13 April 2003 (We Have Pepsi, We Have Pepsi!!)

0609Z, 13 April 2003, Sunday

There isn’t a lot going on, I’m just bored and thought I’d get started early with my day.

We woke up at about 0400 because we had to meet the manager of the Al Rasheed Hotel. The Al Rasheed is the hotel that all the reporters stay at when they are reporting from Baghdad. When you get those awesome pictures of Baghdad burning, they usually come from that hotel. Anyway, the manager wanted to meet with us to discuss some issues. He wants to come in to the hotel to get fuel for the generators powering both his living area located right outside the hotel grounds and for the hotel itself. He also wants to get food for the families that are also living there. The area he is staying in is where the managers and a lot of the employees live. It looks like another, smaller hotel. He also wanted to get the salary for his staff for the month of March which is locked in a safe hidden in the hotel.

We were there mostly as language support, but didn’t end up talking so much. He spoke pretty good English, as did all the engineers he brought with him. The engineers are going to be the ones restoring power to the hotel. They are also fixing the sewage and water problems. The Rasheed has all sorts of cool stuff in there. There is a swimming pool, massage parlor (obviously not manned), bowling alley, and a few other nifty entertainment rooms. None of them are operational right now because there is neither power nor water.

Well, that’s the day so far. We’re supposed to meet these guys again to take their pictures at noon. That way they can come and go without dealing with the hassle. We told them that only a select few would be allowed inside the hotel.

1817Z, 13 April 2003, Sunday

Nothing much else really happened for the rest of the day. Nate and I went back to talk with the people from the Rasheed. We took their pictures and created identification cards for them. The manager gave us three cases of Pepsi. You just don’t know how bad you’ve had it until you get to drink Pepsi. It’s like winning a million dollars.

Later in the day the team went to Brigade Headquarters where the company is set. CPT Somers came by earlier in the day to brief us on what’s been going on. Not much has been going on so we just talked a lot. It looks like we’re already starting to move into a more support and stabilization operation. We already pretty much knew that just by the nature of what we’ve been doing. All we do these days is talk to people anyway, only now we have to talk to them as possible sources of intelligence. But, since I’m going to be using this journal as a personal journal that I will allow people to read, I can’t go into what that really means.

While he was here, CPT Somers said that they had phones set up. We needed to go to the company anyway to get our trailer, which we dropped way back near An Najaf because it was bogging us down during the war. We couldn’t get out of tight situations quickly with the trailer. Now that we’re doing more SASO type stuff, we need the trailer again. The company also has a phone set up and we wanted to try and call home. I tried for about thirty minutes to get through but couldn’t. Vince got on right after me and got through after just two tries, but he got an answering machine. Then chief got on and tried for about twenty minutes and couldn’t get through either. I tried again for about ten minutes before we had to go. Obviously, I didn’t get through.

I also found out that 4/64 commander put me in for a Silver Star for what I did during the ambush. I don’t think it was all that impressive, but…

We also found out why everyone has been sick lately, including me. Apparently, during the war, a bird got into one of the water buffalos and died. No one knew it was in there and it contaminated our water supply. No one is giving away names about who’s responsibility it was to check the water and ensure these things don’t happen, but a bad water supply can cause an entire unit to become combat ineffective. Luckily, we found it before it got too bad and we had more than one water buffalo. I just chose the wrong one to drink out of.

I did get a letter from Emily today though. She wrote it the day after we went to war. Now that the company is set up, I will try to call her a little bit more. I would at least like to call once every two weeks. I think that is a good goal. More than that would be great, of course. I anticipate us being here about another six to eight weeks. That’s three or four more phone calls. I guess that is how I can pass the time: by phone calls.

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