October 19, 2006

Hi Mom. Everything here is going pretty well. I finally got my luggage last Saturday. Most of it was even there. All of the expensive things that Blackwater issued me were there, along with my clothes, but the Jordanians helped themselves to my $5 travel alarm clock, my running shoes, and the belt clip for my iPod (I had the iPod with me). Go figure. What I don't understand is that almost everyone has things get stolen going through Jordan, to the point the company warns us about it, and they still send us through Jordan. I don't get it.

I went on my first mission yesterday. We took some diplomats to the Ministry of Electricity. The ride out there and back was very exciting, but it was fairly boring when we were there. I alternated between standing outside the door to the meeting room and sitting in the Suburban. Our motorcades drive very aggressively, and we have to keep a "bubble" around the limo. So if another car gets too close, we have to warn them off. Also, we have to view everything as a potential threat. Needless to say, it's kind of a relief when we get back into the Green Zone.


Todd & Roomate Shawn

November 5, 2006

Hi Mom. I'm doing pretty well. The crossed swords were built under Saddam (who by the way is going to hang, if you haven't heard) as a parade ground. There are crossed swords about 300 yards apart with a parade ground between and a viewing stand halfway down. When you see film footage of Saddam firing a rifle in the air or reviewing his troops, that is where it was done. It is now our training grounds. We drive around there and go in and out of the buildings. The hands were supposedly cast from Saddam's hands and arms.

I've had a busy, but uneventful week. We had 4 runs that went off without a hitch. Although after the verdict from Saddam's trial today, there was an hour or two of "celebratory gunfire" from the Iraqis. They love shooting into the air. But, what goes up must come down. That's where the danger is. The picture I'm attaching is of my roommate Shawn and I playing backgammon at the embassy. This is how we pass our evenings. The highlight of the week was getting the nicer backgammon board that we ordered from ebay. The one we use at the embassy is on it's last legs. The embassy is the former government palace used by Saddam to run the country. It is VERY ornate, and clearly he didn't skimp on the detailed craftsmanship. I did get Joanna's cookies and they were greatly appreciated by everyone around here. She sent 4 dozen, and I had plenty to share. The cookies are always welcome. I think packages take a week to 10 days to get here. Debbie sent me one that took almost 2 weeks, but that was the exception. I love you guys and hope you have a good time with Debbie and the kids.

Todd in Iraq


The Team

Truck they use

Nov 13, 2006

I have been keeping pretty busy here. We have had a couple of runs per week, and we train on our off days. So far our luck has been pretty good. It seems like the number of car bombs is picking up. We were scheduled to go on a run yesterday. Then, yesterday morning, there was an explosion about 200 meters from where we were supposed to go (we had not left here yet), followed by a second one about 30 minutes after that. Then, some of our vehicles that are like tanks (those are the teams that back us up if we get in to trouble) took direct gunfire outside of where we were supposed to go. So our shift leader cancelled the mission. He is a really good guy. He is from Manhattan, and talks with that thick NY accent.

Actually, everyone on my team is really good. So, we came back to camp, and I was going to go talk to the PA here. We also have an MD in camp, but no one likes or respects him, so I always deal with the PA. I called him up to see where he was, and he said "I'm busy with a cardiac case". I thought he was joking because this is in a camp with young fit men. So I went over to his office, and sure enough, one of the guards (they are all hired from Colombia and speak very little English) had a very fast heart rate. So I helped him with that and then we took the guard to the Army hospital down the street. While the guard was getting worked up in the ER, the PA and I visited in the cafeteria. He is about 50, and is a great guy. He was a paramedic back in the 70s in Indiana before becoming a PA and moving to Florida. He was also bored with what he was doing, and so he came here.

I finally got my own room last Friday. It is an 8x12 slice of heaven. My old roommate was a friend of mine from training in NC, and we got along really well, but it is nice to have my own space. I also bought a bicycle at the PX last night, so now I can ride around the area instead of walking. I am also starting to take online classes from American Military University. I decided to get a degree in Emergency and Disaster Management with a Homeland Security concentration. I thought that degree would give me the most options for what I might want to do once I get done here.