Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ok so now(after a year back in the states) I am going to Afghanistan. I will leave out of Greenville, SC after a week of training there. I really don't know what to expect this time as I know no one over there. I am certain it will be much like Iraq, but still am not sure. I will be there as a Fire Protection Specialist. That is just a fancy term for Fire Inspector. I am getting anxious to get the year started and things are getting crazy trying to get everything finalized and ready to go. Hope you all come back to see more on my adventure. I will try to post more frequently than I managed to while in Iraq, but no promises. Until then...Stay safe.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Camp Liberty, Iraq......A year in review!

There have been so many things happen this year, both good and bad, that I don't know where to start. The last week alone has been filled with many joys and tragedies. I guess it would be best to start at the beginning.
The first step was quite possibly one of the hardest. Making the decision to get on the plane heading for Houston one year ago. This would be the time it set in that I would be leaving the most important thing in my life for a whole year. I had to leave Heather at the checkpoint with tears in both of our eyes, but we had both agreed that this journey would help make the life we wanted so much easier to obtain. After spending a week in Houston, it was back on a plane and off to Iraq.
When I landed in Baghdad mid May the temperature was already in the 100's during the heat of the day. It took several days to get used to a heat that the breeze couldn't even make feel a little bit more bearable. The wind felt like someone holding a blow dryer to your face! I was assigned to Camp Liberty Fire Station #1. Not only is this the HQ for all operations in Iraq, it is also the biggest base in Iraq.
As the year wore on, the responsibilities kept pouring in. Before I had even been on my first R&R, I was already in charge of all the training for the entire VBC. That is 4 sites, 6 stations, and about 70 firefighters. In late September I made my way home for my first vacation. I had a great time. Heather and I took a trip to Jacksonville Beach and just enjoyed each others company away from the fast paced lives we had been used to for the last 3 years.
When I returned from R&R, I not only got assigned a prevention program responsible for 39,000 inspections a year, but I was also put in a position as a company officer. Sleep became a figment of my imagination as there was always one more thing that needed done. I learned just how short tempered I really am and found my breaking point when it comes to stress. The 4 months between R&R's was a very long time. Finally, February rolled around and I got to take an amazing trip.
Heather and I met in Rome! I hadn't seen anything that amazingly beautiful for 4 months. We spent our first couple of days exploring, and getting lost in Rome. After that we hopped on a train to Venice. We spent two days there. Carnival was in full swing there and Heather absolutely loved it. Next it was another train ride to Florence. We spent a day there with Heather sneaking pictures inside a museum where pictures were strictly forbidden. After that, one more train ride back to Rome for the final day of our trip.
Shortly after returning from my second R&R, I officially got the promotion to Lieutenant. Unfortunately, with the title came more responsibilities. I was sent to run another station, returned just in time to prepare for a big inspection and somehow lose track of time. Now that the final few days are here, it feels like someone has tied an anchor to the clock. The minutes seem like hours and so on. I only have to make it through Saturday and then it will be on a plane out of here.
I am ready to go home, but at the same time, I am nervous about what that brings. Will I get a job? Will things be the way they were? Will my dog remember who I am? I will soon find the answers to these questions and so much more. There have been many good things come out of this year. Many things have been made possible by the decision to come here. But in the end, was it worth the year lost at home? I will soon find out!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

April is almost here

One more full month left! I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have been at South Victory now for 3 weeks. The change in scenery has been a nice break up to the same old thing. I get to go back to my regular station on Wednesday. That will begin the final 7 weeks until I get to come home. May 17th is getting closer and closer.
On a much happier note....I am an Uncle again!!??!!! Well sort of. Our good friends Stephanie and Jason gave birth to a beautiful baby girl Friday morning. Samantha is doing well and should be home today. I can't wait to meet her. Congratulations to the Smith family!
The weeks down here have been pretty uneventful. Just a nice relaxing time so not a lot of things to write about. I will try to post again soon.

Monday, March 9, 2009

It was over before I knew it!

First of all, let me say Italy was AMAZING. Heather and I had such a great time. I was so happy to get to spend time with her. We did many things while we were there. We started out spending 3 days in Rome. From there, we went to Venice where we spent 2 days. On to Florence from there for a day. Last, back to Rome for one last hoorah in Rome. There were plenty of sites to see. We saw the Colosseum, The Sistine Chapel, Spanish Steps, Vatican City, The Pantheon, San Marco Square, The David, and even took a gondola ride in Venice!
The food was also an experience. True Italian food is nothing like Olive Garden or Carabba's presents it. In some cases it was better, but it was in every case....different. I have, however discovered a new treat...Crepes! The are the most fantastic dessert choice in Italy. A must try.
Since my return to Baghdad after my all too short vacation; many interesting things have happened. My computer decided that it was fed up with all of the dust. I had to send it back home so it could be taken in to be fixed. more talking on Skype! Shortly after I got back to the station, I was moved to a different site to run it. The station Captain there had to go home on medical leave and the Lieutenant is at home on R&R. So, here I am at South Victory running a station by myself. When I go back to my station, I will only have 6 weeks left until I come home! I am ready to get back.
I have been in contact with a department back home and it is looking like a good possibility that I can get a job there when I get home. Things are going to work out just fine!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Just a few days until Rome!

I am within a week of being out of here! I will leave the base and fly to Dubai next Monday! It is definitely time for a break. The time has gone a lot quicker this time, but I am really starting to miss Heather as the days get longer and move slower. This last week dragged by. I didn't think it was ever going to end and this one has started out the same. A few interesting things have happened this week that has made it at least a bearable place. We have began an "Activity of the Day". Yesterday was Stranger Rodeo. This is where you just at random jump on someone's back like you are going for a piggy back ride and try to hang on for 8 seconds while they try wildly to buck you off. The day was interesting and full of skinned knees! Other than that, nothing interesting happening here. Hope all is well for everybody. Talk to you all after I get back from Rome!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

It is what it is!

Sorry Heather, I had to use your phrase. It has been one of those weeks. The kind when nothing seems to go right. We have a team here doing an audit to make sure as a company that we are doing what we are supposed to be doing. This obviously has put everyone on edge. Heather had a bad couple of weeks at school. It makes it hard for me to stay over here (even though I have to) when I know she needs me there. I wish I could be there to do the little things for her to make her life at work and school easier.
On a little lighter note, I am finally through with all of my classes. I will officially be a Lieutenant on Feb. 15th. I have worked extremely hard for it and it will be nice to finally get it. I fly out of here in 3 weeks. Being out of here, even if only for 2 weeks will be nice. And I look forward to seeing my wife! It has been almost 4 months again. I cant wait to hold her. Soon!
Everything else is going alright I guess. The same old stuff. We have been busy with paperwork and other admin stuff. We took a few rounds the other night and had a few calls from that, but all in all pretty quite here in the 'Burbs of Baghdad. Hope everyone is doing ok and I look forward to hearing from you all.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

It is indeed that time of the year. Snow, Christmas tree, Lights, Presents, Hot chocolate, and my personal favorite....SAND! Christmas in Iraq. There is really no way to describe it. It has been a tough time on everyone. Most of the guys here are kinda down, Heather has been a little more emotional than usual, but we have all pulled together and I think all of us are going to make it out of this bit of a rut together. I have been able to feel at least a little bit like a part of everything. Heather has done well with calling and letting me talk to everyone and has also sent a few pictures and videos of various things to give me a little feel of home. She is the most amazing person in some of the simplest ways. I never knew how much receiving a card on a regular basis could really give you something to look forward to. On this holiday I have found myself getting out of the slump that I was in by looking at all I have to be thankful for. I have the most wonderful wife and family to support me and still include me from half way around the world. I would like to thank all of them for that.
Things have been crazy around here like usual. I have still been running the station here. I am looking forward to the break I am going to get when I start class next week. I will be in the final classes I need for my official promotion. I have 12 days of class. I am looking at it as a break from the hustle and bustle of the station.
We have also had a few special guests here on base this last week. On Thursday of last week, Kid Rock and Kelly Pickler were here for a concert. I got to go to that one. Wasn't that great but was at least something to do. Then on Saturday, Craig Morgan and Mark Wills were here in concert. We did not make it to that show, but we had a suprise visit at the station around 2:30am. A few of our good friends from the Military Police (Thanks Paul and Semko) brought Mark Wills by the station. He stayed and talked for about 15 minutes. Other than that, not a whole lot going on here now. Counting down the days until Rome (47 to be precise!) Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!