The Koyote's Den

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The rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated...

Just been a little wired today. Can't say why. Started with a little lethargy, and has culminated into giddinessí, but I believe the crescendo is over and I have settled into contentment. But we havenít been attacked today, so go figure. We have won some battles today as well, although I canít elaborate on those right now. Just know that they are there.

It has been getting pretty hot over here again, and I don't mean the 130+ degree temperatures. We have lost some good people over here. All friends, and some fairly close at that. You hate to see that happen. Itís frustrating to be unable to do anything while I coordinate a snare as the armchair warrior. My job is terribly important, but leaves me hollow because I cannot physically participate. I feel like my hands are tied over here at times, but we make the best of it. Our base in the north by the border has been relentlessly mortared and rocketed for days now. Several rockets have hit near our base as well, although they cannot get as close to us here so they have to use larger rockets, fired from a distance of 20+km. (They are about 9 feet long and give a pretty good wallop). Fortunately for us the bad guys still can't aim! No one has been seriously injured.

Here is the bad. We lost an interpreter. His name was Moe. He was of Middle Eastern decent, but he was an American. He had a small auto-repair shop in Washington State. He was one of the nicest, most polite individuals I have ever met. He said that he was too old to join up, but his country needed him so he came to do what he could. I will miss him sorely. He was a good man. He was killed by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) that seriously wounded another Marine. Just a few days later we had the Mujahadeen use a French made Flachette rocket. It was filled with finned nails and killed three of our Marines as they drove down the street. It also ferociously wounded two others. Itís very hard not to point fingers and be angry. Itís very difficult to be the good guys, let me tell you. But day in and day out we are. We make the hard decisions. Our Marines arrest people, even when they have the right to kill them under the rules of engagement. Their dedication, professionalism and discipline are unparalleled. I am honored to lead men like these, though it should be noted that they need no leadership. We are merely managers to these incredibly brave star athletes. They are good kids. They go to work day in and day out even though their spouses leave them, their family members die and their friends go on with life as if nothing is going on anywhere else in the world but back home. They are tired, hyper, cynical, religious, silly, fearsome, tempered, mean, gentle, wild, controlled, forgetful, wise, bored, intense, gifted and above all they are grudgingly proud to be here on the tip of the spear even though they constantly dream of home. And they are ever aware that they may never see it again. Yet they brave the deadly IEDs, mines, rockets, gunfire, mortars and RPGs every day.

The upper crust has been so removed that seldom do any above the regimental level have a grasp of how unique our situation is out here. We were looking for places to move this base (which we are not going to do now) and we struck a mine and destroyed a HMMWV (Humvee). An admiral wanted us to build a base there anyway! So he came out to see the place and we hit another mine there! And he got into the choppers that were circling and bolted. They didnít even wait to see if there were any casualties! Fortunately there were none, but damn! After that it was decided it was too dangerous for us to move. Well no shit! Good thing he is smart enough to make that decision, cause God knows we arenít qualified to make such a decision. Well, at least the Mujahadeenís malevolence toward us paid off that day. Remind me to thank them for planting that mine!

Then at the other end of the spectrum are General Mattis (1st Marine Divisionís CO) and our Col. Tucker (Regimental CO). (We are in a Battalion, one level below Regiment). Col Tucker has been attacked as much as any Marine in the AO because he is always out checking on his boys. In fact, he has even earned his purple heart out here! General Mattis has personally rewarded Marines for making the right and hard decisions all around this country. Good leadership is crucial to success out here. Or anywhere for that matter.

The food has gotten better out here. It is usually pretty bad, but every so often we get some damn good chow. People really donít understand what goes on out here. It is pretty funny to talk to people down in Al Asad (Regimentís base). They have good food, short lines for the phone and Internet, and A/C in just about every room. Their PX is huge and well stocked, mail is brought in on a regular basis and they are SO detached from the ďwarĒ itís comical. I guess it just goes to show you, somebody always has it worse. Iím sure there are those who are reading this and saying ďYou have it goodĒ! And you know what? They are VERY right! It could, and has been, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH worse.

It is really good here just because I can call my wife about once a week! (Sometimes twice a week, and sometimes once every couple of weeks, but no complaints) And we have Internet access. Yeah I have to wait over an hour even at midnight, but I get to relax and read in that time so I really donít mind.

Well, I canít wait to get home and see everyone. Again, the wife and kidÖ and dog and ferrets and fish, have dibs on me firstÖ for at least a couple of weeks. But after that I would love to see everyone. I know itís hard to come down to see me, but I know Iíll talk you all into it when I tell you Iím going to invest in a hot tub when I get home! Knew that would work. :-)

Well, as usual, keep up the good fight on the home front and Iíll do the same over here.
Iíll try and keep up on the writing, but itís tough.
Simper Fi, and Fight On!

OH yeah! If you are reading this, check out Theaís web page www.journalscape.com/thea and go see her play if you are in LA. OK?

Via Con Dios Mis AmigosÖ.

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