04 February 2004

Pucker Factor

I received this today from my friend Chris. He's just arrived in Baghdad and I hope you'll forgive him for his truly atrocious spelling:

Sallam Alekum,

hope all is well back in the states. tell teresa i will be looking for her, any idea where she is going to be based out of.. I am with 1/5 cav if that is any help I ahve some great pictures to send you guys from the apst few weeks when i get a chance. I have spent my first few days on the streets of the big city. It is defiantly an educational experience. I will not lie, boith during the drive up here and on my first patrol, what we like to refer to as the "pucker factor" was pretty high. I have soon learned that this is not Balck Hawk down. fortunatly the majority of the people on my area support us and want our help. The avg Iraqi is a very kind and considerate person who understands what we are trying to do to help them out. That said they are by far the WORST motorists in the world. There simply are no traffic laws here so traffic is a total mess as you might imagine in a city of several million people all of who have vehicles that they pay roughly a penny a gllon to fuel. I had the opportunity to do a few searches of houses and businesses of\ver the last couple of days, to include a rooftop to rooftop chase, a car chase and foot pursuit that resembled a bad "Cops" episode, and some random gunfire and mortar rounds aimed in my general direction. All in all its been a busy time. The strange part was that even when we go ina nd search houses of these families, while we are going through every piece of their belongings they bring us coffeee and food and thank us. it is definatly NOT what i expected. This place has a LOT of potential and with the exception of the obvious reasons for me wanting to be home (ie Jen, my family, Budweiser) I am glad to be here and feel I am making a difference. in the last few days I have seized numerous weapons, mortar pieces, ammunition and drugs and the neighbors of these people are expressing great gratitudde for making their neighborhood safer. I am kinda looking at our role as a really well armed SWAT/US MARRSHAL type team. I can't wait to come home of course but I am more sure now then ever that I can do this for a year and make it into a positive life experience. THe children here are remarkable, incredibly helpful fo rfinding "bad men" and also always swarming to give a thumbs up and shake our hands..I must reply to a bunch of emails so I must be going as I only have limited time

I will tlak to you soon and no fear i am keeping my head down and my weapon up.

bluesteel strikes swiftly!


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