Wednesday, September 06, 2023

My Memory of the War in Iraq 20 years later: September 2023

    From: Michael Whitehead

    Sent: Friday, September 12, 2003 11:14 AM

    Subject: The dates are getting ripe

    Most of the palm trees around us are full of dates, and they are beginning to get ripe. When I say most, I understand from Phil McMillan, our agricultural officer, that there are male and female date palm trees. The females carry the fruit. The males, I guess, sit around absorbing sun and water. I have eaten some of the dates (in fact, I just ate one) and they are very good and sweet. Hillah will be having their date festival soon. We talked to Phil about having a Date Palm Queen and a Date Palm Parade, and all the dates you can eat contests, but we won't be here to organize all that. We are off to other parts.

My cot, sleeping bag, chair and accumulated stuff in my air conditioned tent. Note the Florida pennant.

    Things are picking up here, like from 5 MPH to 10 MPH. Not much, but something. We got news from the unit up north we will be supporting, and they want us and have work for us to do, which is good. The logistics guys are busy doing a lot of coordinating and are anxious to get up there right away to get all the care, feeding, housing, communications, etc. issues worked before we all arrive. We also have a lot of equipment in containers down in Commando that will have to be moved north, and we have to prepare everything and arrange the big trucks to haul the stuff. My B bag and my C bag are still in Commando, and I haven't seen them for months. I was assured recently that they are still there, but I am anxious to get my hands on them. These bags have my cold weather clothing and boots the Army gave me back in Bragg, and the warm liner to my sleeping bag. They told us to expect temps down in the 30's this winter.

In September 2003, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visited Camp Babylon. 

    I finally decided to wash the poncho liner that I have been sleeping on for six months. I figure with this wash, I should be good for the deployment. I borrowed West's wash buckets (more on that later), took one over to the water buffalo, put a little laundry detergent in it, and filled it with water. I put my poncho liner in, moved it around in the bucket, emptied the dirty water, refilled it with clean water, and then emptied that out. After rinsing, I wrung it out the best I could and hung it up on some white engineer tape that was strung between two poles to mark the barbed wire that is no longer in front of our tent. The sun, as always, was shining brightly and a stiff breeze was blowing, so I literally stood there for 20 minutes and watched it dry. I had to guard it because a poncho liner is the kind of thing that would disappear off a clothes line in a New York minute around here. I already had two pair of socks stolen off my clothes line when I wasn't looking back in May.

Excerpt From

Messages from Babylon

Michael Whitehead

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