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September 18, 2007
Standing in the Gardens of Stone (part 3)By Greyhawk
(part one here - but this episode is a stand-alone, so feel free to jump right on in...)
Another Sunday Morning Coming Down
Well, I woke up Sunday morning
My Sunday morning wasn't like that. I did get up and have breakfast - but I passed on the NA beer. Afterwards I wandered over to the barbershop and pulled my number (68). I already knew about how long that wait would be - the day before I had tried and failed.
On that previous attempt I'd pulled my number then wandered around the area for a bit. I realized I had no cash in my pocket so I hit the px. Picked up something small so I could get cash back at the checkout. The line wrapped around two walls of the store - I figured I was going to miss my chance for a haircut, but since I couldn't get one without the cash I waited and made it through the line. Fortunately, the "No Cash Back at this time" sign wasn't on display at the register (it usually is) so I scored a 20 - the max.
Then I wandered back to the barber shop. They were nowhere near my number, so I wandered over to the Internet cafe. The computers were all full, and the waiting list was 12 people long. So I wandered on back over to the barbershop. It had been an hour since I pulled my number (68) and they were up to number 48. But my time was up.
But anyhow - back to Sunday. Sunday mornings for me are slow - I can sleep in til about 8 then take my time getting things done, laundry, room cleaning, etc. I got up and went to breakfast. Afterwards I wandered over to the barbershop and pulled my number (78). I knew I had at least an hour before I needed to come back for a progress check, so I headed for the showers. They were closed for cleaning. So I modified my strategy on the fly, wandered back to the hooch (we only had to stay in tents for the first 4 months here) and picked up my laundry, took it to the KBR laundry facility, filled out the paperwork, and headed back to the barbershop.
Those actions described now brought my cumulative walking distance to about 2 miles of foot travel on four inches of gravel (try it sometime!), and the sun was edging higher in the sky. One hour after pulling my number I asked some of the guys in the cluster waiting outside the door what number they were up to. "70" was the reply. I had 78 - almost there. And you won't believe it but the day got even better - there was a chair available in the waiting area. Another half hour and I was in the actual barber chair. Five minutes later my hair was cut.
You're probably thinking to yourself, "wow - that's more good fortune than any GI could have in Iraq in one day" - and you're right.
Went back to the hooch, grabbed my stuff, and headed for the showers. The cleaning crew was done, the faucets were shining, and in I went. I turned the water on and nothing came out of the spigot. No water, so no shower today - but I did have a spiffy new hair cut. To finish the full squared-away look I'm required to cultivate by regulation and years of habit I pulled my triple bladed razor from my shaving kit and ran it across my face and neck - sans water and shaving cream and lubricated only by a thin layer of rapidly-drying sweat. Back to my hooch to put my uniform on (up til now I'd been wandering around in PT gear with a shoulder-holstered 9, a look that is common only here) and then I took the mile walk to work. By the time I got there I was sweating enough that I could convince myself the effects of the shower would have worn off by then anyway.
So anyhow, along the way, for some reason, I started whistling "Sunday Morning Coming Down."
Got an email picture of my wife with another guy today.
It was President Bush.
I said as much to Bill Roggio. "How can you be jealous?" He replied. "He's got the most thankless job in the world."
"He had his picture taken with my wife" I replied.
But the President and I both got to chat with Bill over the weekend.
GIs bitch (See above). It's the nature of the job. When you actually do have one of the most thankless tasks in the world you get the right to do that. Give one a chance and he'll (or she'll) tell you everything that's wrong with their world, their rater, their commander, their first sergeant, the General, their branch of service, their deployed location, their home station, Iraq, Afghanistan, America, congress, the President, war, peace, food, and their favorite football team's current strategy. (Regardless of current won-loss record.)
So last time I crossed paths with the re-enlistment NCO I recognized him as someone who would have insight as to how much that matters.
"How's business?" I asked. "Good", he replied.
"No problems?" I prodded.
"Well, yeah. I've got to convince people to wait and reenlist next month instead of this one. I've already met my goal for this fiscal year."
A lot of people think it's the cash bonuses, but really it's the free food and cheap haircuts, I'm sure.
Enlistments are looking good too. Small wonder the IVAW crowd is planning an attack.
So yeah, President Bush and I have something else in common - we both chatted with Bill Roggio over the weekend. I picked up Bill from MND-C headquarters and took him off for a GI tour of Camp Victory.
Fortunately, this didn't happen to us:
Coalition Forces attacked at Camp VictoryIndirect fire means rockets or mortars, by the way.
Anyhow, I showed him the BIG PX with all the obscene amenities, then the Iraqi Bazaar with the memorial to the Iraqis who worked there who've been killed. After that, lunch at the DFAC - we both had the made-to-order stir fry with everything. Then to the DVD store - Bill bought 300. Not 300 DVDs, the movie 300. I got 3:10 to Yuma (meh). Guess we were all about the threes. Afterwards I drove him "home" - he had a flight to catch to elsewhere for a day or two.
He's a good guy. Can't wait to have a beer with him some time down the road.
Don't know what might come of it, but I will tell you he set off looking into this story that everyone else has missed:
Major General Lynch: Just over two weeks ago, soldiers from our 3rd Brigade Combat Team conducted a raid on a militant house in the town of Nahrawan, which is about 20 miles east of Baghdad on the east side of the Tigris River. They arrested one of our division's most valued targets, high-value targets, and he acted as a link between Iran and the Jaish al- Mahdi militia. He was the main Shi'a conduit in that region for getting Iranian EFPs and rockets into Baghdad, and his capture was a big blow to that network.Of course, had all 46 of those rockets gone off, you'd have damn well heard about it. But they didn't, so no win for the bad guys, no news in the papers, and no one but Bill tracking the story down.
Want some understanding of President Bush's references to his father's service in WWII and our current warm relationship with Japan? Read Flyboys by Flags of Our Fathers author James Bradley. The parallels with today's war are obvious.
I only mention that because it's a topic that came up at the milbloggers' meeting with President Bush, last week, and it seems to be one that a lot of the ultra-Leftists are obsessed with.
I'm pretty damn proud of the lady who's very quietly done more work than anyone in history to bring the voices of deployed troops to the people they serve. (And very quietly done a lot for the wounded troops, too.)
And I thought this was a good quote from the President (bold emphasis added) - thanks, Mrs G!:
I really did not have a question for the President anyway but wanted to comment that reading hundreds of milblogs every morning, that the troops are stating the same things that General Petraeus conveyed during his report and that I found it appalling how he was treated by congress and how he was accused of "cooking the books". That the troops see the progress and the reduction in violence in most areas and General Petraeus passed on their thoughts honestly. The president was adamant when he said, "I will do everything in my power to support the troops and their families” and I believe he means it.There's a lot more impugning of integrity going on in the aftermath of that. And it's not directed at Generals.
I guess that's what you earn when you wh*re-blog for a corrupt regime.That would be a comment at the Washington Post, by someone called phoebes1, inspired by someone named Dan Froomkin...
The Mrs couldn't stick around DC to watch the anti-war protests last weekend - she had to leave right after the meeting to make it home in time to help with the unit fund raiser. Via email:
Did get back very late, constant flight delays that caused missing other flights, wound up sitting on a plane for 3 hours on the tarmac. Was not pleasant. I also got to be one of the lucky random people pulled aside for a thorough body pat and baggage search. My 5'1 and 3/4" frame must have looked ominous to them ;-)I'm not certain, but I expect the funds raised will go towards the Christmas Party. Since most of their husbands will be in Iraq it shouldn't cost too much this year.
Speaking of thankless jobs, Bill...
Over at a blog called Sadly No, they really don't like you: "Bill Roggio at The Long Pig War Journal…well, let’s let Big Boy Jammies report it" - which they didn't.
At the Washington Post, Dan Froomkin really, really didn't like anyone...
Bush didn't have to go out of his way on Friday to endear himself to his guests, who had been screened for sycophancy.But then, he can't even avoid counting the total number of hours the President has spent in Iraq and then making fun of the bases where he spent them..
During his most recent trip, two weeks ago, Bush was on the ground for seven hours, never leaving the confines of a military base known as Camp Cupcake, a heavily fortified American outpost for 10,000 troops with a 13-mile perimeter.Actually that was al Asad Airbase in Anbar - good to know that one is so safe they call it Cupcake. Can't wait 'til my post is that sweet.
Froomkin inspired a host of Post readers (like the lovely and witty phoebes1) to go off the deep end - the editors, publisher, and fellow "journalists" must be proud.
If you want to really plumb the depths of the Toilets on the Left-Wing Information Sewer, try the comments at Think Progress.
At least the Columbia Journalism Review liked the Bills.
Now, bloggers aren’t New York Times reporters...Actually, none of the bloggers were carried away by the atmospherics - they simply noted said atmospherics as part of a full report. But those who would feed the ignorati simply chose not to cut and paste anything beyond that from the meeting. If any of them were to examine the actual questions those bloggers had for President Bush, they'd notice a theme...
“…With the current blurring of the lines between domestic politics and foreign policy, and the unwillingness of the American people to fight the current war, how do you get the American public to support the current and future conflicts?”In short, what matters to milbloggers is public support to the war they completely understand, and in which they are very much involved.
I can’t remember exactly what I asked the President because I was choking up having just mentioned my good friend SSG Stevon Booker who died in front of me in Iraq.The WaPo readers got a good chuckle out of that quote. But if you are far, far, removed from the reality of the war on terror - say, if you're a "columnist" or "blogger" interested only in the political gain you can get from a war (for instance, you use "conservative blogger" as interchangeable with "milblogger" in your report of a White House visit by an Iraq vet, the wife of a guy currently serving in Iraq, a citizen of Baghdad, four other veterans and one American civilian) you're not going to notice that these are people who are in the war. If you do notice that inconvenient truth, you'll recognize it as a distraction from your witty ad-hominems and avoid it like the plague. (Though the phoebes1's might not appreciate learning they'd been tricked into insulting spouses of deployed troops just so you could get your jollies.) Think it through a little farther and you might even come to realize that maybe, just maybe, a message was being sent regarding exactly where military people think someone could be doing a better job.
But since "have them read a few of the hundreds of milblogs that have been written from front-line troops in the war on terror" is one possible answer, you damn sure don't want that message to get out.
It would scare you shitless.
Next: Dry Skies and Thunder
Posted by Greyhawk / September 18, 2007 12:59 PM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
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