Monday, January 31, 2005


Well...I finally got this to work. This is a photo of me in Kuwait, before we went north into Iraq.

This is pretty basic, and I hope to get a bit more creative, but this is all I have time for right now.

To all my friends at finally have proof that I'm actually here and I haven't just been goofing off for the past six months.

February 1st

Wow! That got a lot of response.

I really appreciate all the encouraging notes. I know a lot of you are checking the blog regularly, and I want all of you to know that I do the same. Your words of encouragement are a real morale booster, and they are the first thing I look at when I boot up my computer in the morning(most of you post as I'm sleeping since we're 9 hours ahead of Central).

This has become my hobby while I'm here and I really look forward to putting more effort into it. Just know that all of your comments are deeply appreciated and are sustaining me while I'm here.

I am determined to "thrive" and not just "survive" during this deployment and become a better person in the process.

Thanks again to all of you.


Saturday, January 29, 2005

Making History

Our unit took part in a historic moment yesterday. We had the distinct privelege of escorting and delivering the ballots that will be used in Sunday's election.

I talked to one of the guys who was about to go on the mission, and he was really pumped about what he was about to do. The insurgents would love to get their hands on those ballots and cause havoc in the election process, and we are here to make sure they don't even get the chance.

Make no mistake, they will continue to use terror and intimidation to keep people from the polls. I only pray that the Iraqi citizens will have the courage and conviction to stand against them and begin the process of taking their country back.

I'm proud that we have the opportunity to contribute and make a difference.

"Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women."

-Ronald Regan

Friday, January 28, 2005

The hardest thing I have ever done

I’m going to bear my soul for a moment. I just finished “chatting” with my wife via instant messenger, and the pain of being apart from her is really starting to hit me.

This deployment is by far the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

It’s not being here that is so hard. I have endured far worse conditions during my military career. It is being away from my family that makes this so tough. There is so much I miss that if I ponder it for to long it really starts to get to me.

I miss my oldest son, Alex and his incredible wit and sense of humor. I miss being amazed by his level of intelligence and maturity. I only wish that I had been as level-headed as he is when I was his age.

I miss my fourteen-year old daughter, Jessica, and the way she gives me a hug every single morning and puts her head on my chest…as if to remind me that no matter how big she gets she will always be my little girl.

I miss my thirteen-year old daughter, Jennifer who has a smile as big as the sun and laughter that is contagious. I miss the joy I feel when I see her taking the time to play with her little brothers for hours at a time. She has something special inside of her that she does not even realize.

I miss my five-year old son, Seth and his incredible grasp of the world around him at such a young age. I miss listening to him carefully enunciate every syllable as he speaks, and the mind-boggling statements he makes that are well beyond his years.

I miss my two-year old son, Luke and the way he runs to me with arms wide open when I walk through the door. I miss hearing him say to me, “lets wessle daddy”, and his incessant giggling as we “wessle”.

I miss my beautiful wife, Amy who is my best friend in the entire world. I miss looking into her beautiful eyes and holding her close to me. I miss the feeling I have when I am with her and the fact that I am still infatuated with her after fifteen years of marriage. I miss her laughter and her impenetrable optimism that keeps my suspicious pragmatism in check. I miss going to the grocery store with her just so I have an excuse to hang out with her. I miss feeling her next to me when I go to sleep at night.

I miss home.

Friday, January 21, 2005

I'm going postal

It has finally arrived! I now have a mailing address!

Here it is:

John Upperman
HHC, 3-112 Armor
56th Brigade Combat Team
APOAE 09384

Now, there was an earlier address that I thought was the right address...and it the other unit's address...but not to our address.

Make sense?

Bottom line: if I gave you an address before today (i.e. Dad and Amy) it had the wrong APO. So make sure you use this one.

I know a lot of you have been requesting this for quite some time, and have also asked what types of items guys would like to recieve over here. I can tell you that between charities, school organizations, churches, and other generous groups there are enough toilietries over here to stock a Super Wal Mart. Here are some suggestions based on my own experience and observations:

Lip Balm - the good stuff...I picked some up the other day and when I put it on it tasted awful

Foot powder - we're wearing boots all the time and our feet...well...'nuff said about that

DVDs - a lot of the Joes have a notebook, or a portable DVD player to pass the time when its not busy. If you have some laying around that you don't want anymore someone here will appreciate it.

Music - Just send anything you don't listen to anymore. Regardless of the genre, someone here will appreciate it. I even found a guy listening to Barry Manilow the other day. Kinda diminishes the image of a steely-eyed killer...but each to his own

Scooby Snacks - any kind of candy, or munchies. Keep in mind that it will be traveling half way around the world. You'll need to be even more selective once the weather starts to warm up.

Books & Magazines - again...anything you've got laying around that you don't want anymore (nothing inappropriate please)

Beyond the above, just use your imagination and send something you would like to have if you were in a desolate, third-world country for a year. :-)

Rick M. - I would have you send that boat over here, but quite frankly, there ain't a whole lot of water over here. So just put a cover on it and we'll take it for a spin when I get back.


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Interesting day at the office..

I had an "interesting" day today. It was neither good nor bad, but it was an experience I wanted to share with all of you.

First, I need to put everything in perspective. As you may recall, when I entered Iraq last week I was flown in on a C-130 transport plane and landed directly in Talil where I am currently based. Therefore, I have never seen Iraq outside the confines of the base camp...until today.

As the battalion's logistics officer, I am responsible for the movement, tracking, and accountability of all the unit's equipment. Some of that equipment was mis-routed to a base north of our location, and I had to track it down. So I and my driver grabbed our gear, got into our HMMWV (pronounced "Humvee")and headed "outside the wire".

The surreal-ness of the day began as soon as we got to the gate, and had to "lock and load" our weapons. I've done this a thousand times before over the course of my military career and have fired my weapon many times, but this was the first time I did it with the intent of defending myself if necessary. I was a little on edge, but of course everything went fine and we made it to our destination without any incident.

We did, however, encounter some Iraqi citizens along the way. They were mainly bedouins (nomadic sheep herders) who had set up there tents along the highway. The conditions they live in would make most of you cringe, and it really effected me emotionally. There were children along the route, some appearing to be as young as 4 years old, running up to the edge of the road as we passed by, holding their hands out and/or motioning to their mouths indicating that they wanted something to eat. We can't do anything about it since giving them handouts only encourages them to run towards our vehicles. We are typically going about 60 mph and they could really get hurt. Not to mention that insurgents have used children in the past to get convoys to slow down in order to conduct an ambush. I thought about how protective I am of my kids, and these little tykes are running up to the edge of the highway.

I know it is an over used cliche', but we are truly blessed as Americans. We have wealth and privelege that these people can not even fathom. I ask that you take some time today and reflect on how blessed you really are. Regardless of your circumstances, I know you are better off than the people I saw today.

God bless,

Friday, January 14, 2005

Ur of the Chaldeans

Well, I'm here and "here" is Talil Air Base which is also know as Camp Adder. You can read more about it at the following link:

The reference to Ur in my title is due to the fact that the ancient city of Ur is located right outside of the base camp. Ur, of course, was home to the patriarch Abraham in the Old Testament. They run regular tours for soldiers to go and see the archeological sites. I heard it is worth the trip, and plan on going there sometime.

Right now the weather is quite pleasant. It gets pretty cold at night. Enough to require a coat and gloves in the morning. But my mid-afternoon the sun is bright and the temp rises into the mid to high 60's. I'll enjoy it while it lasts. Some of the guys that have been here a while have witnessed temps in the 130's during the summer. You can check out the weather and forecast here:

I want to say "thank you" again for all the posts. It's great to see words of encouragement from all my friends at church, Dell, and of course, family. It motivates me to post more often knowing that all of you are reading regularly.

Amy, Alex, Jessica, Jennifer, Seth and Luke - I miss you all very much and think of you every day.

Mom - Megan and I are doing fine. We are emailing each other and trying to figure out when we can link up.

John G. - I adopted you as my brother about 20 years ago. I only wish we would have met sooner. Yes, I can definitley use some space to publish photos. Send me an email and let me know what I need to do.

All my friends at Dell - keep up the good work and get the stock price higher so I can get that boat when I get back. :-)

Gotta go. I'll be blogging again soon.


Monday, January 10, 2005

"Let's roll"

Well folks, it is finally game time. I leave in about 2.5 hours for Iraq. I'll be going ahead of my unit as part of the Advance Party in order to get things set up logistically for the main body to arrive. I'm actually kind of excited for a couple of different reasons. One, we are finally leaving "training" mode, and moving into "execution" mode, which means we can start making a difference. Secondly, it means we are beginning the next chapter in this saga, which means I am one step closer to coming back home to my family.

Keep praying for all of the soldiers in my unit. We are entering a crucial time with the elections coming up at the end of the month. Let's also pray that the elections go well, and with a large turn out, which will solidify it's legitimacy.

Thanks again to all who have posted. I always enjoying your comments.

John G. - thanks for the offer on the bullet you found...but ammo is one thing that is not in short supply around here. They hand it out like candy at Halloween. BTW...was that post your last post to the last post, or is there another post to another post?

Still don't have an address, but I will in about two more weeks.

I have lots of pictures, but still no way to get them uploaded to the blog. I should be able to set something up once we get settled in.

Talk to ya soon.


Thursday, January 06, 2005

Be fruitful and multiply

Wow! I'm pleasantly surprised at the number of posts. Thanks to all of you who have left messages. I have not corresponded with some of you in quite a long time ( Ron M., Wes M., and Bob H., it's good to hear from you again)....and others I have never corresponded with at all. I wish I had the time to reply to each of you individually, but then again, that's the purpose of this that I can communicate with all of you.

Joey and Michelle - yes I got to watch the Horns win right before I left. They were showing the game in the dining facility, and I literally had to run out and jump on the bus right after Dusty kicked the winning field goal. It was a great time to leave since, at that moment in time, all was well with the world.

Not a lot new here. I went to the range today to re-zero my weapon. It took about 45 miniutes to get there, and after about the first 5 minutes I had seen all there was to see. Flat and sandy for as far as the eye can see. I did get to see a wild herd of camels (is it a herd or a pack? I know if one is referring to the brand of cigarettes its definitely a pack, but I'm not sure about the actual animal). They really are strange looking things.

Did I mention that tourism is not a big industry here?

Take care,

Monday, January 03, 2005

And then there was light.

Well, I'm on the ground in Kuwait. After 15 hours on the plane we got in around 2:00 am local time. By the time we got to the base camp it was around 5:00 am, so I went and had some breakfast and headed to my hooch with the intent of getting a few hours of sleep. I woke up eight hours later so I'll probably be up all night. Apparently the time change takes some getting used to.

The flight was actually pretty pleasant. We flew on an American Airlines 777, and I got to fly first class. I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to fly coach again. The experience definitely spoiled me. Even though it was a civillian plane, it was chartered by the military and all the passengers were soldiers. It was somewhat comical to think of the strict airline safety precautions we now have and then look down the plane and see every single person with an assault rifle in their hand. We definitely were not worried about any potential high jackers. :-)

In addition to the first class experience, the crew and staff were extremely gracious. They brought in a bunch of patriotic decorations and made the plan look like a July 4th celebration. They were very kind and continually told us how much we appreciated our service. It was a good morale booster.

Apparently we had a small sand storm today. Although I slept through it I did see the results of it later. The samd here is almost like talcum powder, and after a good windstorm there is a film of it on everything. I beginning to see why tourism is not a big industry here.

God bless,

Saturday, January 01, 2005

In the beginning

Well, here is my first post on the first day of the new year. Welcome to my blog. If you have found your way here, then you are probably a family or friend since I don't know why anyone else would come across this web site.

This is my first attempt at publishing any type of web site so I'm a little nervous about doing it right. I'm not sure if there is some sort of "blog etiquette" that I should be abiding by in order for this to meet the approval of everyone who sees it. Ultimately, I am putting this together so I can communicate with all of you while I'm serving in Iraq, and give you a way to communicate with me as well. It would be difficult for me to consistently email everyone with the latest I'm hoping this will help me get the word out on a regular basis. I plan to post entries regularly, but I'm not sure how often that will be. I'd like to keep it interesting so I don't plan to pepper this site with daily posts that have no value. I also plan to publish pictures, once I can get the sotware installed. I'm currently using a military computer, and I can't even change the clock on the blasted thing without administrative access (which I obviously don't have).

I hope to chronicle the interesting events that occur with myself and my unit (56th Brigade Combat Team) over the next year, and hopefully publish some of the good things that are occurring in Iraq since they don't get published in the nightly news. Hopefully all of you will find it valuable, and we can keep it going. I'd hate for this to be one of those "projects" that starts out with a bang to only fizzle after a few weeks.

To quickly bring everyone up to date; I am currently at Ft Hood, TX and have been since my unit was activated last August. We have completed our training and I am scheduled to depart for Kuwait tonight. (I was supposed to depart on Dec 28th, but my name was not on the "list".) Once I get there it may be a while before my next post since I don't know what type of computer access I'm going to have. Once we get to our base camp, I'll have access on a daily basis.

Feel free to post and leave me some messages. I'll talk to you soon.