Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Berry Merry Christmas from Iraq

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas from Amy and myself. Here is a little holiday recipe we thought we would share with you all. Enjoy
Merry Christmas.

Berry Merry Christmas
1 packet of hot cocoa mix
1 teaspoon or tablespoon of raspberry syrup
1 peppermint candy unless you like more
1 dollop (is that a word still used today?) of whipped cream, or just use the canned stuff
1 stick of cinnamon (I find them in the arts and crafts section of Wal-Mart)
Chocolate shavings
Oh yeah, hot water
Make hot cocoa according to the package, unless you have a better method, in which case, make it that way. My way uses hot water and a spoon. Once you have congratulated yourself for making hot cocoa and drinking half of it, make another one. Put a peppermint candy into the cocoa, it will melt, but they usually make really cool popping sounds as the crack. Find a spoon and pour raspberry syrup in it. You can even use the same spoon you stirred the cocoa with. After tasting the syrup and refilling the spoon, mix it in the cocoa. Take another spoon unless no one is looking and scoop up some whipped cream, I like Cool Whip. Place it on top of the hot cocoa. If you find a can of whipped cream, see how much you can put into your mouth, if you have some left over, put it on the cocoa. You don’t have to do this if you have already put whipped cream on it, I do though, can’t have too much. Find a stick of cinnamon, I found that it is much better than using any ordinary stick and put it into the cocoa as well. If you are like me, you will be making chocolate shavings at this point because you ate the ones you made earlier. Just use a cheese grater and a chocolate bar and scrape it over the whipped topping. If you aren’t full, enjoy the Berry Merry Christmas that you just made.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Letter 15


Just wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas, and let you all know that I am doing good. I received several boxes and cards and I want to thank everyone for sending them. There isn't a lot of Christmas lights outside, due to the light discipline, but inside the buildings, everyone is celebrating the Christmas spirit. I was surprised to find out that many Iraqis celebrate Christmas as well, not to the same extent that we do, but several of the traditions are still there. I am now living in a room with only one other person which is very nice. There is also the possibility that we will get our own individual rooms after one of the units here leaves. I hope everyone is doing well and I wish you all a Merry Christmas, keep me up to date with what is going on over there, and thanks again for all the presents and pictures.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Santa in Iraq


Just wanted to let you know that I ran into Santa over here and he is on his way to America now. He even let me ride in his sleigh. He dropped off some presents, so I did like any good kid would do and immediately opened them all. Thanks for all the wonderful presents, phone cards, food, cards, and necessities. I truly appreciate everything. I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas this year and I'll be there next year. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Open letter to a soldier (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Guard or Reservists)


I have seen many requests to send letters to our troops thanking them for their sacrifice. That is not enough. The members of our military are of such high quality that if you don't have the history or experience you may not understand how good they are.

In the 60's and 70's, the US military was crippled by 2 major problems. First fo all, the Congress of the US did not respect the military and it's job. It worked hard to make useless the fine effort of many excellent men and women in Vietnam. Secondly, the military was crippled by the draft. Because of the draft, many of the troops did not want to be there and their resentment spread to many who did. In spite of these problems, you, the military, performed wonderfully whenever you were allowed to do so.

This is a new era. All of our troops are volunteers and most of you have either enlisted or reenlisted during this time of war. If you take a Marine or a Soldier aside and ask why they are there, you could get all sorts of answers, varying from "I am here to protect my country" to "I wanted to get the educational help the Army gives when I get out." Some of them really can't express why they are there. In fact, most will probably tell you that they are actually fighting for their comrades. The fact is that no one is in the military who doesn't want to be there.

Many of the people that protest the current war so stridently are still mired mentally in the 1960's. They make statements about bringing our troops home from a war they are forced to fight. They suggest that the troops need to "Frag" the officers as a protest. What idiocy!

These time frozen critics have no idea the quality of our fighting forces.
We have seen the pain of the mainstream media constantly telling us about the awful failure that has been going on. They tell us that the war was a lie or started on false premises or that we are losing. That is nonsense. You are telling us a much different story. You tell of the schools rebuilt and the happiness of the people to vote--even the women. You tell us of successes that belie the story of the military hating press.

There seem to be two types of Americans when it comes to our military. Those that understand the need and your skill and those that think we should all just get along. A corollary of the second group is the "Hate America" crowd. They think the world's problems are caused by the US. They will probably always think that and in this country that is their right. If fact, that right is maintained partially by you, the very military they disdain.

Not all of you have great honorable reasons for fighting. The fact that you perform your duty and do so in such a magnificent manner is a tribute to your personal pride, patriotism and honor.

Many thanks to all of you--The American Soldier, whose presence in a dangerous world offers some protection to the rest of us. Thank you for standing between those who would destroy our civilization the rest of us who cannot or even will not stand. You have the undying appreciation of myself and the vast majority of the freedom loving Americans. Thank you and may you continue in freedom and honor in whatever far flung place you stand that your duty calls yout to stand to protect us.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Letter 13--Blickenstaff and Diamondback


Just a friendly reminder to let everyone know how I'm doing. I'm not doing too bad, although I think I might have caught a little cold. I guess that is to be expected when living in a room with 20 other people. We are living on an Iraqi compound called FOB (forward operating base) Blickenstaff. I don't know who makes up the names for these things, but that is what it is called. We are only a couple of blocks away from FOB Blickenstaff and FOB Marez. We make routine trips to both areas. They are anything but routine though. We go through two intersections to get there and we travel in the lane that has the least amount of traffic, even if it means the traffic is incoming. Habits that I will have to break when I get back home. I got a haircut yesterday for 3 bucks and it even came with a massage. The barber was from Nepal and the massage was equivalent to being mugged. The guy was literally hitting me on the head and doing karate chops to my back. I'm sure Amy would have loved it though. The food is pretty good on Diamondback, they have a large selection to choose from, but I usually get the stir fry, because it is like a Mongolian style where you choose the vegetables and meat and they fry it up for you with whatever spices you want. The food on Blickenstaff though, nobody really likes. Even the Iraqis have been complaining about the quality of food. At first it was a racial issue, because the contractors who prepare the food are from India and they don't like them. However, Iraqis are actually cooking the food for the Iraqis and when they found that out, they changed their story to it being the food itself. They are very interesting people, strange, but interesting. One even tried to sell us a AAA battery today. That's it, a single battery, that was probably already used. They will sell anything we issue them at a market too. They sell ammo and then complain when they don't have any. During their briefings, they point at a map and said "some go on this half and some go on this half." It took about an hour but they finally decided on how many should go to which half, and they even narrowed it down to a specific location. Well, it looks like we have our work cut out for us. I'll keep in touch and I should be leaving Mosul sometime before Christmas if everything goes well during the elections. Take care.

Letter 12--Convoy to Mosul


Hey everyone,
We have finally arrived in Mosul, it was a long drive through the countryside. There isn't much outside of Baghdad that I could see. There was an occasional house or two on the road and we passed by a few villages, but other than that it was just empty. Our convoy got hit with an IED but it went off in between two of the vehicles. Luckily nobody was hurt. The vehicle that drove though the blast got a broken headlight and a cracked windshield, mostly from rocks and debris that was thrown into the air. I was hoping that it would be an uneventful trip, but at least we are all okay. We are living in an Iraqi compound, we have our own little area that is separated from the Iraqis and we have TV and internet set up via satellite. It doesn't seem too bad up here so far. Still no hot water, but with two showers and 40 people, what can you expect? I'll keep in touch and I hope all of you do the same.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Latest defense


There are some out there that think the MJD is at war against the leftist or Democrats and that most people can see through Bush's lies. It would be a lot easier to understand that point if they ever offered any evidence that Bush lied. All you do is point to conservatives and say Bush Lied--Thousands died. Then your defense of it says that it is obvious that Bush lied. Yeah? Check the dictionary for the definition of lie. It includes intent to deceive or deliberate falsehood. Show me one. Simply saying something over and over again is not proof.

There are those that say that there can be no good outcome from the war. Not true. There has been a good outcome already. Saddam Hussein is not longer able to torture, rape and execute the 27 million Iraqis he once held complete power over. Instead, he is on trial for his life in a at least partially fair court.

I think it may be true that whenever we leave Iraq it may degenerate to civil war but we are currently engaged in a great experiment to see if it is possible to generate a democratic form of government where an autocracy once existed. That has never been done before. Oh yes, I forgot about the little country called the United States of America. Or maybe France. The transition in France wasn't pretty there but it worked. Italy, Japan, and even Afghanistan had little or no experience with democratic forms of government before they had civil war or had it imposed after losing a war. None of the changeovers happened peacefully within 2 years.

I think that the Iraqis have at least the potential to work out a government that is pluralistic in nature and possibly even democratic. I don't have a crystal ball but the alternative is not very pleasant.

Picking up and leaving is obviously not an option. I think the President has stated, sometimes poorly, that we have to stay the course. What the means is that we removed Saddam and we stay until there is a chance of government working and then leave. I think that is the best we can do now. The War on Terror is continuing and will continue for a long time. I hope to live to see the end of it some day but don't think I will. Hope springs eternal.

Letter 11


I've been receiving a lot of emails about what I want for Christmas, so I thought I would try to answer everyone in one big email. Since the two things that I want are highly unlikely, a plane ticket home, or Amy shipped over in a box, I will have to settle for something else. I really don't need much and I haven't given it a lot of thought about what I want. I can use phone cards if anyone happens to have some lying around or if not, www.aafes.com has a good deal on phone cards as compared to Wal-Mart, but I'm not picky. I don't have a permanent place to live yet, so it is hard to tell what I need. Of course I could always use normal daily living items for personal hygiene or stuff to make me feel at home, like pictures. I should be getting my own room when I get back from Mosul in about three weeks, or about the same amount of time as it takes mail to get here, so feel free to send me anything you want. I'm not asking for anything more than a Christmas card and a picture and I'll be happy, I would rather everyone focus their attention on Amy and the baby and get stuff that we can use when the baby is born. Most of you have kids, or are one (Jeff), so you know much better than I as to what we will need for the baby. Don't worry about me, I have a PX over here that I can shop at, just help Amy out and I'll have a merry Christmas. Thanks for all of your support we truly apprecia te it.