Saturday, November 29, 2008


If a picture is worth a 1000 words, this is going to be a long one.

...just a few shots of Thanksgiving in Iraq.

Semper Fi,


Thursday, November 27, 2008


I really am thankful.

I am so very thankful for my family. My bride, my kids, my parents, my grandparents, brothers and sisters... all of my family.

I am thankful for my freedoms and my brothers and sisters in arms who help me secure those freedoms... The sheep-dogs of society.

I am thankful for my up-bringing. We are a mix of genetics and experiences and I owe all of one and much of the other to my parents. You really helped to make me who I am.

I am thankful for my opportunity to serve my country, by far, the greatest country in the world.

I am thankful for all your support. You keep this Marine fed and smiling and I couldn't do this without you.

Semper Fi,

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Iraqi Democracy,8599,1861869,00.html

This is a really good article about some of the goings-on here where I am.

Democracy is being applied, loosely.

Semper Fi,

Happy T-Day!

T-Day in this case being Tuesday.

I don't know why, but it really doesn't matter at this point. Thursday this week will be another Thursday here. Yeah the meat and potatoes will taste a little different, and we will eat together, but it will not be a traditional Thanksgiving.

Sure, we can give thanks that day, but we give thanks EVERY day God lets us keep on serving.

We will all stop and eat together, but we try and do that anyway, every day.

Family talk will probably be avoided, so that will be different, but that is because talk of family on that day would be painful.

Don't feel bad for us. We are doing just fine. Be thankful for what you have and that we will one day come home and spend weekly T-Day's (Tuesdays) with our families.

Semper Fi,

Flies, Flies, Flies...

There are flies practically everywhere! They are just your common housefly, but they are aggressive and adament about just agitating the mess out of you.

We have done a pretty good job of keeping them out of the working and living spaces, but they are all over everything else.

There are bag traps, tape traps, and even this purple bait traps that we have set up all over the place to kill them. Then there are the Marines who are actively hunting them.

I gotta brag, I got 6 in one swatter swing!

Anyway, the weather is perfect and they are loving it!

Not much going on over here....

Semper Fi,

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I don't like them.

I don't like the good ones and don't like the bad ones. For some reason, I think Data (the android on Star Trek that could not feel) had a real advantage. He could see things without emotions blinding him and could make decisions based on logic and not feelings. Spock was always so logical too.

Even the good emotions seem to cause pain or a longing to do silly things to keep a good emotion. The bad emotions... well, are there really any good or bad emotions? In reality, aren't they just chemical changes in the brain that happen based on sensory triggers and learned responses?

Spouses cheat on their deployed spouses to some how feel love or acceptance in their service member's absence. Service members feel jealous over a plumber coming over to fix a busted pipe. Suicides are the results of feeling hopeless about situations that are most often temporary and based almost entirely on emotions.

3 marriages are on the rocks right now because of either infidelity or perceived infidelity, and that is just out of 20 or so guys, in the last 2 months. 2 months? Are you kidding me?

Last time I was out here, a Marine suck-started his M-16 in a port-a-john because he was feeling lonely. It was a 7 month deployment... only 7 months.

Here come the holidays. People here either get really depressed, really withdrawn, or totally immersed in their jobs. Why? Because they feel or so they don't have to feel.

The love I have for my family makes me miss them, so without that emotion of love, I would be better able to focus on my work?

Emotions make it hard to survive in a combat zone. Fear causes hesitation and hesitation makes you slower on the trigger than your enemy. Care about your Marines makes you hesitate before sending them into combat at all, for fear that they could be hurt.

Trust is so much more logical. I simply trust the Marine to do his job because he is a consummate professional. There is no fear involved or love or compassion. Unfortunately some of these emotions cause there to be a lack of trust though.

Acceptance is not a feeling, it is a state of being. You either are or are not accepted. Let an emotion get in there though and now there are some that are more accepted than others and some that are jealous or ashamed or ....

Then there is God. God is love. Why can't God be courage? Courage is feeling fear and acting anyway. Acting despite a silly emotion.

I really struggle with emotions.

Most Iraqi's right now are doing things that are counter-productive because of some fear or another. Many of their fears are founded in reality, but that doesn't make them any more or less influential on the Iraqi's actions.

Law-men over here fear for their lives in enforcing rule of law instead of tribal law and sometimes that fear causes them to become corruptible. Innocent civilians fear for their safety in the areas al Qaeda has influence so they cooperate with actions against the Iraqi government and coalition forces. Fear of being considered a terrorist causes them to sever ties with family members and fear of family members prevents them from working with coalition forces.

Dude, this is the law. You broke the law, You go to jail. I don't care who your sheik is.

Women have lots and lots and lots of emotions and who really understands them when they get emotional? Half the time, they cannot even tell you why they are emotional, they just are.

Emotions lie.

How often do little kids think there is some goofy monster under the bed or outside their 2nd story window, when in reality it is a balled up sweater or the wind tapping a branch? I guess that would be imagination (not an emotion...) I will have to re-think that one....

They still lie. One minute we are feeling one way and the next we are feeling totally different while only our perceptions have changed, not reality.

(In case you are wondering, nothing has happened, it is just 2352 at night, I have not blogged for today and I cannot sleep, so you are getting my philosophical thoughts on emotions....)


Semper Fi,

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Eagle Globe and Anchor

The Eagle Globe and Anchor (seen to the right here) is the emblem of the Marine Corps.

The Eagle represents service to our nation. It is right on top and carrying a banner with the Marine Corps logo on it that reads, "Semper Fidelis." That Latin phrase is the Marine Corps motto and means Always Faithful. Marines are always faithful to their nation and to her service.

The Globe represents world-wide service. Marines are found in every "climb and place where we can take a gun." We are at every US Embassy and everywhere the Commander in Chief goes.
Finally, the Anchor represents our naval heritage and sea-service. We started out defending ships. We still do that duty but we have also evolved to serve in amphibious and ground combat roles as well. The anchor in our logo keeps us founded in our sea-faring days and remembering our historical domain.

We are to be "most ready when our nation is least ready," (author unknown). Everything about our Corp revolves around service. We exist to serve. It is our honor to serve.

Semper Fi,

Two little Girls...

Debbie Jacks is my brother's mother in law. She is a great lady with heart of gold.

Last time I was deployed, I worked with teams of Marines who had access to the streets and in many cases, scores of kids.

She sent me packages full of Beanie-Babies and I gave them to Marines who would hand them out to the kids. This was a way the Marines could make instant friends and show the kids they were friendly without saying a word.

Well, I don't have near that access to the kids that I did last time, but this time I do have a little bit. She sent me one such package this go round, and I am not so sure I am going to get all the toys out, but I am going to do my best.

On rare occasions, people seeking help from the Iraqi Police will bring their kids with them and that is what little time I would get to give them a toy.

On one such occasion, I noticed a man with his two daughters walking with one of our interpreters (Willie), as they were leaving the compound. I asked Willie about their story and if next time they came if I could give them a stuffed animal from Debbie's package. He was elated and said that anything like that would be appreciated.

Their mother had been killed by an insurgent's IED about a year ago and the man has had to quit his job to care for his daughters. Willie has been helping out ever since he met them.

From everything we have seen, the man does a great job taking care of them. They are always well behaved and act like respectful, playful girls their age should act.

Well, they came back and I was ready this time... only, I wasn't there. Fortunately, I had left some of the toys with Willie, along with some of the goodies out of some of the other care packages I had received. Willie was spot on, gave them the toys and goodies and then took their picture with a couple near-by Marines.

Thanks for all your support. You back home are supporting me and my efforts to take some of the pressure off of these people. Together, WE are doing great things over here, and I could not do it without you.

Semper Fi,

Day 30

It is Day 30 in the pull-up challenge. Today I did the first twenty in a row, just like I would in a PFT, except wearing a pistol belt and my cammies. Then about 10 minutes later, I came back and knocked out the other 10.

This is not as hard as I was thinking it would be (said the man with most of the pull-ups to go). I really do think that the hard part is developing the habit and remembering to knock them out daily. The body will adjust slowly to the exercises, but the mental remembering and determination are the hard parts.

The day was a usual day. Intermittent, often distant gunfire was heard through out the day. We worked to get Iraqi's proper badges and filed paperwork. We set up mentoring opportunities for the upcoming week and training sessions for us to give.

Our internet was down for about half the day, but now that it is back up, I am back to blogging.

Sgt Garrett and I got into some relatively deep conversations today about values. We discussed the concept as it relates to different cultures and then different individuals we know.

Some cultures really seem to value human life (modern, Western cultures) and other cultures don't value it as much (Middle Eastern cultures and African cultures). We were obviously generalizing, based on our own personal experiences and not intending to offend, but making the link back to terrorism, tactics and military operations. You know, how some would be willing to be suicide bombers to further a cause and others wouldn't even get off their butts to support their candidate in a Presidential election. ...values...

We considered how one President valued public opinion more than another and how some Americans value material things more than others. We discussed what some would do for money and what money others would give up for things they valued more.

(There at the end of the conversation, we both hit each other in the chest, grunted and cleaned our guns, just to get back to our masculine side...).

Semper Fi,

Friday, November 21, 2008

Good, Bad and Ugly

We have had the opportunity to work with several different units out here. Some of those experiences were great and others were not so great... we learned from all of them.

The Army's 194th MP Company... they have been nothing but great. They hook us up left and right with good logistical support, to and from the locations our missions require us to get to. The teams we have worked with have been consummate professionals, constantly doing the right things and making stuff happen.

The SeaBee det. I am going to leave the unit designator off here because the experience has been relatively negative. Their leadership seems to just come in, log into their computer and chill while their men work on important projects throughout the facility. There seems to be little leadership involved in accomplishing the mission. On one occasion, they were working in our hooch and left the doors open all day... FLIES WERE EVERYWHERE! Seriously, hundreds of flies. Try getting to sleep when you are getting bombarded by flies. We put up literally 30 sticky-traps for them and eventually it was livable, but we wouldn't have had to do that had they just used a little consideration. They come into the chow hall, eat a bunch of our food and then leave the place a mess. If their leadership were more involved, they could probably be a lot more effective....

2nd Battalion, 9th Marines. Great guys. What can I say, they are stretched really thin, trying to cover ground previously covered by numerous battalions. They are very supportive compared to other battalions I have worked with and focused on mission accomplishment. Their leadership is just what this area needs right now: firm, fair and determined to get different groups communicating. Their operations are effective and conducted as jointly as possible.

The IPA det. These guys are law enforcement professionals from the states that are the best in their fields. The US didn't hold back in sending these guys over. They are a bunch of solid guys who provide good advice to the IP's here on everything from investigations to effective patrolling techniques.

Semper Fi,

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Colleen's Blog

For those of you who don't know, my bride, Colleen, now has her own blog and she is doing a great job. You will find a link to it in my Blog Roll, to the right here ===>

Semper Fi,

Hooters In Ramadi!

Not a real Hooters, but the restaurant in our facility is affectionately called Hooters in Ramadi. This is a picture of our cook, waiter and entertainment in the restaurant standing with CWO2 Nolan. Incidentally, he likes the New York Yankees...

From the picture below, you can see the single table, the top corner of the menu on the wall, the grilling area and many of the regular customers. It was taken all they way against the wall, so you see about the whole place, in this one snapshot.

The guys who run the restaurant drive in from Baghdad every week, just to run this little shop. That said, they make about $4.00, total, per meal, and that is what we pay, not their profits.

Yes, that is duck-tape holding their air conditioner in the wall. I am not sure how they do it, but they stay in business and they help us feel like we are eating in a restaurant, which gives us a little taste of home.

In all reality, we are not allowed to travel outside the compound with out three vehicles and a specific mission. It is not like we can just go down the road to a McDonald's or something and eat. We have fewer freedoms than the Iraqi's here do. I am good with that, because this is the life I chose, but some don't realize that.

It is an interesting paradox that soldiers so often give up the very freedoms they fight to protect.
Semper Fi,

Peppers are NOT Pickles

Sgt Garrett, Metal (our interpreter while Yoda is on vacation) and I were having lunch with an Iraqi LtCol one recent afternoon. It was the traditional kabob, chicken, vegetables and football bread.

It was a typical lunch, but with Iraqi's, we have to be overly careful to be courteous, respectful and mindful of our actions. You don't shake hands when either of you are eating; you don't talk business when you are eating a social meal, talking with your mouthful is fine, as it implies that your social conversations are more important than the food you are eating; you eat with your hands and you share plates of food.

The conversations were great. We talked about families, Obama and Bush, current events in the US and upcoming Iraqi elections.

Somewhere in the important conversation, I stopped paying attention to what I was doing and started really getting into the points my counterparts were making... the problem was, I was still eating.

...tear off a piece of bread, put some meat on there, some veggies on there and stuff in face... repeat process until you cannot sit up-right any more and then smile and comment on how great the food was....

I like switching the meat between kabob (lamb) and chicken, and switching the veggies, alternating between tomatoes, onions and pickles. That way, each bite tastes different, for at least 6 bites.

In putting one such bite together, I grabbed the bread, put some chicken on there and put a pickle (or what I thought was a pickle) in there and stuffed it in my face. 3... 2... 1....

About that time, an IED exploded in my face and I was on FIRE. That pickle was not a pickle. It was a pepper. My eyes immediately kicked in and tried to water it out, but they were not helping my social standing in the conversation.

OK, it really wasn't that hot, but when you are expecting a sweet, dill-ish taste and you wind up with something resembling a jalapeno, it gets your attention.

I reached for my ... I didn't have a water handy... The LtCol asked me a question (thank goodness for Metal. He noticed I was having a little gastric difficulty and took his time translating.)

I had to use the bread and a bite of chicken to calm the fire a little.

The question was small-talk, so I don't remember it or my answer, but shortly thereafter an IP brought us each in a can of Sprite. That did the trick and I was back in action.

Although I don't think anyone but Metal and maybe the LtCol noticed, but WOW!!!

At that point, I took all the peppers off my plate and strategically placed them on Sgt Garrett's plate (he actually likes them).

Semper Fi,


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Slow Progress

Everything is going just fine out here. We are making our mission happen and adapting to the little things.

Meetings become verbal commitments to train Iraqi's and the training spawns meetings to discuss the degrees of success the training has had. These meetings become more meetings to discuss further follow-on training and so on.

Well today, we had a meeting on meetings. We actually discussed how meetings were supposed to be done... so it was a meeting training meeting.

Oddly enough, the meeting training meeting also scheduled training for tomorrow, so there will be meetings on how that training goes too.

Don't get me started about the reports that are generated about the trainings or meetings. Aye, aye, aye!!!

I guess there was some high level meeting going on today about the status of forces or something concerning our future support to the Iraqi people. Honestly, I am too far down in the weeds to really get much of what is going on way up there in the stratusphere.

I know Ohio State won yesterday, Iraqi men are still playing musical fuses, mosquitoes are still out and biting in mid-November here and that is about it.

Semper Fi,

Friday, November 14, 2008

Day 22

For those of you keeping track, today is day 22 in our pull-up challenge and it has been really easy so far. It has also been very effective in increaseing the number of pull-ups I can do.

When I first got here, I would have been doing well to knock out 15, non-stop. Yesterday, I did the first 20, non-stop.

Sgt Garrett was pretty impressed and I was surprised myself. What I have learned so far is that the best way to get better at pull-ups is to do pull-ups. Lifting weights hasn't really helped me in the past, but this is really working.

Now they were not perfect pull-ups, but they were all the way up and all the way down.

For those of you doing these with me, hang in there... (pun intended). We only have 78 days left!!!

Semper Fi,

Jump Start

Once again, the Iraqi Police have shown their ability to adapt and get stuff working.

They used two thin cables to jump one vehicle with another. This time, the cables were too thin, and there was no ends on the cable, just copper nubs, so one guy had to hold the cables right down on the posts while the other guy did the same. Finally, a third guy had to start the disabled vehicle.

I was amazed! These guys are crazy brave, messing with electricity like that. There were several Marines and probably a dozen IP's around watching this excitement, as were doing all they could to make the car start.

One of the Marines watching decided to be sneaky and play a little prank on the guys working to start the car (and no, I will not use his name here... you may know him). He crept up to the working vehicle and honked the horn.

Both men holding the cables jumped! The guy holding the cables to the dead vehicle screamed, dropped the cables and shouted something in Arabic that sounded like it had four letters in it. He then started chasing the antagonist around the parking lot shouting at him. By the end of the chase, everyone, including the Iraqi giving chase were laughing.

It was hilarious.

They finally got the vehicle started, and got it started without the use of an ambulance or medical team.

Semper Fi,

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

9 November Surprise

So there I was, still drowsy from a relatively successful nights sleep, walking around to get to the shower and I hear this, uh, sound. Not so sure if it was my head playing with me or some Marine prankster, but it had to be the best sheep impression I have ever heard in my life.

I take the bait, glance to my right and sure enough, there is a sheep. No, I mean a real live sheep.

I gotta wake up!!! I shake my head a little, squint my eyes and look again... it is moving. It is a sheep.... in Ramadi.

Now I am not one for farm animals, and certainly not one to just walk up to some strange farm animal that I have never been formally introduced to (my mother taught me better than that) so I just walked in and took my shower.

After I was done, I noticed that a few other Marines had found the sheep too. "That your sheep Gunny," one of them asked. "Nope, not my sheep," I retorted.

We chuckled and pondered for a few minutes before we went about our separate ways.

Come to find out, it was one of the interpreter's sheep. He had picked it up to have, um, over for dinner, the night after the Marine Corps birthday.

Immediately I thought, "I ain't eatin' that sheep," and then I started thinking about steak, chicken, salmon.... CHEESEBURGERS..........

OK, I will give the sheep a shot... I mean I will taste it if they offer some to me. Although they never did, we did share some cake with them. It was a really good ceremony with some Marines I will never forget.

We cut the cake with a Bayonet! How totally fitting for a band of warriors, deployed to a combat zone, don't you think?

(That piece on the right was ALL MINE!) There were several of these cakes, so there was plenty to have for breakfast the next morning.

The Marines who drink got to have two beers a piece, courtesy of 2/9's SgtMaj. Those of us who don't drink were standing ready, just in case something went down... It didn't and all was well.

.... a sheep.....

Semper Fi,

Monday, November 10, 2008

Little Trip to Jazeera

We were able to get out to Jazeera Precinct the other day and work with some of our students there. They are doing well.

This picture was taken in the entry way to their building.

It is their wall of heroes. Each is a picture of a Policeman who gave his life in the line of duty. I don't care what country you are from, it takes a hero to lay your life down for the greater good.

The Major I was with called them hero's, not martyrs, but hero's. He told us that they died over the last few years, fighting the insurgency. During Saddam's time, these men would not have been considered hero's unless they were from his family or tribe.

The IP's out at Jazeera are well trained and really impressed us with how well they did their jobs. Some mentoring on our part and they will be ready to roll

Semper Fi,


Happy 233rd Birthday, Marines!

Today, November 10, 2008 is the Marine Corps' 233rd Birthday. That means that we have been at this profession of protection since 10 November, 1775! For those of you doing the math, we gained our independence, as a nation, in 1776... on the shoulders of some damn fine Marines.

My Corps started in a Tavern in Pennsylvania... how fitting. It was a Major who was the first Commandant and one of the best recruiters in history.

He basically got his recruits drunk enough to agree to volunteer to sit up in the crow's nest of a colonial ship and function as a sharp shooter from aloft. Can you say sea-sick???

The officers on the decks wore an embroidered design called a quatrefoil on their hats so the Marines in the crow's nests knew who to watch for commands and who to shoot (I mean not to shoot...).

The Marines of that time were called "leather-necks" because their collars were high enough to cover their necks and made of thick leather to protect them from the blades of their enemy's swords.

The blues uniform worn by today's enlisted Marines looks similar to that worn by our predecessors on the ships.

Marines of that day often had salt stains on their uniforms after they had been at sea for a while, so those that are seasoned veterans today are often called, "salty".

Our Corps is steeped with traditions and it is the traditions that make our Corps special.

Today we celebrate our birthday in different ways, because of our deployed locations. Traditionally, the current Commandant's birthday message is read aloud and General John A. Lejeune's first birthday message is read aloud. Then a cake is cut with a traditional Marine Corps blade (Sword for some and K-Bar for others). The first piece is given to the oldest Marine, representing the respect for our predecessors and traditions. The second piece is cut by the oldest Marine and given to the youngest Marine present, representing the traditions getting passed down to the new generation. Following that, all Marines eat cake and typically tell a bunch of "remember-when" stories.

US Navy Corpsmen (medical personnel assigned to Marine Units) and Chaplains are not left out and are normally, specifically remembered in our ceremonies. They serve right there with us.

These ceremonies have happened in airports, battlefields, training areas, ball-rooms, colleges and, well, just about every climb and place.

Happy Birthday, Marines!

Semper Fi,

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Unrestricted Warfare

Sgt G and I are reading through a book called Unstrestricted Warfare.

It was written by two Chinese Colonels back in 1999. They are very predictive in their writing, and very close to being right on.

Reading helps to pass the time after work and get us thinking about something other than our daily grind.

This book discusses higher theories of war and suggests that the nature of war has changed. It says that war is no longer about soldiers on battlefields, but has become a rule-less, omni-present state of conflict where hackers and identity entrepreneurs use everyday objects wield power. ...1999....

It talks about thinking about war differently and considering EVERYTHING a weapon and EVERYONE capable of doing international damage. know, relaxing reading before bed!

Honestly though, complacency kills in an environment like this, and a book like this keeps us on our toes. We have to keep our minds in a heightened state of readiness so we remain a hard target to hit.

Hopefully we will have it done in a week or so and we will be on to something else... I will keep you posted.

Semper Fi,


Back in my academic days, I studied a concept called Low Intensity Conflict (LIC... yes, everything in the military MUST have an acronym).

I always had a problem with this term. In fact, my disputing this very term for about 10 pages got me an "A" on one of my papers, but that is another story....

Anyway, LIC is a state of conflict where most of the conventional combat is over... Iraq is a good example of what they would call "Low Intensity Conflict". It is not all out combat... we are not nuking anyone and could, the insurgents are not anyone we can really negotiate with, but are still an adversary we engage in semi-military manners.

My problem with the LIC term is that it is only "low intensity" if you are not the one in the fight.

In fact, right now, a military scholar could argue the point that we are not even in LIC right now, but more of a police action.

Read the following article: .

I would challenge you to convince the Iraqi Police that they are in a "low intensity conflict". Those officers that survived these men are giving their lives in this fight. Those families that survived these officers have paid an extreme price for their country and would certainly consider the conflict more than "low intensity".

Pray for the IP's resolve today. Pray for their families. Pray that these brave men continue to fight for what they believe in. They are doing great and their success is critical to peace in this region.

Semper Fi,

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Because we are turning more and more responsibilities and duties over to the Iraqi people, our jobs are really starting to change. They are changing for the better, as it the Iraqi people are becoming more and more independent, but the changes are not always comfortable.

Things we are used to doing and used to see through to the end are now being done by Iraqis who do things differently or are not as transparent.

It is like we built a car, by hand, and are now handing the keys to someone else and telling them to drive it away. That person can drive down the block, wrap that car around a telephone pole and we have no control over their actions.

I guess it bothers me because I really do care about how this all turns out. I want there to be stability over here. Peace and security of the individual Iraqi is important to me, and if the Iraqi government doesn't do this right, it means I failed, we are needed in this area longer and we probably won't be staying, which means instability and....

These changes are necessary, but it is frustrating to give up control of something you have really put your heart into, you know?

I see me having these issues as my kids get older too, especially with Katelyn. As she becomes more and more independent, I am going to have to start giving her the freedoms to succeed or fail on her own.

Back to the car analogy... I have to eventually give them the keys to a car and let them drive it off, knowing they could possibly wrap it around a telephone pole or worse.

I know they are going to surpass my wildest expectations and make me extremely proud, but it is that transition, that time of change that is the hardest.

I am safe on first base and safe on second, but very vulnerable in between. It is that unknown factor of will I make it or will I get tagged out?

There really is a lot riding on the success of the Iraqi government though. Mainly the lives of its people. Personalities drive so much over here, and it is personalities in power. I guess it is like that everywhere.

Pray that the system works and that it sets the innocent free and prosecutes the guilty.

Semper Fi,

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Results...

Well, the results are in, and I am really, REALLY happy about them!!! Who would have ever dreamed??? Who could have imagined???

I have been waiting 15 years to say this, and it is NOW TIME! The time is finally here!!! Colleen and I have been married for 15 years today!!! (and you thought I was talking about the election???)

When we first got married, in November of 1993, we were so happy.

I was happy because I was marrying the greatest lady in the world. I knew she wasn't going anywhere. While I was in boot camp, she sent me letters every single day. We were engaged the whole time.

When we first got engaged, we told each other that divorce simply wasn't an option, period. It was either stick it out or die trying. With that perspective, we were determined to get by our differences and make compromising adjustments no matter what came our way.

With God's help and the support of our family (and quite despite the Marine Corps' best efforts I might add) we have made it 15 years and have many more to come.

I love you Beautiful!

Semper Fi,

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Today is your last opportunity to vote in this year's pivotal election. Make sure you at least consider the freedoms you have to vote.

I cast my ballot via absentee and hope that you will set a good example and do the same.

In a total change of subject, I decided to never use the lone port-a-john out by the parking lot. Iraqi drivers, specifically IP's in their own parking lot, really, really scare me.

In trying not to be predictable, I avoid routines. I walk to work at different times of the morning and vary my daily routines as much as possible. It makes me a harder target....

So on one such occasion, I decided to use the port-a-john out by the parking lot. It is not as clean, but this was a quick pit-stop and I would be on my way.

About mid-way through, I hear an IP truck come squealing around the lot and start making its way toward a spot over by the IP hooch. Through the little slits in the top of the port-a-john, I helplessly watched as this truck came dangerously close to hitting the flimsy plastic box that would have offered no protection to an incoming F-350.

Mere inches I am telling you, mere inches. It about knocked the port-a-john onto its side... this would have been really, really bad and my blog entry would have been quite different.

Anyway, from this point forward, I am sticking to the facilities closer to the buildings and out of the potential paths of incoming trucks.

Semper Fi,

Monday, November 3, 2008

Your Prayers

I just wanted to take a minute and thank you all for your prayers. Today, at about 1600 (4pm) my time, they really, really worked.

You are the difference. Your prayers significantly impacted my life today and I just wanted to say thank you.

All is well, no one is hurt and it is a result of God answering your prayers.

Semper Fi,

Sunday, November 2, 2008

November 08 Promotions

Last night was daylight savings time for the US and much of the rest of the world. Iraq does not recognize daylight savings as of last year, so I am now 8 hours ahead of home.

It just seems like I am just that much farther away, but it is November, right? One month closer.

We promoted a Cpl to Sgt yesterday. He was nearly speechless in front of the formation. It is always good to see Marines moving forward in their careers.

Today the SgtMaj and MGySgt list came out. Only 3 MGySgt's got selected for my MOS, so that means next year there are going to be only a few who get selected for MSgt. I am expecting the MSgt and 1stSgt lists to come out here real soon.

We are doing really well out here at the station. We will be awarding 4 students with certificates of completion of our highest level of training. One of them will be certified as an instructor to train his co-workers on the skills he has learned so far. We will still be mentoring them all in their duties, but they are doing very well.

Seems like many are getting promoted and these advancements are bringing further responsibility.

We are doing really well, supported by the greatest nation in the world. We are accomplishing the missions involved with securing an unstable Iraq and doing it with honor and dignity. Our forefathers would be proud of our individual actions. We are representing you and representing them to the best of our ability.

Semper Fi,

Saturday, November 1, 2008


No matter how you slice it, we are month closer to coming home.

It was October, now it is November. We have one less pay day 'til we come home. We are one more month down. It is Saturday, so that is one week closer to getting home too.

I realize that we are still talking about only having been here so long, but when you are over here, you gotta squeeze every drop of motivation out of everything to keep those eyes on the prize.

It is going to be a good day!!! We are going to make it a good day.

Today is 9 pull-ups and we are stoked and ready to hit them. Colleen had me do the math the other day, and with nothing getting in the way of them, we should be at 100 pull-ups on 31 January, 2009. We are going to have some serious shoulders (or serious shoulder pain) by then.

Well, the skies are blue over here in our sand-box! Have an AWESOME November!!!

Semper Fi,