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Coming Home.

Jul. 18th, 2008 | 06:31 am

It's somewhere between 3 and 5 AM here in Germany.  I don't know exactly because my watch is still set for Iraq.

I leave in a couple hours for home.  They'll operate to repair my shoulder.  I don't know exactly what's wrong with it, because the doc used really big words, a lot of them.

I'll be home soon though.

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Update from Caleb's Mom!!

Jul. 3rd, 2008 | 02:23 pm

Just wanted to fill everyone in on Caleb's situation in Iraq.  A week and a half ago, Caleb fell while climbing out of the guard tower.  He landed on his shoulder and knocked it out of socket.  The problem is, the shoulder kept falling out of socket, so they transported him to FOB FALCON, the big base where he used to live in Baghdad and he saw a doctor.  They did an x-ray and exam and relieved him from combat duty (it was his shooting arm) and really believe he needs surgery for ligament damage.  He spent several days in Baghdad and is now in Balad, Iraq at a hospital waiting transport to the country of Qatar for an MRI.  He is not in pain (unless the shoulder pops out), and he is just enjoying the rest and trying to keep the shoulder stabilized .  The doctors in Baghdad told him one of three things will probably happen, if there is ligament damage which they suspect:  1,, they will tape him up and send him back to Baghdad for non-combat duties,(and perform surgery when his tour is over), 2., they will send him to Germany for surgery and rehab, or 3., they will send him back to the US for surgery and rehab.  

We are praying for the Lord's will, but would love for him to come back to the states!!  Whatever the scenario, it looks as if his combat days are over for this tour and we are grateful for that!!  

I asked him if he would receive a purple heart for falling out of the guard tower and he said "only if someone were shooting at me!!"  We might as well keep laughing and at least be grateful for this little respite he is having, even if he has to return to Baghdad!!

We'll keep you posted!! 

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Hot Like Fire.

Jun. 24th, 2008 | 02:53 pm

It's hot yo.  Life for real.

Just a little sitrep:

The other night I fell down a ladder and dislocated my shoulder.  They took me to a FOB where I got X-rays and the doc told me that my shoulder injury is serious, he just doesn't know what it is.

As of now I'm waiting for paperwork to get pushed through so I can get flown to Qatar to get an MRI.  

I'll update as I learn more.

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BBQ.

Jun. 9th, 2008 | 03:54 pm

Today was the best day in Iraq ever.  I haven't been this happy since I got here, and I'll stay happy for another day or so (that's a long long time over here) all because of my lunch.

We had a mission this morning that lasted for a couple hours and on the way back we stopped at another patrol base.  On this patrol base they just happened to be having a barbeque.

Let me stop here and explain something - I love barbeque.  A lot.  It's my favorite food, and it never ever gets old to me.  For my first meal on leave everyone knew I wanted to go to O'Boy's BBQ, but that's a whole other story, and when I get home from this place my first meal will be BBQ of some kind.  BBQ and sweet tea are pretty much my life force.

So we're all sitting in the trucks waiting at the PB when it comes over the net, "Hey if you guys want some, they got ribs out here."  I immediately ripped off my headset and started to extricate from the turret of the MRAP.  I took off running towards where the ribs were and lo and behold, the United States Air Force is good for something...those dudes can cook.  I will never speak bad of them again, cause they gave me ribs. 

So I grabbed a plate of ribs and went back to the truck to eat.  I was a little hesitant at first just because food here looks good, then tastes like raw sewage, and if someone had committed such an atrocity with God's greatest gift to the South it'd been WWIII in the place.  After staring at the glistening meat piled on the plate in front of me and savoring the scent of awesome I decided that the Air Force couldn't be so cruel as to make ribs that sucked. So I took a bite.  It tasted like America!  It was like the Air Force had just started Shock and Awe all over again - this time on my taste buds.  It was so good.  I inhaled those things.  They were the best ribs I have ever had, absolutely perfect.

After I was done I just sat there and savored the sweet victory I had just enjoyed over my hunger and the monotony of food in Iraq.  While I was sitting there I noticed that my hands still smelled like BBQ.  Which was awesome, but what was better was that I could smell Carlisle too.

See Carlisle sent me a bandana in the mail and it smelled like her, and I've kept that thing sealed in a ziploc just so I could smell home every once in a while.  Well today we had a pretty gnarly sandstorm so I decided to wear the bandana around my face (bandit style) to protect my lungs and all.  Well mix the smell of BBQ, Carlisle, and the fact that it wasn't too hot today - I almost felt like I was home for a few minutes.  It was amazing.

Thank you Jesus for BBQ.

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New Address

Jun. 8th, 2008 | 10:23 pm
location: Orlando
mood: accomplishedaccomplished

Hi everyone! This is Cali (or Carlisle or Caleb's fiancee, whichever it is you know me as). I am just posting to let y'all know that Caleb's address has been changed. They didn't move him anywhere, I think that they just added a new mail pick-up/drop off area. But I don't really know for sure. I was able to talk to him yesterday, twice actually. Once online and then he called me, which is very rare. I normally don't hear from him multiple times is one day, I'm lucky if I get to talk to him like twice in one week! I can't complain too much though, at least he is able to talk to me. He told me that they are keeping him super busy, all day, everyday. Lots and lots of tower duty, which sounds really boring to me.
Alright, well here is his new address so you can send him lots of things...(=
SPC Caleb DeArmas
HHT 6/8 CAV
Unit #42545
APO AE 09322

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My Momma is gonna be mad!

May. 27th, 2008 | 10:39 pm

First of all, our internet has gotten a lot faster so I can update (sometimes).

Second of all, as most of you know, my mom has this schedule for everyone sending me packages, and she's pretty daggum particular about it.  At least that's how it seems over here.  

Well Mom, I'm going to mess it ALL up.  But just this once.  I am in serious need of something, like, yesterday, so the sooner it gets here the better.  And if it get alot, thats all for the better.

So here is what I need:
Acrylic paints.  The cheap stuff you buy at WalMart - colors: red, blue, black, white, yellow, "skin tone," green...just the basics
Brushes, several, but at least a few 1" brushes.
A fishing tackle box to put all my art stuff in, cause it's all over Iraq right now.

The reason I need this stuff is a) I'm drawing and painting like crazy and b) I've been commissioned to paint our trucks, like the old bombers from WWII with sweet nose art.

So if one or some or all of you could help me out, I'd be stoked.

Sorry Mom for messing with your game plan, but the sooner I get this stuff the better.

Oh yeah, Iraq is hot and boring.  I'm doing fine. 

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News from Baghdad

May. 26th, 2008 | 01:49 pm

Today was a pretty long day in Iraq, with lots of lows and very few highs(other than the temperature!)

A sandstorm kicked up this morning right about the time we rolled out and it hasn't stopped yet.  It's not the worst one we've been through, by any means, but a sandstorm is crappy regardless of the intensity!  Especially when you're on the gun.  I'd compare it to standing in a room that's in the process of being sandblasted.  You feel it everywhere, and you can never ever ever get rid of the sand that just builds up on everything.  Especially weapons.

After our missions this morning (there were 3) I had to come back and pull tower guard, oh yeah!!

I had guard duty with Watts, who's really cool.  He's a mechanic, but he's been doing a Scout's job ever since he showed up to 6/8 Cavalry, so he knows his stuff!  The dude also loves to read, and we have alot in common which makes six hours in a jail cell go by a lot faster.

We noticed something tonight that only soldiers in Iraq would notice, or even appreciate.  Over here we don't have refrigerators, we have coolers with ice.  We stock these coolers with water, Gatorade, Coke, Rip-its, whatever.  Tonight, I reached into the cooler in the guard tower and grabbed a Gatorade, then did what I always do.  I squeezed the crap out of it to get the water out from behind the label.  Watts started laughing when I did this, which kinda caught me off guard.  Then he said, "Dude, only a Joe would understand what you just did."  You see, what happens to Gatorade bottles when left in a cooler with water, is several ounces of water get trapped between the label and the ergonomic grips which provide a secure grip for the electrolitic explosion you're about to enjoy.  This water usually drips out at random periods throughout your drinking experience convincing you that you just spilled all over your lap, but no.....it was just the water.  To prevent these little surprises, Joe came up with a solution:  squeeze the crap out of the bottle before you pull it out of the cooler, shake it, bang it on the cooler, then take off the label and then VOILA!! -- no water on your lap!

Funny how things like this seem so natural to us, but in the states I never would have thought to do that.  Nor would I ever have had the problem, because I would take my cold Gatorade from a refrigerator!!  It was funny.

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I hate turkey!!

May. 21st, 2008 | 07:06 pm

Have you ever talked to a Vet from Korea?

Everyone I've met said they'll never eat cabbage again.  Lots from Vietnam say they'll never eat rice again.  It seems like every war has its taboo food.

Welcome to Iraq.  Our food is turkey.

Every. Single. Day.  I haven't had fresh food in weeks.  And every night for dinner our cooks, who are more like sadists than chefs, fix us turkey.

I could understand having turkey a couple times a week.  I can see how it is difficult to provide a big variety of food.  But every night?  Turkey cutlets, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, gravy.  Sounds good even.  'Cept everything looks so scary I only get turkey and mashed potatoes.

The process for cooking Army food is so easy, a caveman could do it;

Step 1:  Bring water in 5 gallon pot to boil.
Step 2:  Go to freezer, grab bag of turkey cutlets.
Step 3:  Throw bag (yes, the plastic) into boiling water.
Step 4:  Precooked turkey in plastic bag is now thawed, remove bag from water.
Step 5:  Cut open bag, pour into serving pan.
Step 6:  Laugh when Joe asks if it is turkey for dinner again.

Every. Single. Night.

I never ever want to eat turkey again.  I don't want to smell it or see it.

This is my manifesto.  I am taking a stance against giant birds for food.  Thanksgiving will no longer be a turkey and stuffing meal.  Not at my house.  We're eating pasta.  Christmas turkey?  No, thank you.  I am never going to eat turkey as long as I live.

Don't try to convince me that your turkey recipe is the best and it doesn't taste like "that stuff you had in Iraq."  I don't care.  I'm not eating it!

In fact, my driver said it best,  "if someone brings turkey to my house, or even mentions the bird, they're getting two to the chest and one to the head."  Yes, he's talking about bullets.

For those of you who have ever had an MRE, you know it's not the best thing in the world.  It's not even that great.  And if you have hot food, you'd much rather have that.  Well, I say nay!  We fight over MREs here on the patrol base.  Because an MRE means you have enough calories to skip dinner.  And the turkey!

Seriously.  I hate turkey!! 

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Update from Caleb

May. 15th, 2008 | 03:16 pm

  Today wasn't too bad, although it was one of those days where every ten minutes someone in my truck said, "Are you serious?"

It started off alright.  We had to do some route recon stuff, which means we just drive around and make sure that the roads are good and we plan out the roads we're going to take for missions at a later date or check and see if other convoys can make it and all.  

So we drove out to the middle of nowhere and they made us stop.  Which was weird.  Then one of the trucks pulled out a huge sign and some pickets.  It was one of those "Road Work Next 500 Ft." signs.  Except in Arabic.  So we pounded that into the ground then charlie miked onto the rest of the mission.

Apparently at some point during our drive one of the straps that holds on our tow bar came off.  And let me tell you about a tow bar.  IT's used for self recovery, so that any truck can turn into a tow truck, basically.  It's a huge slug of metal that weighs like 600 lbs.

So, we're going down this road and we hit a pretty big bump.  And I heard the whole metal on metal sound that usually precedes bad news.  I looked down to the front of the truck and see just the tip of the tow bar sliding up, then down in front of the truck.  Immediately, I hopped on the net, "Stop! Stop!, Stop!, you're going to hit the...." and then Campbell drove right over the tow bar.  And then he stopped, right after he ran over it!  Since we only have one strap to hold it on, we didn't have a choice but to throw it in the back of the MRAP.  So, SSG Myers and Campbell and SSG Thomas from the truck behind us all climb out and after a couple of minutes and a lot of cursing, they got it in the truck.

So, for the rest of the drive all you could hear was the towbar bouncing around in the back of the truck.  And that is really annoying.  Really annoying!

After we finished our route recon, we went down to the market down south.  This place is exactly like you would picture any Middle Eastern city.  Tiny roads.  People walking all around totally oblivious to traffic.  Street vendors selling everything from cell phones to bread to garlic to currency exchange.  It was actually breath taking in a way, because life was going on completely normal!

But the highlight of my day, we're pulling up to the outskirts of the market, and the MRAP is so tall, and there's a lot of low wires.  We know this, so we are just creeping along and guiding the wires over the truck.  Well, they put in some new wires since last week, that I didn't see.  And we were going a little faster that usual.  I was looking behind us to make sure that everyone is keeping up, which is half of my job.  As soon as I turned around, something grabs the 50 and jolts it out of my hands.  Then, whatever it was that hit the 50, hit me in the face.  Hard.  But, it's not done.  It gets caught on my birdcage.  And tears the thing right off.  So again,  "Stop!, Stop!, Stop!, I got caught in a wire, my Hesco is gone!"  So we stopped.  Again.  And put the birdcage in the back with towbar.  Now there's so much junk in the back of the MRAP that no one could walk through or anything.

I never realized how hot the sun is here.  All day long I was pretty cool.  I was hardly sweating at all, just where my gear was sitting.  As soon as the birdcage came off, I lost my shade.  And I'm talking instant sweat!  It was unreal.  The sun is so brutal out here.  And I'm also like a perfect sniper target.  Which gives you a nice warm and fuzzy.

Besides that, the market trip was pretty uneventful.  On the way home we stopped and got some chicken, which was awesome!!

As soon as I got back I had to go do tower guard.  And today was hot!  I thought I was going to die sitting up in that tower.  But I didn't! 

That was my day!

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Update from Caleb and his Mom!!

May. 12th, 2008 | 12:51 pm

 Caleb was able to send me an e-mail yesterday on Mother's Day and that was a wonderful thing!!  Even more special coming from a child in a war zone!  We finally figured out a way for him to communicate with everyone.  Now that he is so limited on internet time, he is forwarding an update to his blog, and then I am posting it for him!!  We hope this will work better so everyone can hear from Caleb himself every once in a while!!  So here goes Caleb's latest update:

I GUESS IT'S BEEN A WHILE.  IT'S KINDA HARD TO UPDATE THIS FROM MY NEW LOCATION, BUT I THINK I FIGURED OUT A WAY TO DO IT, THANKS TO MY MOMMA. SO, YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT I'VE BEEN DOING LATELY?  I GUESS I'LL TELL YOU GUYS.

IMAGINE THIS......

YOU'RE THE GUNNER ON AN MRAP  (THE NEW VEHICLE TO REPLACE THE HUMVEE, STANDS FOR MINE RESISTANT AMBUSH PROTECTED)  AND YOU'RE OUT ON PATROL.  IT'S THE FIRST TIME YOU'VE BEEN IN YOUR TRUCK FOR A FEW DAYS BECAUSE YOU KEEP GETTING STUCK ON GUARD DUTY (AND DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON THAT),  APPARENTLY, WHILE YOU WERE IN THE GUARD TOWER SOMEONE ELSE RODE IN YOUR TRUCK AND ON YOUR GUN.  THEY ALSO HAPPENED TO BREAK THE METAL RING THAT ATTACHES THE SEAT TO THE TRUCK.  HOW?  I DON'T KNOW.  BUT IT'S VERY BROKEN!

SINCE YOU DON'T HAVE A SEAT, YOU HAVE TO TURN YOUR TURRET A LITTLE BIT AND SIT ON THE FRAME FOR THE AIR CONDITIONING.  WHICH IS A 1 INCH SQUARE ROD.  NOW LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING ABOUT THE MRAP.  IT MIGHT AS WELL HAVE NO SUSPENSION AT ALL.  IT IS BY FAR THE BUMPIEST RIDE I'VE EVER BEEN ON.  AND IT'S NOT JUST BUMPING UP AND DOWN.  IT'S BEING THROWN INTO THE AIR AND THEN AS YOU COME DOWN THE TRUCK COMES BACK UP TO MEET YOU, SHATTERING YOUR BODY AND ROCKING YOU TO THE CORE.  OR THROWING YOU FACE FIRST INTO A .50 CALIBER MACHINE GUN THEN RIGHT BACK INTO THE TRUCK, WHILE KNOCKING THE WIND OUT OF YOU.  IT'S BRUTAL. AND NOW, YOU'RE HITTING ALL THESE 'BUMPS' WHILE RESTING ON A METAL BAR.  THAT'S SQUARE.

SO, THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT YOU'RE BACK ON MISSION.  YOU'RE WILLING TO PUT UP WITH THE ANNOYING BUMPS AND ROCKING, BECAUSE ANYTHING IS BETTER THAT THE GUARD TOWER.  EXCEPT THAT YOU'VE HAD FOOD POISONING FOR THE LAST DAY OR TWO.  YOU KNEW THAT THE IRAQI CUCUMBER WAS A BAD IDEA....BUT TOTALLY WORTH IT!  SO, NOW YOU'RE TRYING TO RECOVER, YOU'RE STOMACH IS SCREAMING IN PROTEST AND NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU HOPE AND PRAY YOU CAN'T SEEM TO FIND A SMOOTH PATCH OF ROAD.

OH, BUT I'M NOT DONE!  WHILE ON THE MISSION, A LOW HANGING WIRE SNAGS YOUR BIRDCAGE AND TEARS IT OFF YOUR TURRET.  SUDDENLY, YOU HAVE NO SHADE.  AND SHADE IN IRAQ IS A 20 DEGREE TEMPERATURE DIFFERENCE.  SO NOW YOU'RE SICK, GETTING BEAT TO DEATH, AND ROASTING!  BUT AT LEAST THE AIR CONDITIONING IS WORKING, SO MOST OF YOUR BODY IS RELATIVELY COOL.  AND, YOU'RE ON MISSION, SO THAT'S GOOD.

AFTER ABOUT FIVE HOURS OF ROUTINE RECON, YOU GET AN EOD MISSION, WHILE ON THE EOD MISSION YOU ARE PULLING SECURITY.  BUT GUESS WHAT, THE GODS OF WAR ARE NOT DONE MESSING WITH YOU, OH NO......YOUR AC JUST STOPPED WORKING!  SUDDENLY, IT'S HOTTER IN THE TRUCK THAN OUTSIDE, WHICH ISPRETTY BAD, CAUSE IT'S PUSHING 130 OUTSIDE.  AT LEAST THE MEDICINE THE DOC GAVE YOU IS WORKING.  FOR NOW.  AND A CAR JUST BLEW UP.  THAT WAS SWEET.  OH CRAP!  NOW THE CAR IS COMING BACK DOWN.  WELL, NOW YOU'VE GOT A SOUVENIR LICENSE PLATE.  GOOD NEWS, YOU GET TO GO BACK TO THE FOB (FORWARD OPERATING BASE) WHICH MEANS GETTING THE AC FIXED, AND GOOD FOOD, AND THE PX.  

SO YOU GO TO THE FOB, DROP OFF YOUR TRUCK AT THE MECHANICS, AND GO TO THE PX, BUY ALL KINDS OF JUNK.  RED BULL, CANDY, A GERBER, MAGAZINES, STUFF TO MAKE LIFE EASIER AT THE PATROL BASE.  AT LEAST OUR AC DIED ON THE WAY BACK TO THE FOB.

OH, APPARENTLY SQUADRON NEEDS YOU TO LEAVE THE FOB IMMEDIATELY!  NO QUESTIONS ASKED.  BUT YOUR TRUCK IS STILL BEING WORKED ON.  TOO BAD, YOU HAVE TO LEAVE WITHOUT AC.  THIS IS GOING TO SUCK.  HARD!

AFTER A RIDICULOUSLY LONG AND SWEATY DRIVE BACK, YOU FINALLY MAKE IT TO THE PATROL BASE.  THE LONGEST DAY THAT YOU CAN REMEMBER, SINCE THAT ONE DAY A FEW DAYS AGO, IS FINALLY OVER.  ON THE WAY BACK TO YOUR TENT YOU WALK PAST THE CHOW TENT.  THEY HAVE TWO COOLERS OF ORANGE JUICE SITTING OUT, AND ANYTHING IS BETTER THAN WATER.  YOU DRINK A CUP, THINKING TO YOURSELF, CONCENTRATE IS TERRIBLE, BUT AT LEAST IT'S NOT WATER.

AS YOU'RE FINALLY GETTING READY TO GO TO BED YOU REALIZE THAT THE OJ MIGHT HAVE BEEN A BAD IDEA.  DEFINITELY A BAD IDEA.  YOU RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN OUT OF THE TENT.  AND GUESS WHAT?  CONCENTRATE OJ TASTES THE SAME COMING OUT AS IT DOES GOING IN!!

OH LORD, TOMORROW IS GOING TO BE A LONG DAY.  AT LEAST YOU DON'T HAVE TOWER GUARD. OH WAIT, YOU DO!  AFTER YOUR MISSION.  AWESOME!

 

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