Saturday, May 23, 2009

...and Back in Baghdad...

OK friends and neighbors. Back again. This time with a legit update on casual observations I’ve made here in the Land of The Baghdad CafĂ©. Ye Olde Intrepid Reporter had a tough one, what with his Dad getting a bad case of the “deads” and all, but seeing that I’ll be home shortly to celebrate his life and see my wife and kids, that about evens the score. So, as the late great Paul Harvey used to say…”Stand by…for NEWS!”

One observation in the ‘supposed’ drawdown is the uptick in Iraqi military activity. I’m not giving any secrets away because even the bloody insurgents can tell the difference between the US troops (grey-digital ACU uniforms) and the Iraqis, (desert tan old style US camo) Seems that the Iraqis, from my observations, are getting more ‘hot n heavy.’ A few weeks ago I was on Route Irish, formerly known by Newsweek magazine as “The SINGLE most DANGEROUS section of highway in the known Universe” (quick aside: my how things have changed!) and as I rolled down the pockmarked pavement, what should I see but a convoy of Iraqis.

Not just any convoy tho. I counted one T-72 Echo model, one T-55 with IR spotlight and night vision variant, two BMP-1 export models, a World War II vintage armored car and an MT-LB Command Track all being moved on what appeared to be the old US Army prime mover flatbeds. Now at first, I thought that these were more ‘trophy’ vehicles. To explain, the Army LOVES taking and shipping the old armor that the Iraqis either abandoned or lost to us and sending it back home so they can park it in front of the Unit’s buildings as a “See what we captured?” For the most part it’s bullshit, heaping , steaming, type: many each. The unit “captured” in that they went down to a muddy field where the tank/apc/whatever has been sitting since the Haj abandoned it in 2003, dug it out of the mud, slapped a fresh coat of paint on it, and then bring it back home to the States to display in some byzantine display of “pseudo-military prowess on the battlefield” Anyways, I digress per usual:

The stuff I was seeing was completely refurbished. As in if not factory new, at least depot-level refinished. Now to those of you just arriving, you may ask “Hey Big Country, how do you know what those tracks were?” Well, for the pencil waving editor, I’ll provide the following. My first MOS (military occupational specialty a.k.a. as my job) was 11 H or Hotel, which was Heavy Anti-Armor Weapons Infantryman. Means I was a tank-killer, and that tank identification was and still is my bread and butter. How many guys do you know who were given a complete set of “Janes All The Worlds Armor” identification books for Christmas? And I don’t mean the little paperback jobbies… but the gorilla two-grand- a-book ID books that even some libraries have trouble getting. Mom and Dad thought they were the PERFECT gift for their lunatic TOW-Gunning son of a gun. Ergo, I’m a fucking expert who still as a hobby lives and breathes Armor ID.

Now, the interesting part on this was as the same day I saw the tanks being moved downtown, I also saw something that reflexively froze my blood in my veins. I was on my way out to Sather when I heard a helicopter overhead. Now, being here for 5 years, I can tell you much like any Vietnam vet can tell you if it’s a Huey overhead or not. I can pretty much distinguish between a Blackhawk, Kiowa, Apache, and a Chinook. On occasion, there are the odd Hueys, being Bell 206’s that the Iraq Government uses, but this time it was different… A deep resonant bass sound… Loud… make that LOUD!!! And thevibration emanating ran from my chest to my inner ear it was so deep and loud. I looked up.. and what do my eyes behold:
A Hind. A motherfucking Hind… Mi-24D model… The reason we developed the AH-64. A pure-d BADASS mo’fo of a Warbird. The Bane of the Afghan Mujadaheen (back when we wuz still buddies) up until we gave them the Stinger MANPAD (typical jihadist… no sense of loyalty or gratitude) and when I was in the Army, the feared and preferred weapon of out adversary, which makes a distinct sound when flying at you… Flying in Iraqi colors no less!

Seems between the Heavy Armor and the Hinds I’ve seen cruising around lately, one of two things are happening. One is that the Iraqis are beefing up and not going to take any more shit from anyone or Two, well…

Hell… I got nothing. The amount of firepower that I’ve seen the Iraqis fielding lately is immense, and I HOPE bodes well for our guys starting to ramp down. Granted the Maliki Government doesn’t want us to go, seeing that there are ten thousand political parties/loyalties here and this government is pretty weak in the hinterlands, but the Iraqi Military might be getting into a position to take over. I mean with the firepower they are accruing, it sure is as hell possible we might see a “Saddam the 2nd” except under the guidance of the “Kinder Gentler” United States and whatever puppet is currently in charge there. It could happen. The majority of Middle Eastern States LIKE having a strongman in charge… ye olde ‘velvet covered iron fist’ ideal. I guess we’ll just have to watch and see, and see what cooks over the next few months.

Stay tuned as it’s bound to be interesting.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Dr. Dad.....May19, 1942 to May 6th 2009

With great sadness I announce the passing of my father, Dr. Dad. at 1055am on Wednesday May 6th, 2009. He died peacefully and slipped away while I was on the phone with the family... he waited until we were all together. I’m staying on here, per his wishes, and Mom is being supported by #2 Son , His wife and Household Six. There will be a Celebration of his Life in New Hampshire at a time to be determined. I leave with this prayer written by my brother in arms, “Lil Country”: :
Subject: for your father

Hail Mary,
Full of Grace,
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit
of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary,
Mother of God,
pray for us sinners now,
and at the hour of death.


Our Father, who art in heaven
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those
who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.


Lord our Father, please watch over Bill Sr. the father of my best friend. Keep him well at your side with his faithful companion Bomber. Understand his faults and forgive him his vices. He is a good and honorable man and he will stand at your side when he is called from this world. Knowing his son as I do I ask you try not to irritate him, the Irish have such ill tempers. If you feel the need to tame his spirit, a few shots of whiskey should suffice. His council will be indispensable as I am sure you know, after all, you did make him the man he is. Please guard his soul among your most cherished so that when his family arrives at your gates he and Bomber will be there to welcome them.
I ask this of you in the name of the father, the son and the holy spirit,


I'm staying on here in Baghdad. Dad, when I saw him last on R&R pretty much said that we're not going to let anything like his death stop me from completeing the Mission. Charlie Mike. F.I.D.O. Fuck it. Drive on. Hard as hell, but necessary, as I'm STILL cleaning up the mess here from my R&R.

Cancer ate him up. I'm actually happy for him, if thats the correct term, nay, relieved as well that his suffering is over. I guess it was really bad at the end. Now, as Middle Country said, "He walks with the Angels."

Myself, I prefer Rhah from the movie "Platoon" and his philosophy: “And if there's a heaven and God I hope there is, I know he's sitting up there, drunk as a fucking monkey and smoking shit. Because he left his pains down here.” I'll miss you Dad.

More later... I had a LONG one I was working on the night before he died, and I'll throw it up later when it's appropriate. Until then, Peace, and tell your parents you love 'em while you can.