Saturday, July 21, 2007

Summertime Blues

ughhh . . . I groan and roll over to look at my clock.
It's 3:15am, and the Artillery detachment is sending out some care packages to our boys outside the wire. No surprise there; the artillery men send out their lovin' every night, and since we are almost right next to them I get to hear every round up close and personal. The only question is what time and how often. The nightly barrage goes on...

-thud- BOOOM!!
I couldn't tell if I was dreaming or I heard rocks being thrown at my wall. I wipe the haze from eyes and check my clock - 1 something AM. I sit up to drink some water and then I hear something I wasn’t expecting:
ughh. . .why are you yelling at me to take cover after the fact? I wonder to no one in particular. I step outside (probably not what I am supposed to do) to a hazy, smoke filled night. The moon is slightly orange and is casting an eerie glow over the gravel lot outside my building. Someone else is up too.
"Hey, glad the Big Voice told us to take cover 30 seconds AFTER the fact", Nap calls to me.
"Ha - yea - good thing", I reply before I make a quick stop in the porta-pottie and go back to sleep minutes later.

These are a couple typical nights for us here. Nothing exciting, just the sounds of the battle going on around us. Our job isn't out there at night; it begins the next day with our Iraqi counterparts. Everyday we work with them, side by side, imparting what knowledge we have and trying to help them do their part better. Many nights I wish I was out there with my coalition counterparts, fighting a battle I know a little better; but I'm not, and many days it’s hard for me to accept that my battle is in getting the Iraqi's to sustain themselves without our help.

The other night my LT buddy and I were sitting outside, watching the Apache's fly overhead and listening to the artillery go out (at least, we always say its outgoing). We started talking about how far from home we are and what we're doing here. (I am 6,300+ miles from home, by the way). The conversation started off almost philosophically:
"Dude, do you know how far from home we are?” he asked me.
"6,322 miles", I replied.
"Yea, that’s far. What the hell are we doing here? Do you know how hard it would be for us to get home if there were no planes?"
I paused. "Probably close to a year. We'd most likely have to hump it up to the Mediterranean Sea, catch a freighter, and then sail the Oceans home."
He sighed deeply. "Yea. That would suck. Can you imagine being a roman back in the day? Or trying to get back to America at that time?"
"Yea, but if we were trying to get back to America then, we'd most likely be American Indians and we'd have no business here in the 1st place."
"True enough", he answered, and there ended our deep philosophical discussion.

After we pondered that for a minute, we started talking about whether what we're doing will have any benefit to us in the civilian world once we're done. I wished I could have answered him positively, but I just couldn't, really. He is a Construction Engineer, and I am a Chemical Engineer. We're both advising the Iraqi Army on logistics. We tried to find some benefits; he is heading up a major project to issue the entire Iraqi Army M-16s, and I am handling contracts totaling 100s of millions of US dollars. Still, it’s hard to say how that will help us advance to the next level in our civilian jobs. I personally feel like I've taken at least a two year step backward; the promotion I worked two years for was rescinded because I couldn't fill it due to my recall, and I was just notified recently that our plant is undergoing major layoffs. The layoffs shouldn't affect my job, since I am on military status, but I know it will probably take at least a year to get back to where I was before I left. That's not even getting into how people will feel that I still have a job because I was on military status. I know, and most people wont come out and say that, but realistically, deep down, some will be thinking it.

We ended the conversation on a positive, though. We are here doing what not many other people get an opportunity to do. We're basically helping to build an Army from the ground up and learning alot about ourselves and others in the process. Heck, if we ever go into consulting we will honestly be able to say that we have done consulting work under the harshest conditions and across seemingly insurmountable cultural differences. So we ended by saying that we were underglorified, underpaid consultants, and that if all else goes to crap, at least we have that. Yea . . . Sure . . .


dianainsa said...

We got to your blog via mudvillegazette, we love to read the posts from people who are actually there in Iraq. Thanks for taking the time to give us what the msm refuses to.
You guys desrve to make a million bucks when you get back to your civilian lives. One can hardly begin to put a price on this kind of experience and service. Thankyou.

Er Pichi said...

CPT DeCecco obviously you and the Barker have way too much free time on your hands to be sitting around thinking about Romans, American Indians and how you would get back to the US of A.

Maybe you do need to get another job at an SSA so you will be lucky to get 6 hours of sleep and you can kiss your Eagles games goodbye with no AFN in sight!

Go A's