Postcards from Tradocia

sights and sounds

Over the last two days the FOB has been rocked with monster explosions that sound like they’re happening right outside my room. When they’re that close, the collective thought is: did the RAU just get blown up? Because if it did, that’d mean we could go back to Liberty. The explosions were so strong that it rattled the glass in the windows and popped open our McDonald’s-like service window. As it turned out, it was just the Special Forces guys blowing up something with C4 – glad they’re on our side, because they’re a little nutty. Though what’s with the short shorts? They do look a little ridiculous in those things, but don’t say that to their face…I suppose they’d break your arm using just their leg hairs or something.


We heard the whomp-whomp of .50-cals firing this afternoon, so me and SPC Little Dick decided to run up to the roof and see what we could see. A pair of M1114s (armored Humvees) were parked in the back lot (what passes for a range), where a guy in civilian clothing (presumably SF) was instructing a bunch of soldiers on the machinegun. Even from a couple hundred meters away, I could hear the chik-chak of the weapon being charged; and at that distance, the concussive mini-explosions of the weapon firing were loud enough to make my ears ring. Once again – glad those are on our side.


Our shower still has only two settings, but they’ve changed: the choices are ice cold and 3rd-degree-burn hot. Also, the ceiling has started leaking since I suppose the upstairs neighbors discovered their shower, and the floor drain has started to smell like wet dog.


It’s no surprise that we use plastic flatware at the DFAC here – even at the posh DFACs of Camp Liberty it’s plastic all around. Here, though, the flatware comes in plastic-wrapped kits with the Army’s ration boxes, consisting of knife, fork, spoon, napkin, salt, pepper, and sugar. Needless to say, even a Signal troop like me with my spindly T-Rex arms and baby-soft woman hands doesn’t have trouble opening those packets.

Hence, imagine my almost literally jaw-dropping shock when I watched a shiny-headed sergeant at the next table whip out his Ka-Bar and proceed to awkwardly slice open his utensil packet. I stopped eating, just staring in wonderment, and turned to SGT Zoon; we exchanged nothing but a knowing glance before bursting into laughter. The farce continued when the sergeant commenced eating his slice of ham, with the beige plastic fork in one hand and his monster combat knife in the other, cutting pieces off like the Ka-Bar was a steak knife.

Was I supposed to be impressed? Were the Iraqis in the DFAC intimidated by his mad ham-killing skills? I don’t know, but between the upper-arm pockets on his uniform and his deft ham butchering, I was terrified. (Could that be a bumper sticker? “Real Men Eat Ham with KA-BAR”?)


  1. Bryce and Lola

    Love your humorous comment for a car sticker, “real men eat ham with a kbar.” glad you have your marvelous sense of humor to get you through all this. lots of love and prayers, g and g If you think those machine guns were loud, think of this. In aerial gunnery school in 1943 we fired M2’s in upper turret trainers with the receivers of the guns just inches from each side of our heads. It’s a wonder that we had any hearing left at all. I’ve never had any high frequency hearing since.

  2. Ali

    Hey, I kind of like the short shorts.

  3. Delobius

    Sure, you just like their monster thighs…

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