My War Journal: The Final Stretch June 06 (Chapter 6)

War Journal Book

Coming off Memorial weekend, some men seem refreshed and ready to continue the per-deployment phases. I, on the other hand, just want to go back to bed. It was going to be a short week, so I anticipated that every day would be saturated with an extensive outline of events. After a good physical training session at the local YMCA, the squad received the brief of the day. Our first objective was to make way to the Evergreen Theatre for more deployment briefings.

This brief intriguing and essential for deployment success. Some topics that were discussed: laws of war, rules of engagement, new developments and political arena and other important issues. Retrospectively , the information disseminated could be readily incorporated into daily combat situations.

The next day’s task was to conduct a 12-mile road march within four hours. A breeze, right? In the past month, we had completed two other road marches. Those road marches dealt a devastating and shocking result on some guys’ feet, but nobody quit, and we finished ahead of time given by our Platoon Sergeant.

Going on these road marches is substantially similar to the way. Going on these road marches is substantially similar to the way I strategize while running a marathon. Breathing, hydration and excretion of kinetic energy play important roles in success.

The first part of the road march, everyone showed evidence of good momentum. When we hit mile six at 1:40:00, I finally sensed that I needed to start focusing on the mental aspect of the road march. On the way back I knew that I either needed to divulge myself in dialogue or concentrated on the happy thoughts. I elected talking to one of my buddies; it helped immensely.

June 1, 2006

The one thing that I never look forward to is ceremonies, because every ceremony means rehearsal and standing around. General Dubik gave an awesome emotional speech; you could hear him choke up in between presenting this speech. To me that meant there was a real man standing in front of a sharing with us how he really felt about the man he served.

The farewell ceremony put the deployment further into perspective, drawing the deployment date closer on the calendar. The way I see it now, I need to take care of my household priorities, which means spending more time doing what I’ve put off when I get lazy. Instead of saying, “I’ll do it tomorrow,” I need to get it done now. Soon, time will be up, and I’ll be knee- deep in combat again doing what I signed up for- fighting the bad guys next to my brothers.

My War Journal: Gone Fishing- May 29, 2006 (Chapter 5)

War Journal Book

I finally find time to relax, slowly closing my eyes, taking a minute to enjoy the refreshing breeze and ever evading sun. Suddenly, the ground rumbles from artillery rounds crashing violently to the earth, seemingly a short distance away, as well as long sporadically firing. I quickly glanced over at my friend, Bill Sanders, fishing on the deck, and sarcastically say, “Bill, this is good training; might as well get used to it where we are going.” Bill responds with a chuckle, “Yep, good times.” Fishing over by the artillery range is always fun. To me it’s what you do before you leave that resonates with you while in during difficult times on the tour. Now that we’ve concluded and finalize all the per- deployment phases, I find myself divulging in everything from fishing, playing basketball, taking all my dogs and eating like a champ. Spending quality time with family, that is where my focus is these last couple pre-deployment days.

During the week while getting lunch I ran into my commander, Captain Curt Roland. We had a brief but enlightening conversation. He gave me the direct end state of our new mission, “Remember Hardt, we’re not going over to just kill or capture terrorists, but also train Iraqi forces, so we can start handing over Provinces to the Iraqis.” This answer was in response to me saying that I just wanted to take out as many terrorists that I possibly could.

I sometimes can be ignorant and close-minded. I am proud to have a commander who has complete direction and can make rational decisions rather than an emotional decision. You don’t always get a chance to talk to the commander because he is busy, but when you do, you can see why he’s in charge. The man beams with confidence and determination, which directly affects and empowers the men who fight under him.

General George S. Patton had some good quotes about war that ring true at this time.

“No sane man is unafraid in battle, but discipline produces in him a form of vicarious courage.” The tour will challenge every man in different ways. We will all miss our families, friend’s daily luxuries, and most of all the purity of freedom. Let the long journey began.

My War Journal: Cultural Awareness May 2006( Chapter 4)

War Journal Book

Cultural awareness is a 30-day class that teaches soldiers to become more familiar with Middle Eastern culture and complicated Arabic languages. On the first day, the teacher went over the Arabic alphabet. Greetings, culture, and helpful words and phrases. At first, I focused on trying to gather as much as I could, but about three hours in. I was just trying to stay awake. It was almost impossible to stay awake when you’re in a dark room.

On the second day, we went over the Arabic number system, days of the week, signs, and warnings, and concluded with cultural phrases. After just four hours, I have concluded that this may be worse than going to the dentist or shopping. I already knew the words used primarily for traffic control points, such as “awgaf,” meaning stop, and “Lazem in-fet-shek,” we must search you. After a while in class, I was only concerned with combat essential vocabulary.

Moving on to the third day. We went over directions, telling time, and learning locations. By this time, they frustrated me with the fact that we hadn’t spent more time on survival words. Rather than spending time on things, I knew we wouldn’t be using them. Things changed a little though when the NCOIC brought in a lady who had a wide range of experiences and a full understanding of Iraqi culture. It woke the men up and stimulated some good questions.

The lady shared a story about her uncle being taken away by Saddam’s people and then being brutally executed by the Baath party. At that point, we could have heard a pin drop. I could tell by the crackle in her voice that she was becoming emotional. She shared with us why it was important not to look at Iraqi women and also how to conduct searches on women. After two monotonous days, it was refreshing to hear her speak.

I was happy when Friday rolled around. On the last day, we concluded by reviewing everything we learned during the grueling 30 hours spread over four days. Learning more about Islam and Muslims was good, but I still have a hard time grasping all of the principles in their faith. I guess when they look at our culture, they would be perplexed also, so all is fair.

I learned some good stuff that I will bring with me to Iraq on this next deployment. Next week, we will slow down a little and focus on hip pocket training and packing to leave. I plan on spending time with my family and friends. The Army is good about facilitating that before deployments. I conclude with: Maa-e-ssalma and Allah ysalmak (Thank you and may God bless you).