Taking Fire in Iraq

We took our first indirect fire last night. I was in the flight planning room when all of a sudden people charged into the room in full battle rattle, Kevlar helmet sand body armor, telling us "IDF ... no joke, this is not a drill!"

Until then, it had always been an exercise where we would pretend some sort of attack had come upon us. Knowing it was real this time caused some to loose their grip, if only momentarily. Running up and down the hall, throwing on gear while shouting that we were under attack, the staff began counting every person in the unit to make sure we were all okay.

One or two people were hard to track down, with the base being so large and the unit so spread out, so there was a moment where we were crossing our fingers. But ultimately, the numbers worked out.

As pilots on the flight line came inside, they gave first hand accounts of what happened. Some described having their head down inspecting some portion of the aircraft when they noticed a flash of light followed by a loud, but muffled and very low frequency, rumble. "What the hell was that?" someone asked. A second round flashed and repeated the thump-like explosion. It was at that point that most of those outside registered what was going on and started to make their way inside.

Some arrived hurried and out of breath from their running for cover, while others came inside a few minutes later with unusually casual saunters. Some rapidly spouted their accounts of what happened, while the seemingly care free only told their stories after I prodded them to do so.

Later, I began to think about what had just happened. I did not react the way I thought I would, maybe because I did not see the flash of light or hear the thudding explosions of the rounds. During my preparation, I'd imagined I would be come frantic and hurried under fire, but I was neither. When I reviewed the impact areas on the map, I just concluded that they missed this time. Hopefully, they will continue to miss in the future.

Before I knew it, I was back to working like the event never took place. Later that night, a pilot who missed it because he was flying a mission asked, "So what exactly happened?" I answered, "What do you mean what happened?" I had already forgotten.

-- Written 3/14/2006

By Bert Stover |  March 20, 2006; 10:00 AM ET  | Category:  Al Asad, Iraq
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

I thank the Washington Post and
Bert Stover for providing us with this blog - and for the unselfish service to and for the benefit of all people.

Martha (Maggie) Meo

Posted by: Maggie Meo | March 20, 2006 10:35 AM

I was talking with a friend of mine, who's got 12 years in, and a partial combat disability, who's probably remustering to Legal officer from MP Staff Sergeant since he's got his degree now.

Why does the media push the lies of:

1. most soldiers being GOP voters - I don't remember us talking about political candidates much when I did my seven years; and

2. us winning in Iraq - those of us who have have been in it know it's a clvsterfvck at best.

Posted by: Will in Seattle | March 20, 2006 11:57 AM

Will's second question is an interesting one, especially when there is little or no chance of the US "winning" in Iraq. This criminal misadventure was lost a long time ago thanks to the arrogance and incompetence of Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Bush. It's pathetic that we will lose so many lives for absolutely nothing. Let's support our troops by opposing this war and bringing them home now.

Posted by: American Mind | March 20, 2006 02:25 PM

I'm grateful to Bert for this blog as well. We can't win if we don't try, and our grandparents weren't even asked to go die in Normandy or the Pacific.

We live in a wild world, and if we don't fight, someone else will win. And America is not alone: many countries want a democratic Iraq and support it with troops. If we win, we don't win alone, but if we lose, you tell me what's next.

Posted by: Miguel | March 20, 2006 02:49 PM

Miguel asks: "...if we lose, you tell me what's next."

If we lose, large and powerful countries like the United States will be less inclined to try to take over smaller countries like Iraq that have done them no harm. We have already lost this adventure and also lost over 2,300 dead and 15,000 wounded for Cheney's arrogance and Bush's stupidity.

Posted by: American Patriot | March 20, 2006 03:08 PM

blocking of posts that are not favorable to the current view of the Iraqi occupation, that is being labeled a war, so that the

presidente' gets "war powers" so he can redirect the output of the American public into his families pockets..

without fear, as he passes laws to make declaring bankruptcies near impossible as "outsourcing" becomes a way of life for American corporations?

thanks so much for your support of _real_ Americans, the kind that live in isolated compounds while your unemployed peasants fight your feudal battles for you.


Posted by: what's with this? | March 20, 2006 04:07 PM

If the Iraqi people are so gung-ho about democracy, how come they're not fighting for it? And why are they so eager to embrace theocratic rule, as proposed by the various mullahs who have control of popular sentiment?

Wake up, people -- the U.S. occupation of Iraq is entering its fourth year. The war was built on a foundation of fraud, it has been mismanaged from day one, it has completely destabilized the Middle East, it has bankrupted the American treasury and it achieved none of its goals except for toppling of third-rate dictator Saddam Hussein (who was on the CIA payroll for years and years prior to the arrival of the Bush family in the White House).

We hear talk of "sacrifice" from a president who takes five week vacations. We hear the administration blame the media for skewered coverage, while at the same time they bribe Iraqi newspapers to run phony-happy stories of the American occupation.

We have seen the leaders of this country repeatedly lie about the war, break the law to punish those who dare to expose their lies, and refuse to acknowledge they made anything resembling an error. We've antagonized our long-standing allies when they criticize our actions and we've embraced thuggish dictators from across the Islamic world (from Pakistan to Dubai and all miserable points in-between) as new allies.

In the interim, those who were responsible for 9/11 were never brought to justice. Those responsible for putting anthrax in the U.S. mails in 2001 were never arrested. But we have military jails from Cuba to Afghanistan stocked with hundreds of men who are being held illegally for upwards of three years -- not to mention prisoners who were tortured to death, only to have it found afterwards they were innocent men who should never have been in confinement in the first place.

My advice: anyone who supports this idiotic Iraqi escapade should go to their local recruiting station and sign up for Army duty. If you are too old to do so, send your kids and grandchildren. It is no accident that no member of the Bush, Cheney, Rove, Rice or Rumsfeld family is in military service in Iraq. Sacrifice is great, in the Bush league -- as long as some other guy is getting blown up.

Posted by: E. Etage | March 20, 2006 04:38 PM


Al-Asad will become even more isolated. The proposed 2006 supplemental budget for Iraq operations would provide $7.4 million to extend the no-man's-land and build new security fencing around the base, which at 19 square miles is so large that many assigned there take the Yellow or Blue bus routes to get around the base, or buy bicycles at a PX jammed with customers.

The latest budget also allots $39 million for new airfield lighting, air traffic control systems and upgrades allowing al-Asad to plug into the Iraqi electricity grid - a typical sign of a long-term base.

Posted by: GET OUT NOW | March 20, 2006 04:47 PM

I have only one question for the doubtful among us:
Who do you think stood up to the oppression of the English, back when we were a young country?

Abunch of "dumb" farmers in the N.E. part of the country and with smooth-bore guns and a lot of do or die attitudes!!

Who put the muscle on Hitler to save Britain and Europe from this mad man?

American blood and guts!

Is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness worth fighting for and dying for?

With out a doubt or blink of an eye!!

I was a seventeen year old farm kid and volunteered to die for these principles and am proud that we have people that feel that whatever is worth having is worth dying for!

For those of you that feel compromise and negotiating with despots, is the way. God forgive you for your misguided thinking and attitude. Many of us died for your right to discent, but are you thankful that there are those who will fight and sacrifice thenselves for you to enjoy the fruits of their efforts?

Posted by: Del Miller, Michigan | March 20, 2006 05:07 PM

there's a bit of a difference between WWII,

and an occupation to control scarce resources,

as well as, using false pretenses to obtain, war powerz.

Posted by: I think | March 20, 2006 05:27 PM

Thank you Bert for these glimpses into your life. My husband will be joining you there shortly and having some idea of what it will be like for him helps so much.
Thank you again. Keep your helmet on and keep up the good work.

Posted by: home alone | March 20, 2006 05:43 PM

Who do you think stood up to the oppression of the English, back when we were a young country?

The insurgents!

Who put the muscle on Hitler to save Britain and Europe from this mad man?

Mostly the Soviet Union 1939 until D-Day. 20,000,000 Soviet dead.

Is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness worth fighting for and dying for?


Question: Is a pack of lies told to induce an unprovoked attack by the United States on the country holding the world's second largest oil reserves worth one life?

NO WAY! Support our brothers and sisters in Iraq. Bring them home now.

Posted by: Red White and Blue | March 20, 2006 05:47 PM

To all those who despise George Bush for what you call his attempts to control foreign oil, I ask you this:

Have you complained in the past month about oil prices being too high?

Do you drive an SUV, truck, or other vehicle with low gas mileage?

Do you in some way benefit from all this that you have not yet considered.

With all the oil for blood banter that goes on, how many of you have choked up and spent the extra money on a hybrid vehicle.

In short, you may oppose the war with words, but your dependency on oil and other petroleum products supports the war with $$$.

All the self-righteous bloggers out there out to quit acting as if they are on the high ground and realize that they too are part of the problem. If we don't need oil as much, we don't need Iraq as much.

Take a look at yourself and see if your actions are indeed in line with your words.

Posted by: Harry | March 20, 2006 05:48 PM

Nonsense, Harry. The warmakers, not us, are responsible for the war. I'd rather ride a donkey and use candles than have tens of thousands of innocents die for Cheney and Rumsfeld's greed, making my country the most hated in the world and steadily reducing our national security.

Posted by: Red White and Blue | March 20, 2006 06:49 PM

I have a question for Warrant Officer Stover. I saw a recent poll done by Zogby of our men and women in Iraq. It found that 85% of them still think they are there "retaliating for Saddam's role in 9/11". Now, we all know how they got that misconception drilled into their heads. A certain Administration playing the "association game" every night on the news. And Cheney's outright lies on the subject.

My question is, when soldiers over there learn the truth (eventually), aren't they the least bit... miffed at having been lied to by their Commander in Chief, and putting their lives on the line for a bunch of bs?

Anyway, thanks for your sense of duty and love of country - even if in reality you are only defending the stock values of the oil companies.

Posted by: B2O | March 20, 2006 07:17 PM

> Have you complained in the past month about oil prices being too high?

I've complained about them being too low. We need to at least double the gas tax, to help wean us off the stuff.

> Do you drive an SUV, truck, or other vehicle with low gas mileage?

Honda Civic (28/35), and I bike or take public to work whenever I can. Like most liberals, I put my lifestyle where my mouth is.

> Do you in some way benefit from all this that you have not yet considered.

Nope, no stock in Halliburton, that I know of (401K is sometimes hard to keep pegged).

> With all the oil for blood banter that goes on, how many of you have choked up and spent the extra money on a hybrid vehicle.

Have a $500 deposit down on a Prius, hoping to take delivery before end of month.

> In short, you may oppose the war with words, but your dependency on oil and other petroleum products supports the war with $$$.

It sounds like you are okay with the blood-for-oil moral value, but hunting for hypocrites to give you cover/company? What's up with that?

> If we don't need oil as much, we don't need Iraq as much.

Well, at least you are acknoweldging our bloody deed. I guess that's the first step.

> Take a look at yourself and see if your actions are indeed in line with your words.

I suggest the same to you.

Posted by: | March 20, 2006 07:22 PM

In a poll in our community it was discovered that 94.675 per cent of the anti-war folks contributed nothing to our national interest while enjoying 100% of the benefits supported by the efforts of others. Seems like I hear that giant sucking sound!

Posted by: colonels | March 20, 2006 07:43 PM

In a poll in our capital it was discovered that 100% of the administration and congress have not sent their sons or daughters to die for their lies!

Posted by: Patriot | March 20, 2006 08:19 PM

if there is no oil dependency we don't need to be there right?

So we've taken strong action to remove our dependence upon oil right?

Since when is it okay to make up a story about terrorism, as a way of excusing imperialistic actions?

so what part of being American, makes it all right to invade another country for oil?

What does your president's familiy, the
Kuwiati emirs, Saudi Royalty and British have in common?


WE could have a policy that made us unoil dependant, but that would interrupt the flow of money into oil rich, or friends of oil...who did Cheyney have a secret meeting with in 2001? And who did Sen. Ted Stevens fail to swear into congress to testify about the oil business? Oil magnates.

Since when is it okay to occupy a country on the premise of defending our country from terrorism, when we're actually controlling the stock market for the affluent?

Normally, when a child tells a story to get what they want, the parents tell the child that they're lying...they don't reward them.

Withdraw the war posuer powers.

Posted by: reality speaks | March 20, 2006 09:52 PM

Colonels said: In a poll in our community it was discovered that 94.675 per cent of the anti-war folks contributed nothing to our national interest while enjoying 100% of the benefits supported by the efforts of others. Seems like I hear that giant sucking sound!

They paid taxes, didn't they? What the heck does "contributed . . . to our national interest" mean?

Posted by: THS | March 20, 2006 10:31 PM




March 20/21, 2006 -- Its not often that a film can affect the body politic of a nation. But that is the effect of the movie released on St. Patrick's Day, V for Vendetta. Set in a near future England ruled by a Conservative Party government-turned-fascist, the hero, a horribly burned escaped political prisoner named "V" who dons a Guy Fawkes mask, cape, hat, and has an array of fancy weapons (sort of a Zorro, Phantom of the Opera, and Batman clone), blows up London's Old Bailey judicial building and the Houses of Parliament as an act of vengeance for the genocide and political repression carried out by the fascist government. As a historical note, Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up Parliament in 1605 with gunpowder in a plot involving Catholics and Spain. He was caught and hanged but soon became a folk hero to England's working class and Guy Fawkes Day is celebrated with fireworks every November 5. [Note to royalist Anglophiles: yes, I understand that many Britons burn Guy Fawkes in effigy on Nov, 5, but many Britons also celebrate his almost feat with fireworks. I've been to Britain too many times during the festival and know what Fawkes means to those who despise the pederasts and imbeciles who make up the British Royal Family and the House of Lords/House of Commons. It's too bad Fawkes did not succeed in blowing the monarchy and Parliament to hell and back in 1605 . . . there would have never been a Puritan/Pilgrim invasion of North America with all of the concomitant religious idiocy and paranoia we experience today -- which means that George W. Bush would likely presently be a bestial sheepherder on some Shropshire farm].

What has our own fascist right wing media hopping mad are the references to the Bush regime and its wars. One political dissident in the movie has a secret room displaying banned art and posters. One of the posters is from the anti- Iraq war London protests -- it displays a U.S. flag and U.K. flag inter-connected by a swastika with the words "Coalition of the Willing." There are references to a civil war- and virus-ravaged "former United States" that has engaged not only in the actual war in Iraq but wars in Syria and Kurdistan. There are comments about America's rendition and there are plenty of black hoods thrown on the heads of political detainees and "yellow" terrorist alerts. Not only has TV come under total fascist control, but Britain's Royal Mail has been privatized and turned into the "British Freight Co." There is also a reference to a genocide carried out by the English fascists in Ireland and it may not have been totally coincidental that a film focusing on an English fascist government's repression of freedom fighters was released on St. Patrick's Day.

The Conservative Party reaches ultimate power by unleashing a virus on Britain killing thousands. It turns out that leading members of the Conservative Party own stock in the pharmaceutical firms that have the vaccine drugs and enrich themselves in the process. Several top officials of the Bush regime have interests in various pharmaceutical firms involved with anthrax, smallpox, and avian flu vaccines --including Donald Rumsfeld, the former CEO of G.D. Searle [sold to Monsanto] -- and V for Vendetta's references to avian flu as a government attempt to hype the media and bamboozle the public is another clear link between the film's anti-fascist message and the Bush/Tony Blair governments.

Britain's near future features a Fox/Sky News type propaganda news network called "British Television Network." Its major racist, right-wing blatherer also happens to enjoy romping around in a specially-built shower in his office (hmmm... I wonder who that might really be?). There is also the bald, pudgy, and thoroughly revolting top assistant and chief dirty tricks operative to the fascist High Chancellor (hmmm...again, I wonder who that could be?). And then there is the English Bishop who happens to like little girls (well, that could be any of our so-called "moral majority" religious leaders, except in some cases, little boys could be substituted for little girls).

In the end, all these fiends are eliminated, one by one, by our man "V." And this is what probably, more than anything else, has the right-wing defecating in their pants. They know that one day they will face a reckoning for the damage they've done to the United States, to Iraq, to the United Nations process and international law, and to peoples and nations around the world. And that reckoning will be far from a slap on the wrists and the right-wing is beginning to wake up to that fact. Some on the right now understand they overplayed their hand and are trying to change their spots.

The left has always been tolerant to a point. But pushed against the wall, the progressives of the world have always discovered how to treat their vanquished enemies -- just look at what happened to Hans Frank, Wilhelm Frick, Julius Streicher, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Pierre Laval, Vidkun Quisling, and other fascist leaders of the 20th century.

V has one bit of advice that is already echoing around the Internet: "People shouldn't be afraid of their government, government should be afraid of their people."


It looks like there will be a run on Guy Fawkes masks and maybe quite a few red spray painted "Vs" on various public adverts and walls. And why not? Let neo-con governments and their operatives and lickspittles everywhere know that with a blossoming of red "Vs" that we the people do understand and neo-con governments and their right-wing supporters should be very afraid of the people.

Already, the right-wing, including blogs like Town Hall, Men's News Daily, and WorldNetDaily, are attacking the film, calling it, among other things, pro-terrorist, pro-homosexual, neo-Marxist, anti-Christian, and left-wing pro-Islamo-fascist (by the way, co-star Natalie Portman is Israeli born). Someone named Ted Baehr, writing for WorldNetDaily, called Britain's Parliament, blown up by V in the movie, "Western Civilization's most enduring symbols of democracy and republican government." That's funny, last time this editor went to Britain, I distinctly remember the country being a monarchy. But history is not a strong suit among the right-wing. Their hero, George W. Bush, can't even read a history book although he's probably listened to the book-on-tape version of Mein Kampf.

The right-wing has plenty to be worried about with the movie V for Vendetta. They will first see the push back in the November elections (and woe be it to them if they once again engage in election fraud). And upon electoral victory will inevitably come the indictments, trials, impeachments, imprisonments, electoral recalls, and, if need be, deportations, or as they called them during the days of Guy Fawkes, banishment.

Posted by: CHE | March 21, 2006 05:33 AM

Thanks for the movie review...and now back to Bert.....

Thank you Bert for continuing to give us an insight into your days there. I try and speak with my loved one as often as I can through email and Skype, but it's always interesting to see it from your point of view.
As always, know we are proud of you and those you are with. Keep up the good work!

Posted by: Cali-Girl | March 21, 2006 09:01 AM

To answer Del Miller's amusing questions:

Who do you think stood up to the oppression of the English, back when we were a young country?

Only half of the American population. The loyalists actually took up a lot more of the demographics than people may wish to acknowledge. Plus, the British would've won had it not been for military and financial aid from...France!

Who put the muscle on Hitler to save Britain and Europe from this mad man?

The British did quite a sufficient job defending themselves, thank you. And as the earlier poster noted, the Soviet Union crippled the Nazis on the Eastern front. Without them, the war would've dragged on for years.

Is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness worth fighting for and dying for?

Of course. But not when the life, liberty and happiness in question belongs to a people unwilling to defend themselves (hint: their capital is Baghdad).

And for Mr. Miller's quote: "For those of you that feel compromise and negotiating with despots, is the way. God forgive you for your misguided thinking and attitude. Many of us died for your right to discent, but are you thankful that there are those who will fight and sacrifice thenselves for you to enjoy the fruits of their efforts?"

When I last checked, the Bush allies include Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, China, Russia and Uzbekistan. Nary a civil libertarian in the bunch, eh?

Posted by: E. Etage | March 21, 2006 09:36 AM

Folks, lets not call a spade a big spoon. Sadam had sworn to the distruction of Israel, and even had an army unity called Jerusalem, ready to go. All he wanted was a powerful weapon and no one trusted what he was doing behind the sand dunes and in tunnels. so tell me, supposing he took the first initiative of attacking Israel with whatever weapons he had? Israel could have reacted with full force, Arab countries could have joined in to support Irag, and of course America could unleash its military might on any participating arab nation. Other countries in Europe and elsewhere could have run to the rescue of their respective allies. And so, what do you end up with? WORLD WAR III. Think obout it and call a spade a spade

Posted by: lucas | March 21, 2006 10:02 AM

Actor Charlie Sheen Questions Official 9/11 Story


Posted by: che | March 21, 2006 10:30 AM


It is great to read about your experiences on the ground and in the air. I am incredibly proud of you as I have been since the third grade. I am looking forward to the day you come back, but until then, stay safe and keep up the good work!

Posted by: Russ B. | March 21, 2006 12:46 PM

I wonder if some of you who are posting here can ever understand the terror that we families are feeling for our soldiers? You obviously have the time on your hands to post your stories, can you take a break for a day and use that time to think about our kids who are in harms way? I am not saying you need to agree or disagree, just take that time to honestly THINK about our children. Maybe when you are done doing that, your heart will tell you that this is not the forum for you, it is about one soldiers experience that some of us are clinging to as it gives us some insight in to our own childrens daily lives that we are unable to hear about.
They are not coming home because you say they should, so give us all a break and let the man tell his story...........PLEASE

Posted by: I miss my soldier son | March 21, 2006 01:30 PM

"I miss my soldier son" makes me think. She or he makes me sad. Still, I can't help but remember the terror of occupied Iraq and its 30,000 to 100,000 dead so far.

Iraqis too have mothers.

I am sad for her or him and his or her son or daughter, sensitive to the trauma of war that they are suffering. But I can't forget the needless suffering that the cruel and deceitful invasion and occupation continues to cause. Our arrogant and criminal leadership causes plenty of suffering to go around.

Iraqis too have fathers.

The only answer is to speak out in every forum against this criminal occupation. It is not in every war that soldiers grit their teeth and follow illegal orders. The French army came close to rebellion in the first world war. The Czarist army did rebel. The US war in Vietnam fell apart because so many soldiers could no longer be trusted to follow orders. They did not want to die or kill for the stupidity of their leadership. Sooner or later the same will happen in Iraq.

I feel sick thinking about the mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers of our service members in Iraq. That doesn't change the fact that the war is destroying Iraqi society.

Iraqis too have sisters and brothers.

The war's harmful effects will be felt everywhere for decades. is a repulsive atrocity and it must be repudiated by all humanity.

Iraqis too feel pain. Heartless men like Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Bush are responsible for the pain of the AMERICAN AND IRAQI widows, mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers.

Posted by: sickened by war | March 21, 2006 08:56 PM

Almost never do I read blog comments as I find the rhetoric, bloviation (look it up), back-biting and name-calling repetitive and boring. This one is different only because of the previous comment (I miss my soldier son). I don't have the words to express to you my sorrow and regret.

If memory serves, warrant officers are addressed as Mr. (If I'm wrong, someone correct me). Accordingly, Mr. Stover, tho I believe the Iraq War (and it is a war)is a tragic mistake, I wish you good health, long life and Peace.

Posted by: waynels | March 21, 2006 09:03 PM


Posted by: PEACE | March 21, 2006 10:15 PM

I just wanted to say how much I appreciate this column. My fiance is over there at Al Asad as well and while email is more frequent than phone calls, it is nice to have an alternative source to get some kind of idea what your loved ones are going through and dealing with. This is not our first deployment nor do I think it will be our last, but I hope if there is another that a blog like this is available at that time as well. Much appreciated.

Posted by: Renae | March 21, 2006 10:43 PM

c'mon war supporters, suit up or blog off!

Posted by: dave in toronto | March 22, 2006 10:39 AM

Dave, from Toronto.

You seem to be implying that the only people allowed to voice their opinion are those who are willing to put their money where their mouth is.

So, as I have already been there and done that, let me now and forever abolish that kind of anti-democratic talk by gracing all with the privilege of speaking their mind, regardless of their veteran status.

Sorry, Dave, but you are the one who gave me that authority.

Posted by: Jay Cline | March 22, 2006 11:54 AM

And, let us not forget that the first President who had no millitary (or militia) experience, was our second President, John Adams.

That good and faithful lawyer from MA.

Posted by: Jay Cline | March 22, 2006 12:00 PM

sorry, Jay, i didnt know god was lurking here!

and to clarify, if you support the war, and want your troops in Iraq, then why not (re) join them?

doesnt sound anti-democratic to me

Posted by: dave in toronto | March 22, 2006 12:07 PM

To Jay's comment: "Let us not forget that the first President who had no millitary (or militia) experience, was our second President, John Adams."

Comparing John Adams to George W. Bush is like comparing a bucket of gold to a bucket of donkey excrement. Please, guy, get real!

Posted by: E. Etage | March 22, 2006 12:13 PM

My loved one is in the same Battalion as CWO2 Stover and just recently read this blog. I had told him it was amazing to me that people could take this blog and turn it into a political debate when Bert is just telling about his days as a soldier in Iraq. He asked me to submit some of his thoughts on here and I am only happy to oblige:

He was saddened and sometimes angry with all the negativity and political crap that people were writing. He was looking for support and found anything but that from many of the comments.

He is over there "helping to set up the Iraqi government and to help ensure they are off the ground and able to be on their own just like France stayed to helped us out in the Revolutionary War to make sure we were able to support ourselves. We are helping the Iraqi families with food and schooling and helping to make sure they are safe..."

He also said "I may not put my life on the line as much as the others but I feel the affect of what they do. I'm glad I'm out here and supporting them. Yeah, it sucks being away from my family and the people I love but I'm out here doing a job. It's not about the oil. It's about helping to start this new government and country being born"

"I give a lot of praise to all those of the armed forces, over the wire and up in the air. I believe in my country and will make the ultimate sacrifice if I have to because I believe in what I'm doing. And I would be glad to do it again if I had to. But that is the reason I signed up and it doesn't bother me to do it for a country that I love."

I was trying to type and get down everything he was saying because it was so poignant. I'm sure I missed some of it that I should have gotten but hopefully this sheds some light on his thoughts. He is not a political person. He is a soldier in a war and doing the best he can over there. He does not believe he is being lied to. He is seeing first hand the good that is coming out of us being there.

I am so proud of him and Bert and everyone that they are serving with. So to those of you that are using this blog to spew your political rhetoric, negativity, and sometimes just plain nonsense, remember that a soldier, in the war you are complaining about, read what you wrote and disagreed with you.

"They aren't over here, how the hell would they know?"

There was one comment that he enjoyed reading, from "Home Alone" whose husband will be joining them over there soon.

"Why can't there be more like that? That's what this blog is about."

Why, indeed.

Posted by: Cali-Girl | March 22, 2006 03:07 PM

"He is seeing first hand the good that is coming out of us being there."

40,000 - 100,000 dead and counting at the rate of +/- fifty per day thanks to a foreign invasion and occupation that has led to a civil war with no end in sight.

Posted by: Thank you for invading us | March 22, 2006 09:02 PM

It's amazing that a few hard core believers can still talk about "the good" that the United States is doing in Iraq given the obvious daily bloodbath and chaos of the civil war that the invasion has caused, but they are fewer every day.

Posted by: Almost unbelievable | March 22, 2006 09:07 PM

It's very hard to face reality when it contradicts everything you have been told and believe and especially when people have deeply felt and emotionally important beliefs about the goodness of their country. However, the Iraq disaster is just too much for most people to stomach.

Posted by: The Sad Reality | March 22, 2006 09:16 PM

It takes a lot of resistence to reality to "not believe he is being lied to" when every last utterance of Cheney and Bush with regard to Iraq turns out to be false.

Posted by: LIES | March 22, 2006 09:49 PM

Be Safe. Be good. Be true to you. Thank you for your service and for your communication. My husband is there, also. I support 100% you, and him, and his decision to be in the Reserves.

Posted by: Navy Wife | March 22, 2006 10:47 PM

"It's amazing that a few hard core believers can still talk about "the good" that the United States is doing in Iraq given the obvious daily bloodbath and chaos of the civil war that the invasion has caused, but they are fewer every day."

That would be the carnage & chaos being brought to you daily courtesy of the mainstream mediots who, like some posters here, apparently hate Bush & Co. so much, they *want* the US to lose. This same carnage & chaos is only a feeble glimpse of what would happen if our forces were to suddenly pull out now, & all involved seem to realize this. Of course, if the media pulled out too, viewers could imagine everything was OK--until the consequences began to affect *us*. We broke Iraq, dammit--we bought it & are obligated to finish fixing it!

You want to withdraw troops, how about from *Germany*, where the war's been over for 60 years. Bosnia, maybe? When was there ever a Balkan exit strategy? Meanwhile, the UN wants us to start occupying Sudan....

Posted by: Robur LeConq | March 23, 2006 01:25 AM

Well you nay-sayers didn't disappoint. I knew you would miss the entire message of my post and you did because of your one-mindedness and blind hatred of your government. You missed the point that a soldier was looking for support, not more political rhetoric.

Thank you "Navy Wife" and "Robur LeConq" and thank you Bert for continuing to give us your views. Keep up the good work!

Posted by: Cali-Girl | March 23, 2006 10:20 AM

Well you yay-sayers never fail to show the hollowness of your arguement.

Support Bert and enlist... he, and all brave Americans over there need your help

Posted by: dave in toronto | March 23, 2006 10:30 AM

oh, some good things to remember.

never take off your helmet - you're in-country, you're never in a safe space - if you do, put it back on soonest.

never take off your armor - i know, i know, it's hot, it's heavy - but ...

remember most casualties are actually caused by sickness, disease, and infection. wash your hands and face with soap and water - like you see doctors do in ER shows. if you get a cut/wound, get it treated and covered soonest, don't delay.

pay attention to the safety rules. think about every warning, even the ones you think are jokes, most of them are real.

try to relax for 15 minutes at least three times a day, no matter what. yeah, you can even zone out with bullets flying if you're used to it.

Posted by: Will in Seattle | March 23, 2006 11:26 AM

oh, and a few posts back, it was the liberals who fought the Brits, the neocons of the day were the ones siding with King George. read the history books, don't pretend to read them.

Posted by: Will in Seattle | March 23, 2006 11:28 AM

It was the revolutionaries, or "insurgents" who fought the Brits and it was the tories, or "conservatives" who got run out of town on a rail, often brutally tarred and feathered.

Posted by: liberals? | March 23, 2006 01:38 PM

Cali Girl, it would appear that you posess a blind love for your government

its that attitude that allowed Cheney & Co. to fool your population into believing Saddam was in posession of nuclear weapons/that he was tight with Bin Laden.

Blind hatred? silly you.. its called questioning authority, something that neocons can handle (cuz they cant support their bogus arguments)

Posted by: dave | March 23, 2006 03:42 PM

true patriots question their leaders

Posted by: dave in toronto | March 23, 2006 04:32 PM

The Anti-Bush, anti-war comments made on this blog would be laughable if they weren't so dangerous. If you ostriches would pull your head out of the sand and do some real research, instead of mimicking the mass media,maybe you could make some real comments. Pay close attention to the Arab translations of the tons of paperwork they found in Iraq that are being done now, reported daily in small print. In case you missed it, Saddam snookered his own generals into believing they had deadly gas. They didn't find out until days before the invasion. Ever wonder why there were thousands and thousands of gas masks abandoned all over Iraq? Try reading the new book by his former general that tells exactly where the WMD are. Try to learn something about the history of that area. You might want to find out what effect the purple fingers have had in the regions. And, yes, my republican congerssman's son served recently in Iraq.

Posted by: Lyn | March 23, 2006 05:11 PM

Cali Girl: thank you for your comments about the lack of support our troops are getting from this blog. My husband is also over there in Berts unit. It makes me so sick and mad to come on here to read about what is going on with the 224 and have to read through all kinds of crap by people who think they know all. Tell me why is it when a soldier over there is telling how things are and how he is proud to serve his country, actually seeing the good being done firsthand that it is dismissed? Because we all know that people who are on here every day or so bashing the war, and our government know better than those that are actually there.

Posted by: military wife | March 23, 2006 06:04 PM

Hi Bert,
This is Sweets best friend here in Az. I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to write this blog. I like the idea of getting to read about what's going on over there, and hear the details about living situations and such. Thanks again and be safe!
God bless

Posted by: Skye | March 23, 2006 07:20 PM

First let me respond to Dave:

I do not have a blind love of my government. I just don't use this blog to spew political crap that I may disagree with. I do have a love of my country and the people that serve it and I use this blog to thank Bert for his insights and let them know we are thinking of him and those he is with.

Second, Military Wife:

I can only agree with everything you said. It makes me sick and mad too. I'm proud of our guys over there and if these morons that use this blog to try and get their political veiws and points across, have picked the wrong blog. You, me, and the friends and family members of our service people that use this blog as a small glimpse into their lives away from us, will just keep up our support. :]

Posted by: Cali-Girl | March 23, 2006 08:42 PM

As a 100% combat disabled VN Marine Vet, I DO support you & our fellow Americans in Uniform (The overpaid Mercs are another issue)in Iraq & Afghanistan. I realize any quick US pullout would now have unknown and probable dire consequences w/the different Shia, Sunni militias fighting for control, along w/Zarqawi's Al Qaeda and their 'foreign fighters' stepping up their suicide VIED's to entice the sectarian fighting, besides the Iranians wanting to 'jump in' afterwards. Stay safe over there, knowing that though many of your fellow Americans might disagree w/your presence and/or the reasons for being there in the 1st place, they do not wish any harm to you or any of your comrades in arms. If anyone ever voiced that in my presence, he'd need a Medevac, if I found the time to call 1 in for him.
Semper Fi!

Posted by: Mike | March 24, 2006 05:58 AM

To the earlier poster who said: "If you ostriches would pull your head out of the sand and do some real research, instead of mimicking the mass media,maybe you could make some real comments."

If that person did some real research, she would know that ostriches do not put their heads in the sand. That is a common lie that has been repeated so frequently that people began to believe it -- sort of like the argument for going to war in Iraq.

By the way, has anyone seen the news from Afghanistan about the guy who converted from Islam to Christianity and is facing the death penalty from the Afghan justice system? Boy, Pat Tillman picked a great cause to die for!

Posted by: E. Etage | March 24, 2006 09:13 AM

Here's an idea. Why don't we vote Charlie Sheen for President. His dad played one on TV, so he must be qualified.

Thanks for the laugh Che. What Comedy Club do you perform at?

CNN + Charlie Sheen = Idiots x 100%

Posted by: LOL | March 24, 2006 10:33 AM


You brought god into this by granting me, as someone who has served on the front line, this godlike authority. As far as reenlisting, there are age limits to military service.

Or do the opinions of an old fart not count in your book? Of course they don't. Only your opinion counts.

Which raises the central issue: instead of trying to assassinate other peoples' character, how about you speak up and tell us how to resolve the issues and save the godlike judgments for, well, God?

I mean, short of whining about the whiners.

Posted by: Jay Cline | March 24, 2006 11:04 AM

To E. Etage's comment: "Comparing John Adams to George W. Bush is like comparing a bucket of gold to a bucket of donkey excrement. Please, guy, get real!"

Get real, dude! The comparison had nothing to do with Bush. The comparison was in response to Dave's illogical and anti-democratic assertion that a pro-war argument from someone who had not served in the military was inherently illegitmate.

Adams didn't serve one second in the militia, yet he strongly supported the War and was very much responsible for its execution. Without Adams' support in the Continental Congress, Washington wouldn't had gotten what little supplies he did get from Congress.

That's not polemic politics; just simple logic.

Posted by: Jay Cline | March 24, 2006 11:11 AM

E. Etage: "By the way, has anyone seen the news from Afghanistan about the guy who converted from Islam to Christianity and is facing the death penalty from the Afghan justice system? Boy, Pat Tillman picked a great cause to die for!"

Yes, he did. Afghan democracy is certainly at a crisis point, where the compromises made between freedom and Islamic justice are being tested, just as the compromises of slavery and equality were tested in our own first 100 years.

Democracy is not necessarily inevitable. Anything worth achieving takes considerable effort and sacrifice. Tillman, god rest his soul, consciously gave the Afghanis that chance. That was his choice, not yours.

That you would debase his valor only serves to make a mockery of his memory.

Ultimately it is up to the Afghanis to make democracy work.

Unless, of course, you think it is better just to ignore, or perhaps even respect out of cultural diversity, this brand of Islamic justice.

I'm hearing that metaphoric ostrich screech again...

Posted by: Jay Cline | March 24, 2006 11:27 AM

Will from Seattle,

You need a refresher course in early American history.

The "liberals" of the revolutionary war were the ones of classical liberalism, of Locke et al. If they were left-wingers, it was only in the cause of opposition to monarchical, undemocractic rule.

The Liberals of today have very little common cause with them. The Liberals of today would enshrine and embolden federal power, not restrict it.

Posted by: Jay Cline | March 24, 2006 11:32 AM

Iraq looks like a quagmire and Bush et al certainly did not do enough post war planning. That said, we cannot afford to withdraw. We need to finish the fight like the British did in Malaysia in the 50's. To do so otherwise would have serious consequences including loosing support of Islamic moderates throughout the Middle East. The Wall Street Journal had a good editorial yesterday on the consequences of withdraw. The anti-war crowd needs to tone it down. Their collective meanderings look silly at best and downright unAmerican at worst. That said, I am an independent, not a Republican and I am politically to the right but near the center. Think midwest sensabilities and you are there (exluding Chicago which is a world of its own).

Posted by: CS | March 24, 2006 11:37 AM

colonels, I did seven years saving your sorry butt, don't give me grief.

the thing is, we all know, those of us who served and had counter-terrorism ops experience, that we're not going to win this one, no matter how many lies you tell us. we're doing everything SNAFU and it's a massive clvsterfvck from day ten.

Posted by: Will in Seattle | March 24, 2006 03:11 PM

Why on Earth are most of the people responding to this blog even on here!?!? My husband is over there and this has been by far the best source of information on what his day to day life must be like. I agree with some of the others - this is not the place to spew your political views. It is a place where families can take comfort and get informaton on our men/women. Thank you so much for your insight, Bert. God bless you for doing what you do and may you and all our other military make is home safely. You are making the ultimate sacrifice.

Posted by: Msblondie | March 24, 2006 03:16 PM

Cali-Girl and military wife!

Thank you!! Thank you!! Thank you!!
I too have a husband that is in the 224th with Bert. I cannot for the life of me understand how this blog turns into a political dispute everytime he posts a blog. Despite any of our political views we are Americans and we should be supporting our fellow Americans that are overseas doing what the "signed up" to do. I support my husband and his unit 100% and I support every other soldier, seaman, airman and Marine in the US military. I think I have asked this before, if it weren't for our military where would we be today?

To Mr.Stover,
Thank you for writing this blog. You have no idea what it means to us here at home. We love you ALL! Keep you chin up and stay safe!!

Posted by: av8ryf | March 24, 2006 03:17 PM

You know, it amazes me how insistently the liberals turn a deaf ear to what our service members are telling us firsthand is succeeding in Iraq... no it's not all cush and perfect... Haven't seen much of anything here or elsewhere worth doing that fits that description though. Our Loved ones are busy living the brave and significant life that makes a difference. I believe that too many times those righteous liberal voices are not so much questioning Authority as covering for their own cowardice. It's alot easier to write some blog and elevate yourself on your own personal pedestal than it is to leave home and family pull on all that gear and help rebuild a suffering country in 100+ degree heat. Proud of our service men and women and the families left behind while they do their missions... You betcha!
Thanks Bert and everyone else serving and supporting those who serve.

Posted by: Another Navy wife | March 28, 2006 02:11 PM

Dave defensively sniped at Cali Girl "true patriots question their leaders". He is missing the point. This blog seems to be for the troops and the families to try to connect with each other. The rest of us are uninvited guests crashing a party where we don't belong. I never wanted to see us go into Irag in the first place, but there are other forums for that debate. Please save the hot air, you armchair paper tigers and let the men amd women who are over there have a channel back to their loved ones without all the pompous bilge cluttering up the works.
Be safe Soldiers. Come back home after doing your duty and live your lives in peace. God Bless!

Posted by: Tim | April 2, 2006 12:24 AM

Why is it that we are still trying to win the war? Does the world not that we won the war already? That was the easy part we all watched on CNN in 2003-04. We are no longer fighting a war, checked that block already. We are building a country now. A country that for its entire history has never wanted to be. The western world created Iraq not the people who live here. The country has been held together only by harsh dictators, military threats and the fear of destruction by its Arab neighbors. The United States and the world had every right to tople the former government. Saddam was a threat to his people and occassionally others in the region. The majority of Iraqi people are better now for the efforts of the world against Saddam. What we cannot do is construct a country on our own beliefs while assuming the people will believe the same. We have removed the threat, we have rebuilt much of what was destroyed, now it is time for the United States to step out and let the Iraqi's deside what their future holds. There is no more Republican Guard, there is no more Ba'ath party and the majority can now step up to lead without the fears of being killed by Saddam. We have cleared the road now its time to take off the training wheels and allow the Iraqi's to ride on their own. If they choose to not remain one country, it is their choice. If they choose to become a communist nation, it is again their choice. If the Iraqi people choose to lie down and allow another oppressive dictator to control their lives then it is still the choice of the Iraqi people. We have righted the wrongs that were a threat. Now it is time for the formerly oppressed people of Iraq to stand up and say, "I will not live my life in fear anymore!" Freedom isnt free. It takes time and effort by those wishing to bask in freedom's glory. No other country can instill that sense into another. It is time for the proud Iraqi people to pick up their lives and construct a government on their own with their own values and ideals implaced. We cannot lead a people down a path we can only point them in the right direction and hope that is the way they choose to go.

Posted by: SPC Knapp | April 5, 2006 03:27 PM

many soldiers will have many things to forget and many months of duty in war to survive.

Posted by: Dr.Q | April 15, 2006 07:19 PM

>This blog seems to be for the troops and the families to try to connect with each other

Then why use www.washingtonpost.com? There are other more private means for keeping in contact. I think that this is a public blog, and I suggest simply reading Bert's "articles" if you find the open discussion below offensive to you.

I strongly disagree with the war and American foreign policy in the Middle East. But I would like to thank Bert - not for fighting for my freedom, but for taking the time to write these articles and provide this forum.

Posted by: Canuck | April 26, 2006 05:03 PM

Bert, I am at Al Asad as well. I am on leave at the moment, but returning (starting the return) tomorrow. It is nice to hear another persons view of the base. I will see you there. If I remember right the attack you are referring to left minor injuries on three Marines from broken glass by Ripper. No other injuries if I remember correctly. Like you said...they missed.

Posted by: zilla500r | September 13, 2006 03:21 PM

Hey Bert, I really enjoy your posts! We had our cherries broken by mortars the first day on the ground at BTC while heading to the DFAC and PX at Victory. I find that after a while you just treat it like lightning in a rain storm. Good thing Haji can't support sustained fire. Good luck to ya'll. Don't let these feeble old women's crying and predictions of doom get you down. Yeah, if it had been my call, I'd have concentrated on afganistan and left Saddam and Iraq to their own misery, but you know about hindsight being 20/20. These folks bring to mind another conflict and another time. Just like the dirt eating hippies that contributed nothing, produced nothing, and accomplished nothing in that era. (Unless you call holding hands, singing kumbaya, and spreading STDs while high on dope an achievement.) These folks have no productive comments or ideas. Just negetivity and wisdom after the fact. There is no right way for these folks. They hate America without reason. Whatever the issue,they side against their country and people. A sad state of affairs to be sure. Keep safe and whole. I got my name in the hat to go back again and lend a hand. I kind of miss that Anbar atmosphere! A big OOH RAH to the Marines at TQ and hey to all the sherpa crews!
Oh, and Che is gay!!!!

Posted by: Fester | September 19, 2006 11:14 PM

Yes I want to join the National Guard to get a good education in college. My mom said she doesn't want me to join but I am cause I want a lot of money so I can attend Mizzou.

Posted by: Whitney | September 29, 2006 01:28 PM

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