Monday, July 11, 2011

Update from Iraq

I am 4 months into the deployment here and taking things one day at a time! It's difficult at times being here, but I am so blessed to have such wonderful family and friends showing their constant support. I tell myself everyday, "it could be worse".

I am currently working as a medic in Baghdad at an unspecified location on Victory Base Complex where I have the privilege and honor of partaking in a very unique mission, one that has given me a lot of knowledge about our enemy, at the same time cementing my firm belief in American exceptionalism.

Everything is different here, from the weather to the terrain to the smell and everything in between. Sometimes it is like being on another planet. Green is a color you do not see very often. Even the smell of trees and the touch of grass is something I miss, and something I look forward to when I come home. I have come into contact with many nationalities- Kuwaitees, Iraqis, Indians, Nepalese, Sri Lankans. The third party nationals who do contracting work here are extremely respectful and kind to American troops. I make sure I show them just as much respect and they show me!

Attacks here have become more frequent unfortunately. You might have already heard, but last month was the deadliest month here since 2008, and July doesn't look too much better. Casualties seem to be a weekly, if not daily, thing here. I have a firm belief Iraq has become the next "forgotten war" but will all soon change towards the end of this year. Al Sadr and other Shite militia groups have vowed unrelenting attacks on US troops here if we do not stick with our December 31st deadline. Now that our government has pledged 8,500 to 10,000 troops to stay past the deadline, I can only see this getting worse.

There are few extracurricular activities here. I am so thankful to have a gym at my disposal for free and that is where I spend most of my free time, as well as a small outdoor basketball court right outside my barracks. There are bootleg DVD shops all over the place here where you can buy horrible quality DVDs for a dollar. There is also a very nice "getaway area" here on VBC where troops can go to relax, which is located inside one of Saddam Hussein's old palaces! Inside there is a movie theater, video game room, and a gym overlooking a lake. Outside is a very nice pool.

Speaking of Saddam Hussein's palaces, I had the opportunity to take a tour of one of them. What an experience that was. It gives you chills some of the things he did. To name a few...he had a special palace built to house all of his concubines, against their will. Almost like a rape prison. Had an in ground pool with no water in it where he kept prisoners to torture them. I could see a spot where a man was chained to the metal ladder on the side of the pool getting his head drilled with an electric drill. His brain matter was still visible, caked on the tiles. He had special brick wall built up to keep construction workers out of his living quarters during construction of one of the palaces. He was always paranoid one of them would assassinate him. After construction they would be ordered to tear it down. I also saw the room where Dan Rather interviewed him, his conference room where he held meetings with his Baathist government, as well as the bombed out Baath party movie theater, which got blown to bits by an American tomahawk missile while 100+ Baathist officials were inside watching Julia Roberts in 'Pretty Woman'! None survived.

Above all, I am happy to be here! It is a unique time in history, and I am taking part in a very unique mission. I get to see the transfer of authority from us to the soldiers of Iraq first hand. It is still somewhat of an eerie feeling seeing Apache helicopters and uparmored humvees with Iraqi flags on them. But they are our ally now, and many American soldiers died for this. I thank each and every one of you on here for your support and your patriotism! It is refreshing and encouraging.

1 comment:

Gorges Smythe said...

Stay sane and watch your topknot!