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6 Apr 2006
The Non-Commissioned Officers
Yesterday evening was the graduation from the Professional Leadership Development Course (the first career course for junior NCOs). The 344th was well-represented there and then again later in the evening with the NCO induction ceremony (all of this section's enlisted troops participated in some fashion). The hospital sergeant major came down from Abu Ghraib for the event and invited unit officers to attend. Speaking was CSM Mellinger, who is the sergeant major for GEN Casey, commander of the theater here in Iraq. Mellinger spoke without notes and discussed the historical precedents of the NCO's role, dating back to Baron von Steuben, whose "Blue Book" trained General Washington's forces in the style of Frederick the Great. He also challenged the officers to look toward promotion of their enlisted soldiers and to the development of their NCOs.

The 344th hospital's CSM Villa came by today and gave me a challenge coin for the work the section here has been doing.

We're still getting occasional rain but the temperatures are now in the high 80s during the day and the high 60s at night.
 
Charlie's Assignment to Iraq
posted by  cfbass at  02:53 | permalink | trackbacks [78]



15 Mar 2006
Back From Leave
Two weeks in Aruba were just what the doctor ordered after seven months in Iraq. It was a wonderful vacation and everything went right. Kate was there to meet me at the airport and already had the hotel room booked. It was Carnaval time and we watched the parade from our hotel balcony. White sand beaches, Mary Kate's cooking, magic shows and cabaret shows, boat rides, driving all over the island and swimming in the ocean. For all that, the very best time I had while in Aruba was going to the drive-in theater to see "King Kong" with my wife.

It was just right, except for the fact that the Army wanted me back in Iraq at the end of it. Fortunately, there should only be a few months left to this deployment (one of the advantages to taking leave late in the cycle).

Three books to recommend while on a journey of 10,000 miles:
1) Tom Clancy's *Without Remorse* hypothesizes what would happen if some lowlife messed with the girlfriend of a Navy Seal. Chapter 3 has a detailed, fact-based account of a project Sikorsky Helicopters assisted and was related to me by Bob Kelly, former VEEP and now with Radford Habitat for Humanity, Virginia.
2) Ken Follet's *Place Called Freedom* started in a Scottish coal mine in the mid-1700s and ended in early Virginia near Lynchburg.
3) Fletcher wrote a non-fiction account of the life of *Bill Wallace of China*, an account of a medical missionary who was martyed in the late 1940s. It is a wonderful read for anyone needing an example of a life inspired by the Holy Spirit and the author is a Hardin-Simmons man.

Also, check out the blog of another soldier here in the 344th. SSG Martinez is our unit photographer (both historical and forensic) and is pretty handy with his camera: http://iraqiconnection.blogspot.com/
 
Charlie's Assignment to Iraq
posted by  cfbass at  02:05 | permalink | trackbacks [16560]



9 Feb 2006
Approaching Leave
There are five days left before I leave Camp Bucca to go on leave in Aruba. Mary Kate is still staying with Mother and Grandmother in west Texas. Mother writes that Kate has already packed and re-packed twice. My view on the packing issue is to go "minimalist."

Today marks 30 years of uniformed service for my friend 1LT Sam Hoffman. It's a pleasure to serve with this veteran.

We have a new psychologist here at Camp Bucca - LTC Gary Southwell is an active duty psychologist at Landstul in Germany. He has 18 years with the company and he will be taking over care of all Coalition Force troops, leaving the care of 8,000 detainees to me. It's good to have such an experienced Army psychologist on board. Unique point - he lived in India for two years while his parents were Baptist missionaries there. The picture has 1LT Hoffman, this author, MAJ Williams, 1LT Zabielinski (actually an MP officer but with a lot of counseling and psychology education and experience), SPC Goode, SPC Preston, SGT Matthews, LTC Southwell and PFC Liedeke.

Speaking of the ministry, both chaplains on post thought they would be out of town the Sunday before last so they let me deliver the 0930 sermon. It was rewarding to be able to use my Methodist lay ministry training and the chaplain had me assist with the communion service this last Sunday.

There will be changes by the time my leave ends. Most of the people I know will be gone. COL Schmidt, FOB Commander, gave me a commander's coin for service here, as has LTC Lynch of the USAF. That's okay, though, because the second part of this tour will be shorter than the first part.

As close as I am to my leave date, only half of my mind is in Iraq anymore. The other half is with Mary Kate.
 
Charlie's Assignment to Iraq
posted by  cfbass at  03:02 | permalink | trackbacks [165]



19 Jan 2006
Hope for Iraq
This is a shot from Camp Bucca that really caught my camera one morning. It seems to speak of hope for a creation that has been through a painful process and is now in a formative phase. Even amidst the ugliness of the concertina wire and specter of the guard towers, hope and beauty are where you find them.
 
Charlie's Assignment to Iraq
posted by  cfbass at  07:06 | permalink | trackbacks [2]





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