Friday, August 31, 2007

No news

No news is supposed to be good news, but I miss hearing from Daniel. I would guess the prolonged silence is because they have left the FOB (Forward Operating Base) and have gone to a COB (Company Operating Base), which will be smaller and have very limited facilities.
I got a letter today from a wonderful woman at church who said her study group wanted to put a box together for Daniel and asked for specific suggestions. To avoid duplication, I'll list my thoughts here as well. Remember that the best packing material are individually wrapped hard candies they can distribute to the local children.

  • Tortilla chips with salsa. Yes, they'll arrive broken, but make for good snacking. Bags of pre-popped popcorn would also fill that bill nicely.
  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal.
  • Cookies. Although I wouldn't usually advocate it, store packaged would probably be best as they do put preservatives in them.
  • Craisins (dried cranberries).
  • Trail mix
  • Crackers and cheese spread
  • Top Ramen/Cup 'o Noodles/Yakisoba bowls (just add hot water type of oriental noodles)
  • Salted Nut Roll candy bars
  • Beef Jerky/"Slim Jim" type meat sticks

What not to send? Anything that will melt in heat. Anything with alcohol in it. Surprisingly, Daniel said they don't need liquids - the military provides them with all the water and Gatorade they can hold.

Other than that, handwritten notes, pictures from Seattle and words of encouragement are appreciated.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tuesday Afternoon

On my desk I have a little orange funky clock. The time never matches what my computer says is Internet time, primarily because I have it set to Daniel time. Today I noticed that for the past few days Daniel time has been 2:50. Being astute, it only took me a few days to realize the battery was dead.

Daniel called this morning to use up the last 10 minutes of his phone card. He told me he had gotten a new radio today and was busy charging batteries for it; they too were dead. The biggest problem now he said, was they were short brackets of some sort for the vehicles so mechanized patrol was not yet possible. They were playing the hurry up and wait game.

In some regards he must feel like my clock. Time has stopped and he is merely waiting for someone to replace the battery in order for his life to go forward.

What we're doing here

Tuesday. 103 degrees at 5:30pm

We're here preventing them from killing each other. The people you pass on the streets every day. The man who sells them their bread. The woman with the flowers. They're all targets for other Muslims who have an unexplainable insane hatred which allows them to strap explosives to themselves and knock several out of the circle of life.

Under the old regime, at least there was a common enemy in the Baath party and Saddam Hussein. Now the angel of death could be wearing shorts and kicking a ball in the park.

It's going to be a bloodbath when we leave.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Keep doin' what you're doin'

Saturday morning. Daniel was on IM for a bit. He said he had just gotten back from chow and a mortar attack. I asked him what a mortar attack was like. He said, "You just keep eating. There's not much else you can do." It is amazing to me that after 2 or 3 days there, they have acclimated to live munitions being lobbed at them.

Speaking of lobbing, why the lob-ster? Apparently if they are on duty at midnight, occasionally midnight chow will feature lobster. I don't know how fresh it is ..... Maybe the mortar rounds are safer :)

I asked whether they sent patrols out to find the person doing the firing and he said, "No. They generally fire and then get the heck out. Usually they don't hit anything other than dirt or a road. They are just hoping for a lucky shot." I would prefer to think there are angels doing batting practice with the incoming rounds!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday Morning

I got a call from Daniel! He is at his FOB (Forward Operating Base), taking classes, getting intelligence briefings (sniper in the area who is being effective) and experiencing sleeping to the sound of gunfire, mortar barrages and IED's exploding.

The troops were air transported from Kuwait to Baghdad, then by Chinook to their FOB. The vehicles were already there - they had done a land transport.

As we spoke, he said there was a 600 foot column of black smoke he could see. He didn't know if it was an IED explosion or an oil well which had been sabotaged.

He does have a new address. Please email me if you want it. He says Internet will be non-existent for the most part; phone calls when he can and snail mail will be the best form of communication.

If you want to send packages, at this time he is requesting:

  • Postage Stamps
  • Food - nothing that will melt in heat. Chocolate is right out.
  • AT & T phone cards. No other cards work with the phone system, and they're really expensive to buy there - essentially an hour costs about $30.
  • Books on tape you have copied to CD's. He will listen to them and pass them on to other soldiers. They don't necessarily have room for physical books and if you send one, only do so with the understanding it will not come back. He will pass it on and doesn't have room to carry things around.

The best way to send a package is with the Priority Express Box. You have to get the offical box from the post office (you can order them online), but they're free. It is a flat rate, regardless of weight.

He sends his love, thanks everyone for their prayers and says, "please write!"

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Straight from the horse's lips

I was searching today for news of where they might have gone and came upon this: Stryker Brigade News. If I'm flagging on posting, you may find something here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Operation [Iraqi] Children

A mom whose son just returned from the Sandbox said the best packing material was hard candy, individually wrapped (not chocolate). It saves on non-existent landfill to dispose of packing materials and gives the soldiers something to take with them on patrol to bring a little happiness into the lives of the kids they're coming in contact with.

I will be sending packages to Daniel and if you would like to spread some sunshine, donate bags of candy to the Packing Material Fund. If it's OK with church, I may even leave a donation box there so all the military families may do the same!

Where's Waldo?

Only heaven and the US Army know.

Welcome to the place where I'll post Daniel's correspondence as I get it. He may or may not still be in Kuwait, if he's not, destination is unknown.

Here's his arriving in Kuwait letter:

AND ITS FREAKING HOT! we stepped off the planes last night at midnight, to 102 degree winds whipping at us. But I'm here, I'm safe, and everything will be OK, I don't know if I will have time to IM or anything like that, with the time difference, and the lack of Internet use, but hopefully this won't be the last time you hear from me. we should be leaving Kuwait in about 2 weeks, still nothing official said on where though. I miss everyone at home, but I'm trying to have as much fun over here as I can. they even have a coffee shop here! everything is looking up, so don't worry about me, I can make it though. just let everyone at home know I love them, and miss them very much.

I don't know when I will be able to write again, but hopefully you should hear from me sometime tomorrow as well.

See you all later