29 March 2008


From the COP/SOLDIER side:
A few months after returning from Iraq, Spec "Jones" bought a nice motorcycle. He was fairly safe while riding, he used a helmet. One day while riding, a lady turned left in front of him. The bike had the right of way..."Jones" survived Iraq, but when he was hit by the mini van, it broke his spine. He'll never walk again.
When I was deployed in Bosnia and again in Iraq, I had several younger soldiers talk to me about riding motorcycles. They had heard that I had been trained to ride Police bikes, so they figured I was some kind of expert....I am not. My riding days started out when I was 15 and borrowed a friends Honda 350. He showed me how to start it and shift the gears and I was off. I never really learned how to ride worth a hoot until I was in my 40's and the department trained me. At first, when I tried getting through the standard police course, I thought I was a spazz. I couldn't do anything right and wiped out more cones than anyone else. I was ready to give up...but I didn't. I wanted to learn how to ride better and what better job to have---riding and getting paid for it!
But, when I hear of a troop coming home from a deployment, then taking all that money they saved up and buying a big fast bike...I worry. Why? Because too many of them are getting killed and injured by not really knowing how to ride. I'm going to help change that. But, before you ride, you got to know something about motorcycles. Everything is more critical on a bike...you only have 2 wheels, one front an rear light (in most cases) and NOBODY SEES YOU!
Before you ride, and I don't care how long you've been riding, if you've never taken a basic riding course---then take one. You cannot teach yourself how to ride! The better you can ride, the more fun you'll have and the longer you'll last....getting better each day. After a few months, take an advanced riding course...
Some things I learned in Police Motor School:
Bike maint: Check your bike each day. Look for shit falling off and loose. Check tires etc at least once a week.
Tire pressure is critical! Too low pressure causes the tires to flex and heat up more...and blow out. Check the tread and cracks in older tires. If your tire blows on a bike, you're screwed.
Check the battery and connections...loose or bad battery connections will cause lower voltage to go to lights etc...Bright head lights make it easier for cars to see you.
Check lights, turn signals and brake lights. You need to be seen!
Check the brakes--- newer disc brakes are easy to see the pads...check the fluid level for brake fluid.
Look for loose bolts all over the bike...they shake and vibrate...shit falls off...make sure it's not something you need.
Next chapter: how to dress

27 March 2008


Sgt. Roberto Arizola Jr.
Hometown: Laredo, Texas, U.S.
Age: 31 years old
Died: June 8, 2005 in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Unit: Army, 297th Military Intelligence Battalion (Roberto was an Army reservist attached to this unit)

I had to take a break from my vacation. The toll in Iraq reached 4,000 dead the other day. That bothers me alot. It's funny, but so many people I know in California don't know anyone who's in or has been to Iraq (other than me). So, I think for many it doesn't seem real. What makes it real for me, besides having been there, is the soldiers I know who died there. I say the word "know" not "knew" because I will always think of them.

Take a look at the web site:
http://projects.washingtonpost.com/fallen to see something about those who've died there. It list by state (CA & TX take the lead) and by date, and alpha order.

The other funny thing I've noticed from people I've talked to....most of those who think this war is a good thing, have never been to Iraq. Most of the people I know who think it's not a good thing, have been there. I know we don't want a President who makes up adventures about being shot at by snipers in Bosnia, but we don't want one who thinks being in Iraq is a good thing. I'm voting for Alfred E. Newman.

10 March 2008


From the Soldier side: Well, I took a few days off from "blogging" (where did that word come from, sounds like someone got sick on the computer...He blogged all over the keyboard.) Well, I got complaints that I was taking too long getting on with this story. Now don't forget, it's not the job, but how you had to get there that made for the "rush" and adventure.
Gunner Dance: Part 2. As our convoy of 3 Hummers exited the main gate, we paused to charge our weapons. I chambered a round in my M-4 and my M-9. I had field stripped both the night before to clean them and make sure they were in perfect order...I knew they'd work if I got the chance to test them. I was sitting next to "Big J" who was standing up in the turret with the M-249 SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon- which is a gas operated belt fed 5.56mm machine gun) pointing forward and around in a 180 degree arc.
As we got further from the base, local traffic got worse. Remember, Baghdad was the worst place in Iraq and it had more people in one city than Bosnia had in the whole country!
I had heard that suicide bombers would ram a car full of explosives into convoys, so every time a car came at us from an intersection, Big J would spin around the gun and hold up his hand and blow a whistle. He was so big, 6-6 and over 250 LBS, I think he scared the shit out of a lot of would be suicide bombers just by his size.
The entire time we were driving, Big J kept spinning and jumping around in the turret always looking for a threat and keeping cars and people away from the vehicle. He never stood still...not for one second.
It was hot and I was sweating just sitting on my ass in the rear passenger seat....even with the AC on full blast. I know Big J was getting a work out. Every once in a while he'd yell down for me to hand him a bottle of water from the ice chest. He emptied a few liters in a short time... and still kept dancing around.
Every time a car came towards us, I would get ready to drop my window and point my M-4 at the car and fire if it didn't stop. But there was never any need for me to take any action since Big J had us covered.
45 minutes later, we were at the FOB where I had to do my investigation. I still can't discuss that, but the chow at that FOB was some of the best I'd had in Iraq. I completed what I could do for the day, as we had to head back by 1500 hours.
We loaded back in the Hummers and drove back. Big J doing the same dance the whole way. One Iraqi pulled in front of us and seemed to not know we were behind him...trying to pass. This is what we called in Civilian Law Enforcement as a "HUA Driver" (Head Up Ass) So the team leader told his driver to give the car a little "tap" to get his attention. That did it and the idiot moved out of our way. I so wish I could do that back home in the patrol car...and don't think I haven't been tempted.
We made it back to base without incident. I got out of the Humvee feeling very tired. I looked at the 3 gunners, the drivers, truck commanders and the team leaders and thought:"these guys do this almost every day and I just did it once and feel worn out." (this would not be my last ride) Those guys were real heroes.
OK, I've gotten a request for a cop story...so I'll have to work on one...

05 March 2008


From the Soldier side: For those who've been reading my blog for awhile, you know I think I'm very lucky to have worked with some real honest to God heroes while I was in Iraq.
Mission East Baghdad Part 2:
The "team leader" (I'll call him "W") for the convoy I needed to hitch a ride on was a one of the best leaders I knew in Iraq. He did everything he could to keep his folks alive. One of the people who worked with him on almost every mission is a man I'll call "Big John" the gunner. Now as a team leader, for a very small convoy( 3 Humvees) going into Baghdad 6 days a week, "W" could have taken the #2 position in the convoy and had one of his security teams take the lead...but "W" would have none of that...he lead the way.
(In most IED attacks, the first vehicle was usually the one hit and killed.) For my mission, I wanted to ride with "W" in his truck and have Big John as the gunner. I gave Big John a lot of his weapons training prior to going to Iraq, so I wanted to make sure I taught him well.
The morning that I was to go with these guys, I have to admit, I was a little worried. I'd only been on a few convoys so far, (and I'd been in country 4 months at this time) but "W's" teams had been out about 70 times at this point. I wasn't worried about insurgent assholes, I was worried that I wasn't as good as these guys.
For the convoy briefing, "W" said I'd ride in his truck so we could chat on the way out. I felt good about this, so I loaded my spare ammo and crap in the back seat. Big John would be standing beside me in the gun turret. My secondary job would be to take over the gun if the gunner got hit or anything....so I went over the weapon really quick with Big John. It's funny now he was he teacher... Like where the extra ammo belts were stored etc.
The brief was done and we started rolling towards the big gate on the other side of the camp...to roll out into Baghdad....
To be cont.

04 March 2008


From the Soldier side: OK, on with the next mission story...this will be called:" Mission: East Baghdad."
When I returned to base from my last mission at Al Asad, I was told that I was giving up my "team" and getting a new team and assignment. This assignment was coming from a very very high place...but the battalion I worked for was still trying to figure out who I was getting on my new team and where they'd get us a vehicle.
So, in the mean time, I reported each morning to the Ops office and drank coffee. My second day sitting in the Ops office I was approached by the civilian who worked there. We'll just call him "Agent Jim". He asked me if I had ever done any kind of investigations before. I told him I'd been a cop for over 25 years at that point, and was a detective at one time and did a bunch of shit in Bosnia. He said that would work, so he told me of a little mission he needed me to do.
This sounded very interesting...the mission...but getting to the job was where the real excitement was. I would have to go to one of the Forward Operating Bases (FOB) in Baghdad. The funny part was, we were on the far west side of Baghdad and the mission was on the far east side. So, to get there required riding in a convoy.
I discussed the investigation with the civilian and then had to wait for one of our "teams" to return from a mission so I could ask the team leader if I could ride out with them one day to do my "job."
The team leader came in with his team at the end of the day. They were very tired, so I waited until he'd unloaded his gear and presented him with my travel needs. He was all for the mission, so he said he'd be happy to haul me out to the FOB in 2 days (they needed a few days to submit a trip ticket.)
Now, I had to get my self ready. Wow, riding a convoy into Baghdad, Iraq. When you looked at the average daily events in Iraq, Baghdad usually had more "Sig Acts" in a day than the rest of all of Iraq put together. It was a shithole of activity. IED, VBIEDS, Snipers, Suicide Vest Bombers, and all kinds of other assholeinsurgents.
All I needed to do was get my gear squared away and have my notes ready for the investigation I had to do. The Drivers had to prep their vehicles, the gunners had to prep their weapons, the convoy commander had to make a route plan and list all soldiers who were going etc etc. I had the easy job.
To be cont.

03 March 2008

The Double & Tripple Vets, SFOR, OIF, & KFOR

From the Soldier Side: Yesterday a bunch of my buddies from the National Guard unit I belong to in Calif loaded up on a bus and headed off to ugly old Camp Roberts Calif. These troops are starting their training for KFOR 10, in Kosovo. I'm not going with them, and I'm not even a little worried.
Out of this group, there are a few who've been deployed to Iraq, or Bosnia. But the "special" few, and I mean few, went to Bosnia (SFOR 14) and Iraq (OIF 3) with me. They wanted me to go with them so we'd all have matching T-shirts, but I had to take a break. Some of these guys had full time good jobs, and some will actually make more money on this mission than if they stayed at home.
Some of those going are "rookies" who've never deployed anywhere before...out of that group, there were some who were "upset" they had to go...but overall...all were looking forward to this adventure. Now, keep in mind, there were enough volunteers that the tripple vets could have stayed home, but they wanted to go.
I'll miss them and the weekend drills will not be the same.....but I'm sure they'll find something else for me to do later... there's always another deployment waiting around the corner.

Whatever happened to the good old National Guard...ONE WEEKEND A MONTH, MY ASS!

So, should I get on with another war story mission? Leave a comment if you think I should.