Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Okay, okay, okay! So it's been a while! Sorry, things have just been pretty hectic here.

Let's see, Thanksgiving. In most ways Thanksgiving was a day like any other here. I went over to the Eastside to give a 0800 brief to Soldiers departing for R & R leave and redeploying Soldiers. After that I met with one of our UMT's (Unit Ministry Teams) in order to mentor them (part of my job as Brigade Chaplain). Doc Kelly asked if I wanted to go to chow, so we headed for the DFAC. I wasn't really prepared for what was there. There were ice sculptures, butter sculptures, colored rice mosaics on the floor, and the KBR employees were dressed as Pilgrims and Indians. Joe and I ate turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, and all the trimmings. We talked about Thanksgivings past and what we would be doing if we were home. It made it feel very much like a holiday. After that it was back to work and business as usual.

Operation You've Got Mail is going great! Thanks to all you who have sent boxes to the troops. Since October 18th I have received 364 boxes weighing over 3,000 pounds and valued at $17,500. You can see some of the boxes in the picture above. The S-4 had a conex brought in to hold all the boxes I haven't gotten out yet. The Soldiers are overwhelmed by your generosity. Give them time to get "thank you" cards out. And if you don't hear from them please know that they appreciate all your support. These folks are working ungodly hours without a day off. For most of them it's work, eat, shower, and sleep.

It looks, at this point, like I will be doing double duty as Battalion Chaplain and Brigade Chaplain for the duration of the deployment. We are currently 500 Chaplains short in the Army alone. There just aren't enough of us to fill all the slots. I would much rather be able to focus on one job; I just can't be effective trying to minister to the largest battalion in the brigade and act as Brigade Chaplain as well. Luckily I have nothing else to do here but work!

I'll try to do a little better about updating the blog. Thanks to all of you, again, for your support!

God Bless,


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Recent Travels

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I have spent the last five days traveling a bit around Iraq visiting some of our units on other FOB's (Forward Operating Bases). My Chaplain Assistant and I, along with 3 other officers of our battalion, left Friday night aboard a CH-47 Chinook headed for Tallil. Mike is former Infantry, reclassed as a 56M. We are a team, and his job on this mission was to provide security and help me with ministry duties. He's been in Iraq before, and knows his job well. For those of you unfamiliar with Tallil, it is the home of the ancient and famous Ziggarut. In biblical times it was known as Ur, the birthplace of Abraham.

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Several days after we arrived we made a round robin tour of Diwaniyah and Al Kut. Diwaniyah had something quite pleasant to behold: trees! The LT pictured with me is one of our Battle Captains and a pilot; one of the three other officers I mentioned above.

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One of the highlights of the trip was being able to fly the American flag pictured below in the MEDEVAC helicopter we used to get around. Soon the flag, certificate, and picture will be in a schoolroom in Colorado.

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Another plus on the trip was the fact that the Tallil FOB is home to a large contingent of Italian Soldiers and Airmen who have their own restaurant. So, each evening we were able to enjoy something other than mess hall food, and Cuban cigars.

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The trip was not without a great deal of work and a few nervous moments. One of those moments occurred on Monday when two of our Soldiers we were visiting were struck by lightning. The good news is that they are doing well and were released from the hospital before we left Tallil. They will be under observation and on light duty for several days, but they should make complete recoveries. After that it was a C-130 flight home to Balad.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Combat Veterans

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Last week we held our "Patch Ceremony". For those of you unfamiliar with the ways of the Army, Soldiers wear a "Shoulder Sleeve Identifier" on their left shoulder. This patch is their current unit of assignment. Certain Soldiers wear a patch on their right shoulder as well. The official name of this patch is the "Shoulder Sleeve Identifier, Former Wartime Unit". Now, this is quite a mouthful, so Soldiers simply call it a "Combat Patch". The patch is coveted, because it identifies a Soldier as having been deployed in a combat zone. It means that he or she has "been there, done that". Many Soldiers, particularly in the past, have gone entire careers without ever being awarded a combat patch.

The above picture was taken of our Staff following the ceremony. In the background are the two helicopters we fly, the UH-60 Black Hawk and the CH-47 Chinook.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

On Holiday

One of our generous souls included a bunch of Travel & Leisure magazines in a care package they sent. With my warped sense of humor I told my Chaplain Assistant to take a picture of me holding one of the issues. "Hey, look at me, here I am on an 18-month taxpayer funded vacation!"

Actually, these magazines will come in very helpful. Some of our Soldiers are meeting spouses outside of the US during their mid-tour leave. These mags will be a good resource as they make their plans.

Did you know that Soldiers can go anywhere in the world on leave at the government's expense? Most of the guys and gals are heading home, but some are meeting up in Germany or Greece or elsewhere. I was speaking with one of our officers yesterday who told me she was going SCUBA diving in New Zealand. Good for her! Believe me, these folks deserve it.

Me, I'm going home; but not for quite a while yet.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Obligatory Destruction Pictures

"This would look great right outside the Chaplain's Office!
We could paint it, and fix it up, and rig up some lights, yeah, cool!"

"It's not the first time I've been called one."