Fear and Loathing in Iraq: August 29, 2004


Hey all! What’s happening?

Not much going on here, same ‘ol, same ‘ol. I went on a convoy yesterday because it was my day off and they had no one else to fill the slot. Gee, how thoughtful of them. We left at 8 o’clock in the morning to drive to Remagen, about 20 minutes away. Remagen is a small base that houses an Iraqi detention center. Nothing like Abu Gharib, but it is a jail nonetheless. While there I got to see a friend of mine, SGT Rich, a short, thick blond guy who looks exactly like Barney Rubble would if he were to leap off the screen. I didn’t get to see the inside of the jail and mainly stuck to the aid station just outside. I was hoping to go inside and poke the detainees with sticks, make them draw the Star of David in their jail cells, and hook up wires to their testicles, but no luck; maybe next time.

The convoy was uneventful and I made it home by noon. I came back to my hooch and watched a new movie I got in the mail called “Outfoxed” about the Fox News channel. It was amazing, I highly recommend it. You would be surprised how crappy and biased that news organization is. And guess what is played 24hours-a-day on the military channels we get here? Fox News. Propaganda at its finest.

There has been a lot of activity here in the living area. Remember all those sandbags that fell apart all over the place? My roommate SGT. Vice and I decided to get new cloth bags and dig up all the loose dirt and make new sand bags to protect the hut. It was rotten work and there was fine dirt all over us. It coated our teeth with a thick, tan film, and it got into our armpits and behind our knees and rubbed us raw. We kept coughing and tears would stream down our eyes, and boy did our noses run. Remember, Iraqi sand is not sand, it is flour-fine dirt, and it can get EVERYWHERE! The next day we found out that a dozen Iraqis had been hired to fix all our huts with new sandbags. We were pissed but felt good for going beyond the call of duty. Like the old general once said, “The hard way is the best way. Not because it is the best way, but because it’s the hard way.” Well that shit only works in the Army.

The Iraqis toiled in the 120 degree heat filling sand bags and carrying them to C-huts and packing them into walls. They wore scarves over their heads and lose fitting clothes and had nothing on their feet but old sandals. One of the soldiers brought out some cases of Gatorade and handed them out. The workers had all the cold water they could want, but I liked how some soldiers felt bad for their situation. How would you like to fill sand bags in the blazing heat all day for $20? It also felt good that they didn’t have to do my hut because it was already done. They got the same pay but had to do less work. It cleansed my conscience for the day.

There was a close call for some of our soldiers this week. SGT. Fey and SSG. Garris were on the way back from Mosul when an IED went of about 50 feet in front of them. The 4 inch thick glass of the armor kits saved SGT Fey’s face from being ripped off. The shrapnel dug a ½ inch deep gouge in the glass and made a large spider web of cracks around it. One piece went through the tire and into the wheel well, and the only thing that stopped it from entering her foot was the Kevlar blanket inside. A few other small holes were made but were in the upper parts of the truck. The biggest amount of damage came from behind when a deuce-and-a-half truck slammed into them when they hit their brakes. The whole back end of the ambulance was crushed and Fey got a boo-boo on the back of her head. When they got back we all looked at the damage and whistled at how lucky they were. It is times like that make you aware of how real it all is. It wakes you up from complacency.

I got word that my leave is supposed to start on September 19th (Hurrah!). It has been taking on average a week just to get to your destination, so with all the travel time and waiting this whole leave will be almost a month long. I still have no idea whether I will have to go from Frankfurt or fly directly from Kuwait. Either way is fine with me.

Well, enough for now. I enclosed a couple of pictures for you all to see. Take care and see you next week.

--Chris Sachs

[We will post the photos if we can find them:

Chillin’ in Samarra, “Danger: Mines!” We told you so.]