Mike got some AR15 Magazines from MGW in the mail yesterday. They look pretty good. They look like the top part of the 90 round magazine he has from them. I'm going to get a couple for myself to try them out. Do we need five round magazine to hunt hogs? Maybe this weekend we can go shoot my new rifle again.
LoA was awarded the de Fleury Medal, which is the highest award the Corps can give a civillian. Few people are awarded this medal. Congressman Chet Edwards wrote a personal note praising LoA's service and reminising on their growing up together. He also sent LoA a flag flown over the Capitol. Mr. Edwards was very nice to write that, and is a good guy, even if we disagree with his politics.
Of course, he went right back to work the next day as a contractor, but he is now officially retired. He'll stay on till his replacement is hired and trained. Then it'll be time to work on the house. After that? Maybe take a few classes, travel a bit, and make some knives and other things in the workshop.
It's got a Mega lower receiver, RRA collapsable stock, Colt flattop upper, 16 inch barrel (maybe Colt, maybe not), DPMS lower parts, Tango Down battle grip (which is very comfy), Yankee Hill Machine free float handguard, DPMS metal vertical grip, DPMS detachable rear sight, XS Sights white line front sight, LeVang compensator, and a Surefire G2 flahlight. After Christmas we took off the Tacpoint and put on a Trijicon Reflex II sight, the one with the 4.5 MOA dot. Very nice. Might want to swap out the collapsable stock for a fixed A2 stock, and move the vertical grip forward a little, other than that, it's good.
The plan is to use it to compete at the Three Gun match out at Tac Pro in May. Of course, that means we need to go practice!
And he's bald! Completely. twoLoA does not like it, but Glenda and I think it looks good on him. Bald is in, you know.
Anyway, he and twoLoA took off for Abilene after a scant 30 minutes or so at home. Tomorrow they are off to Cloudcroft where they will stay till Tuesday when LoA has to be in El Paso for processing out. I still think it's silly for him to have to do that, he should've been able to just leave the gear in iraq. Besides, we are talking about pants and t-shirts! It's not like he's returning guns or grenades!
"I thought you might like this picture. I think it is the first one I have
sent back to the states.
This will be the last email from me until I get home. I have to wait for our PAO to get
back and give me the CD of the picturers she took at the awards get
together. I hope they just went to supper. I want to leave in another 30
minutes so Tom can take me and get back to the Villas by 2130 or so.
I saw on the news that they had more killings in Iraq today. I also heard
that 4 bombs were placed on NOC property by one of the gates we always used
in Kirkuk. Two went off and two had to be disarmed. Maybe it is good that
I am coming home.
"Good news. No one bombed the pipe line. It apparently started leaking
at a location the NOC fixed about a month ago. Someone did ignite the
pool of oil but at least they weren't targeting the oil pipeline. We
still have a major problem. We have 1,000,000 barrels of oil in the
pipelline to get rid of before we can repair the leak.
I should get my pickup today or tomorrow.
They all are 4 door.
The base camp is on NOC property. It is adjacent to the club where we
eat. It is basically a very large trailer camp. It will be much
better than our present accomodations. Everything new and private rooms
and baths AND American cooking.
Received a message from LoA today. "Not a good day. We received praise from our higher headquarters during the VTC this morning for starting to pump oil to Turkey for export. WE went by the NOC after the VTC to see how much they were pumping and Adil said the pipeline had been bombed at 0300 this morning and it was on fire. They do not have a shut off valve for 90 miles upstream. There are 40,000,000 gallons of crude oil in the pipeline that somehow we have to get out before the break can be repaired. We are going to talk to the NOC tomorrow and see what they have come up with to work around this MAJOR problem. We just cannot guard all the pipelines."
"We met after supper to go over the final plans for the new base camp that we hope to have ready for move in within 60 days. We also talked about vehicles and I am going to get a 4 X 4 four door GMC pickup. Not as nice as the Yukon but at least I can go when I want to."
"Two weeks from tonight I will be leaving for home". This last one is the best part. He will start trying to leave for Kuwait around Tuesday 8/26 because it can be difficult getting a plane out. He sounds good when he can call but is usually very tired. The daytime temperatures are hitting 127 and he does walk quite a bit.
I'm anxious to get him home and start out for a much needed mini vacation.
The latest word is that LoA will be flying out from Kuwait on the 30th and arriving here also on the 30th. (Time zones are fun!) His replacement should be arriving about a week before so LoA should have enough time to show him the ropes.
As a taxpayer I must say it's dumb to bring LoA home so soon, just as he is getting the hang of things, getting to know the local people he's been working with, learning how things work over there. But as a family member I must say that I'm glad he'll be returning at the end of the month. Real glad.
Looks like, if all goes according to plan, that LoA will be arriving home at about 3pm on the 29th of August. Then he and Mrs. LoA are heading out to El Paso to do paperwork, turn in his issued equipment (although why wouldn't he just leave it in Iraq for the next guy to use?), and then into the desert for a few days of R&R.
Also in the good news category, LoA's daughter is engaged. The date has not been finalized yet, but will most likely be next Spring.
Had a good telephone conversation with LoA today plus 2 emails and am glad to report that he is well and doing OK. Rumor is that the AF will be kicking them out of the tents on 1 Aug and hopefully all will be prepared for them at their new offices and living quarters at the NOC. Food has improved, but is not great. The General was there and seemed pleased. They had held a 3 1/2 hour lunch business meeting and he (the General) was napping and reading his email, thus seemed content. There was a ribbon cutting at a propane botling plant and the captain had received a promotion to a major. They have been awarded several million dollars for projects and now must work on the schedule for writing the contracts on the projects and getting the money spent. "they" (some other nebulus people) have set some rather "unrealistic" goals for completing projects considering the designs haven't been started. Please understand, these are my words. LoA will spend his final weeks finally doing engineering work. He is getting "short" with only a little over a month to go. Makes for a happy wife.
7/20 Have had several recent emails and calls from LoA. He is doing well and looking forward to being home soon. He and Doug are sharing the operations tent so it's just the two of them rather than 10-12 people. Work is progressing on the facility at the NOC property and hopefully some can start moving in soon. LoA's room is at the end of the hall, so he will be one of the last one to move in. The mess hall has opened and they are getting "good food". He is thrilled to have "american" cooking. The NOC is pumping lots of oil to be used internally but they haven't started exporting yet. Waiting on word from the Oil Ministry. Doug will be leaving in about 3 weeks and his replacement has been named, but Lewis doesn't know who will be replacing him. Lewis hopes to hit the states around 8/28-29 but nothing is definate at his time. He sends his best to everyone.
The red polka-dotted cap should be familliar to everyone. If not, well, that's LoA underneath it. Next to him is an unidentified North oil Company employee and LoA's boss, Mr. Cox.
Cpt. Conner working the grill.
One of the SWFteam, P Sisler, teaches some Iraqis how to bake an apple pie.
The BBQ was held at the Northern Oil Company Country club, a facility originally built by the Brits. Security was provided by soldiers of the 101st, who also partook of the festivities. According to LoA, "those boys can really put away the chow!" Unfortunatley the wood and BBQ sauces did not arrive in time, but they can always throw another BBQ.
hmmm...looks like no one updated this while I was gone. Apparently lots has happened. While LoA was in Bagdhad his hotel was attacked by 3 RPGs. No Americans were killed. I don't know if the attackers were. LoA is fine, but will now be living in an undisclosed location whilst finishing his tour in Iraq.
I haven't heard how the BBQ went, I'll assume it went well. Will let y'all know when I find out.
July 4th is coming up soon. Hopefully the wood arrives in time for the BBQ. We hear that LoA has procured 345 pounds of meat. There are only 200 people going to the BBQ. That's almost a pound and a half for everyone, that's a Texas BBQ alright!
Just talked to LoA. He had another l day bout of illness, but was feeling better. Is going to cut back to 13 hours today and 12 hours starting next week. He has been asked to extend for an additional 2 weeks (bummer) but that is ever so much better than the original Nov. date. He should now be home around the 3rd of Sept. They were unable to go up North to pick up the vehicals for the NOC. Too many problems with the pumping that need to have immediate attention. E-mail for him is still a problem. His boss needs it the most for business matters so has unhooked the other computers. If too many people get on at the same time it will bump someone off. Also, is very slow. Sometimes takes over 30 minutes to open a document. He sends his regards to everyone, and apologizes that he has not personally been able to talk to each one of you. He sounded tired. They are all looking forward to their 4th of July BBQ. Please continue to keep he and his team in your prayers.
Not an LoA update, but I just got an email from tWoLoA *(NoA? NoT**? NoTbrniGB***?) :
"Dear lew, mike & glenda,
i'm writing from oxford on Wed 6/18 at 2100.
Have had a marvelous time, the weather has been wonderful, mostly warm
and sunny. I talked to Dad yesterday via Lynda's phone and he had been sick again. Lewis, hope you are truly well now and feeling much, much better.
Tomorrow we take a walking tour of Oxford. The new Harry Potter
book comes out Saturday and the line will be long, but I hope to purchase
one from London, won't that be cool. Took a tour of a wonderful
Elizabethian estate today, incredible. Scotland was just so
beautiful, much more than I had even hoped.
Lew, I went into a hardware store today, you would love it and after I talked to you yesterday, I took a roof tour of the Cathedral in Lincoln, 3rd largest in England. You all would be very proud of me. The Wesley service was very nice, but long.
The trip has been truly wonderful.
Mike & Glenda, have great gifts for both of you[woo-hooo!]. Truly hope you are all fine. Glenda, break a leg this weekend. I hate to miss your play. I love and miss you all very much.
Lew, can't wait [till] you are home again. All of you stay safe, and be good to each other. Give Mandy a scratch and a hug from me, Trevor too. I'll see you Saturday.[edited to add: ummm...I thought you were getting back Sunday? the itinerary says Sunday...]
All my love and prayers, Mom.
Please give Aunt Sissy and Whitney a call. Can't seem to get to a phone at a decent state side time of day.
Lewis, I love you and so wish you were sharing this with me.
* the Wife of Lewis of Arabia
** Nancy of Arabia or Nancy of Texas
*** Nancy of Texas-but-right-now-in-Great-Britian
"Thanks, I ordered two BBQ pits to be made to my design from the North Oil Company three days ago. I could have used their equipment and built them, but I don't really get paid to do that. I'll go by tomorrow and see how they are coming. They will not be smokers, but just 32" diameter pipe spilt in half, using one half for the pit. No lid. Each one will be 5' long. There is no telling what they are constructing. I gave them the design but they had never seen a BBQ pit. Also there is no expanded metal at the NOC. I may have to have them cut some plate with holes for the grill.
Our zip code is back to 09347. Tell Mom when she gets home. The 09359 doesn't go into effect until Dec. They said the mail would get to us but it will take a little longer. Should be enough time for the chips to arrive in time. Hope you and GD and the woofers are doing well. Be sure and clean the house before Mom comes home. I finally have a power cord for my laptop and tomorrow maybe even my own internet drop in my room. That will be nice.
A few days ago he asked for some Mesquite chips to be sent over to him for their Fourth of July BBQ. I sent over a box with two sacks of wood chips and some BBQ sauces, liquid smoke, some spices, and other stuff like that which may not be available over in Kirkuk but is neccessary for a good BBQ.
"I finally got into the web site for lewis of arabia. It is good. Up to now I couldn't stay on the computer very long. Always someone waiting to get on. Today I'm on the boss's computer since my internet cable hasn't been run to my room and Doug is in Kuwait for two or three days. He had to go down for a partnering meeting with the contractor. It is nice to sit at his desk and take all the time I want to read and respond to email. Wish Mom was around. I miss getting her emails.[edited to add: Nancy's in Scotland right now, not dead]
We had a very unusuall fire on the pipelines day before yesterday. There are 4 crude oil pipelines-two that go to Turkey for export and two that go to a refinery close by-exposed in a small creek. It appears that three of them caught on fire. One-happens all the time-two maybe-but not three out of the four. Someone did something to the pipeline. The North Oil Company says it is delibert. We won't know for sure until the fire is put out. We hear it was put out today, but from the size of it two days ago, I doubt it. We should know more tomorrow. We were in the area today but couldn't go over the ridge to see if the fire was still burning.
The military has been conducting sweeps in the Kirkuk area and have arrested several people. We hope that this will stop some of the looting and damage to the pipeline. They are setting fire to the open pits of oil that are all over the place. Two people set a fire yesterday morning and our guards (the Corps hired them) saw them but couldn't catch them before they set the fire. Out of range of their Ak-47's. They asked us for sniper rifles today. We supplied them with 500 AK's but I don't think they will be getting sniper rifles-we can only give them what the military has confiscated from the bad guys. We are giving the NOC police 100 AK's later this week.
They say it is taking 3-4 hours for the customs people to clear everyone that is on the plane. They are recommending taking a clean set of clothes to change into after standing in the hot sun for that long. It is hot now and when I come home in Aug it will really be hot.
The vehicle that I am assigned-2003 brand new GMC Yukon-has a CD player. If you get a chance, copy some of the songs from my best of lewis that are in my truck and send them over. There are no English language radio stations. We did get the BBC late at night coming up on the convoy, but have not gotten them again.
Iraq is not a place that Van needs to come for work. It is one thing to be working for the US Government or Brown & Root but a small company will not have the resources to make it in this war torn environment. Also they don't do very much if at all acid injection-they have so much oil they just drill a new well. They also cannot process more than half of the barrel of oil. In the US our refineries process all the barrel of oil. The old technology that the Iraqi's use can only produce products from half the oil. They are reinjecting this residual back into the wells. Over a 7 year period they injected 1.5 billion barrels of residual back into the wells. Saadam didn't care if he screwed up the oil fields, he just wanted oil produced.
I can tell the difference in the number of people that are driving and coming out on the streets since I have arrived. It is getting harder to bust through stop lights. It is nice to drive whatever speed you feel comfortable with. There are no traffic police. Kirkuk does have a police department, but it is small and not enforcing traffic laws(I'm not even sure Iraq had any traffic laws before the war). I am driving defensively ( and aggressively or you will never survive) and have had no really close calls. The drivers still get out of the way of military vehicles and big, new American vehicles. None of the Iraq's have new vehicles and the very few newer vehicles are not American. People are still waving at us when we pass.
How is GD doing on the mowing? Is she wearing her gloves now?
I had better close for now. It is nearly 2130 our time. I'm going to shut down an hour early today.
Received a call from LoA today around 1100 our time. He sounded good. Is feeling much better. He has been very busy. States that if it weren't for the looters the Corp would not be needed in Northern Iraq. The Northern Oil Co. has nothing to work with; equipment, buildings, information, etc. all taken or destroyed by looters. If the Army can not control and manage the looting situation, then the oil co. will fail. Lewis said they just wrote a huge contract for security for their sites. How sad. I imagine that when you have a history of NOTHING, a light switch may seem like a prize. I can see how the local people, having received nothing from the oil money, can have a hard time in buying into that it is the "hope" for a better future. Lewis says the Kurds are very welcoming and polite. Lew has gotten to know several of the Northern Oil Co. personnel and has been invited into their homes. Many have been schooled in England. Lewis really likes his boss, D. Cox, and states that he is doing a good job. He has finally started receiving a few letters and newspapers. E-mail is still iffy. He has his own computer with e-mail, but no cable. Friday seems to be a day of 3 hour lunches in one of the homes of the oil people. Of course, business is also a part of it. Can you imagine Lewis drinking hot tea!!! Lewis sends everyone his regards and is looking forward to the end of August when it looks as though he will be returning. YEA!!! Please continue to include him, the team and the military personnel in your prayers.
Have an update on LoA. He had a 3 day bout with "Saddams revenge" that gave him a bad time but he always worked through it. Fever one night. Glad to report all is better. They have tried to be very careful with their eatting but something got them. He had been out to measure some damaged buildings and while out it rained. Not enough to even wet the ground, but rain none the less. Lew says they are working on estimates to "fix" the North Oil Company. One of the men went out to estimate how many people they have to furnish offices for. The looters destroyed most of the offices, space for approximately 4-5,000 people. He apologizes for not responding to those of you who have e-mailed. They don't have their own email service but are using one of the contractors and it keeps going down on them. They hope to have their own soon. Mail is still slow but he is finally getting some. It's running about 2 weeks behind now. He has a new zip code APO AE 09359. He is staying busy and the time is starting to go by faster for him now. He sends his best to everyone back home and looks forward to seeing everyone when he returns. Please keep the prayers lifted up.