OK, so I promised my next note would be in two weeks... and it has been
closer to 5 weeks. Sorry about that. Things have been really busy, both with
work and with home work. It isn't really a good reason, just a weak excuse. But
that is all I have. I simply haven't stopped long enough to take the time to
Anyway, it was about mid April when I found out that I had to go down to Qatar for a conference the first week of May.
I wasn't real excited about the trip, but that is mostly because I am tired of the long delays and frustration I experience every time I have to travel around this theater. I didn't really have a choice, so I figured I should make the best of it that I could.
Another officer from my HQ had to go down as well, so we arranged to stay
an extra day and see whether we could get some jet-skiing in. The conference was
a combined conference between "Container Management" and "In-Transit
Visibility". Major Jim Ball is our container manager, and one of the things I do
is I work all the automation pieces which are used to have visibility of
equipment and supplies as it moves around the theater.
The flight down was about normal, a bit of excitement departing because after numerous delays and numerous phone call tracking the next flight time, suddenly everything was moved up and we were scrambling to get to the terminal so they didn't leave without us.
We arrived in Qatar and it was hot! Even at 2 AM as we arrived, it was still over 90 degrees. We got our bunks and grabbed a few hours sleep before having to be in the conference at 8 AM.
The conference seemed long, and at times it was really boring, and at times it was very interesting. I suppose it depended on how involved I was with a particular topic.
As you know from my previous note, Qatar is the place that most folks take a 4 day pass, so there is a reasonable amount of entertainment activity. We manage to play a couple hours of pool each evening, and get a few gym workouts in as well. It was a little frustrating because we weren't allowed to workout in uniform (by taking our jackets off and just lifting weights in our T-shirts), but had to change into PT shorts and T-shirts. (Every other Army gym I have ever been to allows you to workout in uniform at lunch time.) Although it made us grumpy (because I prefer to lift weights at lunch instead at the end of the day), we still managed to workout and play some pool. We even spent about 30 minutes at the swimming pool, but I was afraid of becoming a broiled lobster if I spent more than 30 minutes out in the sun. (Because in Iraq, everything is sleeves down and buttoned and your hat on, the only tan I have is my ears and my hands.)
During a couple of the evenings, I spent some time chasing down the details of arranging a jet-ski trip. The trips were all full (only 25 people on a bus), but after talking to the right folks, I was able to get us a ride in the escort vehicle and got permission to go on a jet-ski tour.
We started out of the harbor on a traditional "Dhow" (fishing) boat,
towing a ski boat and a couple of jet-skis. We headed out into the bay of Doha.
The Vorpal Bunny went along, so I have several pictures of him on the boat.
(However, he was afraid to get in the water. It was very deep and he can't
As soon as we stopped and got safety buoys deployed for the swimmers, I wanted to be first to jet-ski so I quickly put on a lifejacket and jumped into the water... it was very, very salty! Since we had two jet-skis, I got on one, and away I went. It was great fun. We each had about 8 minutes or so, and then had to come back in order to allow someone else to have a turn. Jim Ball was next on one of the jet-skis, and I snapped some pictures. Not everyone wanted to jet-ski, and some went out in the water ski boat. I got 3 or 4 chances to ride before lunch. The jet-skis can really move across the water. You could get the jet-skis up to about 60 km/hr across the water! It was great, but it takes a little bit of practice to become comfortable with how they ride and how they react. Several people turned too sharply and were thrown off the jet-ski into the water. (The engine cuts off and the jet-ski stops when you come off.)
After a couple hours, they called everyone in for lunch. They had been barbecueing on the boat and it was time to eat. I tried to convince them that I didn't need food, I needed to jet-ski. I figured I could eat food anytime, but I couldn't jet-ski anytime, so why waste time eating lunch. The guides weren't having any of my argument, so I had stop.
The lunch was really good. They had quite the layout of food, with barbecued chicken and beef, and all sorts of vegetables, pita bread, and humus. After eating, and getting another coating of sunscreen, it was back to the jet-skis. I took another ride, and then switched to the ski boat.
It has been about 10 years since I last water skied, and I was definitely rusty. I got up on my second attempt, but then fell trying to drop one ski so I could slalom ski. I skied once more and then had to let someone else have a go. We each skied a couple times, and then back to the main boat so we could swap out.
Other folks wanted to ride the big water "hot dog", so I went back to the jet-skis. Most folks were tired and worn out, so I was able to stay on the jet-ski until it ran out of gas. It was time to quit anyway, so no problems.
We headed back in and Jim and I snapped a few more pictures of us on the
way in the harbor. Hair all wild and unkempt, and tired from the sun, but it was
a good day.
The flight back was the normal hassle, with a long slow flight stopping in Baghdad, but uneventful. Back at LSA Anaconda, it was jump right back into the routine.
Things are getting warmer. It has been averaging about 115 deg F the last
several weeks. We did have one nice "cool" week of balmy 90 deg F temps with a
little bit of rain. Very unusual for this time of year. We haven't hit 120 F
yet, but it will be happening soon.
Pictures of my trip can be seen at
Oh, the really good news! Because my unit is being replaced by a Reserve unit that has already mobilized and too many wheels are already in motion, we are not going to be extended. I will be returning to Fort Hood around the middle of August, and will have two weeks of mandatory "re-integration" training before I can go on leave.
It is sometimes hard to stay focused on the job at hand, and lots of folks are already counting the days. I can't be bothered, and don't want to take my eye off my responsibilities. I keeping telling people that I don't know (and don't want to know) how many days are left, but might know around 1 August...
Peter / Terafan