Chief Wiggles -- Straight from Iraq
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The online journal of Chief Wiggles.

Saturday, July 12, 2003
One final note, then I'll give the Chief his journal back. The surgery could not have gone any better. Both the patient and the doctor were very pleased. Although my wife is in a great deal of pain right now, she can already notice a huge difference.

Thank you all again for your support, prayers and well wishes.

Now we'll turn you back over to the Chief!


posted by Plunge 12:38 AM
. . .
Thursday, July 10, 2003
Again, I thank Chief for letting me take a bit of his blog for my own selfishness.

Thank you all for your well wishes, thoughts and prayers for my wife. A special thanks to the prayer to Buddha on her behalf, I wasn't expecting that, but it was deeply appreciated. (You know who you are.)

Her surgery will be tomorrow, Friday, at 6:30 AM.

Again, thank you and God bless all, especially those defending freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan.


posted by Plunge 8:00 PM
. . .
Wednesday, July 09, 2003
I wanted to share this poem that has always touched my heart. It has even more meaning while I am here serving the people of Iraq.


I watched the flag pass by one day,
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it,
And then he stood at ease.

I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
With hair cut square and eyes alert
He'd stand out in any crowd.

I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil
How many mothers' tears?

How many pilots' planes shot down?
How many died at sea
How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?
No, freedom isn't free.

I heard the sound of Taps one night,
When everything was still,
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That Taps had meant "Amen,"

When a flag had draped a coffin.
Of a brother or a friend.

I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.

I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea

Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, freedom isn't free.


posted by Chief Wiggles 2:01 PM
. . .
Tuesday, July 08, 2003
With the Chief's permission, I'm asking a favor from those who read this blog. My wife goes in Friday for major back surgery. While I'm sure all will be fine, all kind thoughts and prayers headed her way would be greatly appreciated. Thank-you.


posted by Plunge 7:58 AM
. . .
Monday, July 07, 2003
Good afternoon.

Chief Wiggles last post was truly wonderful, but I wanted to pull out a few things that hit me hard. After reading these, please take the time to read all of his words.

I have been a little perturbed lately by the negative sentiments I am hearing from many of our fellow Americans back home. There is even another blogger, who is actually over here in Iraq, you know who you are, putting out some really negative vibes. Please don't pay any attention to one small minded individual who chooses to spend his time complaining about how bad things are and how messed up the military is. We, in the military, probably have it better during this war than any other time in history. Our conditions, while quite hard at times, pale in comparison.

My father suffered through World War II in the Pacific Rim, with no shower trailers, no electricity, no porta-potties, no hot mess, no computers, no email, no phone calls home, no speedy mail delivery, and, and need I say more? They volunteered to go serve, to lay down their lives, many more not returning back to their loved ones. But they were proud to fight for the cause of freedom. To fight for the right that all human beings have of being free, free to make choices, free to live according to their desires and wishes.

I chose to view life here as being great, even with all the sand, the heat, the MRE's, the stench at the POW compound, the dirt, the stomach bugs we get, the lack of water, the lack of ice, the shower trailers, the tents and brick ovens we work in, being away from our loved ones and with everything else that is just the way the military is. I chose to look at the positive. I chose to feel that I am a servant in the Lord's hands, as a good Christian helping my fellow brothers and sisters of Iraq. I chose to feel that I have a mission to fulfill that is greater than my needs, greater than the needs of a few, greater than the needs of selfish homesick soldiers or any leftist liberal political advocate who disagrees with our presence here.

Over the years, war after war, battle after battle, thousands of Americans have paid the ultimate price for freedom with the sacrifice of their lives; in Europe, in the Pacific Rim, in Korea, 50,000 plus lives lost in Vietnam alone. Regardless of your political affiliation or your political opinions about why we do certain things, the fact is that at that time the men and women in the military, for the most part, have felt they were involved in a just cause, and were willing to die for it. It is not the politics of the time; it is the people that we are fighting for.

How blinded we have become, if we fail to see the suffering of millions of people in other countries and chose to do nothing. Who, if not us, will step forward to free the oppressed people of the world? Why not us? Are we so fat in our spoiled ways that we chose to do nothing, hoping that the problems of the world will take care of themselves? Do we live in such a vacuum that we think we can exist, for a moment, with out the rest of the world.

As one of my young soldiers named Dave most succinctly put it, "Do we live in such a vacuum that the needs of our brothers in humanity mean nothing to us? Have we become so selfish, even so callous- almost a national sociopathology- that the lives and deaths of those whose only misfortune was to be among the 95% of people born outside the USA no longer have any meaning to us?



Another interesting note:


A miracle happened the other day that deserves a place in the journal of my life. I was out to the pen working with one of the Major generals, taking notes on a plan he has to secure the two roughest areas of Iraq, preventing the loss of any additional US soldiers. He has at his disposal two brigade size elements of troops that he claims he can call up, that would secure the areas from additional attacks against coalition forces. As we spoke I felt his sincerity to protect American lives, confident he would be successful in accomplishing his plan.

I returned to my office that night to type up a spot report reviewing his plan to prevent any further acts of aggression against us. On my way back to my office I ran into the female major, who is responsible for the care of the prisoners. She mentioned an email she had received earlier in the day from a major near Baghdad who just happened to be looking for the Major General I spoke with earlier.

He had sent an email to every camp in Iraq hoping to find the General he had worked with in the initial phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the very general who had surrendered with all his men the first day of the war without firing a shot. He was concerned about his whereabouts, and the reasons for his detainment. He wanted to pursue getting him released so he might work with him in the areas of most concern, the very areas I was just discussing with the general. Things happen in very mysterious ways but it is good to know they are working, there is a master plan and over time all of America will see the benefits of our labors here in this country. Good things are happening in the middle east that will be the start of great things to come.


posted by Plunge 12:13 PM
. . .
Sunday, July 06, 2003

My heart is full of joy this morning, as I have so much to be thankful for. In that today is Sunday, I have decided to spend the day pondering the many things that I am thankful for. I am so grateful for all that I have been blessed with throughout my life. Yes as in everyone's life there have been challenges, difficulties, hurdles to cross and rivers to forge. But I am reminded of the Garth Brooks song entitled "The Dance". Even though the entirety of the song has a quite different meaning, I like to apply it in a different way to life in general. Let me share some of the lyrics with you:

"Glad I didn't know, the way it all would end, the way it all would all go.
Our lives are better left to chance, I could have missed the pain, but I'd of had to miss the dance". If perhaps before we came to earth, we could have known how difficult life was going to be, we might have opted out of coming here.
I am not suggesting that life is better left to chance, only that if we could have known at times how much pain there would be or how difficult life is, we might have wished to avoid the challenges of life but then we might have missed the dance of life, the chance to grow, the chance for self perfection. There are difficulties and hardships that should be avoided but life affords us many opportunities to grow over it's bumpy path.
I am today the total accumulation of the experiences I have had, the challenges I have faced and hurdles I have crossed.
I would not be who I am today, if I had chosen another path, avoiding the pitfalls of life, avoiding the chance to take full advantage of the experiences I have gone through.

Why I am grateful?

I am grateful for:

All my talents and abilities that I have been able to take advantage of and develop
For all the talents and abilities that I have but not fully developed, the mere thought of developing gives me great joy. I am so excited for future opportunities I might have to develop additional talents and skills.
I am grateful for my personality, my nature, my inner-self, the person I am, even with my imperfections as they are, my strengths and weaknesses.
For my ability to cope with the winds of life as they blow fiercely upon me, coping with the storms that arise in all their ferociousness.
I am grateful for the entirety of my experiences, good and bad, for thus perhaps was the way it was meant to be, to bring about the refinement of my self that I might be the person I was meant to be.
I am grateful for my friends and loved ones who love and support me.
For my bodies health and well-being, especially even now as I continue to add years and mileage. It is nice to know that it still works and is going strong.
For my youthful heart and playful attitude
For cool breezes and cool nights
For music that makes me cry or think about good memories of the past. For music that makes me want to dance with no inhibitions
For email, enabling me with in minutes to reach out to all of you that I love and admire and especially when the ability to receive mail.
For funny movies, funny jokes, funny friends, allowing me the joy of laughter. Giving me the opportunity to laugh at life, no matter how serious it may become.
For toilet paper and port a-potties, clean and sand free.
For freshly cooked hot food, with vegetables and fresh fruit. For any food that is not an MRE. OK, I do admit at times I have been grateful for MRE's.
For ICE that cools down our water and drinks below their normal boiling point
For kind people, who are willing to reach out to others with totally unselfish acts of kindness.
For heart felt kind words, expressed in a moment of sadness, or a time of need
For people that don't forget other people, regardless of the circumstances
For people that understand why we are here and what we are fighting for.
For wind free days
For flush toilets and running water
For shower trailers, with cold water, with drains that aren't full of sand
For great family members
For a good listening ear, smiley faces, the sounds of laughter, and people that care
For compliments and words of encouragement
For boxes from home
For clean ears, sand free undies, clean smelling clothes
And on and on, I could continue forever. That is a good start.

I have been a little perturbed lately by the negative sentiments I am hearing from many of our fellow Americans back home. There is even another blogger, who is actually over here in Iraq, you know who you are, putting out some really negative vibes. Please don't pay any attention to one small minded individual who chooses to spend his time complaining about how bad things are and how messed up the military is. We, in the military, probably have it better during this war than any other time in history. Our conditions, while quite hard at times, pale in comparison.

My father suffered through World War II in the Pacific Rim, with no shower trailers, no electricity, no port a-potties, no hot mess, no computers, no email, no phone calls home, no speedy mail delivery, and, and need I say more? They volunteered to go serve, to lay down their lives, many more not returning back to their loved ones. But they were proud to fight for the cause of freedom. To fight for the right that all human beings have of being free, free to make choices, free to live according to their desires and wishes.

I chose to view life here as being great, even with all the sand, the heat, the MRE's, the stench at the POW compound, the dirt, the stomach bugs we get, the lack of water, the lack of ice, the shower trailers, the tents and brick ovens we work in, being away from our loved ones and with everything else that is just the way the military is. I chose to look at the positive. I chose to feel that I am a servant in the Lord's hands, as a good Christian helping my fellow brothers and sisters of Iraq. I chose to feel that I have a mission to fulfill that is greater than my needs, greater than the needs of a few, greater than the needs of selfish homesick soldiers or any leftist liberal political advocate who disagrees with our presence here.

Over the years, war after war, battle after battle, thousands of Americans have paid the ultimate price for freedom with the sacrifice of their lives; in Europe, in the Pacific Rim, in Korea, 50,000 plus lives lost in Vietnam alone. Regardless of your political affiliation or your political opinions about why we do certain things, the fact is that at that time the men and women in the military, for the most part, have felt they were involved in a just cause, and were willing to die for it. It is not the politics of the time; it is the people that we are fighting for.

How blinded we have become, if we fail to see the suffering of millions of people in other countries and chose to do nothing. Who, if not us, will step forward to free the oppressed people of the world? Why not us? Are we so fat in our spoiled ways that we chose to do nothing, hoping that the problems of the world will take care of themselves? Do we live in such a vacuum that we think we can exist, for a moment, with out the rest of the world.

As one of my young soldiers named Dave most succinctly put it, "Do we live in such a vacuum that the needs of our brothers in humanity mean nothing to us? Have we become so selfish, even so callous- almost a national sociopathology- that the lives and deaths of those whose only misfortune was to be among the 95% of people born outside the USA no longer have any meaning to us?

I think I might have gotten a bit carried away. Forgive me if I over stepped my bounds. It is this time of year, the 4th and all.

We did have quite a celebration on the 4th, at least by our standards. We decided as the command element that we would give the boys a half a day off, to kick back and get crazy. I worked until around 4pm, when I basically said that enough is enough. My body was screaming please give me some personal time off to let my hair down (what there is left of it).

We did some prior planning by having the last bunch of guys who went down to Camp Doha in Kuwait bring back some goodies for a party. They came back loaded up with chips, dip, garlic bread, drinks, salsa, etc. I was able to snag some plastic gloves from the medics to fill up with water for a little water fight activity. So the stage was set for the 4th of July activities extravaganza, ok as far as we are concerned it was comparatively fun.

The guys got into the spirit of things with out a whole lot of prodding on my part; hot summer day, nothing to do, lots of bottled water around and plenty of surgical water gloves. We had a huge water fight with everyone getting involved, everyone getting drenched and every one having fun. The water fight went off and on through out the night, so we stayed wet the rest of the day.

Some of the guys set up a water trap for those people who at first didn't want to get wet. They positioned a few guys on the roof over the OPS area, so that one by one the not so playful individuals could be lured into their web. At least in the end everyone thought it was funny, even some of the older linguists who you might think would not take kindly to this style of fun.

After the water fight we had our nightly meal at the mess hall, then returned to our living area to take up a few games of volleyball. A few people retired into the coolness of the JIF tent to watch a movie with AC. What better place than here to play some beach volleyball, sand and all. I was feeling pretty spry playing for a couple off hours, with out even feeling sore the next day. With the bright lights and all the noise of the game we drew in a few extra people from around the camp.

Of course we had the tunes going with 3 boom boxes all tied together as if on some kind of a sound system and then the finger foods, wow. I stoked up the coals in my homemade barbecue, so that I could toast some garlic bread, which turned out fantastic and soon became the hit of the night. .

At one point when it got totally dark, I stopped the fun and games for a moment of reflection. I passed out glow sticks to everyone, had us all get in a circle, turned on the Lee Greenwood song, "Proud to be an American" and had a moment of silence while we listened to the lyrics. As you would expect from me, I gave a little speech afterwards so everyone's mind would be on the same sheet of music. I spoke of my time back in 91 when I was in this country for the first time, reminiscing about how I would get choked up every time we raised the American flag and played that song. I expressed my appreciation to each and every one of them and told them how proud I was to be serving with them. I really enjoyed the moment.

I did go out to the pen earlier that night just to let the generals know I was going to be tied up with the festivities of the day and not to expect me out that night. If I don't show up one night they start spreading rumors about my departure to some other area. They get worried I will leave with out saying goodbye.

The other night I went out with the Major, as usual we are companions in our travels out there, with the boom box to play the generals some music, a variety of Josh Groben, Charlotte Church, and some classical stuff. But, they didn't really get into the spirit of the music until we played some of their middle eastern music by a famous Egyptian artist. Once that music came on their whole countenance changed, their eyes lit up like a small child seeing Santa Claus for the first time. You could tell that the music really made an impact, perhaps sending them mentally to their homes with their families.

I stepped away for a moment to visit the gentleman I had blessed a few nights earlier, to find him up and around doing somewhat better. I then made my way over to one of the general's tent who hurt his back lifting something, laid up now for a couple of weeks. Him and I have grown quite close over these last couple months, you might recall he is the one who gave me his pray beads. His bunk buddy, an air force general, speaks English well enough for the three of us to spend a great deal of time discussing the events of the day, plans for the future and problems of the present.

The air force general is probably the most unselfish person I have ever met. He once actually told me that he wants to be the last person to leave this camp, just to insure that all the other generals get out. When ever I bring out something for the group he makes sure everyone else gets some before he does. He is the only person who has actually looked at this time while incarcerated as a good time for him to collect his thoughts and to develop a plan for the future of Iraq, which otherwise he might never have had the time for.

The group of general officers were all gathered together around the Major and the boom box, listening intently to the famous sounds they all once enjoyed. I was sitting in the air force generals tent on the floor discussing what we might do to help the other general's back, who was laying prostrate on the floor. I showed him a few exercises to help his lower back, being a lower back pain expert myself.

The two men began expressing their inner feelings which I will never forget. This is definitely a journal entry moment. The two generals, when I didn't come out for a couple of nights, thought I had been transferred to another area, feeling sad that I had been rushed away with out the chance to say our good-byes. Their heart felt words pulled on my heartstrings, bringing a tear to my eye.

They told me they would always be there for me. If I were to be sent to downtown Baghdad they would be my shield, literally, to defend me against all would be attackers. They would surround me with their own life to take a bullet if necessary to protect me from harm. They look forward to the time, when I will be able to be with them in their homes, with their families, eating and partaking of their hospitality. I truly felt the sincerity of their words and the pure intent of their hearts.

The next night when we went out, the Major was able to snag a Theriyah cell phone from one of the native linguists, so that we were able to allow a few of the generals to speak directly with their families. The privileged ones were overjoyed with the few minutes they were able to spend with their wife and children, as they took their turn one by one. As I departed later that night, I mentioned to them that life is a series of happy moments. It is those small happy moments that help us cope with the larger more difficult moments of life.

For the last several weeks I have been interrogating one really bad character, working him day in and day out, to extract every ounce of intel. So as usual I have to play a variety of roles, at times acting totally frustrated and upset, dropping a few swear words to accentuate the feeling.

It is funny that my interpreter at times refuses to interpret what I am saying. She has a hard time dropping a few F bombs on the source, to get our point across. I am not quite sure what she is saying but I think she is softening up my words. Although, at times, she gets totally emotionally involved in the discussion dropping in her own few choice swear words, ones that I would never use, such as Jesus Christ or swearing by God. Those are words that I would never say even in this role-play situation, which is a lot like acting.

The source has been responding to her when she really gets into it, by saying please be easy on me sister, referring to her as sister, He really hates it when she gets mad at him.
So I try to use that to my advantage as often as possible. He has been really nervous at times, very concerned about what the future holds for him. But, he is not going anywhere soon and perhaps for the rest of his life.

I am going to give myself another couple of weeks with this guy to see what I can come up with.

A number of units have come and gone from this camp, leaving behind our small group of about 15 Utah National Guard members to hold down most of the positions. With the exception of about 5 people, all of the MI, military intelligence, jobs here are being taken care of by one of the guys from my unit. We are a very unique group of men, compared to pretty much any other group of men in the army in this country, although I am a little crazier than most

All of us have been abroad before as missionaries, living in various countries around the world. We all speak a foreign language, unfortunately none of which is Arabic. We have all learned a great deal about how to deal with people from another culture and another religious background. We all look at these people as our brothers and sisters, as equals, as fellow human beings. As fellow children of our Father in Heaven, I feel a responsibility to have compassion for them and to give them the benefit of the doubt regarding the circumstances of their capture.

One can become quite cynical about these people, just from the number of weird stories we get from each and every one of them. At times if we are not careful one can stop believing any of them and start to think they are all just a bunch of liars. No one admits to anything of course and has a tale to tell about how innocent they are. Some times I feel like I am in a sea of BS just trying to keep my head above it.

Some of the people we work with, the linguists and the interpreters, have stated many times how impressed they are with the caliber of men we are, myself excluded of course. The female linguists have continually said they wish they could meet and marry a man of similar character. Several of the linguists have started coming to church and have a desire to learn more about our religion. One has actually started taking the missionary discussions, expressing a desire to be baptized. It is amazing what a good example, being a good Christian, can do some times.

I just took a break from writing to watch a short download of MAD TV, with Miss Swan, that is so funny, especially the episode where she is on the airplane pushing the flight attendant button. It is so good to laugh out loud.

Today, being Sunday and all, I thought I would just sit around in my shorts and a T-shirt inside this building, trying to cope with the intense heat that is oozing through the walls. We have a fan on, but it just pushing the extremely hot air around the room, further dehydrating our skin and mouth. At times I feel we are living inside of a giant hair dryer. Just from the temperature in this building I can tell it is unusually hot today, above the intensity of a normal day. I bet it is close to 130 outside. Unbelievable. I never would have imagined I could get used to this extreme temperature.

A miracle happened the other day that deserves a place in the journal of my life. I was out to the pen working with one of the Major generals, taking notes on a plan he has to secure the two roughest areas of Iraq, preventing the loss of any additional US soldiers. He has at his disposal two brigade size elements of troops that he claims he can call up, that would secure the areas from additional attacks against coalition forces. As we spoke I felt his sincerity to protect American lives, confident he would be successful in accomplishing his plan.

I returned to my office that night to type up a spot report reviewing his plan to prevent any further acts of aggression against us. On my way back to my office I ran into the female major, who is responsible for the care of the prisoners. She mentioned an email she had received earlier in the day from a major near Baghdad who just happened to be looking for the Major General I spoke with earlier.

He had sent an email to every camp in Iraq hoping to find the General he had worked with in the initial phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the very general who had surrendered with all his men the first day of the war without firing a shot. He was concerned about his whereabouts, and the reasons for his detainment. He wanted to pursue getting him released so he might work with him in the areas of most concern, the very areas I was just discussing with the general. Things happen in very mysterious ways but it is good to know they are working, there is a master plan and over time all of America will see the benefits of our labors here in this country. Good things are happening in the middle east that will be the start of great things to come.

I ventured outside to recover a cold bottle of water from our homemade cooler dug deep down in the desert sand, which we have surrounded with other objects to block some of the transference of heat that surrounds it. I felt the ever so hot desert wind blowing against my face, kind of like the feeling you get when you stand too close to a fire. It feels like your face has been heated to a nice red glow. The warm dry desert air heats your lungs with every breath, warming your bodies blood to its boiling point, causing an explosion of sweat to immediately begin. It is difficult when there is no escape, no place to retreat, except twice a day when we are allowed to enter the dining facility to partake of the AC cooled air, while we eat.

Fortunately, I have gotten to know the mess sergeants quite well, at times joking with all of them. They are the key to my extended length of time I can stay in the dining facility. They have become accustomed to my presence, staying much longer than is needed to consumer my plate of food. I am usually one of the last ones to leave its blissful environment. All of the mess sergeants joke with me about how long I stay chatting away but understand and give me the respect deserving a CW4.

Well it has been quite a day of writing and I have got to get ready for church. Lets talk later

Bye-bye


posted by Chief Wiggles 12:10 PM
. . .


. . .

email
plunge(at)mac.com

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