23 March 2008 (JSS ROWAD, IRAQ)

We all dropped the ball on our guard checks last night. Lloyd, Leo, AB, and I were supposed to check on the guard towers every two hours. We did the 10 P.M. and midnight checks, but after that none of us woke up. Well, SGT Condon woke up and killed a camel spider.

KBR contractors started bringing out T-barriers today. They got about 1/3 of the west wall up. Other than that, not a whole lot happened.

Schmidt, one of the HQ guys got his head split open while trying to get up out of a Stryker hatch. Howard was on top of the vehicle getting things ready to go, and stepped on the hatch, just as Schmidt was raising it.

1SG told Schmidt he should have been wearing a helmet. I tried to explain the situation to him, and he just kept bitching about the helmet. I don’t know what his deal was today. He seemed pissed off all day long, except when the KBR guys were around.

1SG was all about the KBR guys. We usually only cook dinner out here, but 1SG had me cook lunch for them. We can’t even sleep in the building tonight, because it is in their contracts that they have to sleep inside. I made a comment about being more concerned for them than for our soldiers, and 1SG got pissed. He asked if I had seen how much work they had done around the place. I just dropped it. I wanted to ask if he had seen how much work they had done in their tractors and cranes. I wanted to remind him that, like us, they signed a contract to do this shit, and that they are very well-paid. Also, maybe he has forgotten that we busted our asses out here with shovels and sandbags the first night we occupied this place. We were rewarded with 50% security.

I made some changes to the grill before cooking dinner this evening. With the help of AB and Leo, I cut part of the coils off the back of an old refrigerator and put it in the bottom of the grill. It raised the charcoal and allowed air under it. We also used wood to get the fire started, instead of dumping JP-8 (Jet Propellant-8) on it. JP-8 is the fuel we use in almost all of our military vehicles, and even for some of the stoves we use to heat tents and things. Dinner was 10 times better tonight, than it was last night. The grill got so hot that the wooded frame it was sitting on kept catching on fire, and the plywood lid burned.

LT Schardt and I went out for the midnight tower checks, and I asked if he wanted to ride or drive the HMMWV.

“I should probably ride,” he said. “I’ve never driven one before.”

“Okay,” I said. “I’ll drive.”

I drove around the perimeter and ended up getting stuck in some mud. I was embarrassed, but I put it in 4-low and manged to rock it out after a couple of minutes. When we got back, LT Schardt told me that it was some good driving.

I said, “I’ll tell you a little secret now. I’ve never driven a HMMWV before tonight either.”

He smiled and shook his head, “That’s the difference between officers and NCOs.”


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