Friday, July 27, 2007
Last night I was closing up shop and getting ready to head out. I had laundry to do, and I was looking forward to spending some quiet time at the Embassy with a good book I started the day before.
Right before I logged off I heard yet another loud explosion, but this time my desk, my building, rocked. Nobody around me seemed to notice, but I felt it. Something horrible happened.
In that instant 28 men, women, and children were murdered about 2 miles away from where I sat in the comfort of my office. 95 men, women and children were sprayed with glass, metal, and debris while I sent my last email and picked up my gear. These people were preparing to celebrate an Islamic holiday. The night before they were happy because the Iraqi soccer team won another game in the Asian Cup. They were happy, and happiness is so rare for them these days. Why would someone want to destroy such happiness. All of those smiles were stolen away last night by people who can't stand to see joy and happiness.
"The terrorists, curse them, are behind this act," said Firas Rahim, who sells clothes at a stand near the site of the blasts. "They are angry because the people were celebrating and happy yesterday. Now they took their revenge."
The longer I'm hear, the more I love the Iraqi people. They're vibrant, emotional, patriotic, and strong. Yet the longer I'm here the more I hate the people who fire rockets and mortars at me every day, and kill the Iraqi people I love without remorse.
Love and Hate. The two most powerful emotions a human can feel, and this place is filled with each.
I've only been here for two weeks, yet I feel like I've spent years staring up at the roof of my trailer every night, waiting for that one rocket or mortar to tear through the roof and take me from this place before I can make a difference. I can't imagine what the men, women, and children who live just a few hundred yards from from me wait for every night, every day. Do they think about their future a year from now? Do they mourn the past under Saddam? Or do they just stare at their ceilings ever night praying for a tomorrow.
We have it so lucky back home. I've always known that, but it really hits you when you're over here how lucky we really are. Back home I can drink out of any water faucet without fear of dying, walk down any street without zigzagging because someone might have you targeted, and watch my child grow, learn, and sleep without fearing bombs or bullets. We have everything.
My job here is to help the Iraqi Air Force buy planes, helicopters, and other systems using their own money. We're training them, teaching them, and helping them grow so that their Air Force can provide mobility and air support to their own soldiers slugging it out along side of our guys throughout the country.
The General I work for asked me to write out all of my goals I want to accomplish while serving here in Iraq. I wrote to him that I wanted to strengthen the Iraqi Air Force so they can defend their nation.
What I really want, and what most of us want to do while over here, is to allow Iraq to stand on its own so it can grow, prosper, and so that every man, woman, and child can chart their own course, dream of their own futures, and find happiness in their lives.
----Wanted to mention this when I wrote this post yesterday. The car bomb that night really pissed me off more than anything. I was up in a building later that evening and was watching a maintenance crew replacing a window on the second floor. The blast had been so powerful, it rolled across the river and shattered windows. The 'big picture' of what had happened hit home when I stood there looking out of the broken window at the tall flames across the river. I know stuff like this happens weekly, sometimes even daily, but until you see the flames rising over the city with your own eyes, it's so easy to remove yourself. I can't remove myself while I'm here.
As I mentioned before, this place is so much different than my first deployment in 2004.
posted by El Capitan at 3:39 AM
Good morning! Good to hear from you. Aren't we just the most fortunate people in the world? I pray that the Iraqi people will gain at least a part of what we have in abundance. You folks are certainly doing your part and we appreciate it more than we can articulate. Watch your six!
reading things like this makes me feel ashamed of some of the things i've been angry over recently. there are so many more important things going on in our world, things we never know about. thank you for caring and doing the things we civilians are incapable of. wising you a safe return...4:08 PM
Isn't it amazing how different the story is when you hear it directly from someone on the front lines?
Keep up the good work over there.
thank you for your service. Your recent post was great. It help put things into perspective. I hope when you reflect on your service in Iraq that words such as "proud" and "honorable" are part of the vocabulary.3:03 AM
Dude, most all of my friends and family have views in opposition to the war and its purposes – and for that reason I have not yet told any of them that I plan to join the military after I finish college. I find it difficult even on my best day to defend this war and the need for a US military presence in Iraq. Reading posts like yours as well as the milblogs of others seems to help me put things into the proper perspective.
Thanks for writing about what you see and experience.
Terrific, zoph! A young cousin of mine is in his senior year of high school and has already signed up for the military when he graduates. I found it so sad when I congratulated him and told him I was proud of him that he thanked me, saying I was the first person who had approved his choice. Doesn't say much for our country...11:00 AM
Great, thought provoking post! And, goodluck Zoph. My younger cousin graduated last spring, had committed to the Marines while still in school, and is set to deploy this fall.
If your family doesn't come around in time & you need some care packages, hit me up for one. :) I'd be proud to send it your way.
That was in my AO, CPT. And the actual death toll was much worse. 28 was just the first report. It went much higher after they managed to dig out all the bodies trapped under the two buildings that partially collapsed. I think it rose to somewhere over 50.
It got uglier, too. We rushed a platoon from C Co down to the area to try and help. The IA and IP were already there, as well as a very large crowd. The crowd very much did not like the US presence, blaming us for failing to stop the Al Qaeda VBIED attacks or such. The crowd was well on its way to working up into a rioting mob, starting to pelt 1LT S's men with rocks, garbage, etc. He pulled his guys back into a diamond formation around the HMMWVs and decided it was time to follow the suggestion of a former interpreter of ours who was near the edge of the crowd, and get the hell out of there. He pulled them back about a klick, and asked the IA CDR if there was any way he could maneuver closer to help investigate the site. The IA CDR said that was not possible, he wouldn't even try to get Americans closer in the face of a crowd like that, that he couldn't even try to stop the crowd from attacking us. In the end we had to settle for watching what we could on the OSRVT monitor, watching several buildings burn from stray shells thrown up by the VBIED's explosion. It was a pretty grim night.
There's so many Iraqis who just want the fighting to go away, so they can have normal lives, but there's also too many that see no problem with blowing up 4 or 5 dozen of their fellow Moslems in furtherance of their mad view of God. Too many of them think first of their tribe or their militia before they think of their whole nation. This place badly needs its Washinton, or at least its Syngman Rhee, but all we can see are Arafat's, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah's, and Rev. Ian Paisley's. I'd love to see Iraq peaceful and stable (since for one thing that would mean I could go home), but until we can break AQIZ and the militias, we're going to be here awhile.