8 April 2008 (Sadr City, Iraq)

It was our turn to follow the Iraqi Army forward, and we finally rolled out around 2 A.M. While we waited to move, most of my guys slept. I put some island music on in the Stryker, and Taaga and Bridges and I sat talking about how much we miss Hawaii, and how hard it will be to leave there permanently when the time comes.

The Iraqi Army led the push, followed by a couple of our tanks, and then our four Strykers. We had a route clearance team with us too, so we stopped a few times for them to blow up, what they thought were EFP IEDs. Those things are no joke. We were back at our patrol base around 5 A.M., and everyone was beat.

Patrol Base #2

3rd squad soldiers (near to far) Unsure, Kyle Daggett, Darby Black, Nate Peno.

Captain Veath came in and got LT. Schardt up at 7 A.M. and told us to be ready to roll out again by 8 A.M. I heard LT. Schardt say something about 2nd platoon, and CPT Veath responded, “Oh yeah, you’re right. My bad.” Then we went back to sleep. We got up later in the morning, and I shaved for the first time in a few days.

Apparently, Prime Minister Al Maliki has made another agreement with the militia. They have agreed to allow the Iraqi Army to move forward to their previous position, the objective they’ve been trying to reach for the last few days, so long as we only act as support. It sounds like an ambush waiting to happen, if you ask me.

Captain Veath is at JSS Sadr City briefing Dragon 6, Lieutenant Colonel Boccardi, about what has been happening here. Maybe we’ll go home soon. Home? I just referred to a shithole camp 30 minutes north of Baghdad as home. I suppose I get my mail there, and I have a bed, and a few belongings in a tent. That’s home this year.

Because we’re living out of our rucksacks, I’ve been trying to conserve clothing. We’re filthy anyway. I have 1 dirty shirt, and only 2 pair of dirty socks. I have a pair of socks on, and two more clean. I think I have 3 undershirts left, and a set of ACUs. I’ve been wearing the same uniform since we’ve been here. It’s been 12 days. It sounds gross, but I feel better knowing that I have something clean to change into. Who knows how long it’ll be before we can get back to our gear at Taji? Who knows what situation I’ll end up in where I absolutely have to change out of the uniform I’m wearing?

Let’s talk about the bathroom situation. There is now an office chair in the bathroom. Someone has cut a hole in the seat and place it above one of the Iraqi toilets. I’ve heard that it’s better for your system, to squat over a hole in the floor, like Iraqi’s do, but I don’t think any of us like it. Iraqi’s don’t use toilet paper. There is always a water faucet next to the toilet, and a pitcher there. We have a trash bag hanging on the wall full of shitty toilet paper. Someone will take that out and burn it later. I guess it’s better than squatting.

More later…

5:42 P.M.

Today has been the longest day. We’ve had quite a bit of down time, and we’ve gotten some much needed rest. Shooting has just started to pick up, and it sounds closer than usual. Most of the shooting we hear, when we’re at our patrol base, sounds like it’s at least a few blocks away.

There is talk that we may be returning to Camp Taji soon. Who knows? I did use the down time, today, to get caught up on my journal. I’m sure I’ve missed some details that I’ll wish I had included, but it’s difficult to find time to write each day here. I’m having to write every few days and try to piece things together.

I’ve been listening to music on my Zune all day. That, combined with the down time is only reminding me of how much I miss home, and how much longer it’ll be before I get back there. Four months down; eleven to go. I’m not sure how I’ll maintain my sanity through this whole tour. I really just want to be at home with Theresa and Jacob. I miss them so much. I tried, multiple times, to sit down and write letters today, but I just couldn’t seem to focus. I don’t know when I’ll be anywhere that I could get mail out anyway. I tried to read a Tom Clancy book, but I couldn’t get into that either. I guess it’s silly to read books about terrorism or combat when it’s happening in real life a block away. I finally gave up on the book and grabbed a magazine. I couldn’t get interested in that either. I tried to call Theresa, but I got her voicemail. I’m sure she was working. I wasn’t surprised that I missed her, but I was still a little bummed.

At this point, it’s nearly dark. I lost my flashlight somewhere, and my headlamp batteries are nearly dead. We have no power in this building, and my Zune battery is drained. Once it’s dark, there will be nothing to do but sit and wait for another mission. It’s just one of those days, where I’m exhausted, homesick, and there’s really nothing to do about it. I think I’d rather be on patrol. Down time just makes being here worse. When we’re on patrol, our minds are occupied. I love you, Theresa and Jacob.

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