"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."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

BLDU

The above is weather forecaster's shorthand for "blowing dust", which is something we've been seeing with such frequency here that it's almost tedious (though I'm pretty sure those of you stateside would find apocalyptical-looking walls of billowing sand somewhat alarming). Last week saw some of the craziest weather I've ever seen out here. Now, Iraqi springtime usually brings a fair number of dust storms as the seasons change. Dirt walls are not a strange sight. However, in the space of three days we got four massive haboobs that made everything they touched generally disgusting. I was inside when the first one rolled in just after sunset; I could hear the wind howling and knew the walk back home would be pretty miserable, so I donned my foul weather gear (this time of year, that includes a balaklava and ski goggles) and braved the elements to get home. I had a gusting headwind the whole way, which managed to blow sand through my balaklava and into my mouth. I couldn't swallow, and I couldn't spit, so I held it all in until I reached my room and when I finally got rid of it, it was like I'd hockaloogied pure mud. Plus, everything indoors was now coated in a decent layer of dirt. The next day, we were graced with not just one, but two waves of "blowing doom", as we now call it. I have pictures of them, which I will post when I get a decent connection, but they took our visibility down to about ten feet, I kid you not. There's an old AAA cannon in front of our headquarters building no more than ten feet away; it was hidden by the biblical oblivion that swept over us. I'm starting to see why this whole region spawned so many religions: one can be forgiven for thinking they experience the wrath of God every day from these things.

Other than that, nothing terribly exciting has happened around here (to us, anyway). Our tasking has slowly shrunk in the past few weeks to the point where we're launching a section of 53s (combined passenger capacity of 48) to move five or six people around. I led one mission whose first leg consisted of a ten pound box. This has allowed us to do more training, which is good; I led a terrain flight/aerial gunnery exercise today, which we began by bombing down a dried riverbed at 50 feet and ended with two hours of 50 caliber target practice (there's nothing quite like the sound of two large machine guns hammering away directly behind your seat, with your instrument needles jumping around in front of you from the recoil). But we're beginning to feel distinctly under-utilized. I think that fairly soon, there won't be much use for us at all, which is a good thing (though it will undermine the number of Air Medals I'll get from this deployment). So, all's well, and all's quiet. Hopefully I can find something besides dirt to talk about in my next post.

1 comment:

Brendan said...

Update bro: I'm going Jets and flying F-18s... just found out today.
-BB