Saturday, April 25, 2009

25 Apr 09 - Still here in Bagdad

Hi, I'm still here in Bagdad waiting on my flight out. Another day another flight canceled due to weather. Aside from washing my clothes in the sink I'm do OK, I guess. I just hate sitting here with time on my hands. The days seem to go on forever. Enough about me. As promised here are some of the pictures from my recent helicopter ride.

This picture shows the true picture of the desert and that it goes as far as the eye can see. This should be used in a commercial for watches. You know something to do with one of those sand timers. Or this could represent my time here waiting for a flight back to Basrah.

This picture was taken looking straight down from the helicopter. Yes I had the wrist strap on as well as my seat belt. There are actually people living there in the houses. What they do and where they work who knows?

This is a picture taken during my helicopter ride the last few days. As you can see there is miles of the reservoir going nowhere, or so it seems. This is just like in the Midwest when you are in an airplane looking out you can see out lines of the fields. The difference is the fields may be at time green the desert shows the sand and the dryness every where.

The picture alongside is right here in Bagdad. The picture is what I believe to be a bat house. This thing is huge, the gray walls in front are 15' tall. What I was told is the bats keep the insect population here under control. I'm not sure if I want one at home, but I think it's working. I haven't been bitten by a mosquito yet?

This picture is without zooming in on the bat house. Just trying to give you an idea on how big this thing really is.

You won't see such nice pictures from Basrah. We are located 5 miles or so from the city limits. There is sand, sand, and more sand in every direction. One of the cool things at night is the fires that light up the distant night sky. I was told the fires are of the gases being burnt on the oil fields. You know kind of like a pressure relief valve.

Gotta go talk to you soon. The MWR guy is telling me my time is up. I want you to know I think about my family and friends a lot. You and yours are in my thoughts and prayers often.

That is all,


Thursday, April 23, 2009

23 Apr 09 - Still in Bagdad

Beleive it or not I'm still in Bagdad. Yesterdays flight got bumped by someone with a higher priority. I'm not upset, its one of the things you learn early in the Army. What you lern is to hurry up and wait, but most importantly you learn patience. You could get wrapped up in why the flight was redirected or except the fact that sometimes it's out of your control. One of the phrases here that I've coined is "Rigid Flexibility". What it means to me is stay the course and be prepared to redirect at the last minute. I know businesses would go down the tube with an attitude like that. But trust me by remaining flexible you are not disapointed by the outcome.

Being here in Bagdad these last few days isn't the best place for me to be right now. I find my time filled with thoughts of home, and my family I left behind. Granted there are several thousand people here but I'm lonely. My Minnesota friends are in Basrah and I'm here with a guy that lived here for 10 months. He is here and there and gone again with his friends. I have made several trips to the PX and the messhall each day. Man I miss my home, my family and my friends so much.

I have to go my time on the MWR computers is up!

That is all,


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

22 Apr 09 - Bagdad and Back

Morning everyone,
The last few days I have been flying around southern Iraq doing inventories. We flew in a fixed wing (airplane) from Basrah to Bagdad on Saturday. Did some inventories here, met my higher headquarters (I CORP), and met other people and contractors that I’ll be dealing with. Everyone seemed great and I look forward to working with them for the rest of my time here. Monday we went back to the airport and flew in a Rotary wing (Black hawk) down to Camp Echo, stopping at four other bases on our way down. Long flight, the actual total flight time was about 4 – 4 ½ hours. Did my inventories, spent the night and flew back in a Black hawk. I’m in Bagdad now waiting for a flight back to Basrah. I have some more traveling to do in the next few weeks. Pictures from the Helicopter trip will be posted to the blog soon. I'm not sure when I'll post next due to connectivity at Basrah.

This picture was also taken from the palace. There are several things I want to point out in this picture. This is one of the four man made lakes that are inside the wall. Bottom right is a picture of his helicopter landing pad that is totally surrounded by water. And yes, if you’re thinking to yourself is that a palm tree on the helicopter landing pad? Now the tour guide did not come out and say it, but I was left with the impression that there might be a tunnel involved. Center of the picture is a building that one of the guys called the diving house. Whether that’s true or not, I can’t tell you. However if your look close just to the right of the building and a little behind is one of two partially submerged houseboats. Somewhere I will have to find the picture of the lift bridge that was built for the houseboat to go from lake to lake.

This picture is also taken from the palace at what is cleverly called the Flint stone play house. Rumors here have it that he never allowed his kids to watch American TV. The only exception was the Cartoon “The Flintstones”. He built the Flint stone play area across the water from the palace. This picture truly does not do the multi leveled play area justice. I would guess that this picture represents about a ¼ of the actual size of this play area. There are crooked doors, stone steps, ramps, rock slabs, and fake rocks making this look authentic.

The next two pictures are of our first sandstorm. The brown picture is during the sandstorm in Kuwait that I took from the steps of our Oasis (Portable Latrines). The second one is from the same steps, same direction about 24 hours later. When the storm started we were in the mess hall when it suddenly got dark outside. Being “sand storm virgins” we waited in the mess hall for the storm to let up before we ventured outside.
I mean what better way to wait out a storm than all you can eat chicken. For those of you not aware, me and chicken at the mess halls are fast becoming friends. The only chicken I haven’t had yet is Chicken pot pie. (Please don’t tell the cooks here I said that) Oh well that’s enough complaining about mess hall chicken. Lucky for us after the storm our third time deployed to Iraq (MAJ Walock) then explained why he rolled up his sleeping bag every morning. I really wish he had told us before the storm, not as I was shaking the sand out of my sleeping bag? Lesson learned I guess, although it seemed like I was reminded of the sand every time I got in my sleeping bag the next few nights.

This is a picture of a small portable palace for the distinguished visitors. Actually I took this picture from the roof of the palace while I was on the tour. I just wanted to show you that no matter how big your palace is you have to have one of these on hand when you invite the Americans to your house to play.

Last but not least this is the palace that was under construction when the war broke out here. The tour guide told us that each time a victory was won a palace was built. In his eyes he won the first Gulf war and this was to be his trophy. I have more pictures but this one is the one that shows what could have been. You’re looking at about 4 stories and again about a 1/3 of the actual size of the palace. Inside the main level us darn Americans are using it for storage. There was an actual American owned semi truck parked inside. This should give you an idea of how tall the floors are. The tour guide said the buildings were built to give the shock factor to most visitors. If you took the time to look closely you'll see where he saved money by cutting corners. Notice it’s not actually built of concrete blocks; instead it’s covered with cement tiles hooked to metal grid underneath. One of the chandeliers that we found laying in the ruble was made out of aluminum sprayed with gold paint.

Some (not all) of the Minnesota boys in my office are coming from Kuwait to Basrah soon. It’s going to be nice having them here; the 4 guys currently here in my section are looking forward to the whole team finally getting here. The rest of our section should be here in the next couple of weeks. The Active duty guys we are replacing are excited to go home; at the same time they are doing a great job of setting us up for success. My hat is off to the guys from the 10th Mountain, they truly are professional.

I have a lot going on right now with us taking over here and standing up Camp Basrah. I just wanted to take a quick moment to share a snapshot of my deployed life with you. You guys are the reason why I’m able to do my job knowing that you are waiting for me when I get home! Susan, thanks for your continued support I know this isn't easy for you. To everyone else please take care of my family, and keep my soldiers and their families in your thoughts and prayers.

That is all,


Sunday, April 19, 2009

19 Apr 09 - On the road

Hello from Bagdad,
I'm on the road doing inventory across the southern part of Iraq. I wanted to share some pictures with you while I was able to log on. I'm currently in Bagdad doing inventory on the equipment that I will be responsible for. I have several other bases to go to before I head back home. How sad is that, that I now call Basrah home? I have to type fast for soon the computer lab here at the MWR will be closing for the daily cleaning. Disregard that last sentence, they came they cleaned, they threw me out, but I'm back now.

This is my first cot and home when I made it to Kuwait. Notice the spacious room that all 10 of us had. I'm thinking our 40 duffel bags, and 10 large rucksacks had the best living conditions. After all they had us (Their carriers) with them. Thinking back on the night noises and the foul odor I wonder was it all worth it? No not really but it's a story I will tell my children, and my grandchildren.

This photo is of his boat house. There is an actual name for it (bat partisan house?)I just can't remember it. What I do know is the opening your looking at is for the houseboat I talked about earlier. There is another opening on the other side of the building for the other house boat. This building was attacked in the early stages of the war. This place was his version of Camp David.

This is the palace that he built for his lady friends. Meaning those ladies of the night. During the tour our guide (military soldier) referred to it as the perfume palace. Of course we couldn't go in it because it wasn't part of the free tour. I know it's hard to tell but it's at least 4 stories tall.

This is not a mirage it is however an Oasis. One of the buildings is a shower the other is what we refer to as indoor plumbing. I know that you want to ask what's the difference between this an a outhouse. The answer is about 30 degrees on a hot day if you catch my drift.

This picture is of a castle tour we took. Believe it or not there was an official tour but we were late. Lucky for us we were able to take the tour the next day. It still amazes me the corruption that took place here. The man had the power to help out his people instead he built his own empire. In the weeks ahead I will try to post more regularly. Hopefully some more pictures as well.

This is a picture of a camel herd that my buddy Chuck saw. I would have some pictures of my own but my batteries died. The picture also reminds me that I'm missing Camel races in Basrah tonight. The Brits had an announcement up inviting us out to watch Camel races. It's true I checked it out. Just my luck I'm here and the races are there. I guess that all I have for right now Be good and enjoy the freedom that you have back home.

In closing I just wanted to add that Susan asked me today if I thought, after my time here, if we did the right thing. My answer is yes absolutely! Seeing this place, the money that was spent, the families that are doing without has me believing we are doing the right thing. I'm not sure if I mentioned it in an earlier post but people that live and grew up around here did not know that there was water, much less man made lakes inside the walls.

Did I mention that I'm going to Texas Colledge while I'm here? I'm going to try and have a degree when I get home next year.

Last but not least what do you call 40 people sitting around the TV watching the Superbowl? The answer is obvious the Minnesota Vikings!

Gotta go,


Monday, April 13, 2009

12 Apr 09 – Happy Easter

Hello from sunny Basrah Iraq!

Until I get connectivity established I cannot access Dave and Susan’s blog. Instead I’m sending blog updates to Susan so she can post on my behalf. Hopefully in the next month or two internet for outside of work will be offered at a small price. Blogs, face book, my space, live chat rooms are not allowed on DOD (Department of Defense) internet. It’s sad for me because I looked forward to reading some witty comments; some heartfelt thoughts, and your continued messages of support. Please continue to post your comments I know Susan enjoys them as much as me. Someday soon I hope to read your comments again.

Our move south is now completed and you will be glad to know I finally have a mattress to sleep on. Yesterdays temperatures were a balmy 90 and expected to get warmer. I can’t wait for summer to get here! I’m sure to quote my wife “it’s going to be hotter than the gates of hell here soon”. A friend of mine that was here last year said it best when he said “On my way out of Kuwait, I ordered some fast food and I realized that my food would never get cold”.

We are taking over a base formerly ran by the British. The whole base is getting redone, out with the tents and in with the Chu’s (Trailer with 3 12 x 14 rooms). The place is changing before our eyes daily. It’s kind of a tax payer’s version of Extreme Makeover Base Edition”. If I were to complain it’s about the showers. Believe it or not our water here is delivered daily. That translates into soldier showers. Step 1 Get wet, Step 2 shut the water off, Step 3 soap up, Step 4 turn the water on, Step 5 rinse off, step 6 yell next and move out. So far we have ran out of water twice in the shower trailers. Lucky for me I shower at night now because I don’t want to run out. Ladies you will be glad to know that I’ve become modest in the uni-sex toilet building. I’m kind of shy so I’ve opted to take my business outside to the porta-potties. I couldn't take it any longer trying to be quiet while the guy in the next stall is giving childbirth.

The food has gotten a lot better although I was telling Susan that we have had chicken every day since we have been here (Iraq and Kuwait). Whether it’s Breakfast, lunch, or supper there is chicken somewhere in the serving line; Eggs to order, omelets, hard boiled eggs, Chicken fingers, chicken breasts, chicken thighs, chicken wings, chicken tacos, chicken fajitas, chicken kabobs, and don’t forget chicken salad. Today my wife gave me the ultimate chicken when I opened my care package and found some chicken peeps. I’m not complaining it’s not like there are not other items to choose from.

Address change: If you should feel the need to send letters or packages filled with goodies please use my new address:

SGM David Crotteau
34th ID MCP (117)
APO, AE 09374

That is all for now more updates to follow!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Somthing from Dave 4/11/09

Susan I was trying to write something for our blog when I ran across an E mail from Mike Townsend. I would love to have you post it. This part is me: I wasn't there, but others were and they told others who told me. Now I'm telling you this story because it's worth repeating, I still get a lump in my throat every time I read it.

Subject :Will You give this to my Daddy? Last week I was in Atlanta , Georgia attending a conference. While I was in the airport, returning home, I heard several people behind me beginning to clap and cheer. I immediately turned around and witnessed One of the greatest acts of patriotism I have ever seen. Moving thru the terminal was a group of soldiers in their camos. As they began heading to their gate, everyone (well almost everyone) was abruptly to their feet with their hands waving and cheering. When I saw the soldiers, probably 30-40 of them, being applauded and Cheered for, it hit me. I'm not alone. I'm not the only red-blooded American who still loves this country and supports our troops and their families. Of course I immediately stopped and began clapping for these young unsung heroes who are putting their lives on the line everyday for us so we can go to school, work and home without fear or reprisal. Just when I thought I could not be more proud of my country or of our Service men and women, a young girl, not more than 6 or 7 years old ran up to one of the male soldiers. He kneeled down and said 'hi.' The little girl then asked him if he would give something to her daddy for her. The young soldier, who didn't look any older than maybe 22 himself, said he would try and what did she want to give to her daddy. Then suddenly the little girl grabbed the neck of this soldier, gave him the biggest hug she could muster and then kissed him on the cheek. The mother of the little girl, who said her daughter's name was Courtney, told the young soldier that her husband was a Marine and had been in Iraq for 11 months now. As the mom was explaining how much her daughter Courtney missed her father, the young soldier began to tear up. When this temporarily single mom was done explaining her situation, all of the soldiers huddled together for a brief second. Then one of the other servicemen pulled out a military-looking walkie-talkie. They started playing with the device and talking back and forth on it.. After about 10-15 seconds of this, the young soldier walked back over to Courtney, bent down and said this to her, 'I spoke to your daddy and he told me to give this to you.' He then hugged this little girl that he had just met and gave her a kiss on the cheek. He finished by saying 'your daddy told me to tell you that he loves you more than anything and he is coming home very soon.' The mom at this point was crying almost uncontrollably and as the young soldier stood to his feet, he saluted Courtney and her mom. I was standing no more than 6 feet away from this entire event. As the soldiers began to leave, heading towards their gate, people resumed their applause. As I stood there applauding and looked around, there were very few dry eyes, including my own. That young soldier in one last act of selflessness turned around and blew a kiss to Courtney with a tear rolling down his cheek.

We need to remember everyday all of our soldiers and their families and thank God for them and their sacrifices. At the end of the day, it's good to be an American.

Hope you all have a Happy Easter!!


Monday, April 6, 2009

April 6, 2009

Just thought I would update. Talked to Dave Friday night, and they were finally leaving for Basarh. He was not sure when we would be able to talk again, or be able to update his blog. They are having connectivity issues. I will feel better when I hear from him by either a phone call or e-mail. He was excited to get to his apartment(10x10 room). Its been hard for him living in a tent with so many people. Now he will be able to set up his living space and that will be nice.

I have been very busy. I go up to Osakis most weekends. I have really enjoyed my time with my mom. And I love our cabin. Thank you to all that helped make it possible. I am going to have a patio poured in May as soon as they can. That will be great. Right now its just a lot of dirt and gravel. I will have my work cut out for me trying to make something of the yard.

Thank you to everyone for your thoughts and support. Dave really loves seeing the posts from everyone. Keep the people from his unit in your thoughts. This is a tuff transition for all of them.

Well not much else I will post when I hear from Dave. Hopefully it will be soon!


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

1 Apr 09 - Unprecedented Snowfall

Good Afternoon from Iraq,
I can't believe I traveled half way across the globe to the Iraq to get snow. CNN reported today that Bagdad Iraq got 2" of snow this late in the season. AFN (Armed Forces Network) said the snowfall here came out of nowhere. Local weather forecasters were speechless as up to 2" of snow fell over night.

On with the news, I know I said hopefully next time I posted I would be in my new location but I was wrong. I removed myself from the flight roster in order to travel down later with the rest of my guys. Truth be told the new location isn't quite ready for us yet. Still issues with showers (or lack of) and electrical power generation. Hopefully I'll be leaving in the next few days weather permitting. I have to say I miss home, and my family a lot but look forward to my new location and getting out of my tent here. I'm sure my 28 room mates will miss me but as for missing them, well.... I have asked to bring my too small cot with but promises of an actual bed have left me undecided (not). Other than that they feed you well here. The tents are warm at night or cool depending on the outside temperature? No need to bring garbage out to the curb, it's magically done for you.

Did I mention April fools day has come and gone and I was without pranks to pull this year? Last time I was deployed one of my soldiers was arrested due to trumped up charges of having indecent pictures of her fellow section members on a "Hunk of the month Calendar". It was entertaining for the rest of us, I'm not sure Sarah felt the same.

To my friends and family reading this I thank you for your continued support!

Love from Iraq,