24 April 2008 (Sadr City, Iraq)

I couldn’t sleep last night. The platoon was out on barrier emplacement, with the exception of my squad. I was still awake at 2 A.M. when it was my turn for guard. Fuller came to relieve me at 03:30, but I still couldn’t sleep. It was a little after 5, when I finally dozed off. The platoon got back in around 7:30, and I was up again by 8. It’s just so hot in our buildings.  and then I was still awake until a little after 5 A.M. The platoon got in around 7:30, and I was up again by 8. It’s just been so hot in the building. Even when it cools off outside, it’s like the building just radiates the heat of the day. We just lie there and sweat through our uniforms.

Guard wasn’t too bad at 2 A.M. It was cool-ish and quiet outside. The sky was clear, and everything seemed peaceful, well, except for the occasional explosion or burst of machine gun fire. I think it seemed peaceful because I was alone. It’s been a long time since I’ve really been alone.

When I woke up this morning, my guys were discussing the differences between deployment and prison and which they felt might be better. Understand that none of them have ever spent any time in prison, so they don’t really have anything other than movies and TV to go off of.

Deployment Prison
Snacks and MREs

Extreme temperatures

Unreliable electricity (if any at all)

No running water

No real toilets

No bed (usually)

No television

No gym (in our current setting)

Hazardous duty pay

No time for college

Privacy (sort of)

3 hot meals per day

Climate controlled

Electricity

Running water

Toilets

Bed

TV

Gym

No money

Educational opportunities

No privacy

* I deleted a few things from the list. I’m a teacher now, and this blog is connected to my Facebook and Twitter.

My favorite answer of them all came from Bobby Gene; and the number one reason prison is better than deployment, is when you’re in prison, someone else does all the guard shifts.

We’ve all started getting bug bites since we’ve been here in the patrol base. Everyone seems to have little, itchy, blistery, red bumps all over. Doc says they’re from sand fleas. The funny thing about that is what CPT Veath supposedly told some of the guys. He played Spades with some of them last night, and apparently he said that CSM Ordonio told some of 3rd platoon’s soldiers that Charlie Company is way worse off than we are. Apparently, they have an infestation of sand fleas at their JSS up north. He also said that if Charlie Company had been given the opportunity, they would have done just as well as we have down here in Sadr City.

Great, but Charlie Company isn’t here; are they, asshole? What a dick!

I swear Bravo Company is the least-liked company in the battalion. News like that is such a morale killer. These guys feel like they’re doing something down here, and that just takes the wind right out of their sails. It’s messed up.

Speaking of 3rd platoon, we caught hell today because SGT (Name withheld) showed up on the cover of Stars and Stripes during a firefight in a t-shirt. I guess he had his body armor on, but no uniform top, helmet, gloves, or eye-protection. Apparently he’s holding his M4 like a pool cue, with his non-firing hand stretched out almost to the muzzle. So, we’re now under a microscope when it comes to wearing the proper uniform. If we get killed here, we had better be wearing gloves and eye-protection.

I had a good lunch today. I had a tuna sandwich, a fruit cup, some cookie sticks with chocolate dip, and some other snacks that have come in care packages. Anything beats MREs.

We spent a good part of the day sitting around. 3rd platoon was at the OP, and 2nd platoon was conducting patrols in the area. We were told that we’d have to give up one soldier for security at JSS Sadr City. It seems ridiculous; we’re out here in the streets where the fighting is. We go back there for supplies and fuel, but we have to provide manpower to help guard their walls? Like we don’t need all available soldiers out here where the fighting is happening? Give me a break!

LT Schardt fell asleep this afternoon, and SFC AB put a little stuffed tiger next to him on the floor. Some colonel, a brigade commander from 4th ID, came in and saw it. We laughed our asses off. Later, he, the colonel, gave Nikjoo a commander’s coin.

Our platoon spent most of the day and night resting and rotating through different guard posts around our patrol base. When 2nd platoon came in from patrols, they packed up and headed toward Taji for another refit day.

The BDE Chaplain and CSM talked with 1SG for a bit. He was blowing smoke up their asses. The chaplain walked over to Leo and I and said, “Okay, we’ve heard the political side of things; what’s really going on here?” We gave him a different, yet still censored version of the truth. I appreciate his asking, but he didn’t really want to know.

*It’s been 10 years since this happened. Chaplain Burton lost has battle with cancer on July 28th, 2017. Of all the chaplains I ever served with, he was the only one I got to know. He was a great guy, and he’ll be missed.

Leo, Heckman, Capelli, and I sat around sweating and bullshitting with SFC AB for most of the evening. When it was late enough, I found an empty room in the school and called home to Theresa. We talked for quite a while, and it was nice. Before going to bed, I finished reading another book.

The latest invention in the bathroom here is made up of two toddler-sized chairs next to the Iraqi toilets. There is one for each cheek. I’m not sure it’s much better than squatting.

Fun, right?

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