Saturday, June 11, 2005

The Horror


The other morning I woke at 0500 to the sound of my roommate’s alarm clock, the same alarm clock he wakes to every day, only to hit the snooze button at least five times, torturing me with its incessant chirping. It sounds like a wounded bird needing to be put out of its misery, but with every push of the button it’s resurrected once again. He must like the feeling of being able to lay there a few more minutes, or maybe he likes birds, whatever it is, he unknowingly taunts me with every lazy push. Who invented the snooze button anyway? He’s no doubt laughing about it right now. He finally let the bird die, sat up, and muttered "shit" in a low voice. Maybe he was upset about the bird, but then I remembered that he greets each new day with the same word, doing little to make me want to get out of bed. Thanks for the extra motivation there buddy. Not that I expect him to get up and yell "Hallelujah!", but something other than shit would be nice. Even more motivating was the fact that I wasn’t planning to get up for another half hour. Despite losing the extra half hour of sleep, I’d had five hours of wakeless sleep, dreaming of wife and home, and feeling good and rested.

We were leaving on a mission at 0700 and had to be up at the CP at 0600, making me wonder why he had set his alarm so early. I put on my heavy gear, my smelly helmet, grabbed my rifle and headed for the door. I wanted to check my email before we had to get the humvee ready. I was expecting a message from my wife, a little motivation for the day, and she didn’t disappoint me. Somebody had thankfully coordinated with the chow hall to make us plates before it opened at 0630. The food in the chow hall has gotten so bad that my stomach turns flips after every meal, but breakfast is the best meal of the day and I hate missing it.

We were going on another dull mission, and I wasn’t really looking forward to it. I should want all our missions to be dull, recognizing the safety that dullness provides. I bet my wife would like all of our missions to be dull. I don’t want to get shot at every day or have someone try to blow us up, but I wouldn’t mind something to make the day a little more eventful. You prepare yourself mentally for that, but it was unlikely anything would happen on this day. I should be happy about that. It’s a sign of progress, a good thing.

Apparently some bad guys had been shooting mortars at a nearby base from some land adjacent to a man’s home. Our mission was to talk to the man, see if he had any information about the mad mortar men, and search the land around his home for mortar tubes or signs of their presence. I personally didn’t think we would get very far with the man. He lived in a Sunni town and probably knew the people responsible, but I doubted he would give up their identity. I could already see him shaking his head incredulously, wondering how we could possibly associate him with such people. Screw him and his house. That’s what I was thinking as we headed out the gate.

I charged my 240, all nice and lubed and ready to roll, sat down on my little strap hanging from both sides of the humvee’s turret, and let the Iraqi world and all its foul smells whirl past me. Zooming in and out of cars, slamming on the brakes and accelerating a second later, and we’re soon out on the open highway, with nothing slowing us down. This part of the trip is boring, with nothing on both sides of the highway except open flat land. I have to sit when driving like this, making me less likely to get my head blown off by an IED. The shield of the turret encircles me except for a small opening where the gun is, and the gun itself has a shield as well, leaving me two little cracks out of which I can view the outside world. Looking down into the humvee I can see Sgt. W. with a handset to his ear, busy listening to the useless chatter over the radio. Thomas is busy concentrating on driving, looking like a kid in drivers ed with his hands at the 10 and 2 position.
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The two guys in the back seat are staring at nothing in particular as they lethargically sip on another highly caffeinated energy drink, wishing they could inject the liquid speed intravenously, and willing themselves not to succumb to the anguish of nodding off. My legs are falling asleep from the strap digging into the back of my leg, and my feet feel like they’re being stuck by hundreds of needles as I put my weight on them, trying to adjust my body to allow blood to flow down to my legs. Up in the turret with me are a couple of bottles of water, a can of Mountain Dew for when I begin to nod off, a pair of binoculars, package of dry Ramen for the lunch I know we’re going to miss, my camera, a GPS, and of course my gun. Every now and then I have to yell down to Sgt. W our grid coordinates since it won’t pick up the satellite signal from inside the humvee. I’m watching lubricant slowly drip from my gun onto the humvee as we continue to speed down the highway at 65mph. I wish I’d brought my book along to entertain me during this part of the trip. I’d been reading a novel about the civil war, but I’d left it back at the FOB. I guess I read about war, since I sometimes don’t feel like I’m part of one here. It’s got big bloody battles and god like Generals. I’m aware that we’re part of a war right here, but a very different one than that. I couldn’t help thinking how it was that our nation was ever at war with itself. How is it that men can be friends one day and enemies the next, standing on opposite sides of the battlefield with the intent to kill each other. What is it about man and war that has existed for all time and will continue as long as we exist. These absurd thoughts were running through my mind as we sped on our way.

There’s still a cause worth fighting for over here even if it rarely shows it’s ugly head anymore. Maybe they’ll rear their ugly head today, but it’s unlikely. So I’m thinking of civil wars, Generals, masked gunmen with RPG’s, IED’s buried along the road, suicide bombers, my family, and home when we begin to approach a small town on the way to our destination. I forget about the book and leave the epic battles for later, concentrating instead on everything in front of me, the houses, the cars, the people, the children, the dogs, the donkeys, the tractors, the trucks, and the sides of the road that lay smooth along the hard top, concealing the sudden destruction that may consume us all. But this is a friendly town, one we’ve been to before. It’s a Shia town with children waving at us as we pass. Crude houses stand on each side of the road, some made of clay, others of brick. Trash litters the ground that children run through trying to get a glimpse of us. Women with only their eyes uncovered are carrying huge bundles of vegetation on their back, likely the food that will nourish their animals for the future slaughter that will in turn nourish them. Men stroll through the streets without a care in the world, certainly not for the women with the weight of the world upon their backs. We don’t stop, nor do we slow down, we just speed through as if they don’t exist. They’re not on our agenda today. Today we have to go talk to a man about mortar tubes.

We pass through that town and continue on our voyage, the land on both sides of the road once again barren. I go back to thinking about Jackson, Lee, Chamberlain, and others, reliving the horror they witnessed and wondering if the smell of death on their battlefield was as bad as the smell here. The Horror. I can hear Marlon Brando repeating those words in Apocalypse Now. There is no horror here, not now anyway. We even make fun of the horror, imitating Brando’s voice when making light of a somewhat harrowing mission. You get back from a mission and someone asks you how it went. "Oh, the horror," we reply, which is a clear indication that there was anything but any horror involved. "The horror," would be a more accurate description of a four hour guard shift. How we dread the time we have to spend on force protection. It kills you from the inside out, eating away at you like a cancer. Hopefully our attempt at fun will not come back to haunt us with real horror, knowing the future could reveal it at anytime.

We begin to approach the next town, the one where the man is about to tell us nothing. The inhabitants of this town are hardcore Sunni’s. Wonderful, maybe we can all sit around and have a picnic and watch the kids play. Knowing we’re going into a town full of people that probably aren’t about to invite us over for dinner, my eyes and ears become alert to everything in front of me. This town is markedly different that the previous slum-like town we sped through earlier. Clearly these people were in favor when Saddam was in power. Sucks for them, now they have to share the bounty with everyone else.

The houses are big, nice, and well built. There are no mud houses here.
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No houses made with brick haphazardly placed on one another. Some of these houses even have lawns full of green grass. It’s not often that you see green grass in this land, and these lawns actually looked as if they had been manicured recently. I wanted to get down from the humvee, take my boots off and feel the individual blades of grass between my toes. I wanted to smell it and let it remind me of home. And no trash, how about that. The streets aren’t littered with wet stinking trash, amazing. The kids even look different, better dressed and healthier looking than the kids from the Shia town.

The school is at the end of town, the same side from which we are approaching. We happen to pull up as all the kids are making their way to the school, a teacher or principal there to guide them in with a stick. What is it with men and sticks in this country? They beat everything with it. Unruly kids are as likely to feel the slap of a stick as the animals are. Men chase children away from us with sticks. Boys run away from these men with smiles on their faces, taunting them and their inability to catch them. It’s their culture, but I hope I never see one of those men hit a little girl with a stick. I saw one young girl in the distance with a big black eye that had swollen shut. I could only hope it was an accident and not from the hand of a man. Another guy saw her too, and we both wished we could find whoever caused it.

Boys are yelling and waving at us from inside the school grounds.
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Good sign, maybe they don’t all hate us. But I still notice something different. The girls for one thing. They seem scared of us, not shy, but scared. They take tentative steps toward us on their way to school, speeding up their pace as they get closer to the humvee. Some of them actually look like they have fear in their eyes when they pass us. It made me sad to see them like that. I wondered if their parents taught them to fear us. Some were bold, not caring what others might think as they smiled up at us. It’s not all bad here. These people don’t all hate us. Even some of the grownups don’t seem to mind our presence. One man even grabbed his wife and posed for a picture.
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She seemed reluctant at first but soon gave in and smiled for the camera. Other women would hold up their small children from inside the gates of their home in the hopes that I would take their picture.
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The man who owned the house in front of our parked humvee was friendly enough. He looked like the Iraqi version of Tony Soprano. I could imagine him sitting on his couch watching a pirated copy of Goodfellas, thinking he could’ve done a better job than Deniro. He had at least twelve children playing in and around his house, making me wonder if Tony had more than one wife, something not all that uncommon in this place. He held the hand of what looked to be his youngest boy and I asked him with silent gestures if I could take their picture. He kind of solemnly nodded his head in agreement and looked toward the camera.
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Cameras can work magic in places like these. He soon had every one of his children standing beside him. Unlike some of the fearful young girls earlier, his daughter’s weren’t shy about having their image pixelized

I’m watching all of this as our dismounts have begun searching the land behind us for mortar tubes and other horrors. A group of boys came over to crowd around the humvee as they always do. The camera doesn’t help, it only draws them closer.

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I like the boys, but they will ask you for everything. It gets kind of old when they keep saying mister mister a thousand times. School has been let out already and it’s only been an hour and a half since they went. I found out later that the principal released them early. My kind of principal. Each of them has a package of energy biscuits, which look and taste like graham crackers. One of the boys handed me one, and they applauded when I bit into it. I have now been nourished by the World Food Program, which I believe may be a subsidiary of some sort to the UN. Thanks Kofi, I hope you profited from that little snack I just ate. The boys are driving me nuts. I finally just ignore their pleas for more pictures and continue to watch what’s in front of me.

Some of the older boys walk by every now and then, not looking at us, and looking pissed off about us being there. Screw them and their attitude. Get over it tough guy. We’re just staying for a little while. One of them looks over toward Ray and says something under his breath. Ray just stares back and responds with a hardy "Fuck You." Old Ray, always willing to spread a little international goodwill with the locals. You need people like Ray though. He’s a good guy, one of my closest friends, and a good soldier, but if I was those guys, I wouldn’t screw with him. He’s perpetually pissed off most of the time, not unlike a lot of us, especially on these boring missions we seem to be going on a lot lately

The girls start walking by us again in droves, most looking away, but some can’t help but look up and smile. I can’t blame them really. We probably look like aliens from another planet, with our weird looking traveling machines, with some idiot(me) standing outside a hole cut in the top of it, not to mention all of the other crap we wear to protect us from the horror. Two girls in particular really defined the whole scene of this town.
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They were walking together, and as they passed, one stuck her nose up in the air displaying her obvious disdain for us, as if to say, how dare you soil our town with your bourgeois presence. The other girl however, turned her eyes toward me and began to smile, as if to say, it’s okay for you to be here, never mind the high-mindedness of my friend here. She reminded me of my niece, home, and all the good things that seem so far removed from this place.

For people that supposedly hate us and our lifestyle, they sure don’t mind wearing clothes emblazoned with American icons. One kid was wearing a Nike cap and sunglasses. Another man driving a tractor had a New York Yankees cap on. I wondered if he hated the Red Sox.

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We stayed there another hour or so, setting up a TCP in the middle of town to search cars coming in and out. Our interpreter, always making a show of waving his arms and yelling at any motorists, acted once again like he possessed some kind of authority. Knowing he has a platoon of men to protect him, his confidence tends to border more on arrogance. I guess he doesn’t realize the mask he wears to hide his identity betrays his air of self-assurance. Our interpreters could tell us anything and we’d believe it.

We joke about that, wondering if any have ever purposefully deceived us. "Ask that man if he knows who is shooting mortars at us from around his house." The interpreter in Arabic, hands and arms gesticulating madly, asks in a stern voice, "Uncle Abdul, it is so nice to see you again, how is your family? The Americans wish to know if you have any knowledge as to whom the mad mortar man is." Uncle Abdul, wearing a look of frustration replies in Arabic, "My blessed nephew, why do you not come around more often? I often tell my brother how much I miss you. The family is doing well. You would know that if you ever came around. Why don’t you come eat with us tonight, everyone would love to see you. Omar should be there as well." The interpreter, "Ah Omar, what is my crazy cousin up to these days?" Uncle Abdul, "Why he is the mad mortar man of course, busy hiding the mortar tubes in the caves north of here. He should like to see you though, you have much to catch up on." Interpreter, "I should enjoy seeing him as well, tell him I will see him at dinner. Is seven o’clock too early?" "No, we shall see you then." The interpreter turns back to us with a dejected look on his face. "You seemed to have a long conversation with him. What all did he say, tell me everything he said word for word?" "Word for word?" "Yes" Expecting to glean a wealth of information from him the interpreter replies, "He says, I don’t know." The horror.

61 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michael your writing just gets better and better with each posting....awesome! Take care and thank you again for your service.

2:38 PM  
Blogger devildog6771 said...

Beautiful! Your thoughts are truly food for thought. I have often wondered myself about the integrity of some of our interpetors. Thank you for your moving stories.

4:56 PM  
Blogger Mom said...

Thoes pics sure are beautiful.I enjoyed the one of the two girls. It has a life of its own.

9:27 PM  
Blogger Guyana-Gyal said...

You have written this quite well...with humour too! I couldn't stop reading.

[Greetings from South America...just stumbled on this blog.]

You 'tied' in the photos really neatly with what you wrote. The little girl smiling towards camera is adorable.

10:01 PM  
Anonymous Victor from Fremont said...

Enjoyed your both your pictures and
writing. I tell people about your
blog and what a great writer you
are. Your writings must irritate the journalist who want to propagate a view that fits their political agenda. Good soldier
"carry on".

2:21 AM  
Blogger Billy said...

I enjoyed reading this post. Not that I'm an expert or anything, but I believe it was very well written.

You write much better, even, than some of the "high minded" people that deride our fighting men.

At any rate, stay safe, and I pray that you make it home soon.

10:22 AM  
Anonymous Holly - A Soldiers' Angel said...

I'm still giggling about the 'conversation' between the interpreter and the guy you wanted to question. Loved the pictures you took, they are great. Excellent post!

10:40 AM  
Blogger Rob Gutkowski said...

Great pictures and a great narrative!. I wish I could be your terp next time you go out.

1:29 PM  
Anonymous Beth said...

I love the pictures of the children. Thanks for serving and God Bless you.

2:52 PM  
Blogger Desultory Girl said...

Great to see you posted again. It has been quite a while. But this also means you're safe and that's even better.

Anyway, I couldn't help but laugh about the conversation the interpretor was supposedly having. All that for a simple, "I don't know." LOL

Great pictures too. I really like that one with the two girls, the one that somewhat smiles and the other that carries the air of arrogance. I like that girls half smile.

And ah, that green grass. I really wish you could have felt your feet through that grass. I can't wait until the moment you get gome to your wife and little son and you walk your feet through it. All things around you that you love and appreciate.

Again, great post and glad you're safe.

3:09 PM  
Anonymous jcrittenden said...

Loved it. I'll be back.

12:37 AM  
Blogger Kermit said...

Thank you for being one of the watchmen on the wall. Because you are there I can be here in peace.

Thank you.

Enjoy what you say. Love the pictures. Nothing changes. The Nam was long periods of boredom periodicaly punctuated with hours (sometimes days) of hell.

Thank you for keeping the Bog a 'safe Frogocracy'.

Kermit the green guy

8:23 AM  
Blogger strykeraunt said...

Don't you ever wish that there was someone with you that could (secretely) understand what the interpreter was actually saying? I loved your intrepretation of the interpreters conversation. And, yes, for those back home, boring is a good thing.

Take care and stay safe.

10:25 AM  
Anonymous GWTPN said...

ok i wont be so shy about the conversation between the interpreter and the man being questioned...
I'm LMAO!!!

Beautiful post. This was really well written and I 2nd the one who mentioned the pics working so well with your words. Each story has one into its own, I think someone said that already, too.

1:17 AM  
Blogger Sami said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:39 AM  
Blogger Sami said...

Michael, how are you?

I've been checking back waiting for a new post. You just reminded me of so many places I've been to while here. You reminded me of a lot of situations I've been in and the importance of the interpreter concerning your job.

I'll keep checking back here. I don't want to rub it in but I'm almost out of here. Good luck, and take care of yourself.

9:40 AM  
Blogger ALa said...

I am SO happy to see that you posted... You already know how much I love your writing/posts, so I won't bore you with the accolades ;)

I still laugh when I think of the post you did about your alter ego starting a blog with the Blogger comments from Osama, Drudge and Michael Jackson... I think it's one of the funniest things I have read online.

.."Allah be willing you will quit saying Allah be willing". (I say that all the time now) LOL...

Thanks to my favorite milblogger for another great read!!!

11:03 PM  
Blogger Pebble said...

That was a GREAT read... Loved the pic's, the nice house, the two girls.

11:30 PM  
Blogger exfbonnie said...

Hey Michael- Happy Fathers Day!

8:08 PM  
Blogger Desultory Girl said...

She got there before I did, but Happy First Father's Day, Michael.

7:50 PM  
Anonymous Yonatan said...

Be blessed, Michael!
As a man, who served in the Army, I know how hard it is to be not just a soldier, but a human being, while being a soldier. You are a good man and good soldier. You are doing a very important job there, don't you ever forget it!
God bless you and keep you safe.
Yonatan from Israel

11:13 AM  
Blogger rightfielder said...

This is an awesome post and a great web site. There are two battles- the war on terror abroad and the war for the minds of the American people at home. You are fighting both. Great job soldier!
I have been directing people from my blog to yours for more info.

2:28 PM  
Anonymous stephen said...

are you ok michael? its been a long time since you last posted. i hope that you remain safe and all the other soldiers in iraq as well

10:35 PM  
Anonymous BGBNJ said...

Michael

I Love the way you write! You give us all something to think about and you do it with honesty, integrity, intellegence, logic and humor! I loved the part about the interpreter! You have a great gift for writing and I hope you continue to write, educate and inspire! This is true journalism, and what we all need to see!From one who knows and has lived it.

Your thoughts and experience has also helped to give me insight on how to better Love and support my boyfriend who is serving there with you as well. Thank you for opening a window of understanding for me.

Thank you for your service and for your wonderful writing! I am sending you and those you are serving with my deepest gratitude, my love and my prayers for a safe return.

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Drjackshepard said...

VIDEO WARNING IRAQI SUICIDE BOMBERS THAT THEY GO TO HELL NOT HEAVEN, Visit www.shepardusgov.com

By Dr. Jack Shepard, founder of People for Peace Group.

Hello let us all pray for Peace.

I have made a 2.5 minute video Warning the Iraqi Suicide Bombers to beware; if they kill themselves they go to Hell not Heaven.

Please visit www.shepardusgov.com to see my Video warning to the Iraqi Insurgents.

If my message gets somehow to the Iraqi Insurgents and the Palestinian Suicide Bombers, and they learn what they do is against the Koran I think they will stop.

Then God willing we will have Peace In Israel and Iraqi and Love and Peace will have a chance.

Please copy my CD if anyone wishes TO HELP SPREAD THESE WORDS TO THE SUICIDE BOMBERS BEFORE THEY KILL THEMSELVES AND MANY OTHER POOR INNOCENT PEOPLE.

Then take it to your local TV Station to play for 2.5 minutes to stimulate a discussion about Suicide Bombing as a Weapon of War. Please advise the TV station after they play my brief 2.5 minute video.

I would suggest that the TV station organizes to have a group of religious scholars from all faiths give their opinion what each religion teaches its followers about Suicide.
May God Bless the World with Love and Peace

Dr. Jack Shepard, founder of People for Peace

To contact Dr. Shepard with ideas or comments
Email: middle.east@flashnet.it

4:21 PM  
Anonymous Ellen@BestBlogContest said...

Awesome post!!!

2:42 PM  
Anonymous MissBirdlegs in AL said...

Hi, Michel - Just checking up on you as I've been doing for a while now. We Mother-types worry when we we don't hear anything. Hope all is well with you & your buds.

9:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michale - how are you? Are you OK? It's been a long time to see you. Be wll pls.
Take good care

2:17 PM  
Blogger April M. Shah said...

Michael,
hey i haven't commented in here before but i do read your posts all the time. Anyways, i have noticed that you haven't posted in quite a few days and i am just hoping and praying that everything is okay. Let us all know what is up! I will be praying that you are just incommunicado for now, in other words i will just be praying that you have had nothing interesting to write about in the past couple of weeks. Let us all know a.s.a.p what is going on with you. I will be praying for the best!

10:54 AM  
Blogger devildog6771 said...

Hey Mike, we are worried about you guy. Hope and pray you are ok. Let us know how you are when you get a chance. Menawhile, I as well as the rest of your fans will keep you in our prayers. God Bless.

8:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michael, My husband just left for Iraq 2 weeks ago and your writings have really helped me to see what daily life might be like for him (although he will be across the country from where I think you are). Hopefully you haven't written lately because you are on leave with your wife and son. Take care and thank you.

6:43 PM  
Blogger April M. Shah said...

just checking in once again to make sure that everything is okay. I am really hoping that you haven't written in a while because you are on R&R or something of that sort! Well, let us know what is going on when you get a chance. I will still be praying for you! Take care!

11:10 PM  
Blogger Possum said...

Michael, I got sucked in and read the entire piece. I'm adding a link in my blog and emailing it to my friends.

My question to you is: what do your guys need over there that I might be able to send?

email me: daved_nash@yahoo.com

Thank you for your sacrifice, you guys are in our prayers.

11:13 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

Ditto the others comments. I know when "B" from Going Down Range didn't post for awhile it was because he was off relaxing.

Hope you are safe and relaxing somewhere on your R&R faraway from the desert.

10:02 PM  
Anonymous S.N. said...

An explanation for Michael's silence has been posted on Blackfive's site (July 6/05).

http://www.blackfive.net/main/

Scroll down and read "Michael Yon's Fine Line." May time heal your pain, Michael.

A loyal reader

11:46 PM  
Anonymous S.N. said...

I should have said "I believe an explanation... " I am being presumptuous but I believe this is why we have not heard from Michael.

11:53 PM  
Blogger Al's Girl said...

I loved this entry the first time I read it, and I came for my usual update today today to no --- I'm sorry that you haven't felt like posting - and you will be in my prayers. I don't 'know' what you are feeling, or what specifically has happened - although I can venture a guess - and all I can say is that we will all be here for you when you feel ready to write again.

You and your friends and brothers remain in my thoughts - I enjoy your blog so much.

8:30 AM  
Blogger April M. Shah said...

Michael,
All i can say is that you will definetly be in my prayers. When you are ready to get back to posting here, we will all be waiting. I know that it is rough for you guys over there, my sister tells me everyday how rough it is over there, but just know that you have the support of family and friends back home. We are all praying for your safe return and are wishing you the best. I am glad that you are okay and not injured. I am sorry that you have to experiance what you do everyday. Just know that God is watching over you and He will protect you and keep you safe. I patiently await your return to blogging here. God bless and stay safe!

10:35 AM  
Blogger Guyana-Gyal said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:32 PM  
Anonymous Philippe said...

Just stumbled over your blog - fascinating! You gave me a different perspective of what information blogs can provide and especially how "soldier life" in Iraq is like.
As swiss Army soldier I'm used to more training stuff than real missions (even if they are boring, they still are real).

10:51 AM  
Blogger devildog6771 said...

The Serenity Prayer

God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.

Reinhold Niebuhr

I hope you are doing well, Michael. You are sorely missed.

I wish you and your family well. I wish you peace.

3:35 PM  
Anonymous Mom in America said...

Michael, Thank you for what you are doing! My husband was there a while ago. Simular experience with the people. If the media would only tell the truth...Oh well. God bless you and keep you till you get home! -A Mom in America

6:15 PM  
Anonymous Tom said...

Mike,
Your discriptions of a patrol in Iraq brought back the smells and the whole feel of my time in Iraq. I spent 9 months of 2003 in Ad Dywaniya. MPs working nine correctional Facilities. Keep up the good work! Americans need to to know the TRUTH of what happens in Iraq and any where else we need to go.

God bless you and your comrads! Be safe!

SSG T Patton

8:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heroic.Sacrificial.Articulate. Thank you for a window into the world there as you live it. Thank you for the complex, perceptive portrait of the Iraqui girls. We can never repay you, but we can, and will, keep you upheld in prayer. "He found himn in a desert land, and in the howling waste of the wilderness, he encircled him, he cared for him, he kept him as the apple of his eye." Deut. 32:10

9:22 PM  
Anonymous A Mom in America said...

Hey Michael,

You win the prize of the day! You made him remember why he was there. I have a present for you. It may take a while for me to find it. I'm going to try to give you what we woke up to every morning in the early 80's on a post in Europe with the Marne Division. Do they still teach you the "Marne song"? Every morning at 6:30 am, I woke up to it on AFN. Check for it on my site. God bless and keep writing!!!! There is a novel in your future that will put Saharra to shame!!!! God bless! A Mom in America

9:36 PM  
Blogger DonSurber said...

Unnerving calmness. I hope they get their act together so you can come home

9:20 AM  
Blogger devildog6771 said...

Just want you to know that someone is doing prayer vigil for you. Just so you know you are missed and cared about. If there's anything we can do for you just ask and if possible it will be done.

2:14 PM  
Anonymous stephen said...

are you ok you havent posted anything for more than a month now and people are getting worried. i hope youre ok.

5:41 PM  
Anonymous Mom in America said...

Hi Michael, Just stopped in to let you know I had to move the location of my site. Stop by and say "Hi" when you get the chance. Thank you for all you are doing! God bless! -A Mom in America

8:34 AM  
Blogger devildog6771 said...

I got an emaol update from Micheal from an email I sent to him a while back. In the email he says he is ok. But, his unit made some changes that he can't go into. for security reasons. He also thanked all his supporters for their concerned comments and continued support. He said as soon as he can he will start reposting. But, he has to wait until his job situation allows hime time to do so. Mostly he just wanted to thank everyone, assure us all he was ok, and apologize because he had not been able to post any thing for so long.

Whew!! I don't know about anyone else, but I personally am very relieved. I can't wait for him to resume his "blogging!"

I just wanted to share this with everyone here.

3:01 PM  
Blogger devildog6771 said...

p.s., I am sure he won't mind my comment here sbout the email as it was only an I am fine update.

3:02 PM  
Anonymous A Mom in America said...

Hi Michael, Hope all is well as you haven't posted in a while. We're praying for you over here. If you get a chance hit my blog this weekend. I'm putting out a general prayer request and the more participation, the better! Hope to see you there! God bless! -A Mom in America

3:07 PM  
Blogger howarde said...

Beaufiful story, well documented and written. If only our schools would make it an Assignment for students to read your Blog. I am going to post your Blog address on the local supermarket bulletin board.

2:57 AM  
Blogger strykeraunt said...

Thank you devildog, I can now admit that I was getting pretty worried. I know that it is not fair to put this kind of pressure on milbloggers so did not want to express my concern.

12:13 AM  
Anonymous Big Poppa said...

Great Blog..I read it everyday. Thank you for your service and stay safe.

You make me Proud to be and American.

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michael:

I don't know what your day job at home is but you should seriously consider writing a book when you get home. Hell, write it now! We here are starving for the truth of what's happening over there. You are really humanizing the people that we are helping/killing.

Best of luck and safe journey home to your wife and son.

5:49 PM  
Anonymous xoeminfinitely said...

i just want to read you all over again. Wonder if youll ever read this. June 05.

12:01 AM  
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2:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is my first visit to your site. I think it's spectacular. That pic of the two girls belongs in National Geographic. It humanizes the people in this war and could easily be my two sisters. Great job on your reporting - keep it up.

6:17 PM  
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