27 June 2008

And Now For Something Completely Different

A friend of ours is working in Baghdad for about six weeks. He's a contractor working on computer-type stuff for the military. With his permission, I'm posting some of his pictures and thoughts. I thought you all might find it interesting.

I’ve been consistently pulling 16 hour days so I come home and crash pretty fast. [My wife] sent me a box the other day with some cash and our little camera so I finally have some pictures to share.

This first shot is walking up towards Al Fah Palace where I work. We’re on a bridge over or at least next to the water. The two guys in front of me are my co-workers/friends here. M. is the big guy on the left, and the Navy guy on the right is CDR B. They’re running my project for the government. Both are terrific people. We have lunch and dinner together every day along with a few other people from the office. It’s nice to have companions that you enjoy spending time with.

One of the others is an Army SFC and behaves exactly the way a senior NCO should. He respectfully guides the 1LT in our group while taking good care of the whole office. He has something like 13 kids. Seriously. The guy has the biggest heart. It’s a bit of “hers, mine, ours and theirs”. They have been adopting children and fostering children for some time. His wife is in Hawaii living on post in special housing because of the number of kids. He grew up poor and can’t believe how lucky he is to be in the Army and able to provide for his family. Amazing guy and a good dose of perspective for us all. I’ll have to find a picture. Oh yeah, his favorite word is hoo-ahh, but it’s the fun, friendly style, not the aggressive one. On his wall he has a list of 15 definitions of hooahh for the Air Force and Navy guys.

If you look at the palace you’ll see some black SUVs. Those are General Petraus’ vehicles. I sit within earshot of his morning briefs and use that conference room for my training. Hooah! Can you say ring-side seat to history?

Below is a common sight, but it still gets my heart rate up. I love seeing the helicopters take off low and fast.

Sunset around the palace. I think we were walking back after dinner.

My bed. They take a single wide trailer and divide it in thirds. Then two people share each third. So it’s basically just enough room for a bed and your clothes. I walk about 100-200 yards down a set of gravel roads to go to the bathroom or take a shower. I wake up every morning to my bladder telling me to get moving. You have to get dressed and make the walk. Sounds silly but it is almost always an emergency and is the worst part about living here (beside being away from my family). Be sure to show M. [my son] his picture on my wall.

These are the toilets in the palace. Picture doesn’t do the palace justice. The detail work is all some sort of gold. It’s quite a luxury to have these bathrooms. The palace is pretty amazing. The overall workmanship isn’t always the best, but the sheer volume of detail work is amazing.

Another shot in the bathroom.

Walking out of the palace. This is the exit along the same bridge. Notice the white blur in the sky. That is one of the blimps that is tethered to the ground and always out there presumably monitoring Baghdad. Also, look at the tower on the left. When you get close you can tell that it obviously took some hits during the war.

I miss you all terribly. I don’t know how these guys do these long deployments. I’m only over here for a month and I’m already dying to get home. Thankfully the work keeps me busy and is something I mostly enjoy. I’m also getting lots of runs in and am getting into better shape, although not marathon shape.



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