January 04, 2004
Pushing back the night
There is nothing like pushing a Hummer with an exhaust leak down a desolate Iraqi road on a moonless night. The grumble of the engine as you put your boot squarely in her ass as she nears top speed, squinting your eyes against the chill of the desert night and the icy fingers that creep down your neck as you watch your headlights push back the darkness. You’ve got that light in the corner of your eye, but not like you’ve heard about in movies and books. Not the light of guys that who think that they are about to get their ticket punched and toe tagged, that’s not you. The light you see tells you that no matter what happens tonight you’re going home with all your fingers and toes. You’re feeling like a Grade A Badass with your weapon hanging out the window and your buddy riding shotgun, knowing that no malnourished Hoji with a Kalashnikov or a couple of daisy-chained 60mm mortar rounds can touch you tonight. Oh hell no, tonight you’re 8 feet tall and bullet proof.
You take off your helmet, you’re not supposed to in the name of regulations, standards and knee-jerk reactions to unlucky situations, but you do it “Because.” “Because” you love the feel of the cool wind across the stubble that used to be your hair and “Because” you have armor on your Hummer, not the kind of armor that the Army is slowly putting on it’s trucks but the home made Road Warrior meets the A-Team contraption that is so Ugly, it is Beautiful. It’s tough and rugged and sharpened and mean; and it’s nothing at all that the policy makers in the Five Sided Building would approve of, but it gets the job done and that’s what matters.
No, the Army never authorized this extra protection and the bureaucrats never will. They’ll write reports and ‘coordinate’ and we’ll never see the fruits of their labor. In fact another company that is on their way here built their own armor for their unarmored trucks. Spent lots of their Own money and even got a kick-ass civilian businessman to help out with the costs, but were then told that the Army doesn’t think they should be using something home made. Oh, what a great idea! Let's not protect our troops and then be surprised when they are blown to pieces or shot full of holes. I know, let's just talk to the armor fairy and maybe she’ll spread pixie dust on our trucks and the bullets and fragments and shrapnel will just bounce off the plastic doors.
In previous wars soldiers were rewarded for improvising new ways of completing their missions and saving lives.
Maybe someone in the bureaucracy has forgotten the creed I learned as a young pup; Mission First, Soldiers Always. Pretty simple, rarely easy but the best four words to remember when it comes to leading troops (if you lead them from the Front, that is). You can have all your movie lines and political speeches and mission statements and throw them in the port-o-crapper. Accomplish your mission, and it probably won’t be pretty or easy but get the friggin’ job done. Period. Take risks, remember your commanders’ intent (i.e. why you’re there) and use some Initiative. Seems like that last part is getting micromanaged out of the Army and we are weaker for it. I would rather one of my troops did something the wrong way and learn from it rather than just sit and look at the problem until I came along and told them the right way. The problem is that so many are afraid of making a mistake they do nothing, and that is called Living In Fear. A little fear will keep you alive, too much will keep you from living.
But don’t forget about your troops. This goes to hot chow and mail call. Leave times and a listening ear. Taking personal problems offline and covering their Asses when they step on their… er, um, pride. Oh, yeah, and buying the first round of drinks or pizza on Christmas Day or anything else that might give them a lift. This is Soldiers Always. If it means that NCO ’s have to kick in 20 bucks apiece to cover the price of the Christmas Party or the Summer Picnic, then that’s what we do. We work extra hours on the paperwork so they can walk in, sign their names and get back to their jobs.
But what do I know; I’m just doing my job.
I love you all,
PS – Ok, I don’t really have extra armor on my truck but when I saw one that did, this rant started brewing. The good news is that the light I saw just got a bit brighter… not gonna spill the news yet but this time it might not be a train.
will, i really liked this one. im not a fan of micromanaging anywhere, and especially in times of combat. one small show of initiative might just be the thing to save alot of asses one night.i think you guys need to do whatever it takes to get home soon. my brother got promoted to sgt while he sits in baghdad, and i think i'd like the chance to congratulate him in person.so hooah for inventiveness and to hell with micromanagement.
I wish lots of armor surround you. This was a good read. Keep being fast.
I wish you all LOTS of armor to keep you all safe. God Bless you and I hope that you see the bright light from home shining real soon! Stay safe!
I sure hope some of the Bureaucrats read this and listen to you. The Army is notarious for sitting on their a$$es while we lose soldiers - and then somewhere down the line - they finally work on a "fix". Instead of paying KBR so damn much they need to look at protecting our soldiers. Reserves really get 2nd rate equipment. Ok I know it's been said before - but I needed to rant too!
You guys should have buku armor surrounding you. It's a disgrace that the Army cannot seem to get its priorities straight. I've heard many stories in the news and from various milbloggers regarding having to buy their own equipment, night vision goggles, etc, at their own expense because they weren't supplied any of these items, and these are people in a combat zone! I know that you have your priorities straight, thank God! And these same bureaucrats wonder why there is such a problem and issue with retention of Reservists. Unreal! I'm so glad that you're starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. I'm excited for you guys. I'll keep you all in my prayers. Hang in there, stay safe, and let us know as soon as you're positive of when you're coming home.
Homemade armor is a big topic in some of the news stories I've seen lately. Sure wouldn't hurt to have some. Still pisses me off that it has to come from someone other than who is supposed to supply it in the first place!!
Snow here today. It was 57 just two days ago and now snow. Go figure. The icy fingers I'm feeling on the back of my neck just kind of suck about right now...Guess I should tell him to put some gloves on - ha, Willy, I slay me!
WALK TOWARDS THE LIGHT! Let me know when we can begin the countdown and I'll get a ball bigger than the one in Times Square ready to drop when you get home.
I know it does you a fat lot of good to be 'Man of the Year' (as in TIME's Man of the Year aka this year it's the Soldier), but once again, I'm reminded why by your posting here. For a moment, I forgot where I was and could almost feel the air going through my hair as you described it, and why it was important to you...and then how frustrating bureaucracy is...
You are so right and wrote so eloquently.
"Sgt. Maj. Eric Cooke died Dec. 24 near Samarra — north of Baghdad — after his vehicle hit an improvised bomb In Iraq. Cooke stressed the importance of armored, or “up-armed,” Humvees — of adding armor and steel plates, “anything to protect his soldiers,” Henry said."
The very type of armor that may have saved his life.
You are a warrior on so many levels Will. I have long sinced placed you in the protective custody of all the guardian angles. However I trust that you take and and all necessary precautions and make every attempt to be ready to come out barrels blazing.
Necessity is the mother of all invention and it is necessary that you get your ass home safe and sound. At ease. You are dismissed.
there should be a website up with all the gear you guys need, a shopping site with one click purchase programming, a wishlist feature, and a paypal or site-direct payment fund, so that you guys can post what you need that isn't getting to you from the military, and We the People can contribute and buy it for you our OWN selves, and bypass all that 5 sided dinosauric sludge. that site should have the desert boots, body armor plates, vehicle armor plates, night vision goggles, boxer shorts, and everything else you find yourself without, and it wouldnt matter if the items came from different suppliers in different places. it wouldnt matter if one person paid for an item or if a pooling fund was open to throw partial contributions into. i bet Amazon could open such an online store. put em in a whole new business, doing their part for the national security effort. another way for the net to overtake and pass the old way of doing things...hell, they're privatizing everything else, we might as well just go for it. if you wait for the government to do it, it'll never get done. isn't that the quintessential American Ethos anyway? Individual initiative, can-do, entrepreneurship, self starting? build a better mousetrap, etc? with socialism or communism or totalitarianism or theocracy, you are programmed to wait, do nothing, and expect the government to take care of you in all things. In OUR way of life, we do it ourselves and let government watch and learn how it's done! I mean, the DOJ tried real hard, and they couldn't even make a *dent* in BIll Gates--! When you're that excited and that far ahead of everything, there's no stopping you.
what say, folks? shall we do it? does this sound like a good idea? bypass the gov't morass and give our soldiers the option to get their wishlists fulfilled by friends and supporters via online shopping, order filling and delivery ?
Poignant peotry in motion as always Will... Take care and get that armour fixed on, necessity is the mother of invention after all! Take care of yourself and your men,
Will - remember to look to McGyver for all your inspirational home-made items. He will guide you to any modification as I have heard he has been doing this already! :) Glad to hear you ranting like your old self again! Hang in and hope you get back SOON!
Will: I totally agree with your micromanagement rant. I've work for the government since I graduated from Clemson nearly 9-1/2 years ago, though not in the same position. The position I currently hold is a newly created "Homeland Security" position that pays great, but is not wanted by the people in the central office where my office is physically located, nor is my position wanted in the 13 county region I am paid to serve either. You want to know why? Ok, I'll tell you why. Because everyone is scared I am going to take their job. I don't want any of their jobs, I want to help them, but their too stupid to realize I could make things easier on them. Did I mention I also have no less than 6 people who want to supervise me? Don't get me started....
I hope you and your guys (and girls?) will be coming home safely very soon. I just learned today my dear friend Pam, who is also an Army Reservist and has who also has been "deployed" since last January, although she is here stateside, has had her deployment extended for another 12 months. I didn't know the Army could do that but I guess they can do whatever they feel like doing! Pam has been roving between two installations in Georgia and Virginia in-processing and out-processing troops to Iraq and other regions in the middle-East. If you pass thru Fort Stewart or Fort Sam Hill on your in-bound trip, look for her and tell her a funny joke because she has a wonderful, contagious and forgettable laugh. Besides you can't miss her, she's a 6' 2" black female who is always smiling. Of course with this latest bit of news, she might not be smiling!
God bless and hurry home to your family!
Will, Im in love!! Will you marry me?
It's good to know that there are some Real American Badasses out there. I, for one, sleep better at night.
The potential good news presents one problem: you'll have to figure out how to smuggle your hummer back into the states.
PS Stop Loss will continue until Moral Improves.
Kitty - Take a number and get in line behind my sexxy ass. If there is anything left of Will (read: not a chance baby), you are welcome to my sloppy seconds. =]
As always, with a wink and a grin and an inside joke that everyone wants in on,
Szaffie ; )
thinking last year,we begin to speak of friendship.We think that it exists really,in fact a boy said us:"it's beautiful that you are so,don't changed",but he don't believe at the friendship.unfortunately we are searching still the love,what say regard it?A little time ago a boy interested about one of us,later he has tried with other,yeah with better friend!grievous error.What we have made?Thereare revenged and there are enjoy.Now we speak beautiful things,the holiday ti paris in june,a fine days!We laugh always..Some american boys have invited us to dinner,there were others boys and girls of the hostel.Abeautiful company,fantastic!You know that we don't english....HELP....we are simply starving,then we have eaten a great salad!The next once if american boys invited us to dinner and we accept and we tell 'pizza' it understands in the world, true?HAHAHAHA,however it has been a beautiful evening .The following days there were boys that spoke english,french and spanish and, for absurd, we have understood something and still today we don't know how.We hope that new year something change,for example,two point that we have spoke the beginning of the letter,we hope,also, to make another beautiful travel how Paris.....
CIAO,return to home soon.
Milena and Adriana
Follow that light! I wish you and all of the others that have sucked up the past 12+ months a safe journey home. Thanks for being a badass.
Here's some news from Omaha:
The Butternut Building (downtown) was destroyed by a 4-alarm fire this week. HUGE fire apparently. Photos at Omaha.com
Thought you might want to know.
Stay safe and warm. Peace
Hey Will - new coach announced today.
Bill Callahan (recently fired from the Oakland Raiders). No word yet on who is staying and who is going.
I'll get you more info when it comes out.
you have own reason,we hope that in future you will be provide of armours more adeguate for your safety.Congratulations your robot is landed safe on Mars and compliments also for beautiful image of Mars."is so it's you have all right!!!..."We are very worry for the european robot that by Christmas we don't have news its after the landing on Mars.We hope soon know that also it is safe....
New year new lesson.
6th lesson:What's your address?qual'è il tuo indirizzo?; my address is...,il mio indirizzo è...;What's your telephone number? qual'è il tuo numero di telefono?;My telephone number is...,il mio numero di telefono è....;When is your birthday?quando è il tuo compleanno?My birthday is...,il mio compleanno è...
Courage soldiers,return soon to home
Adriana and Milena
Do whatever you have to do to keep yourself safe and sound. That's an mother's order. If those at home don't like it, they can fly over there and replace you. Easy solution. As long as the hummer will drive, put all the armor on it that it will carry.
A soldier's mother...
Will, since we have not heard from you in while hope every thing is going as good as it get for you guys over their. Stay safe and put as much armor as that thing will carry. Any thing to keep you guys a little safer!
Take Care Guys!
My nephew is over there. He is his mother's only son. I wish there was a better way to keep you all safe. Better yet, I wish there was no war. I understand why you are there and I am supportive of that. But I wish they could send Robots instead or at the very least stick the leaders in a boxing ring and whoever won the boxing match would win the war. I bet there wouldn't be a war then would there? :-)
I don't know if its permitted to mention my nephews name or not so I won't. But I sure wish I could tell him "Hello and Thanks" My own son is off to the naval boot camp in March and then I will have to worry about him also. I was honestly hoping that all of this would be over by then.
Your problems with armor are being experienced throughout the theater. Check out Iraq Now http://iraqnow.blogspot.com/2003_12_01_iraqnow_archive.html#107252908233645616
It sucks that the beaurocrats have forgotten the lessons learned in previous wars. The first analogy that comes to mind is the hedgerow busting attachment applied to Sherman tanks to prevent France from becoming a bloodbath in WWII. That little mod was invented by a motorpool sarg and is credited for breaking the deadlock of northern France.
Short of starting a conspiracy, such innovation is probably not well recieved because there is no obvious owner of this intellectual property, and thus, no lucrative, exclusive contracts to be awarded. Plus, it may void certain contract warantees of equipment.
Yes, your life is on the line, but back in the world, you are just a number with an asset value attached to it, as is the hmmv canvass doors.
I hope you get into OCS and fix their thinking from the inside.
Keep putting those mods on until a bean counter comes over there and forces you to remove them. If the CO bucks, ask him to go for a ride in a canvas-door hmmv down IED alley.
-Long time reader
As was mentioned earlier by someone, you and your company must have quite the legion of angels guarding you by now!
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