"But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other."

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry early Christmas from Iraq

So, it's been awhile, what's been going on in the sandbox lately? I'd say not much, but that's not true; more like not much interesting. I've been flying a lot, trying to get caught up in hours since that's how it works out here: if you slip back to being low man in flight hours, they fly your ass off until you're suddenly the high man, and then bench you until you're the low man again and so on and so forth. Fun times. I finally got out to some of our westernmost FOBs for the first time, and that part of Iraq is actually kind of interesting. The terrain reminds me of southern Arizona, with lots of mesas and ravines carved out by water thousands of years ago that's no longer there. And, on top of the flying, I'm finally in the aircraft commander syllabus, which, while not necessarily fun, has at least made things different in that I've actually had to study instead of just go home and go to bed and then wake up and do it again for a week. I had my HAC board last week, which, as I may have described in earlier posts, is like a circular firing squad with six senior members of the squadron shooting questions at you, trying to make you trip up, second-guessing all your answers, and, when you miss one, looking at each other like, "Could this guy be any dumber?" I came out of it not knowing the result, and feeling slightly violated from the whole experience. However, before I went home I got the word that I'd answered (most) of the important questions and would proceed into the flight portion of the syllabus. My first review flight was this week, which turned into 7 hours of "stump the chump" and "let's see how many gauges we can fail before he notices". Not that I was expecting it to be easy or fun; this is, after all, a test to see if you can handle the responsibility of commanding a $30 million aircraft and bringing its crew back home (though it was less painful since it was one-on-one vice six-on-one). Anyway, after running through every conceivable emergency the plane could experience, I got signed off and now await my night HAC review flight, to replay all those scenarios in the dark on the goggles. Then the final round will come with a check flight by the squadron CO, to make sure I'm fit to get the keys to the car.

In other news, it's winter here, or what passes for it. No snow, no clouds to speak of, just cold. Not twelve hours after I'd written my good friend MKO about how I'd just gone running in shorts and a t-shirt the same day it took her three hours to drive five miles in the snow, a cold front blew in and dropped the temperature about ten degrees; and it hasn't improved since. We'll be at or below freezing every night, so we'll have a chilly Christmas, though not a white one. And speaking of Christmas, our mail room looks like someone shot down Santa's sleigh and then stole all the presents. Usually we get our mail with a pick-up truck; yesterday, it took a small bus and ten people to bring it all inside. So, thanks to the folks back home, it will be a merry Christmas.


Brendan said...

Haha.. I'll bet Santa's sleigh got shot because he didn't have night vision goggles. Not even Rudolph's nose will beat those!

Meghan said...

I'm mentioned in your blog! I'm almost famous!

Well a few hours after I wrote to you about the impeding snowstorm I had the most hellish commute of my life, far worse than I told you I was expecting.

So how about this - no more jinxing in emails :)