Sunday, January 02, 2005


I’m not sure whether I should be happy or disappointed. I wasn’t sure what to expect for New Year’s at Beautiful Downtown Camp Liberty, but truthfully, I always secretly harbored a suspicion that our friendly local hosts would try to stage some sort of celebration in our honor. Once again, Islam has let me down.

Those of you familiar with CID will not be surprised that I rang in the New Year working a stakeout on an area that has been frequently burglarized. Considering that the next best option was drinking luke-warm white grape juice at the Morale and Welfare Tent, it really wasn’t that bad a deal. There’s nothing more depressing than being around a bunch of soldiers making fools of themselves on grape juice.

Now your typical stakeout is kinda like first dates – lots of false alarms and not much happening. The best part of it was having a good seat for the midnight show. The arty boys on the south side put up about a dozen illumination flares exactly at midnight. Now, I know the Army would never approve of something as frivolous as wasting perfectly good ammunition just to ring in the New Year, so I figure it had to go something like this:

Infantry Joe gets on the occasionally working field phone to DivArty (Division Artillery) about 6 PM on New Year’s eve, and tells them he just got some reliable information from a captured insurgent that there’s going to be an attack at…oh, say midnight tonight, and can he go ahead and pre-register for some illumination rounds? And I can just imagine DivArty saying – are you sure six is going to be enough? We don’t want to take any chances of not giving you guys enough support. We’ll just go ahead and make it an even dozen. Good luck repelling the evil hordes…and oh, yeah, Happy New Year, Joe!

Stakeout postscript – well, our Bazaar didn’t get broken into, but about 30 minutes after we broke off the surveillance, some Filipino contract workers got into a discussion about cutlery about a hundred yards from where we had been. The loser was stabbed five times with a pretty nasty-looking knife and nearly bled out before someone noticed him on the side of the road and got him over to the troop clinic. They did a quick patch job on him, and then, to quote the Doc who worked on him, “Sometimes the drug of choice is JP8” (helicopter fuel). They evacuated him out to the big hospital in Baghdad, and last I heard he was still alive. Here’s the kicker though – even though we have to work the case, no one will prosecute it. The guy that did the stabbing isn’t subject to military justice, the Iraqis have absolutely no interest in taking on this case, and the Philippines don’t have any sort of extraterritorial jurisdiction. About all we’ll accomplish is to have the guy fired and sent back home.

Have I mentioned the latest Force Protection Measure at our Mess Hall? Ever since the bombing at Mosul, they've had an ambulance parked in front of the mess hall loaded up with stretchers. I've been losing weight ever since! Wouldn't want to put out the survivors who had to carry me out, and listen to them griping about how much I weighed. That, and there's just something about the stretchers that doesn't help the ol' appetite, you know?

Not sure, but think I may have blundered my way into posting a link on this page that will take you to a collection of photos made since I've been over here. I can't get to it, you understand, because the Army server doesn't trust me to go there, but hopefully you can. Thanks to Al Leiby, my old Army buddy, for hosting the pictures.


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