Sunday, November 1, 2009

November is here...

Wow, time has really flown by. It's hard to believe that we're in November already. It is a relief, to say the least. Our replacements are scheduled to arrive here soon.

But until they arrive, the beat goes on. When the replacements do get here though, we will begin what is called right seat/left seat training to make sure they have a good understanding of the overall mission.

My hope is that the transition goes smoothly and everyone gets trained up on their responsibities. Then, Soldiers from our unit will be able to get back to their families and civilian life.

The new unit will then carry forth their own legacy of a Mobile Public Affairs Detachment (MPAD) in Baghdad.

Like the acronym of a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH), M*P*A*D also has 4 letters, one 'M' and one 'A'. Will one of our Soldiers write the novel of Army journalists, which becomes a movie and sitcom? We certainly have a talented crew of writers, including the broadcasters, who don't usually get a lot of credit for their writing skills. Surely, one of them could pull it off.

I can say this. It won't be me. Once I leave here, I want to get right back to my family and concentrate on goals I have set for my personal and professional life. Army life will be put on the back burner.

I miss being home. But, it's not too much longer.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Finally, some pics...

These are pics from a tour on Camp Stryker that takes Soldiers and contractors through the wreckage of Saddam's palaces.

Here I am on that same tour of the palaces that were bombed back in 2003.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Writing and then writing some more...

I hope I don't get writer's block, sometimes I think it may happen. It came close to happening early on when I sat for like 3 to 4 hours without getting through the first paragraph of a story I was doing. So far so good, it hasn't hit me too much.

I did a story recently at Camp Slayer on some Soldiers taking a tour of Saddam's palaces and Ba'ath Party headquarters that were hit by U.S. bombs in March of 2003. One of the palaces was run by the son of Saddam, Uday.

The wreckage was striking, pardon the pun. It was easy to see how Saddam saw himself. He was a dictator no doubt, his image and name show up all over. I will try to get some pics posted soon.

I've been focused lately on some articles dealing with Humvee maintenance, we've covered air conditioning, windshields and air filters so far. They seem to be received well.

Also, saw my first fotos on, they were a set of 3 from the services of Rosh Hashanah at Camp Victory.

It's October, yeahhhhhhhh!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Back to the beat...

Vacation was great. Accomplished everything I had wanted to do; spent time with the family, saw international soccer action, ate good food, visited new places.

Now, it's back to work. I feel rejuvenated and ready to finish out the last 3 months.

I did a small photo release on some mechanics the other day and it got me back in the groove, somewhat. It was a good reminder for me of how dedicated, disciplined and knowledgeable Soldiers are. They show consistent professionalism and take pride in serving their country.

Being around Soldiers anytime is special, but being around them when they are working in their area of expertise is a privilege.

I plan on doing a lot more stories on vehicle mechanics because they are busy and have a variety of work to do that is interesting. I'm hoping to develop stories towards a Mechanic's Corner type of news, where the reader can learn basics and advanced technology practices.

Because the pace of things has slowed considerably, getting interesting stories on Soldiers is becoming more difficult. This is a good thing because it means the war is wrapping up, but it is tough for a reporter when there are a lack of good story lines to chase.

Staying busy makes time go by faster, so maybe in the past, the story didn't seem so good to tackle, now it is.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Going against the traffic...

So far so good. Vacation is coming up and it seems to be the right fit at the right time. I'm feeling a little burnout lately. I'm anxious to see my daughter and see how tall she has gotten. Can't wait for the 12th to come around so we are all together. I have plans for us to spend a few nights in a rainforest in Mindo, Ecuador. Hoping to go hiking, see nature, rest, kayak, rest some more and get in some good family time. Also, hoping to take my father n' law to some Soccer games in Quito.

I've been incredibly fortunate in my job duties so far as I detailed before, but I may not have explained some of the fringe benefits that have accompanied the night shift.

Working at night and sleeping during the day means I'm going against the traffic to the gym, bathroom, laundry, internet cafe and dining facility. With less people around, things can be more pleasant. Cleanliness and ambience are those subtle factors which make the nightshift such a fortunate experience.

The dining facility for midnight chow is much less noisy, I can hear the tv that is on in there and it's primetime in the U.S. so I may catch some live sports events.

When I get off shift, the bathrooms have just been cleaned and the gym has fresh towels for workouts. Also, there is always a computer available at the internet cafe.

The greatest benefit, though, may be that I don't have to deal with the 115 degree daytime heat because I'm usually asleep with the A/C on.

The small community on the night shift has also meant an opportunity to make new friends. I have made some great buddies, who are working as media analysts (contractors) alongside our unit in public affairs. Unfortunately, there time here is drawing to a close and they are moving on. These media analysis contractors I'm referring to, Tim, Bill, Matt, Scott and Ricardo are either leaving or going to Victory Camp. I'm hoping for Victory Camp so I have somewhere to visit in my final months here.

Good luck guys, and I hope we see each other sometime in the States. It's been fun, we've had great conversations.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The beat goes on...

It's good to post again! Not too much has changed and in saying that, I must mention the effects of 'Groundhog Day' the movie, on this deployment. 'Groundhog Day' is an expression that many Soldiers repeat quite often when describing how their day is going because the days blend into each other and feel the same from one to the next.

Interestingly, I've learned that many Soldiers who either use the term or hear it used have no idea where it comes from. I explained its origin to one young Soldier and acknowledged to myself, how can everybody be expected to know this expression. The movie came out in 1993.

Right now the pullout of troops from the cities in Iraq seems to be working well. The June 30 deadline went smoothly and troops are adjusting. There have been a low amount of incidents in the days since and everyone is hopeful for the best.

As for the life of an Army journalist post June 30, telling the Soldiers' stories goes on. There is still a lot to tell and to record. Army journalists from MND-B are finding the most relevant stories to report as we still must maintain products, such as the bi-weekly newspaper, The Crossed Sabers and the internet daily newspaper, The Daily Charge, which I still put together and edit.

These papers can be retrieved from or from, a military public affairs distribution site.

I will soon begin prepping for a two-week vacation to see my family. I leave sometime in August to see my wife and daughter, Patty and Alicea. Our plans are to meet up in Quito, Ecuador to visit with family. I miss them so much.

I'm going to cut this post short, as I feel an onset of carpal-tunnel syndrome coming on. I'm joking...somewhat, but with all the design and editing I do, I am sometimes feeling tired in my fingers from working with the mouse so much and also with one computer without a mouse. I joke with some of my colleagues that I might be starting a class action lawsuit 2o years from now. This attempt at humor is tinged with lots and lots of irony,... get it,... coming to war and getting a case of carpal-tunnel, ha-ha,... maybe not so funny, but I tried.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Oh, ... the Irony--and some History

Military trivia just isn't like sports trivia for me. My knowledge of military history is still in its infancy stage. I'm learning new, intrinsic, idiosyncratic notes of linguistic, military terminology each and every day.

I have just figured out that 'Live the Legend' does exist. Now, I'm not sure if Sgt. Logue also knew that this is 1st Cavalry's motto when she replied that day that she was living the legend when I passed her and asked how her day was going. Actually, I'm not sure how many people from my unit, the 211th MPAD, which is attached to 1st Cav, know of the motto 'Live the Legend.' It could be I'm the only one who didn't know. I have no idea, but neither does it matter.

I just saw it recently imprinted lightly into some colorful, propaganda posters made up to illuminate the wonders of the Cavalry.

So, why is it 'Live the Legend', you might ask.

The 1st Cavalry has been around since 1855 and has particpated in the Civil War, the Indian Wars, the Spanish American War, and most of the battles of the 20th and 21st century involving the U.S.

Troopers still rode horses as their primary form of maneuvering for patrols as late as 1923 and continued surveillance of the Mexican border with horses through the 1940's. The Division continued to train with their mix of machines and horses until giving in to a more modern technology in the mid-40's. Saddles and harnesses were turned in for other forms of transport.

The motto serves as a reminder to troops to try and keep up the courage of what the forefathers accomplished.

It is a privilege to play a small part in such a prestigious Division of the Army and to help carry on the Legend as it keeps growing in stature.