Saturday, September 10, 2005

I'll bet you all thought I went home!

Sorry for the delay, but I've got another story and a few pictures for you. I told you I'd write about our FOB here, and that's exactly what I did...

What is a FOB? Well, it stands for Forward Operating Base. It’s a collection of things, and life can vary quite a bit depending upon which FOB you are residing on. As for my FOB, we have a good life. Our FOB is about 50 square miles. It’s quite large. We have a major “airport”, a large chow hall, and lots of soldiers. There are both Army and Air Force personnel stationed here. We are separate, but equal. We have both an Army and an AF gym. We have a PX which stocks all sorts of things; Groceries, snacks, shoes, clothing, personal hygiene supplies, magazines, books, DVD’s, electronics, video games, minor appliances, just about anything you could need. The foreigners on base operate a massage parlor, a beauty parlor, a barber shop, a rug shop, and a miscellaneous shop. Once a month we have what’s called a “bazaar”. I’m not sure what the word means, but they allow Iraqi’s on base to sell us things from the market place. You can find anything and everything. We have a Burger King, and a Pizza Hut for when you tire of the DFAC (dining facility). *Most* of the soldiers avoid those places and opt for a nutritional meal, but some people have jobs where health isn’t an issue. If I ate burgers for lunch every day, I think I’d keel over and die in the heat on a hot day. The weather here is cooling down. Our 140 degree days have been replaced with 110 degree days. Now, I have been here for quite a while, 110 here feels like 85 back home. It’s hot, but not unbearable. It’s getting cooler and my time here is getting shorter, so I think I can put up with anything. When it gets really hot on our off days, we like to swing by the pool. Yeah, that’s right, there is a pool here. Chlorinated and clean, we swim almost once a week. For the brief couple of hours at the pool, you “almost” feel like a civilian again. Guys here will do all sorts of crazy things so that they don’t forget they are human. One of my roommates and I each have a pair of comfortable sweatpants from Old Navy. We wear them frequently when in our CHU. I also like to put on a baseball hat and forget that I should be wearing a Kevlar helmet. It’s the little things that keep us sane. I like to clean my own clothes as well. KBR has a laundry service, but the mass laundry system just isn’t for me. There is a do it yourself laundry mat nearby, so I like to walk there and relax while my clothes are cleaned by “mountain fresh Tide”. And the “snuggles” dryer sheets keep my clothes smelling just like Mom used to do them.
Everyone likes to keep in touch with their families and friends, so we are provided with a couple of “internet/phone centers” on the FOB. You can use calling cards and talk to your family and friends, or you can log onto the computer and type an email, or check out some milblogs. Technology is something I’ll never take for granted after this experience. Like I’ve said before, we do a lot of odd things to pass the time. Lighting things on fire, playing with knives and swords, and causing all sorts of destruction and mayhem. We are just like a bunch of schoolyard boys.
There are two separate hospitals here. The EMEDS clinic is run by the Air Force and is top notch. I’ve read it all over the blogsphere, and I can’t argue, the US military has the greatest surgeons we could ever ask for. It’s a relief, if not a small comfort to know when we go out, that if something bad happens we can rely on the people waiting here to care for us. It makes our job just a bit easier. Besides, the AF techs are a bunch of cuties, and what can numb pain better than a pretty face?
Speaking of that, there are not many females here. It’s tough as a male, because the lack of females and the rules against hanging out with them deter us from seeking relationships, yet they are here, so we can’t parade around naked and do all the “macho guy” things we’d like to do. It’s a catch 22. There are worse things though, so we don’t think about it too much.

I can’t really think of what else you would like to know about, so leave me a comment, and I’ll answer any questions you have of Army life in Iraq. That’s all I’ve got for now. See you all soon.

Here are some quality pictures...

Here's a young boy who's happy we're here

One of our NCO's with a couple kurdish boys

An Apache escort on one of our trips to Tikrit

This is me kneeling at the range

A young Iraqi boy with some IA soldiers in the background during a raid

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