Posted by: patrick | July 30, 2008

4 months in–and books read.

I never thought ice-cold water could taste so good–until I came to Iraq. 

Oh yes, we have ice here. I think it’s shipped from the airbase at Al Asad in refrigerated containers. Your tax dollars at work.

Four months into this deployment. Eight months on active duty, wearing my Marine Corps uniform. It’s hard to believe I’ve been in this “on duty” mindset this long. The only other time I’ve been on active duty for this length of time was for boot camp and the follow-on training schools, and I was thinking like a recruit and a private back then. Now I have much more responsibility–and authority too.

I remarked to another Marine in the work hut today how my reserves of patience have been sorely reduced. I used to handle much more B.S. in the day before I got irritated. Now, it only takes one piece of bad news to get me thinking “uggghhhhhh….” Unfortunately, it’s like that with many of the other folks here as well. Maybe it’s the same routine each day, the lack of a dedicated day off ever, I really don’t know. I believe I wouldn’t be thinking this if more action was happening here in our AO (area of operations). Then again, slow and boring should be considered a good thing.

So, what have I been doing to fill the rest of my time, when I’m not making rosters and pushing paper? I’m currently midway through season 6 of The Sopranos–perhaps my lack of patience nowadays has something to do with Tony Soprano’s tendency to choke his problems–literally. Also just watched the first episode of HBO’s Generation Kill last week; I must say, as a Marine, I was impressed by the accuracy and the “real-ness” shown in it. I was also impressed by how quickly the tech-powers that be on this base tracked down a good quality copy of the episode. 

My brother had sent me my copy of Generation Kill (the book) a few months back–read through that book again pretty quickly after watching the episode. I’ve worked through a few other books: Panzer General by Heinz Guderian, to fill my World War II fix; The Assassin’s Gate, a history of the invasion and the aftermath, with much on the perspectives of Iraqis during the chaos; currently working through In the Company of Soldiers (about the 101st Airborne and their part in Iraq) and Angela’s Ashes–somehow I had found this in a give-away box in another office, and so far it’s a funny read–even with all the misery growing up in Ireland and all. Then there’s all my copies of the Economist and the Marine Corps Times. One issue of the Economist, read in detail, can take me a week (maybe 3-4 hours if read in one sitting).

I know I’ve read a few more books: Dune, Founding Brothers, The Firm…I know I’d be able to work through more if I had less on my plate.



  1. I have to laugh at the ice situation. I’m guessing it became a necessity to ship it from Al Asad. When I was there, air crews would steal dumpsters, fill them with bags of ice, and take them to wherever they were flying. Then we’d have to call the other bases, find our dumpsters, and try to get them shipped back.

    Four months without R&R was about the limit for me before I’d start snarling at people. The drudgery just gets you down.

    If you know any KBR people at Al Asad, they get crates of books from libraries in the States. At least they used to. Or hell, send me a wish list, I’ll post it on my LiveJournal and see what we can get shipped to you. I’ve got over 200 people reading my journal, and they all have journals of their own which are read by others. Most of us are avid readers and authors and some would be pleased to provide literate entertainment for you guys.

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