Monday, March 31, 2008

Sleep is overrated

The phone rang. I thought it was James because my fully asleep, seasoned citizen eyes couldn't quite make out the name on the screen. "Hello? What?"

"Hi. I just read the blog and 'indirect fire' means a mortar attack."

Well at least we got the important stuff out of the way. -smile-

He's alive and kicking. Here's the news that's fit to print:
  • By the 8-11th, he will hopefully be back at the FOB.
  • Around the 15th, he will hopefully be in Kuwait
  • They will fly him home either via Texas or directly to WA (whether SeaTac or McChord is unknown)
  • He will have 18 days at home (YAY!)

He says now is not a good time for packages. They are moving off the COB and many things will have to be left behind. By the way CookieBaker - he said the brownies were absolutely fabulous! He appreciates packages greatly and says please to resume sending them when he has to go back.

Friday, March 28, 2008

From Stryker News (2SCR highlighted)

Multi-National Division – Baghdad PAO
BAGHDAD – Iraqi Security Forces and Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers killed 24 terrorists March 26 in Baghdad.
Soldiers combined with their Iraqi counterparts to conduct precision, intelligence-based operations in the capital. These terrorists and militant elements were increasing their attacks against civilians, the Government of Iraq, and Iraqi and U.S. security forces.
Soldiers from 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, killed a terrorist during rocket-propelled grenade and small-arms fire attacks on a checkpoint in eastern Baghdad at approximately noon.
Abna al-Iraq, or Sons of Iraq, killed a terrorist approximately 4:30 p.m.
The SOI apprehended the man northwest of Baghdad. The terrorist had admitted to killing an MND-B Soldier earlier in the day and then tried to escape custody. As the terrorist attempted to escape, he was shot. Coalition forces performed medical care on the scene, but he died of wounds.
National Policemen from 5th Brigade, 2nd National Police Division killed one terrorist at approximately 5 p.m. after he fired at their guard tower with SAF in southern Baghdad.
At 7:45 p.m., an MND-B air weapons team positively indentified 20 to 30 terrorists moving north of Baghdad. They received clearance to fire and killed four terrorists.
Soldiers from 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, killed six terrorists in southern Baghdad at approximately 8 p.m. after coming under attack from SAF and RPGs.
At approximately 10:30 p.m., Soldiers from 1st Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, killed one terrorist after he attacked a joint combat patrol with SAF in eastern Baghdad.
Another air weapons team killed five terrorists armed with RPGs and RPK rifles in eastern Baghdad at approximately 11 p.m. Several improvised-explosive devices had been emplaced in the immediate vicinity of the terrorists’ location in the past week.
An air weapons team killed two terrorists at 11:30 p.m. after Soldiers from 1st Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment were attacked from a building in northeastern Baghdad.
Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, with assistance from an air weapons team, killed three terrorists.
They also wounded and detained another at approximately 11:30 p.m. in western Baghdad. The terrorists attacked the Soldiers with RPGs and SAF.
In the last 24 hours, militants and terrorists conducted ten indirect fire attacks, ten attacks against civilians and 47 attacks against ISF and CF.
Two U.S. Soldiers and one National Policeman were killed in these attacks. Seven U.S. Soldiers, three Iraqi Army soldiers, one NP, two U.S. civilians, five SOI and four Iraqi civilians were also wounded.
“The terrorists also continue to conduct very limited indirect fire attacks against forward operating bases, joint security stations and at the International Zone in an attempt to harm innocent civilians and government officials working towards reconciliation in the country,” said Col. Allen Batschelet, chief of staff, MND-B. “We will relentlessly pursue those individuals who would seek to murder, terrorize or intimidate the people of Baghdad. Contrary to reporting, this is not a battle against Jaysh Al Mahdi – this is straight and simple a fight against those individuals breaking the law.”

Another name

It was a bad day on Stryker News as the infighting in Iraq picks up. Staff Sgt. Joseph D. Gamboa, 34 from 1st Squad, 2nd Cav has his name added to the list of those whose sacrifice must not be forgotten. DoD says it was "indirect fire," which probably means he was caught in between people not shooting at him.

I read an article yesterday about an Iraqi family who longs for a strongman like Sadaam Hussein to emerge because although he was a tyrannical despot, he had enough clout to keep everyone in line.

It reminded me something similar happened inside the former Soviet Union when the communist regime relinquished power. People complained because they were no longer given things just because they were citizens.

The process of a people learning to stand on their own, rather than relying on a government to keep things in line and provide for them is a scary thing. I hope that the proliferation of welfare states around the globe (including ours) does not ultimately lead to the type of desperation where we would hope for a maniacal dictator rather than learn to manage our own selves.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Tool Man Fixes Up Morale

Mar-21-2008 » Filed Under: 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment
By Staff Sgt Arron Schille, 2nd Stryker Calvary Regiment
BAGHDAD - Within the compound housing, the headquarters of the 2nd Stryker Calvary Regiment is a small shop made up of four plywood walls and a tarp for a roof. It’s what takes place inside this makeshift shop that helps the Dragoons of the 2SCR accomplish their mission with a little more ease.
Two Dragoon Soldiers; Sgt. 1st Class Chris Russel from Vancouver Wash., assistant operation non-commissioned officer, and Spc. Ross Gray from Lubbock, Texas, a generator mechanic, both of Regimental Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2SCR, took an empty spot in the back of the compound and within a week turned it into a self-help workshop for the Soldiers of the regiment to use to better their professional or even personal lives.
“This shop was mainly built to insure mission readiness,” said Russel. “The tools found in the workshop, as well as the building materials are available for use by any of the 2nd SCR Soldiers, and were found in the garbage, abandoned.
“If I see something sitting in one place too long, I just go ask if I can have it. Most people say it is OK with them, and then I just take and fix it,” he added.
Many different types of tools can be seen within the shop, and there seems to be a tool for almost any job. Among the tools, Soldiers can find several table saws, a lathe, air compressor, a power washer, and a variety of hand tools.
One of the previous projects that Russel and Gray have completed is the building of weapons racks for soldiers to put their weapons. They also just completed fixing a wall locker, for any Soldier who might need it.
“We just fix it and if some one needs it then they can have it,” Russel said. This shop has been operational for about two and a half months, and since its construction has greatly contributed to over all mission readiness of the regiment.
Gray said, “It took about one week, we put up a wall a day.”
Russel has a back ground in wood finishing and also some schooling in Engineering.
“It was primarily him I just basically pointed him in the right direction, he is a pretty motivated and intelligent guy,” stated Russel, referring to the building of the shop.
Any Soldier can use the shop to create a special project or fix a piece mission essential equipment. No mater what the Soldiers reason for using the shop they are encouraged to stop by, but first they must be able to show that they have a working knowledge of the equipment they intend to use.
“Every soldier has to prove to me that they can operate the equipment that they are using,” Russel said.
If the Soldier doesn’t know how to use a piece of equipment then they are trained by Russel and have to take a test to show that they are able to use the equipment safely.
Although Russel and Gray are able to conduct almost any task within the shop, they are available to aid other Soldiers in completing their own projects.
“I like it when some one wants me to help them with something instead of just wanting me to do it for them” Gray said.
Despite the shabby outside appearance of the 2nd SCR workshop, inside the tools and troops who work there more then make up for it in their quality of work and knowledge.
So if you see this shop in the Dragoons compound don’t judge a book by it cover, there is a lot more to this little shop than meets the eye.
”I can fix just about anything right here in this shop, instead of having to send it some where else to get it fixed,” Russel said.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The times they are a-changing

My phone dinged again today! Here is the latest news (well what's fit to print anyway).

He's on the FOB for a couple of days and may be online during that time. Then they are back to the COB, where they will be packing up. He doesn't think it all makes sense (and I think he's going to be missing a room to himself), but they are pulling them back and putting them somewhere else. Yes, he knows where he's going. No, he can't say.

In terms of leave, he does not have a firm date, but believes April 8th might be a possibility. He thinks this because there was someone scheduled for it, who has taken their leave earlier. If it is the 8th, he would be here for at least part of his birthday, which was something he hoped for.

I asked if the optical drive cleaner I had sent worked. He said he used it once and it killed the thing; the brushes wore down on the first usage! He's amazed his computer is working at all, given 7 months of dirt and heat. He also said he gave all his Peeps to Capellino. I told him he could have saved them for his coffee; they look so cute floating in the little brown puddles. He said, "Coffee? Did you mean the mud they serve here??" Evidently he hasn't been away from Starbucks long enough to not care about the quality of his joe.

He sounded good, tired and was looking forward to his first shower in a week and half.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Red Tape

So the "hello" was also on my laptop and I didn't see the message till last night. Apparently he's filled out his leave paperwork, but doesn't have firm dates still. At least that means he's still in queue and they haven't found him, how do you say .... indespensible? Indespensible. That's what I thought.

For those of you who didn't understand the previous quote, go out immediately and rent "Top Secret" with Val Kilmer. If you have kids, fast forward through the jail scene.

Thank you to the Bob and Mary S. family for providing funding for a package to go out to Daniel.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Daniel says:

Well I missed it, but it's an indication either he took his laptop to the FOB or they have arranged for Internet at the COB. Either way, it was nice to have a touch point.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Size matters

For those of you who have a loved one in need of a package, I have an interesting tidbit of information courtesy of Bob S., a church friend who also works for the Post Office.

The US Postal Service has a new priority box ONLY for APO/FPO addresses. It's 50% larger than the current priority box, and only costs $2.00 more to send! The boxes themselves are free; you can order a pack of them online to be delivered to your door! USPS bigger box

Just think, you can now send more socks, more chili, more stale Peeps, pre-read paperback books, shaving cream, homemade cookies, etc. for a deserving soldier. If you don't know one, you can adopt Daniel as your "support our troops" poster child!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

This time he called for real!

You always worry when your phone rings at 3am, but this was Daniel apologizing for waking me, wanting to say hi on a precious FOB visit where they would have telephone access. The satellite kept dropping, but we managed to talk for about an hour before his bladder forced him out of the phone bank.

Lots of news. An EFP (see previous post or look up in Wickipedia for an explaination) hit one of their Stryker's right outside the COB. It sent 3 guys to Germany for extensive reconstructive surgery and there is question as to whether a fourth will be able to pull through. Please pray for all four men.

Daniel said their base is a lot more difficult than the FOB. There is no offset - the civilian population is across the street (which is where the EFP was located). He said the sector is heating up again and he appreciates your prayers. They will be there till probably September.

Noteworthy tidbits:

  1. It's getting warmer in Baghdad (he described it as the downward spiral into hell fire temperatures). My last package for him included chocolate, which he said arrived melted. No more chocolate, although Lynn, the brownies he said would probably be fine if you seal them. Really, feel free to send them, he said.

  2. He is hopefully coming up on leave and was quite specific about what that means.
  • He wants to be alone. He said he will need significant time to be by himself to decompress.

  • He does not want to have family or group gatherings; he will see people one on one.

  • He does not want to go shopping, to the mall or to the movies. He gets very tense when a lot of people are in one place. He says he will grow out of this once he's out, but for now he survives by being alert and wary in crowds.

  • He does not want people to ask him what it's like or have him tell stories. Most of the stuff he doesn't want to think about and does only beccause it's his job.

  • He will probably not go to church for the above reasons - too many people in one place coupled with not wanting to talk about it. He asks everyone's indulgence and thanks them for their understanding.
The optical drive on his laptop is having issues and they can't use canned air to clean it because 2 bright sparks have "huffed" cans and departed this planet in their stupidity. Canned air is now a banned substance at least in their part of the Army. I am having Matt buy a cleaning kit to send in his now chocolate-less package so he can at least have his movies.

He has no indication of when his leave will be, and I told him we were quite fine with the notion we'd receive a phone call at 11:30 at night saying, "I just landed in Newark. I'll be home in 3 hours, will you pick me up?" DUH!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Looking for Mr/Ms Right

I just logged visit 1032. 1050 is the next number we're looking for. If that's you, take a screen shot and send it to me (Daniel's mom). If you don't know my address, leave a comment saying, "Help, I need your email address."

A visitor prize goes to that lucky winner.

Technology is so great!

York Times Article by Stephen Ferrell

Original post

March 1, 2008

DIYALA PROVINCE, Iraq - “Tell them we are staying,” ordered Lt. Col. Rod Coffey, nodding toward the Iraqis clustered nervously in the driveway beside his armored Stryker vehicle.
“Inshallah,” came the villagers’ reply, an Arabic expression meaning “God willing.”
Their wariness was understandable.
The Americans had arrived in the northern Diyala River Valley in force in mid-January, during the opening phase of an operation to clear Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia from one of its local strongholds in Diyala Province.
Iraqi villagers had seen government forces arrive before, only to have their areas slide back under insurgent control when they left.
This time is different, the Americans are insisting.
“Our biggest message is that we are coming in with the Iraqi Army, with the Iraqi Police, and we are staying and providing security, and that’s something they haven’t seen before. But until they see it they are not going to believe it,” said Maj. Gen. Mark P. Hertling, the American commander in northern Iraq, as he toured villages early in the deployment.
Only seven months earlier, Americans had stormed into Baquba, the capital of Diyala Province. They secured and held the city, but allowed some insurgents to escape into the surrounding countryside, where they continued to torture, kidnap and murder.
Bashar, a college teacher who moved to Baghdad a year ago to escape the clashes, said that the American-financed groups of Sunni men who now help secure Baquba rarely trouble her or other civilians during her weekly visits home.
However, she said, people do suspect these former Sunni insurgents of carrying out revenge attacks on Shiite militias, who inevitably retaliate. And outside the city she feels much less safe.
“There is terrorism still there, even now,” she said. “The general situation in Baquba is good, but the borders of Diyala are not safe.”
After the first few hours of the latest operation in the northern Diyala River Valley, which lies a few miles north of Baquba, most of the leaders of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia had, once again, escaped.
But American officers argue that their presence, reinforced by Iraqi Army units, will now deprive the extremists of a crucial base. Pointing to a 75 percent fall in attacks from June 2007 to January 2008 across Diyala as a whole, and 85 percent within Baquba over the same period, they say the insurgents will now be further crippled by the loss of a safe haven to manufacture car bombs to send into nearby Baghdad.
“The real victory here is not killing 10, 20 or 30 insurgents; it is that this population here is separated from them,” said Colonel Coffey, commander of the Third Squadron, Second Stryker Cavalry Regiment, part of the Fourth Stryker Brigade Combat Team.
“The Iraqi provincial government is able to operate in here again. That is the real permanent win.”
It has been a win with costs.
Moving through the villages, American forces have found evidence of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia’s weapons factories, training camps and weapons caches.
They also lost six American soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter in a single explosion, at the start of their mission here. It happened Jan. 9, after their patrol walked into a house rigged to blow up in the village of Sinsil.
The compound had been cleared of explosives two weeks earlier, commanders said. But villagers did not tell them that insurgents

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

False Alarm

It turns out the call yesterday was James, calling on the school phone which comes up "unavailable," just as Daniel does.

Monday, March 3, 2008

He called

I just got a phone call from Daniel! Unfortunately he called my cell and it of course dropped the call so I didn't get more than a "hello" out of him. That's OK, he's alive and kicking still.

If you've got to be stationed somewhere ...

Hawaii is ideal for Stryker unit according to the Army
Mar- 2-2008 » Filed Under: 2/25 SBCT , Ft. Lewis
By Gregg K. Kakesako, Honolulu Star Bulletin
Despite the insistence by local environmental groups that Fort Lewis is a better location than Schofield Barracks, Army planners say there is no room at the Washington state base for another 4,000-member Stryker Brigade Combat Team and their family members.
Fort Lewis was the home of the Army's first combat unit built around the 320 eight-wheeled, 19-ton vehicles. Opponents like environmental lawyer David Henkin believe the Washington facility has the necessary room and its location near an Air Force transport base makes it a better choice than Schofield Barracks.
"In 2004, we were told we can't look at Fort Lewis because Fort Lewis has two Stryker brigades and can't take a third," said Henkin, who represents Ilioulaokalani Coalition, Na Imi Pono and Kipuka in a long-running legal battle protesting the Army's plan to convert one of the 25th Infantry Division's units to a Stryker unit. "Few weeks after they said that, they moved a third Stryker brigade to Fort Lewis and to this day Fort Lewis has three Stryker brigades."
In the draft environmental impact statement that recommended Schofield Barracks as the home of the Army's fifth Stryker unit, Henkin said Army leaders again ruled out a fourth Stryker unit at Fort Lewis, which he claims is an about-face from the Army's previous position.
On Feb. 22, the Army released a supplemental environmental impact statement that recommended Schofield Barracks as the base for a Stryker team. The study rejects Fort Lewis, saying it is "at its maximum capacity" in supporting three Stryker Brigade Combat Teams. "Accommodating the full requirements of an additional SBCT (Stryker Brigade Combat Team) would require an additional 192 acres of space within the cantonment area, temporarily discounting the fact that facilities could not be constructed in time," the study says.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

And the winner is ...


Whoever hit 1000 didn't email me. I did get a lot of notes though, indicating what people's numbers had been and it was fun, so ... watch for occasional contests to win prizes (it's the Mary Kay Sales Director in me rising to the top -smile-).

Nothing from Daniel. Not unexpected, but then that doesn't make it any easier.

A plea - as he is out of communication, letters and cards will mean a lot to him. It is definitely not my forte, but I am going to write him at least twice a week until we have electronic communication. I know he would really appreciate those tangible thoughts from home.
If you need his address, leave a comment to this post and I'll get it to you. If you think you have it and you're not sure because of the COB move, it's still the same - F Co 2-2......... that one.