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,
j

6 Comments:

Blogger gary said...

Hey buddy, thanks for the 'real time' update. You are bringing me a picture of the conflict in Iraq that I don't get from the dozens of news sources I follow - and you know I follow them too, don't you :)

Be Safe!

-g

6:33 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Just checking in today. It is so interesting to read about what you are doing. You are so great at painting a mental picture of things over there.

I love you more than life,
Amy

10:26 AM  
Blogger Junkpoet said...

Always good to hear from you. Headed to work but wanted to check in. Pleased to see you've added this new post.

Glad to know you're ok.

God has blessed you and may he continue to do so.

J

10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John,
Thanks for the latest blog. It is so interesting to read about what you are doing, and what all you are seeing. I cannot imagine how these people truly live and what we take for granted. Thanks for the update, I check daily! God bless you!
Love- Lil sis Mol

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't imagine the thoughts and feelings that must have gone thru your mind driving thru that gate. Almost seems like a catch 21. It's great to know that you're safe and that our God is with you and your guardian angels are at your side.

On a funny note, even though I hear people talking about emailing, taking pictures...somewhere in my mind my brain says "but where did they get the electricity?" My mind just doesn't think anyone in a dusty country would have electricity! Or running water...much less indoor toilets! I guess I picture it looking a little like MASH...but where did they get there electricity? Well, besides the studio. Ok, so did I at least make you smile?

Looking forward to your posts...Jeri Riddick

ps: John really enjoyed having the privilege of driving you to the base although he said he had a heavy feeling like he was handing you over to the wolves...or something like that. Anyway, whatever the 2 of you said that day in your conversations, you really made an impression on him.

1:30 PM  
Blogger Aunt Maidi said...

John -

How we are enjoying your comments! It's truly enlightening to get a view firsthand or what it's like, rather than through the press. Our prayers are with you continually - for your safety - for God's protection and guidance - and for the protection of your family.

And yes, we are most blessed. Lest we never forget.

Aunt Maidi

5:20 PM  

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