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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

It is now 0100 El Paso time Wednesday. We stopped in Bangor, Maine to refuel the plane and are now headed to Ireland. It seems funny to relate my trip to Iraq to the Matrix but there was a perfect line that describes how I am feeling. There is a scene is which “Smith”, one of the matrix program people, is describing the early versions of the matrix to Neo; he says that the early versions were setup to be a perfect world, the human mind couldn't take it, it was as if we were trying to continually wake up from a dream. That's exactly how I felt in basic training and now I'm getting that feeling all over again. Our families got to spend a few hours with us today while we were having out bags inspected. It was surreal. Even now aboard a plane headed miles and miles away from home I cannot come to terms with the reality of being gone for 15 months. It doesn't help that from what I hear where we will be staying at first isn't a real fun place to stay. We should be living in 40-50 person tents with not much more than a Port-a-potty for a latrine. On the upside it's only for two weeks so I'll be ok. This laptop is already making things more bearable, they even have a power outlet near my seat on the plane so I can keep it plugged in. On a quick side note, what the heck is the point of a hot towel I never got that?
As I mentioned we stopped off in Maine for a few hours to refuel. It's obvious we've been stopping off there for a while now because they have a whole shop setup for the troops. They even had an area where if we left our ID cards we could use a cellular phone to call home, which of course I did. Lucky for me it wasn't too late at that point and I was able to get a hold of Diana one last time for now. We're flying on a DC-10 of all things, the upside of which is that it's capacity is like 350 people and we only have 225. Even with that we filled every storage bin on the plane and it still took some work cram things in. The rows are 10 people wide and there are a few TV screens for movies and TV shows. The food is tolerable, that said I've kindly decided to skip breakfast, I'll pick something up in Ireland, the dinner wasn't exactly top notch. They said it was pasta but you could have fooled me.
I know God is with me, I've had this odd calm for the past couple of weeks preparing to leave. I know it comes from the prayers you all have been saying for me and my family. I want to let you all know how much it means to me. I will need continued prayer, this is likely the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I picked up a book before I left, I'm looking forward to giving it a read. It's called something like “The End of Iraq: America's Incompetence has started a war that cannot be finished” That's not the exact title but I don't have the book on me right now. I've slept most of the flight so far which is my plan for the flight, I just wanted to get some thoughts down while they were fresh on my mind.
We have left Ireland now on our way to our final destination. I'm actually not even sure how much longer we have, another couple of hours at most if my math is right. I've completely lost track of what time it is wherever we are now, I just know it's 1217 El Paso time. It is dark as night outside which makes sense I guess since it should be 8 or 9 hours ahead of El Paso time. Everybody seems so calm, then again over 70 percent of my company has been deployed at least once before.
It is now 0855. We've been here since about 0230 and I've now had a good meal (REALLY good food) and a warm shower. The food and showers makes up for the living conditions, we are living in 75 person tents. Which sucks a little but then again, the tents are air conditioned and well lit. There are a few power outlets around the tent so I can keep my laptop charged, which is good because I only get a little over two hours on a full charge. To help understand the time difference it's just before 000 (midnight) back in El Paso, or 0200 for my friends and family reading from Michigan. This post is pretty well setup, there is a Burger King, an Outback Steakhouse, a Starbucks, and a few other little outlets I've never heard of. The PX looks quite large, the DFAC's (Dinning facilities) are clean and large and offer fantastic food and I am told there are a few places on base that offer wireless Internet access so I may be able to get a letter home or get on Yahoo! Messenger so I can receive phone calls. I'll keep everyone up to date when I can. I think for now I'm going to try to get some sleep. Stay by the blog, I will update it when I can.
0100 25 Aug 2007
Yes, I do sleep, just in shifts. It is unbearably hot during the day so we do most of our activities at night or at least after the sun has gone down. The best way to describe it is like being in your car after it has been left out in the sun for a few hours. Everything you touch seems to burn and the very air burns the skin. That's very much how it is here. At night, when we consider it to be cool, it is nearly 100 degrees and we walk around comfortably. The conditions aren't too bad, almost every time I've gone to eat it has been in my PT shorts and T-shirt. I am still looking for a place with Internet access. I'm told there are a few areas but I really haven't had too many times out and about yet. We aren't allowed to carry bags of any kind with us to the DFAC and it's a fair walk from our tent to anything of interest. I am planning on checking out the PX tomorrow and I hear they have Internet access there. Another great benefit I've found is midnight meal. Good food served four times a day means I may actually put on some weight. One of the Sergeants in my platoon came across someone that had just left the area I will be going to next. He told us the FOB there is actually very well setup and there are many amenities. I should even have Internet access in my room.
0632 25 Aug 2007
Fantastic breakfast, I'm getting used to the schedule here so far. We have two classes scheduled for today, one at 0800 and one at 1000, after that the day is ours from what I am hearing. I really must get near the Internet tonite, get this posted and make some calls home. This laptop is going to be a Godsend, being able to get my thoughts out like this makes it easier to cope with the distance and time. I still feel like I'm just away at a camp, I'm sure that feeling will go away once I get my own room. For now I have to be content to share my living space with some 70 other people and live out of my duffel bag, MOLLE, and assault pack. It's not a bad way to be it just forces us to live different than we are used to. Then again, if this is the worst it is going to be, you won't hear much complaining out of me. I can still see images of home in my sleep, like I am there. It was the same when I first went and went back to basic. I know the dreams will stop once I start getting more contact with home, for now at least my family is with me when I sleep. It looks like I'm up almost around the clock in shifts right now, it's actually working pretty well and it should mean I'll be up when you all would be back home. It's now 2145 in El Paso and 2345 in Michigan so the time shift isn't too bad, except it's Saturday here and Friday there. I finally put batteries in my camera and I'll be taking pictures when I remember to. I'm still just getting used to the way things are here but I kind of like it. Every one is real close, not in the sense that I can barely roll over without bumping elbows, that is true, but in the sense that everyone is going through this together. It forces you to get to know one another. I have a few Sergeants already that I can call friends and I like all of the people in my squad, so I consider myself lucky. I wouldn't mind a toilet that actually flushes but the showers are good and there are sinks for hygiene so staying clean really isn't a problem. I'm not changing uniforms much because we don't have access to laundry services where we are now but as little as we are doing combined with the number of uniforms I packed is making is ok. Oh one of the new guys in my squad went through basic the same place I did, D1/40th at Ft. Sill the cycle right after me. It's cool because we know almost all the same Drill Sergeants and went through all the same things at the same places, so we have something in common already and when we come back we'll have a deployment together too.
A quick little note, I went back and edited this to remove where I currently am from the post. You'll note I just say things like where I am and final destination, that is for security reasons. If you know where I am right now, good, if not call one of the other family members that may know. From here there is only so much I am allowed to say and I'm trying to make sure that I don't get it wrong this early on. I hope these classes today aren't too boring, or at least if they are maybe they won't be too long. It sounds like we'll be done for the day before lunch, which is like the middle of the night for you all back home. The best time it seems to get a hold of me is afternoon into evening. 3 PM El Paso time is 10 pm here which is perfect. The sun goes down around 1830 so it is fairly cool outside. I swear I'm going to find the Internet soon and call home. For something like $5 a day I could have it in the tent but I'm not really going to be here long enough to make it worth it. When I get my own room or even a room I have to share with someone else I'll get it there, even if it costs a little bit. I have a formation in a little over 10 minutes so I'm going to make sure I'm ready. I'll add more to this when I can get back to it. Remember always that I love you and am thinking of you. I will be fine in 15 months you'll see, I'll return home at least as well as I left it.
0123 26 Aug 2007
To give a little more of an idea of how hot it gets here, we were out for some classes for a while today and it was rough. We came back to the tent after lunch chow changed into PT's and the tent almost felt cold. The thermostat said it was 82 degrees in the tent and I got into my sleeping bag, that should give you an idea of how hot it is outside. It's in the 70's in here now and I'm nearly frozen, no one complains about the temp though, we'd hate for someone to think we want it warmer. We're going to the range here in a little bit, rolling out at 0300. They say all we have to do is fire off a couple of rounds to make sure our weapon still fires. I'm good with that, it's too dark to hit a target anyway and I don't want to be firing during the day when the sun's up. I already have my gear ready so I've got a few minutes to write. In the morning I'm going to try to goto the TMC and get a script for Allegra D. My allergies aren't all that bad but I'm really congested and I was acclimated to the air in El Paso, it's really thin because of the high altitude. We're a bit lower here so the air is thicker and I'm getting some rough headaches, I can feel that they are sinus though so I'm hoping an allergy med will take care of it. I'm still looking for a place to get the Internet My plan was to go out tonite but then they came up with this range stuff so that kinda nix'd that one.
1314 26 Aug 2007
I'm stuck on a night cycle, I'm sleeping more now during the day now because we are training at such odd hours. No one is complaining it really is hot here, and bright. It is as if this part of the world is closer to the sun or something. Sun glasses are a mandatory part of the uniform but none of us needed to be told to wear them. It's painful without them on. I'm going to the TMC in the morning for sure. We didn't get back from the range in time to make it this morning but the headaches aren't letting up and I need to get them taken care of. I'm good laying down or sitting, but once I stand up it takes a few minutes before the pain subsides, even then it never really goes away. I'd go to the PX or shopette and pickup some pain killer but the nearest one is at least a mile away. I may go tonite, we have a quick class at 2000 so I'll be up anyway, I just hope one or the other is still open much later than that. It is pitch black after about 1830. It's weird, if there was ever an area that needed daylight savings time, this is it. The sun comes up around 0530 and it's hot almost immediately. And it's weird, I'm fairly good at finding my way around with very few directions, I can tell where I am going based on where the sun is in the sky. The problem is once it is up it's just right overhead, all day long. There are almost no shadows to use for reference. It's nap time, I don't have anywhere to be until evening chow. It's really weird, I still only eat three meals a day but I tend to skip lunch. Midnight chow is the greatest thing ever. We should start doing it back home. Although I'd probably end up staying up all night. That only seems to work real well out here.
1648 26 Aug 2007
So, we were supposed to be going to a range tomorrow, turns out instead we'll be leaving for two nights in the field. It should go without saying that I'm looking forward to it. No a/c, No showers, only MRE's for food, we're only allowed to bring our assault pack, and no electronics. All of this of course means that I won't likely be posting this anytime soon. I'm still going to the TMC in the morning though, you'd better believe that. I'm on my way to dinner chow here in a minute too, then to the PX to get some field wipes or baby wipes whatever they have. It's retarded too because we're leaving tomorrow at 1500 spending the night out in some building, then training Tuesday and coming back Wednesday morning. So really we ought to just leave out Tuesday morning and do the training all in one day and come back. It isn't really worth staying out there but I'm going to keep my mouth shut, it could be a lot worse. People are already getting short nerves because while we are sleeping all hours of the day people are being loud and inconsiderate. It's not real hard, if you want to watch a movie or listen to music on your laptop put on headphones. There is a laptop on nearly every cot so it gets loud quickly. I never really got a laptop with good speakers, thank you Best Buy, so I have to use headphones. This should be fun. Someone is going to get really mad about something really stupid and start a fight or something, I can see it coming already. Too bad we're aren't allowed to bring any electronics or I'd get pictures.
1945 26 Aug 2007
I found the PX! It's a hike. Luckily there is a bus. I know I'm sure half of you were thinking I was going to say something like luckily I'm in the Army and I'm used to it. Screw that, it's too hot here to be walking too far when there are perfectly good air conditioned shuttles running all over the base. I picked up some baby wipes, cough drops because they help with the allergies, Advil for some headache relief, and Q-tips to clean my M-16. I'm thinking I'll pack in the morning, after chow. It'll be hot by then and I'll wanna stay inside anyway. Tonite after midnight chow I may try to post this up, we'll see. I won't get a chance for a while after this and I'd be able to make a call home. I think I may just do that. Thinking of you all always. I hope you all enjoy reading this, hopefully they all won't be this long.
0200 27 Aug 2007
Wow was I asleep. I almost couldn't be woken for midnight chow. Time to finish watching a movie so I can get back to sleep. I'll be packing and cleaning my weapon in the morning. Not much of an update right now but then not much has happened since the last update so, I'll be back in the morning.
0700 27 Aug 2007
Well the TMC doesn't open for sick call until 0800 so I have to wait for a little bit. I've eaten breakfast so that's one item off of the morning's checklist. All of us are so glad that later today we get to leave from living in the field to go live in the field. I was able to find the phones this morning, couldn't remember the country code for the US but I'll figure that out when I go back out. I'm thinking about taking the laptop with me to see if I can find some free WIFI out there somewhere.

1340 27 Aug 2007
I made it to the TMC. It is run by the Navy here. The funny thing too was they were so busy they barely even asked me any questions. It went like this:
TMC: What are you here for? Me: A prescription for allergies, I have been on Allegra D before. TMC: So you need a refill? Me: I haven't had any since November, since before I joined the Army. TMC: So you're here for a refill. Me: Ok, that'd be fine.
They took my vital signs, asked some questions about my medical history and checked my nose and ears. That was it, they sent me on my way with a prescription and a have a nice day. So, so far I have learned that if I want a/c, good medical care, food, and as many laughs as I can handle in a day, all I have to do is go to war. From what I hear about where we are going from here I get all of the above plus a two man room and as much free time as I can handle. Oh and hopefully about as much money as I could imagine for my pay grade. I imagine there will be things I won't enjoy, like this afternoon and the next day or so when we go off to play Army, that's gonna suck. I mean really, what is the point of taking a unit that is already staying in tents with little more than port-a-potties for bathrooms and sending them into the field where there isn't any running water at all, no a/c, and nothing more to eat than MRE's. My only hope is a big sand storm or thunderstorm. From the looks of things around here though it doesn't rain much so I guess it'd have to be a sand storm, somehow I get the feeling that'd only be good enough to delay our training not cancel it.
1907 29 Aug 2007
We came back from the field today. The training was good it's just not what we're going to be doing. Most of the training was geared towards running gun trucks and pulling security. From everything we've been told so far we won't be doing either of those jobs. All of what we learned was very good training it's just unlikely that we'll need any of it. My squad leader has been deployed three times and hasn't fired her weapon once yet, she's seen a few IED's but never needed to fire or get out of the truck to respond to an ambush. I finally got a good shower and a meal, if I don't fall asleep before my movie finishes I'll be watching a movie.
1132 30 Aug 2007
We had some more training last night and into this morning. It was about how to run an entry point and fire on a VBIED (Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device) should the situation arise. It was more good training, the only problem I had with it this morning was we were firing very close to each other, hot brass was bouncing everywhere. I had the collar on my ACU top up and the neck pieces of my IBA installed to help protect my neck but it happened anyway, I caught a round right down on my neck. It looks really bad, which works out because it feels like hell. I lost the skin in a few places where the round touched before it came to a stop. I'll be ok, this happens all the time, most of us have a brass burn somewhere, this is just my first. On the upside my team had the highest score on our lane and there were only two lanes this morning, so that felt good. While we were doing this training and for the whole rest of the day, all E6's and above have some other training at another post that is going to keep them out until midnight so I have some free time again. I think after lunch I'm going to buy a day's worth of Internet access and try and get a hold of friends and family at home. I've also learned that I should be able to call Diana free because she is in the local calling area for a military post (Ft. Bliss). I can call the post with what is known as a DSN number and get an operator there that can put me through to her. I'm going to try it this evening, last night the lines went down so I'm hoping I'll be able to get through. I'm getting really good at cleaning my weapon now with just baby wipes and Q-tips, but I can't wait until we catch up with the conexes that we sent earlier because they are supposed to have some proper cleaning kits in them.
0900 06 Sep. 2007
It has been a week since my last update and I must apologize. The last week has been very eventful, I am now mostly settled into a new home. The living conditions are a bit more personal than the tents we were in before although I still have 5 roommates. We've managed to create little 2 man areas out of our one room with our ponchos and I have my own wooden shelfing unit (about 2' square) to keep my clothes and things on. We've met and begun to train with the company we are replacing and they really seem to know their stuff. The best part is they were adamant about maintaining the trucks so we should be in good shape. It's funny too because they didn't really know who we were when we first got here, I mean what unit we were, so they were telling us that the trucks we'll be driving came from the 377th TC out of Germany. We laughed because that was us a little over a year ago. A few of my NCO's that are here now were even in Germany when the trucks were sent here. I wish I could tell you of the missions that I will be doing so that you may have a better understanding of my life here and what I'm doing/going through but I cannot. Neither can I tell you anything about where I am, not anything at all. I think I can take some photos but I can't send them home, I may be able to bring them home when I go for R&R. All I can do is assure you all that I am very much ok and doing fine. I do not yet have Internet in my room, none of us do, that is something that is being worked on and may be up to two months before it shows up. I think I may be able to get this posted, there are a few places near me that are getting Internet for us, but often I am not allowed to bring my own computer or files so for now I haven't been able to post this. It will get better, I will be able to have regular Internet access in my room before I leave, they have promised that.
1445 06 Sep 2007
Ok here's one that's going to set you back. I have 5 roommates right, who would have thought I am the one who gets up earliest. Granted, it is because Sgt. Carins comes by to see if I want to goto breakfast, nevertheless my other five roommates don't typically get up until about 0945 whereas I am up around 0600 or 0700. By that time I've eaten, dropped off or picked up my laundry depending on the day, and showered. My little section of the room is coming along very nicely. We've hung dividers up (I think I mentioned that) so that we almost have 3 small rooms within the larger room and I share a section with PV2. Hoel (pronounced Hole). All of us have bunk beds and naturally I am on the top bunk. I have plenty of places to hang pictures and cards just keep in mind the mail is painfully slow. I'd still like to get pictures that remind me of home, family, and friends. It's funny, the conditions here are better and at the same time worse than they were in basic. There I shared an open bay with 52 other guys, not fun, but we had a bathroom with like 8 stalls and 10 sinks. Here I share a section of a room with one other guy but the nearest bathroom is an outhouse about 250-300 meters away and the showers are just slightly further away. It's really weird packing a bag to go take a shower. Most of the 5 other people in our room I like, one has even been deployed before so he's got a lot of experience to give. Tonight if all goes well we are thinking about doing a little “night reconnaissance” to see if we can find another window a/c unit. Our area is close. We started with a double sized room and took down a wall between that and a smaller bordering room. The problem is that since the larger room was all one room originally it only has one a/c unit and the section that I now share with Hoel doesn't have an a/c unit. It's not hot enough to really complain about, but it is warm so we're going to see what we can come up with, maybe a few wall lockers and some lumber for additional construction as well. It sounds like stealing I'm sure, but as we say in the Army “steal” is an acronym for Strategically Transport Equipment to an Alternate Location. So tonight McDonald, a.k.a. Big Mac or just Mac and I will be going out to see what we can find. I'll update this again after that or in the morning depending on how tired I get.
0234 18 Sept. 2007
It's hard for me to put in to text the anger flowing through me right now. I think the proper descriptive word would be seething. Apparently there has been some sort of a situation with 2nd Platoon where they are now short on soldiers in their location. Now mind you I'm not talking about a situation where a soldier has been wounded or even killed, no this is more like people were caught doing things that has resulted in their being separated from each other. As such this has left 2nd Platoon short handed. As has been the norm, instead of drawing from the pool of some 200+ soldier stationed with the rest of the company the call went out to 3rd Platoon because as the award in the office states, we are the best platoon in the company. They have requested 4 soldiers, I have ended up on this short list of people chosen to leave. To compound things, add insult to injury if you will, the reason I have been chosen is because the battalion we fall under where I am now requires every truck to have a licensed driver in order to go out on missions. Back home in the states I was 18 short miles and a road test away from getting a full license. Were I to have one the fact that four soldier were leaving would be merely circumstantial to me. Now I have been dragged thousands of miles away from my family and friends and been told to risk my life for people I've never met and who seem to be so grateful that we are here, I am also being torn from my second family, my platoon. It my sound funny to hear me speak of people I've only known for months as family, these people are no less to me than my very flesh and blood, we all think of each other in such a manner. I told my Platoon Sergeant and Platoon Leader that I would be coming back, I fully intend to appeal this to the highest power I that I need to. They have both fought the move, along with my squad leader, who already is almost in tears over the prospect of loosing two of her soldiers to another platoon. It is going to be a very hard day when I have to say goodbye to the people I was counting on leaning on to get me through 15 of the toughest months of my life. Even now I have to fight back tears myself. There are people here I know would be prepared to give their life for me and I the same were we faced with a real combat situation. In fact I can't count the names on both hands. Where I'm going, I can barely even name five people much less five I've had more than just passing conversation with. Pissed off barely even begins to describe the emotions in me now. These people are the only people I know in this company. Now, like everything I went through in basic and my life prior for that matter, everything happens for a reason and ours is not to ask why, but this is not a fight that I will lose quietly. There are times when a stand needs to be taken, for me this is one of the biggest. Think of it this way, the Army has taken more from me than I thought I'd ever have to give. When I return from this tour, if you add in the time I was away for basic and AIT, I will have been gone for almost 1/3rd of Christopher's life and ½ of Matthew's. That's time that I will never get back. Time that no amount of money can ever repay. And for what? What is our great goal here? Where is the good we are doing? We are giving back a country to people who couldn't even manage to run it right in the first place. Mark my words and mark them well, this is not a war that will be over in the near future. The United States is destined to have troops here for a good period of time yet, I would wager 5—10 more years easy. And it's sad, yes I can understand some of why we are here. I've seen the children run out to the convoys looking for food and clothing, I've seen teenagers carrying AK47's, I've seen all of this and I've only been here a little under two weeks now. It breaks your heart to have to look at each and every one of them and wonder if any of them are planning on killing you that day. To know that within a moments notice you have the power and training to end their life and have been trained to deal with that. Don't think I'm not prepared either, don't think me cold or inconsiderate. This is the reality that is the Iraqi war. These people are fighting for not just land but their religion and they are prepared to pay the ultimate price defending it. Through all of this I keep in the back of my mind that parts of this land were where much of the stories in the Bible took place. Looking around, being lost for 40 years out here totally makes sense, wouldn't surprise me at all. There is nothing, no land features that would indicate one place from another. Just sand, deep sand, and not like there is on a beach. No, this is the consistency of moon dust and we have accordingly nicknamed it as such. There are places where it is so deep you literally have to pull each leg up out of the sand in order to take the next step. You can drop a shackle into and loose it forever. I have the opportunity to get on the Internet here every so often and I do when I can. The other day I was reading a post on a message board that I frequent where a fellow service member (Air Force) was showing how quickly thunderstorms can roll in on the base where he is stationed. He ended his post by saying that the water was so deep that someone, who in an apparent lack of common sense, drove their car into the “wash” and was swept car and all under and overpass and drowned. He said it happens so often that there is actually a law that if you lack the clarity to see that your vehicle can't make it through a stretch of road and emergency workers have to be called you have to pay the bill. A comment was quickly posted that “it was sweet to see how our armed forces were trained to have no respect for human life.” Three pages of back and forth with other members of the board and I had enough and snapped. I posted my thoughts and you know what, there hasn't been another post in two days. I ended my post with a simple thought that I will stand behind. If you have a problem with my opinions (i.e. That we need to be able to kill at a moments notice and not feel remorse, that at the end of the day admit it or not you need people like me out here fighting for the nation that this poster calls home and freedoms that they daily take for granted) that they should revoke their citizenship and kindly vacate the nation, we don't need people like you while we are over here risking our lives. I meant it then and I mean it now. Canada is not so far away and I hear they have good health care, pack your bags 'cuz if you're still there when I get home I'll do it for you, but you're going to meet my combat boots in the process, don't think I'll be kind about it. I don't understand our nation, I really don't. The more and more I learn about our people and politics the harder time I have calling myself American. We are not tolerant people despite what we have fooled ourselves into believing. We daily take for granted things like electricity and running water, both of which I barely have by the way. A while back now, I was getting a tour of the FOB from the company we are replacing, and one of their sergeants pointed out a window and said, “you see that M88 there (which is a tracked vehicle), that's the same M88 that pulled down the statue of Saddam. It's still in service and running missions.” Did you know in 2003 when we first started this war, before most people knew what an IED was that the doors on the Hummers were made of just vinyl and most times were left off? An up armored vehicle back then was one that had sand bags lining the floor to help keep shrapnel from coming up through the floor, that is if there was a floor left after the blast. These are the kinds of things that everyone of us knows. We willingly go out day after day and risk our lives. Some of the bravest people I have ever met in my life our now my best friends. John Kerry might just have had it right, if you're smart you goto college out of high school, the rest join the Army. No one in their right mind would do this and yet most of my leadership is on their 3rd trip to Iraq since just 2003. My team leader has spent more time here in the past 4 years than he has at home. I can't wait for the first person to talk badly about me because I am a member of the armed forces, you'll have to pull me off of them. The honor and dignity that comes from fighting for your nation cannot be described.

11 comments:

Joy said...

Thank you for your service to our country! I will continue to read your blog. I am an Air Force wife and a proud supporter of our military. I will keep you in my prayers, and continue to read your blog.

Jesse Pahman said...

I'm touched Joy, and I thought I only had family and friends reading this. I plan to keep it as up to date as the Iraqis and the Army allow.

Aunt Bree said...

Jesse my brother I am so glad to see you post! I love you dearly and you know my family is behind you supporting you and Di and the kids all the way. I'm praying for you everyday! I'm praying extra hard after I read your last day. I don't know what exactly to pray but I do know that God knows exactly what you need and that He will take care of you. I love you!

MOM JONES! said...

You can't believe our excitement to see something come over on your blog -- we haven't heard anything from you since August 15 and it feels like more than 30 days. It was late when Sabrina discovered you had written, and now we have all read through days and days of your writing. We will read it again and again tomorrow and try to soak in what it is you are experiencing. Please know that for tonight, all of us are praying for you, loving you and are proud of you. Don and I are at Sabrina's until Thursday (it is almost midnight Monday) and then we leave for El Paso to see your family. I will write your e-mail address tomorrow. Much love, dear Jesse.

Don said...

Jesse,

Its good to hear from you finally. We are all praying for you and will continue to do so.

Your mom and I are at Sabrina's now (will be to Diana and the kids by Friday) and when Sabrina called out from the lap top down stairs that you had finally gotten a post on your BLOG, three computes all came up to read it.

Keep your chin up and your head down over there.

Diana said...

Well baby, I still haven't had a chance to really read it but was hoping to leave you your first comment. Oh well that didn't happen. It's really late here but I was trying to make sure I had everything ready for Emma's fundraiser that has to be turned in tomorrow (or really today now). As always I'll be here for ya if you have time online. I love you honey!

Mom Hand said...

Hi Jesse: We are so glad to hear
from you. Your are in our prayers
and always in our thoughts. I'm glad you are writing the way things
really are as this is what we all
need to know. I hope you have
success in staying with your unit.
More and more people I talk with
tell me they have had sons, brothers, etc. in Iraq now, in the
past, or second or third tour. I
am sending a copy of your blog to
uncle Ken as he doesn't have a
a computer. We are proud of you and
and all the men and women in the
military, and are greatful to you.
All our love, Mom, Dad & David

Dad Hand said...

Jesse, It's great to hear from you. I said to someone the other day I can't imagine what it must be like over there. Now I can. We're fortunate to have men like you that are willing to serve, and if you've heard negative comments about you being there, just remember the idiots don't know what they're talking about. We're proud of you, we love you, and you are constantly in our prayers. Keep us posted, keep safe and God Bless You, we know he is. Larry, Judy and David

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