Wednesday, June 27, 2007

R&R adventure

First off, a quick SHOUT out to Mary Ann in Arizona; thank you for the Coffee beans....I did not have time to enjoy any before I left, but I'll have some when I return.

Next, I did make it home almost 3 days after my adventure began and getting home was an adventure. It all started when I showed up at 0600 f0r my flight from Baghdad to Kuwait. The flight was delayed and the new show time was 11am. I had been up all night and by the time we took off at 1PM; it was HOT and I was beat. Oh yeah, we got to fly in a crowded C-130 pictured here. The Jump Seats are about two feet apart and you sit knee to knee. It was probably the most uncomfortable flight I've ever been on. The plane was packed, we all had our Flak vests on and the air conditioner wasn't working too well. At least the flight was only an hour and a half. We landed in Kuwait and after 3 hours of in-processing, we were told we wouldn't fly out until the next I spent 28 hours in Kuwait waiting for the next leg of my adventure.

There really isn't much to do in Kuwait and I did not bring any bedding. We were placed in transit billeting...which pretty much consisted of 10 bunk beds in an air conditioned tent. At least I was smart enough to bring a towel and shower stuff. My uniform was nasty. After mustering the next morning at 9am to find out our afternoon show time, we didn't start our next set of briefs until 1:30pm. At 1:30 PM, we were briefed on the US Customs requirements and how the flights would go.

After clearing the US customs, which included dumping your nicely packed bags on a table for the inspectors to rifle through, we made our way to the airport and left Kuwait at 1030PM. Our route took us to Shannon, Ireland for a quick stop for gas which turned out to be a 3 hour repair job on the airplane. The next 10 hour leg was from Ireland to Dallas-Fort Worth TX. When we landed, we were greeted by a cheering crowd. It was a small gesture, but it made most of us feel really good about serving our country. Next, it was a 3 hour flight from Dallas to San Diego.

All told, I flew more than 22 hours and crossed 11 times zones to get home. It was a long 3 days, but it's very nice to being home and enjoying the liberties we have sworn to protect.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I'm on my way home...for R&R

By the time you read this I should be loading up on a C-17 in Baghdad to fly to Kuwait. Then I'll wait there to catch my flight to the States and then home. It'll be a long journey, but well worth the wait.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Department Head Results...the Saga continues

Well folks, while working with my detailer, he tells me that one of the guys selected for Special Mission (SM) Department Head declined the job and so they offered it to me. What is a Special Mission Department Head? It's a guy that does NON-OPERATIONAL flying and is more likely to make commander than a NON-Department Head O-4. So as it sits right now, I am headed to Pensacola, Florida next summer to take the SM Department Head job at VT-86. I'll be a flight instructor flying in the aircraft pictured here (T-39 Sabreliner). I am thrilled to have this opportunity to a) Fly again and b) mentor young Student Flight Officers. One of my squadron mates was an instructor in Pensacola and he said the command and the flying was awesome. The other good deal about the whole thing is that I will not be deploying during this tour which equates to more time at home with the family. That's the news for now....time to pack my things.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Groundhog effect, the Moon and Heat

Well, I am in a routine that is starting to feel like groundhog's day. For those of you that have never experienced it, it's like waking up every day and it feels like the previous day. One of my fellow bloggers aptly called each day a Tuesday. Tuesday seems to get lost in the week because it's not Monday, or Wednesday (Hump day), or Friday (TGIF!!). It's Tuesday because Tuesdays are, for the most part, bland and most people have no strong feelings towards Tuesday.

I try to make each day a little different. Today I swept and mopped my room. That made it a bit different, but it's still Tuesday. Soon, I'll get to experience some R&R and actually have weekends....although, while you are on vacation every day is a Saturday!!!

One interesting thing that I observed that I haven't mentioned yet is that here in Iraq (or middle east), a quarter moon is on the bottom of the moon. It's really strange, especially when you are used to seeing a quarter moon a specific way. In the United States, all of the quarter moons are either Left or Right. Here they are on the bottom. I'll have to wait until we have a crescent moon and take a picture to show you. It's pretty different.

On another note, I thought I'd make up a new name for this 115 degree heat. It's beyond hot and hot really doesn't give it justice. Please post (or email) suggestions for a new description word for 115 degree Middle East Hot.

Thanks to all the well wishers from my last post. I appreciate the support and thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Department Head Results

The results are in from my second screening for Department Head and I was not selected.

What does this mean? In Naval Aviation, you only get two looks for Department Head. After that, you either do "other" flying jobs or find a new profession. I've been in the Navy too long to switch up jobs now. The bottom line is that I won't be heading back to an operational fleet EA-6B flying job.

I am working with my detailer, that's the guy that gets me my next job, to find out what is available and where I can go next.

Am I disappointed? Yes. Just like a guy in the minor leagues trying to make it to the big show. I guess I didn't make the cut.

On a positive note, I can go from here to shore-duty and spend some quality time with my wife and kids. No more deployments for this guy!!!

Is my Naval flying career over? We'll see what is available. If I do not get a flying job, I will have fond memories of flying.

Although flying was a lot of work at times, it was always fun! My favorite picture is the last one on the right. Arabian Gulf 2006...right after the catapult shot from catapult #1 off of the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76).

We'll have to see what new adventures I can find and who knows, maybe this NON-SELECT stuff is all for the better. I can tell you this: my days in the Navy are numbered.

To my wife who is always there and supports me through thick and thin: I love and miss you so much....two more weeks until my R&R!!

Monday, June 11, 2007


This reminds me of our children. Our music is not good enough anymore. :)

Saturday, June 9, 2007

For Auntie Em...

Just click and print. Ideally you are supposed to display it Vertically.

History of the Blue Star Banner.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Military Hardware

Here are a few photos of some of the military hardware that is rattling around down the road near where I work.

First is the standard HMMWV (Humm-Vee). They are heavily armored (called "Up-Armored") and are VERY different from their original design. The doors are VERY heavy and the gunner on top has his own armor. HMMWV stands for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle. It's an All Wheel Drive vehicle made by American Motors Company. There are more than 17 variants of the HMMWV in use by the military today. The Hummer replaced the Jeep around 1985 and has seen action around the globe. Learn more here. Here is a close-up of the sign on the back of most wheeled and tracked vehicles in Iraq. The signs used to say "Stay back or you will be shot" but I think they have changed the tone a bit. The HMMWV is being replaced in the short term by the Mine Resistant Ambushed Protected (MRAP) vehicle but they are looking to replace the HMMWV with Future Tactical Truck Sytem which is still in the design process. One vehicle that is trying to fit the bill is the ULTRA AP concept vehicle. It's built on the frame of a Ford F-350 and was developed by researchers at Georgia Tech.

Next is the STRYKER vehicle. It's an AWD Armored Combat Vehicle. These things look pretty menacing rolling down the road. This thing can go 60MPH. It's Pretty fast and lethal and carries a crew of 11 soldiers.

Hope you've enjoyed your fill of Army training for today.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Mustache Man & Little Things

I've grown a mustache over the last two weeks. Not bad, huh? I don't know what it about facial hair, but guys tend to grow 'staches while they are deployed. My wife HATES it and hopes I'll have it shaved off by the time I get home for leave (R&R). We'll see. Can you tell I have red hair?? Yes, it's cheesy, but it's my little science project while I am over here. If you ask any man, it is easier to shave everyday than to keep your facial hair groomed. Mustaches are high maintenance. Over here, it's something different than the day-to-day grind or groundhog day.

The other day I was going to our MWR to pick up a DVD for a friend when I noticed all the Local Nationals that worked there standing outside and fishing. They weren't catching anything. They were attracting little turtles with popcorn. They were just passing the time and having fun. Sometimes it's the little things that make a difference. I stopped and talked with them for a little while. Most of them speak some sort of English and it's pretty easy to talk with them about various things. I even picked up a few things about the place I work. We have this statue near our DFAC that is of a lady holding a harp type instrument. She's a handsome woman and I learned that the statue is in honor of the first person to bring music to Iraq (Mesopotamia) over 4000 years ago. Maybe Lilith the Mother of musical worship?? Pretty cool, huh?

Auntie EM, thanks for the box of goodies. We have enjoyed the snacks and flags and whatnot. THANK YOU.

To my loved ones, I love you all. Thanks for your unwaivering support.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Back in Business!!

Coffee Press Poem by me
My coffee press is brewin' just for me,
that delicious brown elixir, can't you see?
Smell the fresh ground roast in the air;
Everyone wants some, handle it with care.

Today I received my
new Bodum-Young Coffee press and quickly placed it into action. Yup, it works. I am again the envy of all connoisseurs here. With the help of my super-wife I am back in business. Honey, you are my super-hero and I really appreciate EVRYTHING you do for me (and the Navy).

Things are going well here and if all the stars align just right, I will be home on R&R by the end of the month. The Army runs a pretty good R&R (Leave) program that takes us forward deployed folks all the way home and back. The super-wife and kids are anxious and I am really looking forward to just unwinding at home. Don't worry, my wife has already started the "Honey-Do" list and I should have a few things to do to keep me busy while I am at home.

My mom sent me a bunch of puzzles made of wood, plastic and rope....the guys are playing with them just as much as I am. I already figured out about half of them. The Chocolate in the box did not fare well, I'm afraid. So for future reference to all out there, do not send CHOCOLATE in packages (Peanut M&M's are ok). With temps averaging 110 each day and packages sitting in the sun for just a little while, this causes the chocolate to change from solid to liquid and thus a messy ending. That's all for today!!

Super-Wife: I LOVE YOU!! xoxo