Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Happy Birthday US Army

Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Happy Birthday US Army
14 June 2004

Somehow, I pulled myself out of bed at 0515am to run this morning. I've been burning the midnight oil reading Harry Potter-Order of the Phoenix. Another couple of nights and I'll have it knocked out. As I started to head around the beginning of Lost Lake, I finally loosened up and was catching my pace. Half-way around, I heard the call to worship from the mosque just behind the east gate and the dogs were howling at the chanting blasting out of the loudspeakers.

As I came around to road finally making it around Lost Lake, I could hear loud voices. Great! That is all I need to think about now. My mind has whipped up visions of a riot outside walls at the west end of the base. You gotta wonder now what will happen with all the speculation about the government turnover at the end of the month. A story in the Stars and Stripes was just mentioning how all bases in Iraq will probably face more violence as the date of the turnover gets nearer. This is only the 14th, how dare they invade my peace? My run on the west side of the base is my refuge. No or very little traffic, few people and just the birds and the rising sun reflecting over the small lake. I'm not there yet, but just thinking about it.

As I rounded past the back gate onto the north road behind the palace, there was another guy about 1/4 mile ahead of me, so I didn't feel like I was alone in the back side of the base. But the shouting seemed to be getting louder. I passed two Army reporters with cameras on the bridge before reaching the gate, so that should have made me wonder even more what was going on. Just as I got past the back gate, the "riot" I had envisioned was about two hundred soldiers in their individual platoons all running in formation with their respective groups, each group calling their own cadance. Today is the Army's birthday and they had a "fun run" of 5K to celebrate.

The remainder of my run was without any further delusions or worries except maybe the occasional gnat flying down your throat while you're running causing some coughing and dry heaves as you can still feel him struggling, stuck in the back of your throat! With all the lakes and ditches with standing water here, we have plenty of bugs.

Later this morning at around 9am, seems that the Hajis were wanting to get in on the celebrations of the Army's birthday. They shot three mortars onto the base toward the palace. I guess all three landed in or near the lake. No injuries. That was the first daytime attack that I can remember since I've been here.

The rest of the day was pretty horrendous. Nothing seemed to go right today and I had the migrane from hell. I was plenty hydrated, so it must have been sinus' again. What a way to spend your birthday. But, the chow hall had great food today for the celebration. Shrimp--fried and in different dishes with veggies, etc. They also decorated the chow hall with balloons and had a huge 2 pan cake. The cake had the Army shield on it and some other drawing.

The only other redeeming part of the day was finally getting back to the trailer at 8pm and opening the gifts that my sister, Deb sent me. She sent me a great blue Hawaiian shirt, a frisby, some rock candy (which I shared and left at work), a bag of punch balloons (which I really could have used earlier in the day to work off my frustrations as they were occuring!), a best seller paperback, a Calvin and Hobbes book, a Garfield book, a yoyo, and the Jetson's first season on DVD. I will start watching that as soon as I finish the first season of Dead Like Me and Northern Exposure. Good thing I'm off tomorrow. It may take me until midnight to unwind after this day.
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