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

Tuesday, August 05, 2003
Please note. Chief Wiggles main website has moved to
http://chiefwiggles.blog-city.com. However, some people are not able to access that site. While we work out that problem, we will continue to provide his latest journal entries here. Please view his blog on his new site if possible.

Thank you.

Monday, August 04, 2003

I held back from telling the generals until I knew for sure the date of my departure. I got the final definitive word on Monday and decided to inform the generals on Tuesday. I had tried to push back my departure date for another week or so in order to finish up a few important things, such as; writing a few more letters to key individuals regarding the generals, taking care of my POW I endearingly call dark eyes, and I wanted to be in this camp when our two star general arrived from the states. But, the word came down that I had to be at my new destination by Sunday, August 3rd.

Since I had to go through Kuwait City to fly out, I decided that a couple days of just playing around at Camp Doha in Kuwait City would be good medicine for the soul. It has been over a month since I really had a day off, so I felt that I deserved a little R and R. My major and the rest of the gang were planning a little excursion down there anyway, so why not go play with them?

We decided the fun should begin on Wednesday and extend till Saturday night, allowing me to leave the following morning to get to my destination.

Tuesday night came too quickly. The major and I went out for me to say my final goodbyes to all the men in Hoover 7. When I arrived, there was a certain uneasiness and uncertainty in the air, as if the generals were anticipating my inevitable departure. It was as if they knew what I was going to say. Somehow they knew I was the bearer of bad news.

For some time now, several of the generals had expressed a strong desire for me to stay with them until they were all released. They had pleaded with me to not allow anyone to move me until things had been resolved with their incarceration. I had tried to reassure them that no matter what, we would not forget them.

Upon my arrival at Hoover 7, all the men were quick to come out of their tents, as if they had been notified of my pending departure. I quickly made my way over to the tent of the Air Force general whom had not yet poked his head out of the tent. I wanted to tell him, and the others of his tent first of my schedule to leave.

I sat at the end of his cot while him and the army general looked up into my eyes as if to say, "Please don't tell me you are leaving". With out hesitation the words "I'm leaving" came out of my mouth. Then there was a long pause as I waited for their response. They both looked at me and looked at each other, simultaneously saying, "This is not good news". They expressed their concern for my safety since I was going to live in Baghdad. They both promised to be there with me as soon as they are released. They vowed to be my shield against any would be attackers and promised to pray for me continuously.

Looking through the tent door, noticing the others were gathering outside, I rose to my feet to say goodbye. With tears running down my face I embraced each of them and thanked them for the great example they had been to me and for the many things I had learned from them. They too were crying as I departed their tent, promising to see me again in Baghdad as soon as possible.

I knew at that moment that we would be friends for life, with a bond that could not be broken. I can truly say that I love those men and regard them as my brothers.

I walked over to the rest of the group who were patiently sitting in a circle on a large piece of tenting. One single spot was reserved for me to sit next to the Navy general who had usually been my spokesperson. The major had already prepped the group by stating that I had something to tell them. As if to say the time is mine, I sat with my head down holding back the tears. The Navy general looked at me ready to interpret my words, but knew what I was going through.

He told the men that I would speak when I could, but they all knew why. I sat there for some time trying to collect my emotions, struggling with every attempt I made to speak. The minute I looked up to speak, seeing their eyes I could do nothing but hold back the tears. I was going to miss each and every one of them.

I had grown so close to so many of them. I had just spent almost every night for the last 3 months getting to know them, seeing them at their worst and their best, meeting their families, knowing their special needs, working through all manner of trials and tribulations together. We were now all brothers, all held together with a special bond, one unique and special bond, uncommon in the course of most human lives.

The words came slowly as I attempted to express my inner most feelings about them. With all sincerity I thanked them for what they had given me. Many of them took the opportunity to express the feelings of the group about my contributions to them. It was a touching moment, one I will never forget as long as I live.

As I looked around the circle into the eyes of each one of them, I recalled special and unique things about each one, so I might burn in my memory their image. I knew we would meet again under different circumstances, for I truly believe many of them are destined to be the future leaders of this country.

I had given much but I had received much more in return. I truly understood the meaning of the words of our Savior, that when you are in the service of your fellowmen, you are only in the service of your God, and to lose oneself in the service of others is to find oneself.

The words I spoke will be forgotten but the feeling of that moment will never be lost. I promised to continue the fight for their release, now even more possible given the nature of my new assignment.

I am moving to Baghdad to work at the top of the food chain, right up top with all the big wigs who are running this country. What better place for me to work for the generals' release. It is an answer to prayers, a dream come true for me to move to this position. Actually it couldn't have happened at a better time, now that I have exhausted all efforts at this level to get them released. The Lord is truly at the helm of this ship, with much in store for me and for the generals. I am sure that at some point many of these men will be working with or for me up in Baghdad.

My time spent at Hoover 7 was short that night. I had said what I could and expressed my sadness in leaving, expressing my dearest friendship for each of them. As I walked away towards the front gate each of them came closer to thank me personally through words and through a nice manly hug. The navy general held my hand as we walked along, which is customary in this part of the world, a true sign of friendship. It was sad parting waving as we drove off, seeing them at Hoover 7 for the last time.

Earlier that day, I had taken a few moments to say goodbye to some other key people whom I had grown so close to in the course of doing my job; the mess hall managers who had bent over backwards to provide me a variety of things for my many cook-outs, the people over at CID whom I had worked hand in hand with, the people over in processing who were always there to help out, the medics and doctors, the MP's out at Hoover 7 who have had such a great attitude about these prisoners, and the one individual who went out to Hoover 7 with us so many times to provide medical support and an additional listening ear for the prisoners.

Prior to leaving that night for Hoover 7 all of us in MI, who run the screening and the JIF, got together over in the ICE, to have a little send-off party. One of our linguists was also leaving the next day, so they were sending us both off for good. Our numbers are few but all of us have grown so close over these last 3 months, working side by side, day in and day out, through thick and thin, it is a testament to the human spirit to pull together when times get tough, and more so pull each other through it all.

The day came to a close, having done all I could do to make sure everyone knew I would miss them. As I lay down on my cot for the last time, thoughts of missing this place went through my head, missing the people and the good life we had made in a very difficult environment.

There was one person I missed saying goodbye to. She was the Major in charge of taking care of all the prisoner's needs, making sure they had food, water, blankets and all the important stuff. She had left to go back home for her mother's wedding, failing to return before my departure. I have never met a more caring, loving, sharing person in my life. She spent so much time and her own money to insure the needs of the prisoners were met. I was so impressed with her efforts and I still feel bad that I was unable to thank her personally for all she did for the guys in Hoover 7. She was a lifesaver for those guys. If she is out there I hope she reads this to know how much all of us appreciated her. What a great women.

At the crack of dawn we were loaded up and on our way down to Camp Doha in Kuwait to play for a couple of days, do some shopping for things needed and to bask in the cool air of the AC. The Major and I ate some great junk food, pigged out on some ice cream, saw a couple of movies, slept in the AC equipped building, took a couple of naps and just had a great time.

I have been burning the candle at both ends for so long, it was such a great release for me to not have anything to do for a couple of days. I bought the CSN&Y tape, spread out on a real bed, in an AC equipped building, got in a pair of shorts and just lounged around. I couldn't have been more comfortable. It was a real treat.

On Saturday morning, all of us there in Camp Doha were able to meet up with our two-star general from the State of Utah, who was there to visit with the troops. I was afraid I was going to miss him, but as it worked out I was able to spend quite a bit of time talking to him. We were all gathered in the room, the MI guys and the engineers from our state, waiting for the general to arrive. As he entered the room, walking up to the front, he saw me and gave me a big hug, expressing his love and concern for me. I have known him since he was a young lieutenant many years ago. It was such a pleasure to meet with him, discussing the events of our stay in Iraq, sharing some of our frustrations and expressing our concerns for the length of time we have been and will be deployed. What a great man, truly a wonderful person.

The days of fun at Camp Doha went all too quickly, passing as most things do in the blink of an eye, leaving me wondering if I will ever have that opportunity again to just play. I have come to realize that playing should be an essential part of life, scheduled into our daily activities, to keep us sane and able to cope with all the other crap we are compelled to wade through in the course of life.

Up at 4:30 am Sunday morning, packing up my stuff, drawing my rifle, and loading the truck by 5:30 to head to the airport. It was time and I was ready for the next phase of my life in Iraq, for whatever lies ahead. At that moment it was the long ride on the big bird, the two bladed flying bus or, in other words, the Chinook helicopter.

The Chinook was loaded with people and gear, fully packed like sardines in a can. I could hardly move my feet or legs from side to side, no room to stretch out and no room to move about. It was hot inside, very loud even with earplugs, and very bumpy. The massive blades at times no match for the fierce winds we were encountering. We were tossed to and fro, up and down, sideways, what ever way, this along with the heat created the perfect environment for upchucking, two or three people losing their cookies along the way, all over my stuff which was laid out on top of some of the boxes stacked up down the center.

It was all I could do to not follow their lead. I closed my eyes, breathed through every stomach churning drop or rise, being oh so grateful that I had forgotten to eat breakfast that morning. Some five hours later we arrived at Baghdad international airport, fully dehydrated and sick to my stomach. Of course only having slept an hour the night before didn't help my condition either. I was totally exhausted, wasted, spent; whatever you want to call it I had hit the wall.

As I rode the shuttle from the airport to one of Saddam's palaces, I could not believe my eyes; trees, and green trees, what a sight for sore eyes. There was shrubbery, there was foliage, things were actually growing and it was so sweet. I even say a river or two, water, things being watered, people actually cutting grass or shrubs and all the normal stuff people do when things are growing.

I have so much to say about life here that I will save most of that for later, but it suffices to say that I have arrived. I have paid my dues and now I am back to civilization, sleeping in a real bed in a trailer, in a room with one other guy, in AC, working in a building with AC, with a real bathroom, with a flush toilet, with a shower only shared by 4 people and a large palace to work in. Let me just say that last night I slept for 10 hours straight, woke up just long enough to go back to sleep for another couple of hours.

After living in the desert for almost 6 months, which I never complained about, I feel I have earned it. I can adjust to just about anything and I think I am going to adjust just fine to this new life. I will take whatever is dished out to me, but for right now I am glad this is what is being dished out.

I am so excited about the job here too. I will talk more about that later.

Goodnight


posted by Plunge 7:27 PM
. . .
Please note. Chief Wiggles main website has moved to
http://chiefwiggles.blog-city.com. However, some people are not able to access that site. While we work out that problem, we will continue to provide his latest journal entries here. Please view his blog on his new site if possible.

Thank you.

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Wow already August. I truly can't comprehend the passing of time. I was listening to a little Crosby Stills Nash and Young yesterday, a song called "Find the cost of Freedom", realizing it has been 30 some odd years since I first listened to that music. Thirty years sounded like such a long time, a whole other lifetime ago. So many things have rushed by with out hardly a sound, hardly heard over the normal busy sounds of life. So many important things have passed by without hardly any effort on my part to hold on to. Important things, which seemed back then insignificant, that only now in retrospect I am beginning to understand their real value.

It is uncanny how the things that are now valued the most, are none of the things that I was working for at the time. I have spent so much of my life working at a job or on a project and doing seemingly important things. I have always had more than one thing going at a time, always keeping myself at a maximum busy level. I have always been trying to keep so many plates spinning, the plates of a busy life. Running from plate to plate through out the day to insure none of them dropped, spinning them round and round, even adding more and more plates at every opportunity.

I have always been so busy, but I enjoy being busy or so I say. I do enjoy a busy life style, but at what cost or what expense? What have I missed or lost along the way? I have always been one to take on more than I could peacefully handle, instead preferring to be dashing around from one thing to another in some hurried manner, as if living in some state of emergency was my favorite option. I don't think I neglected my family or loved ones, still making every effort to be there for them, although some may beg to differ. I just feel I crammed more into a normal day, opting to work late and get up early.

If anything was lost a long the way I think it was myself, choosing to let go of personal hobbies, or personal enjoyment, so as not to disappoint anyone else. I chose to lose myself, thinking I was the only expendable item that could be lost with the least amount of cost.

I had goals and aspirations. I have had my share of accomplishments along the way, with material things to show for them. I have enjoyed my careers, my various jobs and the diversity of my life style, all of which I am sure has played a part in forming me into what I am today. It has all been an experience, of which I am grateful.

But, (you knew that was coming didn't you?)

Now that I am away from all aspects of my life I have cause to reflect on the things that I miss the most. The real value test for life is if I lost it all today what would I miss? In answer to that question, as I stated in the beginning, the things I miss the most are not the things I have worked so hard to gain. One could say that we work in order to gain things that we enjoy, but for the most part the things I miss the most are free anyway.

I miss the majestic Rocky Mountains in my backyard. The days, as a boy, I played on their jagged edges and lofty cliffs. I miss the times I spent hiking with my family and my dog, Jasmine. The sounds of nature, birds chirping, the gurgling of a brook and the sound of the wind as it rustles through the leaves.

I miss a cool spring day when you can almost hear the sounds of things coming to life after a long winter nap; the sounds of kids playing, dogs barking and people enjoying the pleasurable weather outdoors.
I miss a run through the park with my dog, as the cool breezes blow against my sweaty face.
I miss the people of my life back home, with all their peculiar behaviors and idiosyncrasies; the pranks, the jokes, the laughter and the tears.
I miss going out for treats with my children and watching them grow into adults.
I miss a Sunday nap after church and a big meal.
I miss birthdays and parties
I miss the smell of freshly baked bread or cookies.
Sometimes it is just a smile or a laugh of someone you care for.

The list goes on and on.

The point is simple. The life we desire is all around us. The very things we are searching for exist at no cost if we but stop to notice. The very things that will bring us happiness are with in reach and always have been. As we live more authentically and more deliberately we will know our self, know who we are and know what makes us happy. We will come to know what we would miss before we actually get it taken away from us.

This has been a crazy week, but yet a very touching week, one I will never forget. As expected, the order came down for me to leave this camp and move on to a new assignment. I had seen the request and knew it was just a matter of time before I would be leaving. I was anxious for the opportunities the new position would offer me, but yet very sad to leave my current location.


posted by Plunge 7:26 PM
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