Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Welcome to My World

Dear Folks,

Happy Birthday, US Navy!!!

I’ve been requested to write about my everyday surroundings and routine. I’ll do my very, very best to make this interesting.

The way the Army runs things, there is no separation of male and female, officer and enlisted housing (roommates are of similar rank and gender). So I am surrounded mostly by guys who were born in the late 80’s. People are up and about all hours of the day and night, playing guitar, smoking, surfing the internet, talking on Iraqna cell phones, hauling their laundry. We live in a neighborhood that is a maze of giant blast walls and trailers. There is no grass; we trudge through gravel and dust. It will soon be mud.

There is a string of beautiful palm trees near my hooch.

The rows of trailers are punctuated by bigger latrine/shower trailers and drop-off points for the ubiquitous plastic bottles of water, produced on base at a purification plant.

Getting up is the worst part of the day; it always has been for me. Here it is made almost unbearable by two things: having to walk outside out in the open among God and everyone to the latrine -- and boot blousings.

There is no sink in our hooch, and in this way shipboard life compares favorably. Also, on the ship the walk to the head is usually short and relatively private. Not so here. If I could just wash my face before returning all those salutes….

For reasons I cannot explain, I hate blousing my boots every morning. (For the unfamiliar, this involves hooking a piece of elastic around your boot and tucking the hem of your trousers underneath it, to make a blousing effect.) But I may have found a work around for this. Recently, a salty petty officer showed me how he had elastic sewn into the bottom of his trou for $3 a pop.

I hoof it just about everywhere, which I like. Our group of EWOs has two NTVs (non-tactical vehicles) at our disposal, but I am worse at driving a HMMWV (“humvee”) than a regular car, if that’s possible. I figure I won’t hurt myself or anyone else while walking, probably. Plus, it’s free exercise. So I walk about half a mile to work. If I stop by the DFAC (dining facility) on the way, it’s about ¾ of a mile all together. I pack heat wherever I go.

Pimp my ride!

On the way to work, I hike down a major thoroughfare, and I get to see all sorts of Army vehicles rumbling by: Strykers, Bradleys, HEMTTs, etc. Frankly, if I were a bad guy, they’d scare the snot out of me.

Recently, this sign was posted.

I am extremely fortunate when it comes to where I work. Some of my compatriots work out of conex boxes and/or plywood shacks out at the patrol bases, but I’m in a real building, reportedly built by SeaBees. My office has a working TV and mini-fridge, and is big enough for everyone to have their own desk. We are mostly Navy, but we have a couple of civilian tech reps in our office as well. These guys are attached to Army units and have, in some cases, worked with and deployed with the same unit for years. They extend right along with their units, too.

The building is pretty ghetto compared to US standards: uneven asphalt floors and no plumbing. But you get used to porta-potties and Purell. (And porta-potties can’t really break.) The power goes out just occasionally, taking with it phones and internet. The A/C, when powered, works extremely well. The “O’Reilly Factor” comes on the Armed Forces Network (AFN) at 1300 local Baghdad time and we tune in religiously.

We have to keep our body armor and Kevlar helmets nearby. Before I got here, some industrious soul built these little trees for the purpose.

We use the bottled water to make our coffee several times a day. And we never settle for sub-par coffee. After all, we are in the Navy!

Thanks for reading.
(If I get positive feedback from this posting, I’ll continue to write on this theme.)



Maury said...

Keep up the good work. I have Gritty Kitty on my BOOKMARK BAR and read it every other day. Very interesting. As a VN vet and father of 5 gals, I am most appreciative of the service you perform.
Thank you for your service.
God Bless and Watch Over You.

Anonymous said...

My son is a Naval Officer who returned from his decorated tour earlier this year. I can tell you from first hand experience that all of your family members will maintain a certain amount of sanety reading info like this because we do not have the slightest idea of what your daily life is like and we have a hard time getting used to you being on the ground, in a war zone.

I started following the blogs of Naval officers with Desert Periscope which maybe the Granddaddy of them all. I currently follow about 6 on a regular basis even though my son is now home. I thought one Desert Adventure, Grease and Narmy went home, I could stop reading but you and the Pearl have signed me up for another tour.

Once you all post the chandellier from the Perfume Palace (my son also sent the same picture), I know the game is on and you new experience begins for real. So keep it up. It will make a wonderful diary some day for new members of the family and keep the current members from a few less sleepless nights.


christine gerbode said...

I just got the link to this blog and intend to read through the whole thing shortly. Not yet having done so, however, I'll say that I hope you're doing well over there and that I send all my love.

Anonymous said...

My children have left the service,
but I read you to stay in touch.

Pearl said...

Toonces, You kill me! Great post.

I'll see if I can find you in the global e-mail to get directions and swing by next time I'm over on that side of VBC. We can compare Navy coffee (mine is made by a Chief - will put hair in places you didn't know you had!)

Cheers, Pearl

ewo pop said...

toonces, I'm pearl's dad and have been reading your blog at his suggestion. thanks for the perspective. As I tell him when I sign off: keep your head down.