Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas day over

Christmas day was an ordinary day. Worked as usual. An excellent meal was served up in the chow hall. We had prime rib, dressing, and an excellent shrimp salad with crabmeat.

They served up cans of egg nog, and I drank several glasses. I was thinking about how nice it would be to have some Claxton fruit cake, and they gave me one! I went back to the Rec Hall and ate a whole pound of fruit cake!

Friday, December 22, 2006

One week at Talafar

Been here for a week. Place is all right in many respects. Just wish that I had more to do. I miss the work at my previous base. I had a good thing going at Al Asad. Rode my bikes all over the place. We had a decent Masonic Square and Compasses club.

Talafar has a good chow hall, decent rec hall. I do not have cable TV in my trailer. But I will install the satellite dish later on, and then I can see AFN and some other English language TV shows.

I already reserved the classroom at the chow hall for 1200 wednesdays for the S&C club.

I set up the Rec Hall for the 1st/3rd Saturdays at 7:00pm for the S&C club.

We may just make it a go after all.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

New assignment.

I have a new assignment. It is at Talafar, Iraq. I am Forward Operating Base Sykes. It is a small base, smaller than I have been posted at.

I will be here until August 2007.

I always enjoy getting mail. Please send your emails to


and your postal mail to

Charles E. Martin
APO AE 09351

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Charles Martin's Blog. Iraq and Freemasonry

The tale of six boys:

Charles I thought you might enjoy reading this.
Fraternally: Jack

A Tale of Six Boys

Each year I am hired to go to Washington , DC, with the eighth grade
class from Clinton , WI., where I grew up, to videotape their trip. I
greatly enjoy visiting our nation's capitol, and each year I take some
special memories back with me. This fall's trip was especially memorable.

On the last night of our trip, we stopped at the Iwo Jima memorial. This
memorial is the largest bronze statue in the world and depicts one of the
most famous photographs in history -- that of the six brave soldiers
raising the American Flag at the top of a rocky hill on the island of Iwo
Jima , Japan , during WW II.

Over one hundred students and chaperones piled off the buses and headed
towards the memorial. I noticed a solitary figure at the base of the
statue, and as I got closer he asked, "Where are you guys from?"

I told him that we were from Wisconsin "Hey, I'm a cheese head, too! Come
gather around, Cheese heads, and I will tell you a story."

(James Bradley just happened to be in Washington, DC, to speak at the
memorial the following day. He was there that night to say good night to
his dad, who has since passed away. He was just about to leave when he
saw the buses pull up. I videotaped him as he spoke to us, and received
his permission to share what he said from my videotape. It is one thing
to tour the incredible monuments filled with history in Washington on,
D.C., but it is quite another to get the kind of insight we received that

When all had gathered around, he reverently began to speak. (Here are his
words that night.)

"My name is James Bradley and I'm from Antigo, Wisconsin. My dad is on
that statue, and I just wrote a book called "Flags of Our Fathers" which
is #5 on the New York Times Best Seller list right now. It is the story
of the six boys you see behind me.

"Six boys raised the flag. The first guy putting the pole in the ground
is Harlon Block. Harlon was an all-state football player. He enlisted in
the Marine Corps with all the senior members of his football team. They
were off to play another type of game, a game called "War" But it didn't
turn out to be a game.

Harlon, at the age of 21, died with his intestines in his hands. I don't
say that to gross you out, I say that because there are people who stand
in front of this statue and talk about the glory of war. You guys need to
know that most of the boys in Iwo Jima were 17, 18, and 19 years old.

(He pointed to the statue) "You see this next guy? That's Rene Gagnon
from New Hampshire If you took Rene's helmet off at the moment this photo
was taken and looked in the webbing of that helmet, you would find a
photograph... a photograph of his girlfriend. Rene put that in there for
protection because he was scared. He was 18 years old. Boys won the
battle of Iwo Jima . Boys . Not old men.

"The next guy here, the third guy in this tableau, was Sergeant Mike
Strank. Mike is my hero. He was the hero of all these guys. They called
him the "old man" because he was so old. He was already 24. When Mike
would motivate his boys in training camp, he didn't say, Let's go kill
some Japanese' or Let's die for our country.' He knew he was talking to
little boys. Instead he would say, You do what I say, and I'll get you
home to your mothers.'

"The last guy on this side of the statue is Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian from
Arizona. Ira Hayes walked off Iwo Jima . He went into the White House
with my dad. President Truman told him, 'You're a hero.' He told
reporters, 'How can I feel like a hero when 250 of my buddies hit the
island with me and only 27 of us walked off alive?' So you take your
class at school, 250 of you spending a year together having fun, doing
everything together. Then all 250 of you hit the beach, but only 27 of
your classmates walk off alive. That was Ira Hayes. He had images of
horror in his mind. Ira Hayes died dead drunk, face down at the age of 32
.. ten years after this picture was taken.

"The next guy, going around the statue, is Franklin Sousley from Hilltop,
Kentucky. A fun-lovin' hillbilly boy. His best friend, who is now 70,
told me, 'Yeah, you know, we took two cows up on the porch of the Hilltop
General Store. Then we strung wire across the stairs so the cows couldn't
get down. Then we fed them Epsom salts. Those cows crapped all night.'
Yes, he was a fun-lovin' hillbilly boy. Franklin died on Iwo Jima at the
age of 19. When the telegram came to tell his mother that he was dead, it
went to the Hilltop General Store. A barefoot boy ran that telegram up to
his mother's farm. The neighbors could hear her scream all night and into
the morning. The neighbors lived a quarter of a mile away.

"The next guy, as we continue to go around the statue, is my dad, John
Bradley from Antigo, Wisconsin, where I was raised. My dad lived until
1994, but he would never give interviews. When Walter Cronkite's
producers, or the New York Times would call, we were trained as little
kids to say, 'No, I'm sorry, sir, my dad's not here. He is in Canada
fishing. No, there is no phone there, sir. No, we don't know when he is
coming back.' My dad never fished or even went to Canada. Usually, he was
sitting there right at the table eating his Campbell's soup. But we had
to tell the press that he was out fishing. He didn't want to talk to the

"You see, my dad didn't see himself as a hero. Everyone thinks these guys
are heroes, cause they are in a photo and on a monument. My dad knew
better. He was a medic. John Bradley from Wisconsin was a caregiver. In
Iwo Jima he probably held over 200 boys as they died. And when boys died
in Iwo Jima , they writhed and screamed in pain.

"When I was a little boy, my third grade teacher told me that my dad was
a hero. When I went home and told my dad that, he looked at me and said,
'I want you always to remember that the heroes of Iwo Jima are the guys
who did not come back. Did NOT come back.'
"So that's the story about six nice young boys. Three died on Iwo Jima ,
and three came back as national heroes. Overall, 7,000 boys died on Iwo
Jima in the worst battle in the history of the Marine Corps. My voice is
giving out, so I will end here. Thank you for your time."

Suddenly, the monument wasn't just a big old piece of metal with a flag
sticking out of the top. It came to life before our eyes with the
heartfelt words of a son who did indeed have a father who was a hero.
Maybe not a hero for the reasons most people would believe, but a hero

We need to remember that God created this vast and glorious world for us
to live in, freely, but also at great sacrifice. Let us never forget from
the Revolutionary War to the current War on Terrorism and all the wars in
between that sacrifice was made for our freedom. Remember to pray praises
for this great country of ours and also pray for those still in murderous
unrest around the world. STOP and thank God for being alive and being
free at someone else's sacrifice.

God Bless You and God Bless America .

REMINDER: Everyday that you can wake up free, it's going to be a great

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Charles Martin's Blog. Iraq and Freemasonry

5 Nov 2006. WHEW! Three weeks in Moscow, then two weeks in Kuwait. Got back to Al Asad Fri Nite and trying to catch up. Someone stole the bike frame that I was going to re-habilitate. I had removed all of the serviceable parts.

Many changes while I was away. I will catch up later.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Charles Martin's Blog. Iraq and Freemasonry

21 Sept 2006. Ali Al Saleem, Kuwait. FINALLY! I got our of Iraq for my R&R. The Marines flubbed my schedule, I was supposed to leave on Thursday, but when I went to the flight office to check on the ticket, they had me down for Wednesday. I was already packed, so I went to the flight line, and got a flight to Kuwait. I arrived late Weds nite, and went to the transient tents. I will wait here until Friday night, and then get to the civilian airport for my 0300am flight to Dubai, and then on for my vacation. The engineers back at Al Asad will run the show in my absence. Man it is good to be finally on the way!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Charles Martin's Blog. Iraq and Freemasonry

Charles Martin's Blog. Iraq and Freemasonry 17 Sept. 2006. Today in church, we talked about the importance of keeping journals. I enjoy this blog, but I should be more diligent about entering information. This place, is like the film "Ground Hog Day". Every day is the same, since I work 7 days a week. Last week, two new individuals arrived here. Mr. Carlos Zambrana and Mr. Raul Ramirez. These guys are really sharp, and I think they will both make excellent FSE's. Raul will stay here, during my R&R, and learn the ropes, then get sent to some new base. Carlos is taking to the job like a fish to water, and he will remain here, when I return from R&R. There is really not enough work here for two full time Engineers, so Carlos will probably be traveling a lot, covering other bases, when people go on vacation and emergency leave,etc.

I was supposed to fly out of here on Friday 15 Sept. and then on to Moscow. There were no flights on Friday, and the only flight was Saturday morning. Problem is the flight left here at 0300am, and I had to be at the Kuwait civilian airport at 0345am. So I had to cancel the flight from here, and then push back my R&R. I am going to leave here on Thursday, and then wait a day in Kuwait, and then leave from Kuwait at 0345am on Saturday morning, fly to Dubai, and then change for a direct flight to Moscow. I will be in Moscow on Saturday afternoon 23 Sept. In's'hallah.

I am glad that I was able to re-enlist, and get a second year here in Iraq. I like it here. I like the work, the people I work with (mostly), and my supervisor is terrific, I get a lot of lee-way to do this job. The chief said "you have done exemplary work in an austere environment" I wish that all my performance reports read so glowingly.

I will be here through Sept 2007, and from there, who knows? I might even ask for a third year here in Iraq. I like this place very much. Yesterday afternoon, I got cable TV hooked up in my trailer. Now I have ten channels of TV. I will get my own satellite dish going later on, and have some additional channels.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

14 Sept 2006. Leaving on vacation

I am flying out of Iraq on Thursday 21 Sept. Will spend three weeks in Moscow Russia, and return. I enjoy all of your comments, please continue to post.

The lodge is on hold until I return. We will get a dispensation to meet, later this year.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

27 August 2006

Sunday morning. Cool this morning, drove down to the convoy yard, and collected the data off the computer to a disk. What a hassle, the repairs after the fire in the yard, are slow. Preparing for my vacation, I have my tickets prepaid, but I still do not know who is going to come here and cover my job. I requested quarters for the person in July, but I still do not have a place for him to stay.

Someone cut a hole in my bike tire, so now I cannot use the Mongoose bike. I ordered a couple of replacement tires, and when one of them arrives, I will install it. Until, then I am riding the old bike.

You cannot believe what people throw away. I found four(4) excellent bed sheets, almost new, in the trash. I have already found two(2) pairs of excellent combat boots, and two(2) pairs of running shoes. I go Dumpster diving all the time.

Sleeping OK now, I just wish that I had my satellite system hooked up. When I return from vacation, I think I will install the satellite dish. I have plenty of DVDs and VHS tapes for now. Last night, I watched "The Tall Men" with Clark Gable and Jane Russell.

the days pass quickly, work is good, and I will be flying out in a couple of weeks.

Friday, August 11, 2006

11 August 2006

Men Are Just Happier People--

What do you expect from such simple creatures? Your last name
stays put. The garage is all yours. Wedding plans take care of
themselves. Chocolate is just another snack. You can be President. You
can never be pregnant. You can wear a white T-shirt to a water park.
can wear NO shirt to a water park. Car mechanics tell you the truth.

The world is your urinal. You never have to drive to another gas
station restroom because this one is just too icky. You don't have to
stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt. Same work, more
pay. Wrinkles add character. Wedding dress~$5000. Tux rental~$100.
People never stare at your chest when you're talking to them. The
occasional well-rendered belch is practically expected. New shoes
cut, blister, or mangle your feet. One mood all the time. Phone
conversations are over in 30 seconds flat. You know stuff about tanks.

A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase. You can open all
your own jars. You get extra credit for the slightest act of
thoughtfulness. If someone forgets to invite you, he or she can still
your friend. Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack. Three pairs of
shoes are more than enough. You almost never have strap problems in
public. You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes.

Everything on your face stays its original color. The same
hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades. You only have to shave your
face and neck. You can play with toys all your life. Your belly
hides your big hips. One wallet and one pair of shoes one color for
seasons. You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look. You can
your nails with a pocket knife. You have freedom of choice concerning
growing a mustache. You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on
December 24 in 25 minutes.

No wonder men are happier. Send this to the women who can handle
it and to the men who will enjoy reading it.

Monday, July 31, 2006

31 July 2006

I keep getting these terrific emails, Here is one from Down Under!

My SAS Sqn {Australian} took that airbase you are sitting in in one night on their own, in a vehicle mounted attack much like Sir David Stirling's mob and the LRDG in WW 11.

Ya want pics of us celebrating our ANZAC day with the Aussie flag on their HQ bunker. This is years ago now though Charles.

Me, yeah I am a Master Mason here in OZ. But I am bent up in body and mind, but am slowly getting back into some shape.

3 Sqn did East Timor {Indonesian bastards killed 250-000 Timorese since 1975 there} Then onto the �Ghan with 1 Sqn, then into Iraq.

Rests break then Ghan again and Iraq, and so it goes on and on.

We mainly now work in Afghanistan though.

We fight above our weight ever since our inception in 1958.

We have never lost anyone to an actual enemy combat engagement or from and enemy Unit.

In fact in Borneo 1964-5 our dead {4} one was dead from a stalking elephant {yes true, a rouge bull stalked the Patrol of 5 for days} we lost 2 in river crossings, and one from illness.

In fact in 10 years in Nam till 1972 {officially pulled out} we lost NONE to the enemy. Now Charles, we are in the Ghan, many years later {with lots of deployments in between} our only loss was 1 dead a bloody landmine.

It hit one of our special desert patrol vehicles {vice-versa}, and we lost a man, that is it.

None dead from anything in our assault on Iraq, where our special vehicles were seen 30 clicks outa Baghdad on the first night of the War by Journalists and Reporters who were being stopped by our guys trying to capture fleeing �special targets� We were the closet in and fired the first shots, with some Seal�s who were way Nth of us

Yeah wounded for sure, but Iraq, Ghan, Vietnam, to Borneo back in 1964 none dead from the enemy.

We are known in Nam by the Viet Cong as �Phantoms of the Jungle.

Hell there is a potted history of one of your main Allies.

Maybe it would be a fitting gift to your NEW IRAQ Lodge to know about the SAS Regiment in a Special Book on us. I have just the one.

And Australia was the original one of three, original Members of the Coalition against Terror, yep the US, UK, and Australia.

It is some luck, but really pure training and discipline that makes us what we are mate

Anyhow I am rambling, as it is late, I need my meds, and my bed, if {I can sleep at all these days}

Stay safe Charles, watch your arse.


Monday, July 24, 2006

Mail from an Iraqi Mason in Canada

I get the most amazing email. Here is one from an Iraqi Mason in Canada.

Dear Brother Martin,
First, I would like to congradulate you and all brethern who have started and opened
the first masonic lodge in free Iraq, it was one of the most wonderfull work which has been done by Air, Land and Marine personnel beside bringing the freedon to the land of mosipotemia ( Iraq).
secondly, I would like to know if you need any equipment for the Lodge, I will be happy to try to get them, just to help the brethern in masonic work.
My name is Khoshaba Mirza, past master of Bridgewood Masonic Lodge Lodge in the A.F&A masonry in the Grand Lodge of Canada, province of Ontario.
I hope to hear from you.
P.M. Khoshaba Mirza

Saturday, July 22, 2006

22 July 2006. From a mason in Hawaii

Charles, my name is Jimmy Coleman from the Honolulu Lodge of F&AM. I was recently passed to the degree of Fellowcraft and just want to say congratulations for what you are doing out there in Iraq. I'm a submariner in the Navy by the way, stationed at Pearl Harbor. The brothers and I are looking forward to seeing some pics of the lodge when you get a chance. You were a topic of discussion last Tuesday in the lodge. If there's anything that I can do for you, shoot me an e-mail. Until then, Godspeed and good luck with the lodge.

Jimmy Coleman

Thursday, July 20, 2006

20 July 2006. Ramadi Base

Stuck here one more day. Crud. The data shop is still working on the computer, to get it ready to get on the internet here. Looks like they will work on it today, and it can go on the net tomorrow. Walked down to the guard shack, and checked the antennas, they look good. Walked over to the chow hall. Today they served: baked fish fillets, Hot italian sausages in tomato sauce, rice, corn. Ate the food, and had a bowl of BR cookie dough ice cream. Then walked over to the Rec Hall.

Will spend tonight in the tent,with the generator blowing all night. Then get the system back on line Friday morning, and then hang around the base all day, and try for a night chopper back to Al Asad.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

19 July 2006. Ramadi base

Sunday morning, got the flight to Camp Korean Village. Got the system back on line. Had to wait until Tuesday for a return flight. Came back to Al Asad Air Base Tuesday afternoon. Then grabbed a hot shower, packed some more clothes, dropped off my laundry, and then caught a night flight to Ramadi Base.

Got in at 1100pm, and hitched a ride to the transient tent. It is a lot cleaner, and all the crowd that was there last time is gone, just me and one other person. Still bloody LOUD, next to a 10 KW generator roaring away all night. Slept as best I could, then got up at 0600am. Walked over to the shower trailer, and there was no hot water. Checked out the hot water heater, someone turned the water off, so I turned the water back on. Got an excellent shower.

The helicopter that I flew in Tuesday night, had severe hydraulic fluid leaks in the ceiling. Hot sticky hydraulic fluid dripped on me for half an hour. I now have hydraulic fluid on my uniform at the wrists and knees. One of the hassles of life in Iraq.

Got the system into the data shop for repairs, should be ready by Thursday morning. Went to the chow hall, and had an excellent veal steak, with salsa and rice. Stir-fry vegetables, and Baskin-Robbins strawberry Ice cream. Met a couple of over-the-road civilian truck drivers, and they told their tales of teamstering in Iraq. One of them is interested in Freemasonry.

We have our dispensation! May 2, 2oo6, the GLNY issued the document. We still do not have any New York Masons here, I will not get my dual membership until September 2006. Then we can finally have a meeting!

Not much to do now, just kick back, and wait for the data shop to get the system prepped for going back on line. Will hang out at the Rec Hall, and get dinner, then back to the tent and try to sleep next to the generator roaring away all night.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

15 July 2006

The Ides of July. Heat has moderated. Last Monday, we had a bad windstorm. Blew down one of my systems. Smashed the mounting pole, and one of the cables just blew away, no idea where to find it. Fortunately, I had a spare set of cables. I went to the site, and one of the marines climbed up on the roof and helped me replace the cables.

We had a casualty, one of our Navy SeaBees was killed by a land mine. The Marines shut the internet down for 36 hours, until they could notify his family. When the internet came back up, one of my systems could not report. Now I must fly to Korean Village, about 12 miles from the Syrian border. The flight is 2 1/2 hours. Korean Village is the bleakest place I have ever seen.

Tonight is a Masonic Square and Compasses Club meeting. We still do not have a charter after 7 (seven) months of waiting. I am so disappointed. I have written all of the New York officers, and I still have no idea when we will have a charter. I still do not have my dual membership with Master Builder lodge #911, in Tonawanda New York.

Monday, July 10, 2006

10 July 2006

Back to it. Could not sleep at all last nite. Got up at 0800, and rode the bike into the office. Wind blowing hard across the desert, by body works like a sail, pushing me back the wrong way! Finally got to the office. Must travel to Ramadi tonight. No rest for the weary.

Yesterday at church,we talked about the importance of keeping a journal. I mentioned that I keep a BLOG. Must keep it high-tech. Like a diary, but I broadcast mine out for all the world to see, and even make comments.

Been working 10 hours a day 7 days a week since I have been here. No matter. I like it. Some SOB stole the kickstand off my Mongoose bike. I do not understand why so many people steal here. We put our lives in each other's hands. I had a nice pair of sunglasses with a neck string, and someone stole them. I had a spare wheel for my bike, and someone stole that. If they had asked me for them, I would have gladly given them away.

I finished reading "The cruelest miles" about the sled-dog drive to get the vaccine to the sick children at Nome, Alaska. The book was fascinating, and it included some insight into what it is like to live in Alaska. One thing struck me. In one of the stories, the narrator said "In Alaska we have to trust each other, else we cannot live here". I feel the same way about life in Iraq. We put our lives in each other's hands. you must rely on your buddy in the foxhole. You must also rely on your buddy, when you park your bike in front of your hooch.

The bicycle is the preferred mode of transport here. There are hundreds of bikes. Soldiers and civilians use bikes for transport. Since we go months without rain, why not! I have a John Deere Gator, and I only use it, if I have to haul tools or luggage or packages. I much prefer my bikes.

My computer is still back in California. It was busted, and I thought that the repairs were covered under warranty. Turns out that the internal damage was covered. The repair depot said that I needed a new battery, so I bought one. Turns out the battery was fine, the AC adaptor and the charging circuitry in the computer were defective, and that is not covered by warranty. Now I had to charge $225 on the American Express card, and then try for re-inbursement. The company authorized the repair, but they will howl regardless.

Getting close to lunchtime, I will close it off now.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Looking back. 1 January 2006.

> Got your mail. Iraq is an interesting place. I consider myself an
> "old mideast hand" after spending a year in Saudi Arabia. I think
> Saudi Arabia is a paradise, at least for American males.



> My work is fantastic, I love it. I supervise 9 computers (soon
> 10) on 5 forward combat bases in Western Iraq. I am based at Al
> Asad (33deg47min N/42deg28minE). My other bases are in a "ring",
> and when one of them conks out, I get on a chopper, and fly up.
> On New years eve, I flew to Ramadi (a big insurgent area), and
> stayed in the barracks.
> I went to the office the next morning, and serviced the computer.
> I got it back on line, and then "baby-sat" the system all day, to
> make sure that it did not go out again. I then got a ride to the
> helicopter terminal at 9pm. I stayed in the terminal, and got a
> chopper ride back to Al Asad at 3am. I got back to my trailer at
> 0400am. that means I worked 21 hours in one day.
> I then grabbed a hot shower in the shower trailer. I slept for
> about an hour. Then I got up at 0600am. I took a disc drive from
> an old computer, and installed it in another computer. I then got
> a chopper ride up to Al Qaim. I installed the computer, and got it
> back on line. I stayed with that computer all day, again making
> sure that it did not go out.
> One of the men there got a pizza oven for Christmas, so he made
> homemade pizza for all of us. I ate a slice, and then I watched
> "Flight of the Phoenix" on the television. I then grabbed my
> duffle bag, and walked over to the barracks for the night. I slept
> in the barracks, and then got up at 0900am. I went back and
> checked the computer to make sure that it ran all night. By 1130,
> the chopper was ready to go back.
> I got on the chopper and flew back to Al Asad, then got a bus back
> to the trailer. I had not eaten anything for 24 hours, so I was
> hungry. I went to the Chow Hall, and got a dinner of pork loin
> roast, and baked pollock fish with parmesan cheese and curry
> flavored rice. The chow hall has unlimited baskin-robbins ice
> cream, but I got cheesecake for dessert.
> I then went back to the barracks, and watched "Midway" with
> Charlton Heston. I fell asleep, and went to work at 0600am. I
> usually work 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, and I am on call 24/7.
> It's great, and I am 99% ready to re-enlist and spend a second
> year here in the Iraqi desert.
> I am getting a masonic lodge organized. (see
> http://gbp.net/rtj/iraq.html) I wish that there was a MENSA
> chapter here, but no luck. When I was in Dharhan, Saudi Arabia
> (1991)we started a MENSA chapter, and it was just getting
> underway, when I left.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

On independence day, Remember the Civilians

gets up to 120+ degrees in afternoon. night down to about 80. Windy, dusty. just keep drinking water.Does anyone think about the civilians in Iraq?We live in the tents with the soldiers and marines. We eat in their chow halls, and pray with them in the chapels.We leave our loved ones back in the USA. We are bombed on, mortared on, shot at. Unlike soldiers, we are forbidden by international conventions from carrying weapons or shooting back.over 350 of us civilians have lost our lives here in Iraq. Bombs and IED's do not discriminate, they kill civilians and military people with equal enthusiasm.We deliver the mail, the food to the chow halls, we keep the computers running , the military cannot function without computers, we keep the generators producing electricity, so that the buildings can have air conditioning. We run the Recreation halls, where the soldiers/marines can have their limited free time. We provision the hospitals, where they are treated. We keep the supplies flowing, the ammunition delivered.the average civilian is 45 here, he has a gut, and his hairline is receding. He does not have the physique of a marine Corps lance corporal, but he misses his family just as bad. He is probably a veteran, many here served in Vietnam, and came back home to the USA to be spit on.He went to college on the GI Bill, and learned the skills to support this military operation.The civilians here, are bit by the same sand fleas, the same scorpions, and the same camel spiders, that bite the soldiers. They pick the same sand from their hair. They take the same 3-minute showers as the Marines. They eat the same food in the chow halls. They weep over the same letters from their families. They miss their kids just as bad as the soldiers.The civilians here are mighty proud to be part of this operation. Terrorism kills civilians and the innocent. 3,500 civilians were killed on Sept 11, and we don't forget. Saddam Hussein killed civilians, used poison gas on Kurdish women and children. Each one of us plays a part in the fight against terrorism here in Iraq.We have no fancy uniforms, we won't get a service ribbon for our time here. We will get no welcome home parades, there will be no band waiting when we step off the plane. The president of the United States will not serve any thanksgiving meals to any civilians. The VFW posts will not be named after us. No flags fly at half-staff when we are killed.But this operation WILL NOT BE POSSIBLE without civilians. Each one of us will receive the deep personal satisfaction of having done our part to fight terrorism. When this conflict is over, and Iraq has a constitutional republic, we will have the knowledge that we civilians made it possible. People I have never met (I am forbidden to have any contact with Iraqis), will live their lives in safety, and without the monstrous rule of Saddam Hussein because of what I have done here. The Iraqi people, and the people of the entire middle east, will have a future, without terror, because of the work and sweat of the civilian force in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

01 July 2006 Ramadi Base

I am at Ramadi base. I flew up last night, and went to the transient tent. What a pig-sty! Trash and bottles and various crap all over the floor. The tent is right next to a 10KW generator, and sleeping is impossible. Went to work at 0800 in the morning, already HOT. Ramadi is in the center of the terrorist stronghold. I have an antenna up at a guard shack, and a soldier was killed in that shack some months ago.

Looks like I will be here for a couple of days at least. It's bearable. I am glad that I brought enough clothes for four days. The mess hall is barely tolerable, not nearly as good as what it used to be last year. Like most mess halls in western Iraq, it has gone downhill.

Fortunately, I can get on a computer at the Recreation Hall. Been surfing the net all day. Also reading "On the wings of Eagles" about how Ross Perot had his people rescued from Iran. As a contractor working in a foreign country, I am interested in this story. Fortunately, I am forbidden to travel on a motor vehicle, or even to leave the perimeter, except by air.

I stopped the automatic posting by the YAHOO group. If someone wants to read this BLOG, they will have to open it on the web like anyone else.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

29 June 2006

Stuck in Al Qaim. Trying for a night flight. HOT here, 120+. when I get back, then I must get a night flight to Ramadi. No rest.

Monday, June 26, 2006

26 June 2006. From a French Mason

Received an Email today. Here is the English translation:

My Dear brother Charles,

I am a Freemason, from the Grand Orient of France (not in communication with the Mother Grand Lodge in England), and I received your news through our mutual connection Brother Roger Nette.

Your mission in Iraq, is very dangerous. I hope that our friends in the American Government will find a way to get you people out of the hornet's nest there, and then return the brave soldiers to their families.

We think that Democracy cannot be exported at the end of an M16 rifle, like a terrorist!

We think that Western-style Democracy can be best shared, by concrete examples of Freedom and secular government.

These examples can re-establish goodwill, with people of other cultures to move on to the establishment of a new political birth in their societies.

Take care of yourself my Brother,

Signed , Armand

Email: schaeffera2@wanadoo.fr

What do you expect from a gimlet-assed garlic sucker? Raise one hand if you like the French. Raise two hands and you are French.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Some good news at last

Brother Charles,
Have you obtained the written approval to meet on the FOB yet?
Al A Sad will be the location of the first Fellowcraft Club of LSA#1, and then be empowered to to conduct meetings.
The meetings will be held upon receipt of the Dispensation, thru me, which will allow you to meet on a specified date, at a specified time, and for a specified purpose. More information to follow. The NY membership issue is still problem that needs to be resolved, between the Grand Secretaries of NY and Kentucky.

22 June 2006

Getting some good news from New York at last. We have permission from the Base Commander to meet. Meeting rooms are scarce, and difficult to schedule. There is a new chapel under construction, and hopefully that will relieve some of the stress. I still do not have my dual membership with Master Builder lodge #911, in Tonawanda NY. My home lodge (Bowling Green 73, Bowling Green KY) issued the document stating that I am a Master Mason in good standing, but there is apparently some confusion, about my Masonic status.

I requested the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of KY to issue a document, verifying my Masonic status, but this document must be requested from New York. I contacted the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of New York, and requested that he secure the necessary documents. SIX months to get a dual membership through is unacceptable. If we had a charter today, we could not have masonic meetings, because we do not have a New York mason present here on Al Asad.

From a brother in Reunion Island, Indian Ocean

Is this a great fraternity or what!

Dear Charles,

I found your e-mail adress during a time spent to internet navigation. (As usualy on Masonics web pages).
I was puzzled by your bravery which conduct you and surely some other Brethern to open a LodgeasLand Sea and Air Lodge N°1, in these country under war time.
But I think too that with will and a great love about our convictions theyr is always a way. You are then so a fine exemple.
I write you from Réunion Island a small french Island near Madagascar, in fact a middle way between Mauritius Island and Madagascar in Indian Ocean.For your information here, in these small Island there are 15 Lodges working under regular recognisation. All the regular Rites are used as Emulation, Scottish Standard Rite, York Rite, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, French Rite and although Royal Ark and Mark masonnry.
So I dont will ennoy you with this all. I only hope that everything is getting very well for you and hope and wish that all your wishes could find a réalization in a short coming time.
Excuse me for my english, but I do what I can....
Hope that you will find interrest to communicate with a Brother from a French Country. Keep care on you.
With all my brotherhood

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

20 June 2006

What a country! I have been endorsed for a second year here. The company apparently likes how I do this job. Good for them. I like how I do the job as well.

Night before last, I got on the Mongoose bike, and the rear tire was flat. I dismounted it, repaired the leak, and re-mounted and inflated the tire. Then I got on the bike yesterday morning, and the same tire was flat. As an old friend used to say "It would make a preacher cuss". So I dismounted the tire, and found a second leak, just an inch from the old leak. I patched the leak, and put the tire under my bed, so that the glue could cure. I will re-mount it today.

The heat is relentless, it has no pity. I would like to sleep with the air conditioner off, the humming is loud. But the night heat crawls across the desert, so it is too hot to sleep with the A/C off. I have to leave it running. This morning, there was a power interruption, so as soon as the power went off, I cut the master switch, so that the A/C would not re-start when the power came back on.

The company wants to send another man here. I can keep him busy, but the work load here is not unbearable. As long as I don't have to take any personal or sick days, then I will be fine.

The food here is getting a little better. Yesterday for lunch I had a breaded veal steak, and a boneless chicken breast. Supper last nite was Barbecued beef brisket. If I can just stay away from the Baskin-Robbins, I might lose a couple of inches here.

We still don't have a charter for our lodge. The Grand Lodge of New York is working on it. It has been over six months, and we don't have a clue as to when the charter is going to be issued. I still do not have my dual membership with Master Builder lodge #911 in Tonawanda NY. The required documentation has not been passed on. I had the secretary of my home lodge in Bowling Green KY, send a confirmation of my membership, and I sent in a photocopy of my 2005 dues card, but the Grand Lodge of New York requires a letter from the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of KY. I requested the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of New York to request the letter. I submitted my request for dual membership in December 2005, and I don't know when it will be processed.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

14 June 2006

What a day. HOT 115, but strong desert winds make it feel cooler. I went to the office today, got the reports in. Went to the laundry, post office, etc. Mailed in the forms for my visa, will try to go to Russia for R&R. Today is the Army's birthday, so the chow hall had a special meal. Prime Rib, lobster tails, shrimp. At least no one made us sing "The caissons go rolling along". Went back to the office, all is well. I was up at Blue Diamond on Marine Corps Birthday (Nov 10), and the senior marine NCOs were serving the meal in the chow hall. We had to all stand up and sing "Marine Hymn". GUNG-HO these marines are.

Been feeling sick, taking my pills for the desert discomfort. Got to keep my fluid balance up, and take extra salt pills.

Got an email about the Afghanistan project. I am still under consideration. The supervisor asked for another copy of my resume, so I sent him the link. I keep a personal web page, which is great, anyone can access my resume.

Found a letter from my mom, dated November 2005. She suggested that I keep a journal. Ironic, now I keep a blog. If I knew they were free, I would have started this blog a long time ago.

Getting some interesting emails. I asked military.com to start a discussion group for freemasons. They did, and the page just took off. Many military folk, active/veteran/retired are interested in Freemasonry. I have already helped two individuals get petitions! how about that. The internet is doing great things for Freemasonry, it may prove to be one of the tools that keeps the craft from going under.

Time now 1000pm, I am monitoring the systems here. If I can keep it going, I can take it a little easy tomorrow. Also, it is not so hot at night.

Friday, June 09, 2006

An interesting Email from a brother in Cameroon

I got this email. Its a small world. I am an American Freemason, living in Iraq, and this brother heard of our lodge.

He works for the same firm that I do.Here is an English Translation of his email:

"I happily discovered that our wonderful craft has undertaken the marvelous undertaking work of establishing a lodge in Iraq.

Also, the beginnings of love of peace and unity in that territory.

I discovered also that you are with UNISYS. I work with UNISYS computer systems here in Douala, Cameroon.

Unhappily, UNISYS is stopping their activities here.

Saluting you with "Three times Three",

Charles Epee, Freemason. "Ned Collins Hope" lodge, Douala, Cameroon, United Grand Lodge of Cameroon

9 June 2006

Couldn't get a flight back to Al Asad last night. Will spend an extra day here at Blue Diamond. Should be able to fly back tonight. The system is still good. Just relax, watch some TV, wait for the flight.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

8 June 2006

Got the system back on line, WAHOO! It is bloody hot here in Blue Diamond. Ate a decent meal at the Chow Hall, now I have to get a night chopper flight back to Al Asad. Isn't life great when the equipment works?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

7 June 2006. Supplemental

The computer at Blue Diamond is conked out again. I must fly up there, and get it back on line again. A night flight across the desert is always a hassle, but I like the adventure. With luck, I can get it back on line, and return here Friday morning.

7 June 2006

Last night, I broke the chain on my bike. Then I had to walk it home. Then I was up until 2am, repairing the chain. This morning, when I tried to ride the bike, the derailleur broke. Now I must replace the derailleur. What a hassle.

I found out last night, that I am for a lateral transfer to Afghanistan. This means more responsibility, and also that I will be flying back to the USA every couple of months to make reports. I don't know much of the specifics of the job, but it looks like a real interesting position.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

6 June 2006

6 June. Tuesday night. The days are so hot, that I prefer to sleep during the day, and work at night. It looks like I have a chance for a transfer to Afghanistan. Will find out more later. I like Iraq, and I would really like to spend another year here.

Monday, June 05, 2006

June 5, 2006

Greetings to all. It is morning here in Iraq. Will get up to 110 today. This place is like "ground hog day", every day is the same. You lose track.

All the best,

Sunday, June 04, 2006

My first post

Check out www.dcmetronet.com/landseaandairlodgeiraq