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!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Here it comes...the HARDEST time of my year!

It has been a hectic few weeks once again. I am now running the busiest bas in Iraq! I still have to do the inspections program but on top of all of that I not have to do the schedule, send up all reports to HQ on a daily basis, take care of making sure all personnel get in the vacation request and follow up on that...EVERYTHING! I stay busy which makes the days fly by. The only hard part is convincing myself to get out of bed every morning. After I get up..I'm fine.
It is that time of year....already. CHRISTMAS! The season already has me a litle down just because I am so far away from everyone. I wish I could be home to spend the holdiays with everyone especially Heather. She seems to be handling it so far. She seems a little down, but for the most part, she is doing well.
Heather and I are both getting excited about out upcoming trip to Rome! I can't wait to get out of here for a few days and I am looking forward to seeing Heather again. Only 58 more days until I fly out. That will be here before I know it.
Hope this finds everyone well! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 14, 2008

I have been back from R&R a month now. I'm still not quite sure whch end is up. I have been so swamped with work. When I got back I had been taken off Training and put in charge of the Prevention(Inspections) program for the base. Sounds easy enough until you find out that as a base with 4 stations we do 39,000 inspections a year! I have finally gotten everything figured out and running smooth. So once again things are starting to slowly get back to normal. Heather and I have began to plan my second R&R. I will fly out on February 10th to Rome, Italy! Heather will join me a couple of days later and we will get to spend Valentine's day together in Europe. We are both very excited about this trip. The details are still in the making but the plane tickets have been bought! Last but not least, after 3 years of absence from the two wheel scene...Heather finally let me buy a motorcycle! As of today, I have ordered a 2009 Harley Davidson Night Train. It will be sent to a dealership in Georgia and ready for me to pick up when I get home in May. Today is officially the start of my second half over here. Just 179 more days to go and I will be back home to see everyone and enjoy my new toy!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Back in the 'Burbs of Baghdad!

Im back in Iraq. I am finally getting back into the swing of things over here. Jet lag is a real pain in the butt. It has taken a few days more than expected this time to get used to the time difference! My vacation at home was awesome. Heather and I even got to spend a few days at Jacksonville Beach. When I got back here, I was assigned a new job. I am now in charge of inspections for the base. It is a very time consuming and frustrating job. I have to schedule all of the inspections, check all the paperwork, and make sure everything is done correctly for 39,000 inspections a year. I am even busier now than I was before on training. I started a new class on Wednesday. I am in to get my Fire Inspector II certification. It is a very boring and redundant class, but it is another certification to add to my resume'. I will be out of class tomorrow and back on the truck. When I got back our crew and station had been totally revamped. Our Heavy Rescue got moved to another one of our stations(more of the HAZMAT areas are in that stations area). The crew for that truck was also reassigned to that station. We now only have about 10 guys in this station designed to hold 24! It is much quieter and less crowded. My two good friends Cain and Whitt are both still here. We have a good time. I am just trying to focus on my job here and make it to my next R&R. Until then, it is all uphill!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Could someone restart time!!

I have tried to stay extremely busy these last few weeks, but time seems to be standing still. I have been in class for the last 5 days(Got put in Driver/Operator class at the last minute) but even with all of the assigned work it seems like Saturday is never going to get here. I guess I am just getting anxious about going home. I only have 4 more days to get through then I get to come home. We are still having fun and something is always going on here at the station. Most of us here get along really well and have a good time together. There are a few here that don't seem to have the team player mentality as they spend most of their time isolated, however with some of the things that we get into here it isn't at all suprising. Most normal people would want to crawl up in a ball and sit in a corner! What can I say, we are firefighters to begin with then put us in the middle of a war zone away from our families and this is what you get! Hope that everyone is doing well as I am doing much better. Even though I am anxious about coming home, the time spent here wasn't as hard as it used to be. Anyway, I will see some of you soon and talk to the rest of you in a few days!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I know, I know, It's been awhile!

It has been awhile since I have posted something new. But as they say...good things come to those who wait! Anyway, it has been extremely hectic around here since I last posted. I have been working 108 hours a week, trying to teach someone my job so it will get done while I'm home, and it is FINALS week!!!! I'm so busy right now I don't know which way is up! Other than that things are good here. We actually saw a little rain this week. And by a little I mean it sprinkled for about 10 minutes and was done. We all looked like idiots out standing staring up at the sky. What else, What else...? We had a pin pong tournament last week. That was a very interesting afternoon. We had a full bracket system to map out the matches. In the end, combined we played 25 matches and crowned one champion. Unfortunately...wasn't me. Some of these guys are good. Maybe next time. We made some good friends last week and acquired some new ballistic vests. Now instead of wearing ones that look like police issue from the states, we actually have military style kevlar. Hopefully, we never actually need it but it is noce to know it is there. My new attitude has been working out great for me. I haven't really had a bad day since. Days go by so much faster and easier when you have a positive outlook on things. I am really looking forward to coming home. I only have 2 weeks left! I think Heather is starting to get a little anxious for me to be home as well. We don't really have any plans, just spending time with her. The picture is a few of us acting like fools..Imagine that! It was taken at one of three fire extinguisher classes I taught to the employees at the PX, some of which were Iraqi citizens. I had a blast that day! That is about all I can think of for now...I am sure though I am leaving something out. Oh well, there is always next time. Until then, stay safe and see you soon!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It is all in perspective

I find it amazing how things can look so different when someone shows you a new way of seeing things. I was having a hard time...AGAIN...and was complaining to a couple of absolutely amazing women. After hearing what they had to say and really taking what the said to heart I have really seen things in a new light. Being here isn't as bad as I had made it out to be. So, now armed with my new outlook on my experience, here is how it is. I am finally out of dispatch. Come to find out the sun really does still exist. I am going back to the gym or a regular basis and feel so much better. I only have 37 more days until I get to come home for a break. Life is Good!! Once again I would like to thank those two fantastic ladies. You two know who you are!! See you all in just a few weeks.

Monday, August 11, 2008

On the Downhill Side!!

Only 5 more days in dispatch then back on the truck. FINALLY. My time in dispatch hasn't been bad. I have gotten alot of stuff accomplished. I have plenty of time to work on my reports here as well as keep ahead of schedule in my classes. I also have gotten to talk to Heather alot becuase I am actually up when she is. Next week when I get out of here I will be up, for the most part, while she is either asleep or at work. Oh well. I only have 45 more days until I get to go home anyway. I am really looking forward to getting back home at least for a few days. It will be hard getting back on a plane knowing exactly what I am coming back to and what I will be leaving behind AGAIN. I will cross that bridge when I get there. For now I am going to stay positive. Can't wait to get home and see some of you. Talk to you all soon!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Do you know the Muffin Man???

I have finally met the illusive Muffin Man. He lives in Baghdad. There are definitely some interesting people here and they make it a little more bearable. Last week was rough for me, but this week is looking much better. I have gotten caught up on everything and feel a little less stressed. I still would rather be home, but here is livable for now. Thanks to everyone for writing. It really helped a lot to hear from all of you back home. I plan to get around and see most everyone when I get back on my R&R. It is only 56 days away. I am really looking forward to it. I've got two more weeks in dispatch then finally back on a rig. I look forward to getting back on the truck as night dispatch here is completely ridiculous. Hardly any calls, everyone else is in bed while I am at work, then everyone is awake and loud while I try to sleep. Oh well I only have two more weeks in here then no more dispatch the rest of the time I am here. Talk to you all soon!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Thought things were getting better....WRONG

Things just keep getting worse. I have so many responsibilities and just keep getting more. I can't catch up. I have no time for it and on top of that I really don't want to be here. I want to come home so bad that I can barely stand it. I know deep down that I need to stay for several reasons, but I have no desire to be here. I am going to stay because I have signed a contract and have an obligation to stay but it is definitely a hard thing to do. Any emails and phonecalls would be greatly appreciated as I miss everything about being home!!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Half way to my first R&R

I am finally on the downhill side of my first leg over here. I get to go home on September 27th. I am really looking forward to getting home and spending time with Heather and Teddy. I am staying really busy and didn't have a lot of time to worry about home until this last week. I have started my month rotation in dispatch and I got night shift. It gets lonely around here with no one to talk to. I have gotten to catch up on a few things though. I am current with Rescue Me and even ahead of schedule for my classes. I found out today that I passed Fire Inspector 1. Not much has happened around here the last few weeks other than the guys here being complete idiots. We have found interesting ways to keep ourselves occupied in the absence of calls and actual fire department things to do. That is about all I have for now. I will try to get better again about more current updates. See you all soon!!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Things are going better now!

These last couple of weeks have been a real rollercoaster for me. I have went through all emotions that you could imagine. I have missed home, hated here, loved being here, and not sure what to do about it. After talking to Heather and really discussing it with her, it is all better now. She is awesome! From half a world away she knows exactly what I need to hear to keep going. So now that I have found my "Big Boy Pants" I'm doing much better. We had another big fire at the landfill where I got extremely dehydrated. A few other things have happened over the last few weeks but because of OPSEC can't be discussed. Anyway, things are looking up here in the Burbs of Baghdad and I am looking forward to the next few weeks. There will be alot of things to tell about in the near future.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Where did the week go??!!??

This week has gone by very quickly. We started out the week with a training drill at our on-site training facility. Since then, I have spent the rest of my daytime hours in Inspector 1 class this week. After class, we have been going out and doing inspections, as well as our other daily routine. All of that with study time in the evenings and time has just disappeared. As far as the crew, We have all really gotten comfortable with each other. We had a cookout for Father's Day here at the station. There were also some military personnel that came. We had a good time. Not a whole lot exciting this week, but definately not a down moment in sight this week. All is well and going good here at Victory.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My First Fire in Iraq

We had our first fire since I have been here this last week. It was on June 4. Our whole engine crew was actually at the gym working out when the call came out. When we stepped outside, the smoke was very black and heavy. We found out on the way that the fire was at an MRAP(armored personnel carrier) yard. The fire had caught several pallets of stuff on fire as well as a few tanks of JP-8 fuel. Needless to say if the 120 degree ambient aire temp didn't make it bad enough, the fuel did the rest. We spent about 4 hours out there. Other than that, the week was very uneventful. I am being trained to take over as the Base Training Officer here at Camp Liberty. I will be responsible for diseminating the training material that comes from HQ to all of the stations here on the base. I will also be responsible for making sure all of the data is sent back to HQ after the training has been done. It is a handful trying to keep up with 4 stations and about 70 firefighters. Inspections is also another big task here every day. And of course, there is always alot of paperwork to be done. That is about all for this week. Oh, in the pictuer, I am the third from the left. Hopefully I will have more by the end of the week.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Home, Sandy, Home!!

I finally got to my assigned location. I am at Statin 1 at Victory Base. This is the HQ Station for all operations in Iraq. I am getting settled into a routine and getting to know all of the guys here. Seems to be going well so far. The days are long and the nights short right now. As the title suggests it is very sandy and dusty here. I am getting used to it though.

First week in Iraq

This week has been long and tiring. We have been in classes since we got here. We recieved our base assignments and I was one of the lucky few. I got chosen to stay at Camp Victory. Victory is the main HQ for all forward operations. Anything you want you can pretty much find it here. I got stationed at Station 1 here. They run an Engine, Tanker, and Heavy Rescue. The temp is HOT here. Around 115 in the middle of the day. I am getting used to it though much quicker than I imagined. I get to start at the station on Sunday night and get settled into my bunk. Looking forward to that and getting into a routine.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Houston, Texas

This week has been full meetings, briefings, and alot of the military "Hurry up and wait". There are 21 of us here waiting to be deployed. We leave here Sunday and fly to Dubai. We will spend approximately 1 1/2 days there. After that we will fly into Camp Liberty in Baghdad. They are telling us we will be there for about 1 week after that. From there we will all disperse to our individual bases and begin our tours. As a group we have all bonded very quickly and very well. We spend alot of time hanging out by the pool and shooting the breeze. Last night(Thursday) was $1 longneck night at the local dance hall Tumbleweeds. 13 of us loaded up in the hotel shuttle and headed over there for a fun time. A few of us called it quits and came back to the hotel around 11. The rest(single guys) who knows what time they got it. Today we sign our final contracts and get our flight info out of Houston. We will either be flying from houston into London, Amsterdam, or Atlanta. From there we will have a direct flight to Dubai. That is about all we know at this point. So for now we just continue to enjoy the calm before the storm. Hope to see and talk to you all later.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My last week with family

This last week I got to spend time with my family and friends back home in Indiana. I flew home on Monday and spent until Friday there. While I was home I got to see my mom, sisters, grandma, all of Heathers family to include grandma and Cole, and of course my nephew Jackson. He has changed so much and has gained such a personality. Cole has also changed alot since I last saw him.
Also while home, I got to see a few old friends(some of which I haven't seen in a long time.) I went to lunch on Friday with Mike and Amy and to my surprise, Georgeanne also showed up. It has been probably 4 years since I have seen her. It was a very good surprise.
I am now back home and spending my last weekend at home with my wife. Although I am looking forward to getting this whole trip started I really am not looking forward to telling her goodbye. It is going to be very hard on the both of us. We both knew this day was coming but are not looking forward to it.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The next few weeks

The next few weeks for me(3 to be specific) are going to be very hectic. I begin my deployment on May 12th, 2008. Until then I have many things to accomplish. My Last day at Newton County is scheduled to be May 1st, 2008. Between now and then I have a Relay for Life event where I will be using my skills as a clown to entertain the children there. I also have another clown appearance scheduled at Heathers school. This appearance is a reward to all of the first grade classes for good behavior and hard work during their state testing. I also have a trip planned to go home to Indiana to see family before I leave. Also in the next 3 weeks, I am going to a Braves game, doing something with John, Shannon, Broderick, Camden, and Adalynn. Needless to say, I am very busy but enjoying my last few days here in Georgia.