Saturday, February 26, 2005

School Daze

I wanted to show all of you some more positive things that are happening here in Iraq.

The following photos show the current state of a lot of the schools located in the urban areas of the country. The picture below is a school located not to far from our base headquarters. As you can see, it is a very basic "mud hut" with a thatch roof.

This is a closer photo of the "school house"...

...and these next two are of the actual class rooms inside of the building.

Now for the good stuff. This is project funded by you, the American Taxpayer, to build new schools where they are most needed... order to give these children a better environment in which to learn.

I know it sounds idealsitic, but I want to believe that our efforts will give these beautiful, Iraqi children the tools they need... build a a brighter future for their children...

...because little kids shouldn't have to worry about stuff like this.

Call me a dreamer...


Saturday, February 19, 2005

Grandma Jo'

I recieved a card from my Grandma Jo' the other day. That in and of itself would not normally be "blog worthy", but I was tickled by something she wrote and wanted to share it.

As she concluded her letter, she wrote:

"Well my dear grand-son, keep out of harm's way. ..I have to get to line dancing class. At 78 I can still shake my "bootie"".

Yes you can, Grandma.

Yes you can.

I only hope that I am that spunky at 78. Actually, I hope even more that Amy is that spunky at 78.



Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Road Trip

I went on my first significant road trip the other day. I know one of my previous posts talked about a trip I took "outside of the wire", but that one was only about twenty minutes from our current location, whereas this one kept us on the road for about six hours each way. We went through some areas where we are not real popular, which was a little nerve racking. Fortunately, however, the trip ended without any incidents.

Here are some photos I took along the way:

This one is a highway sign pointing the way to Baghdad. I hear there was a big bully that used to live there who would pick on people who weren't able to defend themselves, but then there were some good guys who came to town and kicked his butt so bad he ended up hiding in a hole he had dug in the ground.

This one is a little hard to make out, but all those little silhouettes along the side of the rode are children who come running up when they see American vehicles. I'd like to say its becasue they love us so much, but the truth is that they just want us to throw them some MRE's (meals ready to eat). Trust me, you have to be really hungry to want an MRE.

This one is interesting because during the entire ride all I saw was land that is as flat as West Texas, and then we suddenly ran into this huge escarpment. Other than that I just thought it was a cool photo.

This is the next morning when we were about to push out again. The soldier on the far right was giving the guys a briefing, which is standard procedure. I remember his briefing going something like this, "Alright guys, if you see someone with an AK-47 and they are pointing it at you...shoot 'em."

I enjoyed his brevity.

This is me with a good friend of mine, Captian Caanan Blake. He's the company commander of the unit we visited and stayed overnight with. I also wanted to include this one so Amy knows that I am wearing my body armor.

Relatively speaking the trip was not a big deal. My little sister, Megan, is in a transportation unit and she and her fellow soldiers are on the road, and putting themselves in harm's way for days at a time. As my mom pointed out in a previous post, they suffered their first loss last week. There is a 23 year old girl who will not be going home now. Please keep Megan and her unit in your prayers as well.

More to come.


Saturday, February 12, 2005


Our unit had its first contact with the enemy two days ago. One of our convoys was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) on its way to Baghdad.

Everyone is okay.

IED is just a fancy name for a home made bomb. This has been the insurgents modus operandi for quite some time. They place the bombs on the side of a road that has a lot of military traffic, and then wait for just the right moment to blow it. They are usually about 300 meters away hiding like cowards when they detonate it. They know if they fight us toe-to-toe they will get to meet Alah sooner than they hoped.

Two of the guys in the convoy suffered minor injuries. One caught some shrapnel in the face, and the other suffered a mild concussion. I saw them both today, and they both look and act fine. They are very fortunate since it could have been a lot worse.

I know this is news that a lot of people don't want to hear (i.e. my parents, wife, kids...etc), but I want to keep everything in perspective. Yes the elections were a huge success, and a true testament to what we have accomplished here, but the insurgents are still active and they will not stop until we have eliminated every last one of them.

That won't be anytime soon.

God Bless,


Monday, February 07, 2005

Shaping the future of Iraq

A lot of you asked that I not publish any more material that would cause you to cry, but this has to bring a tear to your eye.

Freedom is a beautiful thing.

Future Longhorns

Hook 'em!


Thursday, February 03, 2005

Nu Shooz

Here is some good news from the front. This is the kind of stuff you'll never see on the evening news, but is more indicative of what is really going on over here on a day-to-day basis.

Our medical platoon went on a mission the other day to provide basic medical care for the local bedouin community. Additonally, they brought some donated shoes for the children, which for these kids is a rarity. Most of the time you see them running around in bare feet, and contrary to popular belief it does get pretty cool here in the winter (lows in the 40's). So you know their little tootsies have to get cold.

Below are some pictures that were taken that day:

This little boy was so thrilled with his new shoes that you couldn't have pried them away with a crowbar. Again, notice that he is wearing a hat and jacket but nothing on his feet.

Nu Shooz

I love this picture. At one point the little boy above had wandered off on his own, and was about 100 meters away from the rest of the group. One of the medics went to him, and they walked back hand-in-hand. If a typical picture is worth a thousand words, then I think this one is worth ten thousand.


I like this one just because I think its funny. The is our medcial platoon sergeant, and I think he and the camel really hit it off.

Do I know you?

I realize that some of my recent posts have been kind of "heavy" so I wanted to share something on the lighter side. I didn't intend to bring everyone down, but I do want this blog to be an honest depiction of my life while I'm here...both good and bad.

I sincerely appreciate the continual words of support and prayer from all of you. It truly is a morale booster, and I can feel God's sustainment. Things are going well here and the days are passing quickly.

The quicker the better since with each passing day I am one step closer to home.


Captain Orlando Bonilla

Late yesterday I received an email from a friend of mine currently stationed in Baghdad. The subject line was titled “CPT Orlando Bonilla”, who is a mutual friend of ours and a helicopter pilot deployed with the 1st Cavalry Division.

I had a bad feeling when I saw the subject line, and unfortunately my fears were proven true. My friend was writing to inform me that Orlando had been killed in a helicopter crash on January 29th. The crash is still under investigation, but people close to the situation are confident it was an accident that ocurred when Orlando’s helicopter hit some electrical wires. Orlando and I were not close. It had been years since we last spoke, but events like this really hit home when it's someone you know.

What makes this story even more tragic is the fact that Orlando's wife just lost her father in the Iraq conflict last March. I can not fathom what she must be going through, but was amazed at her response to the situation. Here is a quote from the CNN article:

"I stand behind my daddy and my husband, and I stand behind the job they had to do, and that's my take on it," she said. "I just support them, regardless of who sent them over there and why they sent them over there, no matter whether it's for right or wrong reasons."

No one would have blamed here if she had responded in bitterness or anger, but instead she responded with grace and courage.

I'm sure she will have difficult days ahead, and I ask that you keep her and the rest of Orlando's family in your prayers.

You can read the rest of the article here: