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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

What's it like over there?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Editor's note:

As members of the Guard prepare to serve in Iraq, one of Brazil's own, Monte Porter, is already there. For security reasons, we will not reveal too much about his specific job or location.

Monte is also a Guardsman. He was born in Brazil but now lives in North Carolina. He is keeping a journal and has consented to share his e-mails to his family with our readers.

His father is Randy Porter of Brazil.. If you would like to contact Monte, please call Randy Porter, 448-8758.

Greetings from Iraq!

A close friend of mine just returned from Iraq last month. While he was here, he was pretty faithful at producing a weekly newsletter type e-mail that kept all of us on the home front in tune with what was going on in his daily life. It sure helped me understand his sacrifices, challenges and the rewards that are provided by our Creator in the midst of some of the most undesirable circumstances human beings can ever endure. War, as it has been said many times, is Hell. However, what we often don't see portrayed in the daily media update from home is what I will call the "Paul Harvey - The rest of the story."

I promise to do my best to provide an update, at least weekly of our lives as we live it here in the "shades of brown" resort area of Southern Iraq. Please keep in mind that these words will be my interpretation of daily life and the intent is to paint you a picture of the reality of this war. However, I must forewarn you that I will have to be somewhat vague in what I do describe in order to maintain a level of safety for our troops. We call that OPSEC (Operational Security) and it is very important to the safety and security of our forces here.

Having provided the necessary legal disclaimers and foreshadowed a little of what's to come, I do believe it is time to make my fingers do some walking on this keyboard. I have on of my favorite Rush CDs in the computer, so I'm "in the mood" so to speak.

I began my journey to the cradle of civilization about two weeks ago, departing from my old home State of Indiana. My, what a shock to the body when we stepped off the plane in Kuwait! It was about 6 am local and the temperature was a balmy 78 and steadily rising. We eased around the tarmac of the airport for an hour or so as our bags were unloaded from the aircraft and onto the transfer trucks. Once the bags were loaded, we were hearded onto the busses headed for our next destination about two hours away.

We arrived at our temporary training base and were immediately processed into the "theater of operations." I've always wondered why the Army calls it a theater, it's not like we are really enjoying any of the production ... 2,3, 4. Yes, I still have my odd sense of humor. Any way, we were briefed on several different topics for the next hour. So much for brevity. We then moved to eat our first meal in this land of opportunity, gobbled it down and secured our bags for the move to tent city. I think I must have lost about a gallon of fluid out my pores during the next 30 minutes in the move to our tent. I secured a cot, downloaded my bags, dug out my shower kit and barreled out the door to wash the stank off! I could never begin to describe how GOOD that shower felt! All cleaned up, a tent with A/C that would make a polar bear shiver and nothing to do for the next 24 hours set the stage for the most peaceful rest I've had for about 10 years. I laid down at 3:30 that afternoon and woke up at 12:30 the next afternoon. Talk about you Rip Van Winkle style of sleep! It was much needed.

The next few days were action-packed as we started integrating ourselves into the mix of life in the combat zone. We had many things to do for our final stage of training and in preparation for the arrival of the rest of our Company in about another week from now. The 10 of us left Indiana about three weeks ahead of everyone else to prepare the way for them and to ease the transition. Our greatest challenge was to join up with another unit so we could get our training and move some of us on into Iraq. After a couple of days, we linked up with a Guard unit from Georgia. It was beautiful. They spoke Southern, we understood and spoke Southern with them, all was good. A day or more out on the ranges learning about our greatest foe, the IED and some tactical improvements and we were certified to move North. The cool thing about going out on the ranges in Kuwait, was the fact that we got to see several herds of camel and goats. I've seen camels in the circus and at the zoo, but never before have I ever seen a white camel! I really don't know if there was anything significant about it or not, but the three I saw were pretty cool.

Well, now we're trained and ready. What next? The folks here in Iraq wanted me moved up to their location like yesterday, so I was rushed to the head of the line for the first flight out to Camp Adder. Of course, many of you have experienced the Porter curse and can just about predict what comes next. I was informed at 1900 (7 p.m.) that I was to report to an Air Base about an hour away for my flight into Iraq at 0200. I thought to myself, why go to sleep? You'll just keep waking up thinking you overslept, so I just stayed awake until time to leave. We piled into a little jeep and headed over to the airbase in the middle of the night. We arrived a little ahead of time and went to check in. I was then told that the flight schedule would not be available until 0400, so I needed to come back in an hour or so. Cool. No big deal, we decided to go to the U.S. Air Force base nearby ... they serve all night chow. I grabbed a couple of bowls of cereal and got psyched up to get on a plane at 0400.

Watch The Times for the next part of Monte's e-mails home.

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