A Break and a Change

Today was a maintenance stand down day, so most of us did not have to report for work. Instead we slept in, got some exercise and by mid-afternoon were able to take in some sun sitting in folding chairs and laugh together. Our overall stress level dropped by at least a factor of ten, at least until we got unexpected news late in the day.

As soldiers, deployed, it's almost impossible to get away from work. Even when we are officially released for the day, we return to our tents and hang out with the same people we worked with all day. Imagine having to live with that annoying co-worker (and I'll admit I'm that guy for some of the soldiers here) after you have just spent all day with them at the office. Now, throw on top of that the whole idea of hostile fire.

With the whole day off, though, we got a chance to breath, or rather to catch our breath after a month and a half of working, working, working. Many of us didn't leave our tents all morning. Then, by 1500, we relaxed outside by throwing the football and some horseshoes, shooting the breeze and trying our best not to talk about work.

Our lieutenants showed up with a couple of cases of "near beer" (nonalcoholic). We iced it and drank up, talking about the days back in the U.S. Tasting and smelling the beer, while enjoying the sunny warm spring day gave me the chance to think about all of my friends at home and get away, even if it was for only moments and only in my head, to get away from here.

Then, the lieutenant gathered us around and gave us the news that we will be leaving Al Asad.

-- Written 4/1/2006

By Bert Stover |  April 5, 2006; 9:00 AM ET  | Category:  Al Asad, Iraq
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Thanks for the update Bert, I hadn't heard from my sweetie in 5 days and was getting worried. At least now I have some idea what is going on...kinda.

I'm glad you guys got some time for yourselves to regroup, take a breather and get your mind off work for a little while. I'm sure it was muchly needed.

Again, thank you for the update. It would be much harder on us families here at home if we didn't have this blog to go to when when we are getting no other info anywhere else or hearing from our loved ones. Thank you! Thank you!

Posted by: Cali-Girl | April 5, 2006 11:47 AM

I just read most of the comments to Bert's blog. All I got to say about it is WOW. To say that most of the responses are from people consumed with hatred for the adminstration would be a gross understatement. Is there a bias in what they write? Can anyone consumed with so much hate honestly be trusted to offer a valid opinion on what we are doing here?

I and others like me are here defending the values of these people. I ask myself why am I here why did I leave my wife and children. Why did I travel half way around the world to fight in Iraq. Was it to allow bitter people to spout hateful unfounded lies about me and my mission?

The truth is yes that is why I am here to make sure that for as long as I am alive that every american has the right to say whatever they want. That every american is free to believe what ever they want. That every american can be whatever they want. That and the promise of the same for the people of Iraq. That promise is an Iraqi people infected with the greatest gift that we can possibly give them, the gift of freedom.

An infectious freedom that will eventually allow them to spew the same type of nonsense that we in the USA take for granted.

To all who read and respond to Bert's blog keep it up we appreciate the kind words of support and love. To those who use this forum to make a political statement keep it coming. The more I laugh here the quicker the time passes

Posted by: 224th troop | April 5, 2006 04:01 PM

Thanks Bert for keeping us updated. I am SO glad that you were able to relax a bit today if only for a small amount of time. Keep up the good work and fly safe!

Posted by: SBP | April 5, 2006 04:34 PM

When will we hear the rest of the story? Where will you be going? Part of me wishes you would say you are coming back to the US early, but the other part realizes the importance of your presence in Iraq. What's another 10 months? A relatively small amount of time, but a huge opportunity to contribute to the improvement of the country. Thank you all for your service! Bert, I'll be anxiously awaiting your next post.

Posted by: L | April 5, 2006 09:06 PM

"maintenance days" - aka, a little slice of heaven, the eye of a hurricane.

Love the posts, Bert.

Posted by: Jay Cline | April 6, 2006 09:48 AM

Thank you Bert for your posts. I love reading what you and the other guys are up to - even if you can't write too many details. Totally support you and the 224th troops. Thank God we have people like you and my son-in-law and the rest over there! We are so proud of all of you!

A Mom

Posted by: a mom | April 7, 2006 09:58 AM

Thanks again for the updates.

I was wondering about all the negative posters to your blog. Are these people actually memebers of al-qaeda engaging in some kind of behind-the-lines psy-op game to undermine our troops in Iraq?

How can anyone tell the difference between the al-qaeda enemy that could easily post comments to blogs like yours and just the usual anti-war types constructively expressing their usual opinions? My answer is that you can't. These two groups, if they aren't the same group, appear to be working towards the same goal. Their means to accomplish this goal is what differs - one uses bombs and the other uses words to try to defeat our troops.

I cannot tell if one of these posters is al-qaeda or not. Can anyone else?

Posted by: Mad Jayhawk | April 14, 2006 11:55 AM

Hey I've gotten the hang of it. You read the first couple of lines and if it pertains to Bert's article then it's a friendly.

If it's political BS that's been cut and pasted then it's a idiot.

ok, got it.

Posted by: LT in 224 | April 15, 2006 10:04 AM

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