Three deployments, three tags, three ranks.

#thingsyoufindwhenpreparingtoPCS #amateurhoarders

This is what it looks like when you’ve waited three years to start sorting and organizing bins in the basement and now you only have months left. In an hour we got rid of one bag of recyclables and two boxes of garage sale/donation stuff. Now we only need to get rid of about 35x more stuff. :)


Eight years ago this week…

With the blog and website renovation, I have been going through all my old pages and pictures. Today I was incorporating Tom’s Iraq pictures into the blog, and realized that eight years ago this week (September 13) Tom was packing to head to Iraq for the first time.

If you ever want to take a look at old Iraq posts, just click on the Iraq Category tag.

Good news and bad news…

I finally heard from Tom today.

Good news…. I am safe at Blue Diamond. I got here yesterday at 0830, but left at 10 pm the night before. I was stuck in a hummer for nearly 12 hours in 25 degree weather! I WAS FREEZING MY ASS OFF!

Better news…. I got in and my bed was filled with boxes! Not to mention the there were so many that they started putting them under my bed too!!!

Best news…. I am leaving Blue Diamond in 4 weeks and 1 day!!!!!!

Bad news…. As soon as I stepped foot in the COC yesterday, Maj Allison said “Tom, it is great to have you back! You had better get some sleep, we have another project for you to work on now!” Needless to say I didn’t get to sleep. I started planning in my head…. Ohhhhh boy!

This just means he is going back out into the field. He assured me it will be “by far less dangerous” than it was before. Then I asked if he finally got my Christmas presents that I sent [way back the first week of December]…

I opened it, but I have had to make so many reports and prepare for the upcoming project, I haven’t unwrapped the presents. I will tonight and will tell you tomorrow. I no shit had 20 boxes!!!

Termination of Mail Services

Since Tom has been gone, I’ve been getting emails from Camp Pendleton with announcements related to the deployment (as well as related to spouse events in the Pendleton area—of which I have absolutely no use!—but most of the deployed marines were originally from the area, so it makes sense for them). However, once in awhile, I get one that I actually read! This week, they announced the Termination of Mail Services…because the guys are getting closer to coming home!! They make this request 45-60 days out (I’m guessing at the number of days, but it seems to fit with the timeline Tom has given me) so that there’s less chance of packages getting lost in the transition from Iraq to California (during which time the marines may be moving around frequently). Any mail sent after Feburary 15 will be held at Camp Pendleton, so there’s really no use in sending anything else unless you want him to receive it there. Personally, I would not take the chance!! If you want him to get something in California, I’d wait until he’s settled in to Cali and I can give you an address (most likely, he will be at a hotel again, as he was on his way out). Please feel free to contact me with any questions!

Admin in Iraq

I have had another stressful day. Admin up the wazoo! Maj Alison wants me there [Blue Diamond] as soon as the Marines leave, I have to do more work on this investigation,* I have to prepare fitreps and the best thing… I was asked by one of my marines to promote him! That I am geeked about, he wants me to do the swear in and to pin him!

* Tom has been working on an investigation of an incident that happened with another marine—doing interviews, taking statements, writing reports, etc. I originally thought it was a big deal that HE was assigned to it, but he assured me that ALL the lieutenants are blessed with the job! There’s just no JAG officers over there to handle all the incidents that need to be investigated, so it falls to the other officers.

Almost done…

I was cleaning my office. Man, just getting everything in order. Getting convoys and flights ready for the 8 marines that have to leave…. I have also been getting equipment bake here and getting ready to send out new gear in two points… What a pain!!! News flash…. I just got off the phone with Maj Alison, looks like I will be leaving Fallujah in the next week or so. Since I will only have 9 marines, there is no need for me to be here, so I have to make sure that everything is set in place, get the Marines that are leaving out safely, and then I go back to BD [Camp Blue Diamond, where he was originally in Ramadi] and my house of packages! Maj Alison said I might be doing something else, but who knows what. I will put in my application for night watch officer though. :)

Being on the night shift again means he can call during more normal hours!

What does a March flight mean?

I asked Tom… “When you say you have your flight for March, what exactly does that mean? Does it mean you have a specific date already? Does it mean you just know you will be leaving in March? Or only March unless something else comes up?

I have my ULN (U…… Line Number), which means that I basically have a “ticket” or a seat with my name on it, for a specific flight out of Kuwait in March, probably the 2nd or 3rd week to be more specific. I will be in Cali for awhile after that, but I have no idea as to when I can leave to actually come home. My orders say a month, but as we will see, I will not be here for as long as they say either.

A little longer…

Bad news…. Looks like I will be down here [Fallujah] longer… A major sent me an email asking the BATs personnel requirements—apparently everybody down here thinks I am in charge of everything that is BATs and the ECPs [Entry Control Points]! I had to correct the Major. Hopefully we wont be here long…

Dust, dust, and more dust!

Oh my God!!!! You have never seen a place this bad in your life! I have to dust everything off, every 12 hours! This shit is horrible! I have to wipe my screen off twice a day! Have you ever been on a dusty road and a car passes? You know the smell of the dust cloud that surrounds you? That is what I am surrounded by constantly. in this shack all I can smell is dust….

General Updates

Luckily, he’s been able to call pretty much every day—or at least every other day—even when he’s supposedly going to be incommunicado. This is a huge relief to me, as I am becoming more and more paranoid as time goes on. (You’d think I’d be more used to it after three months, but it just gets worse!) So, I treasure each second of a phone call—which, sometimes that’s all it is…mere seconds—as we frequently lose satellite connection!

Also, I just wanted to let you all know that Tom has been inundated with care packages!! He loves it, as do ALL his fellow marines that he inevitably ends up sharing the goodies with! The holiday season slowed down the mail tremendously…Tom still hasn’t received his Christmas package I sent the first week of December! Granted, it takes a while longer now that he’s “away from home” but be assured he will eventually receive all the packages! (Our neighbor, who has been home for two months, just received a package which his wife sent back in August! It never made it to him in Africa, but was returned to sender!) Also, please know that even if Tom has received your package, he may not have the time to email you to let you know—he tries to keep me in the loop, but it’s all he can do to email me updates on him! If you want me to ask him about something specific, email me and let me know and I’ll try to remember to ask him!

It’s over and he’s fine.

I have some news to tell you, you won’t like it, but the mission is over and I am fine.

I needed a ride to the ECPs, and the only one was with the XO. He wanted to see the ECPs and so I jumped on. Along the way we got a report of a weapons cache in the heart of Fallujah, so he made the Humvee convoy go straight for it. We had to go through some nasty stuff on the way, there was small arms fire all around us. We honed in on the grid coordinate with the GPS and stopped in front of a house that was totally intact, then we got the word over the radio to dismount. So we all climbed out of the trucks and left one marine and upgunner per vehicle. Upgunners are the marines that man the 50. cal machine guns and 40mm grenade launchers on the top of the vehicles.

The 8 of us got into patrol formation, with the Lt Col leading from the front, and went to the house, we waited to see if everyone was ready and then stormed the front gate and cleared the yard and front porch area. We then busted the front door down and started clearing the house from bottom to top. There was nobody in the house and no weapons there, so we went to the next house and the next. Nothing. Then on the fourth house area we found the weapons cache, there was a lot of ammo, grenades, rockets and other crap that had been burned in place. The ammo was not usable, but we had to document it for our intel. The XO had the driver of my vehicle write down all the crap, so I grabbed the Doc and we stood guard, in case there were any snipers in the area. The patrol went into another house to check around and found some IDs and then we packed up and moved on to the ECPs.

I have to say, I had a blast!!!! I was scared but excited as well. I knew that we could be hit at any second, but I was hoping to encounter resistance and get into a fight. I guess boys will be boys. After we got done with the ECPs we drove around the city looking for MUJ, bad guys. Everything is fine though, and I am safe again. I will be calling infrequently due to bad satellite connections.