oil and nobody has any gas.
A problem we face as advisor's is the denying of responsibility. The Iraqis will shift responsibility around like a hot potato. The other morning I had to hand one radio batteries and tell him to take them out to the guards, it wasn't going to take five minutes. Everyone wants the benefits, but doesn't want the responsibility. I don't get it sometimes. How can some of these dudes have five kids and two wives? That's allot of responsibility and they can't tell me if they are responsible for small issues on Guard duty? They've been keeping up the radio batteries though.

Dogs can create tunnels under fences and pick up disease. But, about everyone I see is healthy.
I saw yesterday that some of my guards had taken in a puppy. Pablo wanted to. But, I can't. It's against CENTCOM General Order#1. Which covers no drinking, you can pretend to drink with "near Beer", don't mess with the women, don't pretend to mess with the women, don't feed the animals don't mess with them, don't pretend to mess with them. Oh and don't get caught.
I got a Christmas Card from a Muslim. They can be such kind and polite people and they are trying to kill each other.
A while back two Jundis, one Sunni, one Shia
got into a fight over the news of massacres in
Baghdad. The Iraqi Commander took their TV's
away and posted signs saying that they are brothers and will not fight.

They will fight he mud though. It sticks to everything. Rocks stick in it on the bottom of your boots. I saw an 18 wheeler stuck in a 1/4" of mud yesterday. There is nothing like it.
I topped seven months in theater yesterday. I'm now in my eighth month. In theory, I have four or five to go. I won't start the calender yet.

Fight the good fight, people
The Appalachianist

Saturday, January 06, 2007

A Love Punch From God

I got a love punch today. I was about to step inside the room of the Iraqi Commander (More on that later) when all of a sudden it felt as if someone had hit me as hard as they could in my left arm where my bicep begins. I sat there feeling like telling him he's dead wrong with my arm just hanging. I eat allot of fruits here, but I need to load upon bananas. It felt like a love punch from God.

We are getting better fruit in the chow hall lately. This summer it sucked. The Iraqis had better fruit. I told the DFAC manager and he insisted I take an orange. They've fed me baked chicken at 0300. They all sat there watching me like Italian Grand Mothers.

The weather has been messy here. It would be a little nothing at home, but the slightest rain here turns everything into mud. There is an old Army Cadence that says "the land that God forgot/ the mud i 18 inches deep/ the sun is blazing hot". It's referring to Ft. Bennning, my old home away from home (right Twister?) I really believe it's Taji Iraq. I don't know no other way to say it, this place sucks.

I saw a beautiful Belly Dancer today. We find ourselves talking with the Iraqi leadership in their bed room more than anywhere. They always have the TV on( more on TV's later) I speak and have to fight watching the TV while the interpreter relays the message. There was a movie going with a lady belly dancing...How beautiful...How gracious. Then all of a sudden the comedian actor plunged into the scene and ruined it. Time for "Sadi" to talk...I enjoy Arab television. Darn near the entire Iraqi Army went home for Eid (today is the IA's birthday)and a Jundi grabbed me to show me videos on line. It wouldn't hardly feed. He's a good Jundi. He acts kind of like lurch, but manages to smile.

The other night I didn't sleep a whole lot. 1/82nd Field Artillery was doing allot of fire missions. Artillery hisses, mortars whistle and rockets sound like whining car belts. They were doing illumination rounds. Fortunately a bad guy got nabbed.

Well, I'm done with posting...
The Appalachianist...

Monday, January 01, 2007

A Taji Kind Of Night

It’s 2007. Is that a good thing? We’ll find out.

A small world of humans
We started it off right here at Taji. It’s the Muslim Holiday of Eid. Iraqi wise everything came to a screeching halt. I’ve spent some of my slowest days in Iraq over the last couple of days. I was going to hop on a flight down south for the night, but the mission got bumped up a night and I missed out. I instead went to a cookout catered by Iraqis. I talked with a Major that had been in the Florida Guard and he knew a guy I was in 3rd Ranger Bn. with…It can be such a small world. The food was great, and I didn’t over eat. They played allot of country music though, no wonder that Lt. got a Dear John. Earlier I had stood in on a fire talking with some others and a civilian contractor. A lady contractor who most people don’t like, but, I like listening to her talk. Even, if she has a slightly bitter disposition. She may not be an angel, but she’s human. We poked fun at being in Iraq and how things work. After the cookout I went back to the fire before heading off to bed.

Right about midnight
Laying in bed I conjured up a ghost…The first in a series of stories I began writing years ago. It’s a Mountain superstition and may be every where else, it can’t just be antonymous to Appalachia, that what your doing at midnight is what you will be doing the rest of your year. So, you might as well do something worth while…hey, you’re in Iraq and you better make the best of it. I was reading over the story and jogging my memory of what my characters were like and my eyes began to burn. That’s not worth while so, I called it a night. I spoke my words to God, and began to nod off. My Iraqna phone started ringing. It wasn’t the guy on watch, it was an unknown number. Who in the heck was trying to get a hold of me? I thought it was “Girl of Lately” which is now “Girl of a Long While Back” who happens to be in Baghdad now. No, I have her number…I don’t know who it is…I call them back; all I hear is my voice echo. They call back. It cuts them off. This went back and forth for almost fifteen minutes. Five minutes to midnight, I might as well do something worth while. I talk to God again. I felt real peaceful, so I open my eyes. Midnight. Three minutes later I hear a whine almost like the belt of a car. One second later I hear the detonation. My metal door vibrated. Happy New Years, they haven’t forgotten us after all. Fire works courtesy of the Insurgency. I stayed in my room, it’s a hard building and it will have to be a good direct hit to get us. I figured there would be another one at any second. I listened for the Counter Battery Fire to go out. A good Fire Direction Center (FDC) and Gun Crew can throw a round out in less than 180 seconds. Nothing…No “Shot Out”. No more incoming.

There was a New Years celebration going on and Fox News was broadcasting. I wasn’t going, too big a crowd. I don’t want to be part of the masses for one year. Jelloiuse must think it odd of me because I was at the bar she worked at for New Years a few years ago and I walked out by myself at Midnight…I stand out from the crowd. But back to lovely Taji, Iraq. I don’t go to any event unless there are Cheer Leaders. Another reason is what happened last night. I’m told the whole thing is all over the news. Truth is we’ve taken incoming allot of different times and it didn’t make the news. We’re not in eye sight of the Green Zone.

It was a 107mm Rocket. I got to handle a chunk of it this morning at the Battle Update Brief (BUB) for BDOC. It was painted olive drab, my favorite color…

Things that make Soldiers go hmmm
While at the BUB a 1st Sgt. was promoted to SGM and had been selected for CSM. The BDOC Commander (I like him for a LTC, but don’t go telling him) made a point that less than 1% of Enlisted Ranks are selected for such position. This makes me think of two things. The higher you go in the Ranks the more political it gets. I’ve got people asking me why I’m not an E-8. It’s not that I don’t want to, but, I don’t do political. Also too many people put their packet in because they want to. Not because they feel they can do the job. The LTC also pointed out that the less than 1% rule doesn’t even go for Four Star Generals. It’s long been complained that the Officer Corps is bloated. I feel this is true, but I fear my knowledge is a tip of the ice berg. Enlisted people spend more time in leadership positions than the Commissioned do. Is this effective? Generals have more power than the President principle wise. They have a small platoon of aids and staff members follow them around acting silly. Greater than 1%? Is this good? Is this effective?

My New Years message to you
Some of you know this, I ain’t telling you your business, some of you don’t… Because you’re human. Stand up for your beliefs. Don’t impose yours on others. Do what’s right, even if it’s not convenient to. Don’t let nobody take advantage of you or push you around. Love somebody. Even if it’s just your Dog.

I’ve never been too good at making my own luck.* I’ve had to wipe the blood off my hand because I stuck it in the machine. I’ve still got a hand though. I’ll make my own reality.

*LOL, I had a black cat cross my path in Iraq. What irony.

The Appalachianist