Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Update: When I wrote this I was feeling a little down, little pissed, and a little upset about the latest VBIED I had just heard, knowing what the tragic outcome must have been. Longtime reader and friend AlliCadem reminded me that the person who put the VBIED sticker on his car could have been doing what I sometimes find myself doing... trying to laugh off the situation out here rather than walk around pissed all the time. Sometimes a sense of humor, even a poor one, helps get people through the day. I shouldn't have jumped to the conclusion that he was an ass because of the sticker. God knows I'm not perfect.
Thanks for the sanity check AC. I hope all went well with that special delivery.
The mind plays a funny game whenever an explosion is heard. It's almost as if it is pre-programmed to follow a specific checklist, and the more explosions you hear, the more steps fall off of that checklist. This weekend I was on a cell phone talking to my wife while walking through my FOB on my way to work when a blast went off. First, you never want to be on the phone with someone back home when a blast hits. I had to hang up quickly, leaving her worried, and my roommate and I ran to the nearest shelter.
This was a huge improvement over my previous reactions to blasts, which usually involved me standing there, unsure about what I had heard, and only reacting after the second round hit. Slow reaction times equal are very bad, and we've seen examples of what can happen when you're not reacting fast enough. We get way too many mortars and rockets out here to have a slow reaction time.
Well, it was clear once we got into the shelter that the blast wasn't a rocket or mortar, but a VBIED exploding across town. Once you realize what it was, you're aware that countless innocent lives were just taken away when that blast went off, and you begin worrying and doubting your ability to help the Iraqis. If you think about it too long, and I'm guilty of this, things really start to get to you.
This morning was no different. Standing outside a security office to retrieve passes for some Iraqi Officers, another VBIED went off. This time I didn't run to a shelter because I knew exactly what it was. I knew what it was, and I knew that once again lives were taken because of some assholes who think killing innocent people will scare and terrorize the population, bending the country to their will.
More bombs, more lives stolen away. All of this during the most Holy month in the Islamic religion, Ramadan.
As I walked back to work I came across a contractor's Ford Explorer with a sticker on the window that said, "My Other Car Is A VBIED." I almost laughed, but then I realized what an asshole this guy was. How many people are lost each day because of those damn things. How much money do we spend on guards and giant X-Ray machines and working dogs and T-Walls and gun turrets at each entrance because of how deadly VBIEDs are, yet this idiot thinks it's a funny thing. That would be like me driving around Jena Louisiana with a sticker that read, "My Other Necktie Is A Noose."
Maybe I'm being too sensitive about stuff like this, but I don't think I am. Every time I pass a tanker truck or small car the pucker factor shoots to 100%, and I just close my eyes and pray that I'm not about to be engulfed in an inferno of fire and death. I've seen the images of people who were caught up blast waves while waiting outside our gates, trying to get to work, and I can't think of too many more shittier ways to die.
"My Other Car Is A VBIED." What an f'n moron. I hope he gets the super-deluxe rubber glove treatment every time he passes through a checkpoint.
We face death every minute we're out here. Sure, I'm in the Air Force, and I don't go driving around the Red Zone like so many of my brave Army and Marine brothers and sisters do, but the danger still exists. Whenever I fly a few feet off the deck going from base to base, or ride along Route Irish, or I stand in certain Iraqi HQ buildings outside our protective zone to advise our Iraqi counterparts, surrounded by gun-toting locals and others who's intentions I don't know and don't trust, I become very aware of my mortality. My goals for such meetings quickly turn into getting in and getting out in once piece as opposed to getting in, chatting with the Iraqi Generals, drinking tea, and discussing issues vital to the stability and growth of their military. I don't care how important these meetings are, or how nice the Iraqi leadership is, I will never feel comfortable going to their place of business.
At the same time, all of us here in my office are in agreement. We all know that this is the best job we'll ever have in the Air Force. Best, toughest, most frustrating, most dangerous, yet most rewarding job, and almost nobody back home in the Air Force will ever understand what we're doing. Some have even accused us of heading out here to sit on our asses just to get away from our work back home. We sit in conferences with folks back home who would rather make you wait 3 months for a signature to buy much needed hardware for the IqAF instead of getting off of their asses and making things happen right away. We're dealing with organizations and institutions that are running at a 'peace time' pace while we're racing to meet our wartime needs. Of course there are some people that understand our situation and are working to help us. Not everyone is making things harder for us, but a majority are.
Yet, it's just another day here in Iraq.
posted by El Capitan at 7:44 AM
The guy with a bumper sticker is undoubtedly a moron. That is no class at all.
But, there are people like that everywhere.
I'd start a fight with the guy. It sounds like he deserves a beating.
The only civilian contractors worth a damn in Iraq are the guys who do the large ordinance disposals and post videos of it on the net. All the rest are pussies.
I dunno. You may want to know the guy before you call him an asshole. He might be trying to laught it off - otherwise he'd be crying. I, myself, can have a biting sense of humor but it's truly because I am hyper-sensitive.... And people jumping on the band wagon calling him a prick might justify his behavior.
(I thought it was a good bumper sticker. Bad humor? YES. But, like I said, if you're not laughing, you're crying. I seriously urge you to know this man. He might surprise you)
No problemo El Capi! That's what NCOs are for.....
The Special Delivery went fine -- not how we wanted it, but the outcome was two perfect little dudes, so it's all good....
Isn't that a band?11:06 PM