Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Very Sad

What a sad day. My heart broke for the fallen and wounded in Mosul. I don’t know why I feel a connection to those involved in this bombing today of the dining facility. Perhaps because I know what it’s like to be in one of those and hear the bombs fly over. Even though the casualties in this war have been statistically unusually low, for which I am very grateful, 24 or so dead and almost 3 times as many wounded is still very terrible.

In the Dining Facility troops, contractors like myself, the local help, and others that serve from other countries all come together. I can tell you there is politeness and “thank-you”s and door-holding, and smiles even when spoken language is a barrier. It’s a resting and “safe” feeling place. Now I’ve been here 3 months and all the bombs coming over the wire have been quite random and usually useless. But this time 3 hit the right place at the right time. That is way too much for coincidence, there had to be some inside information. Mosul suddenly picked up some real bad guys lately and it looks like they finally got through.

Today we pulled the doors off a HumVee that had survived a car-bomb. The car apparently was parked and as the HumVee went by it was set off. The HumVee had the Add-On-Armor doors and I’m proud to say they did the trick. No one was even hurt even though the thing caught on fire except for the driver who in his haste to get out of the burning vehicle was hit by traffic and received a broken leg. But otherwise everyone survived quite well. If you can see in the picture, the sand-colored doors are pocked by shrapnel. But the holes are only found in the original green auto-body parts. This drove home to me again how significant our work at AOA is to help put this armor on. We do as much as we can so we took these doors to add-on to another HumVee for which there was not enough up-armor parts. Obviously, they work!

I also got to talk very briefly with some Kurds from the East (which seems like the North from here). They were dressed in black, driving Toyota SuV’s and we smiled and shook hands. They told me they were working with Special Forces and the younger enthusiastic ones seemed quite proud and wanted to communicate. But I had to talk through the older interpreter. When they told me they were in an Hour and a half from the East, I asked him if there were large mountains with snow there, because none of my co-workers believed they were there when I told them I saw Huge Mountains covered with snow on Sunday. I’ve only seen hills before and haven’t seen them since but the interpreter smiled and said, to my laughing dis-belief, “yes, very good for snowboarding” and something to the effect that I should come. I needed no encouraging! All I needed, I thought, was a helicopter to drop me off at the top and a coffin to pick me up at the bottom. Yes, there will be no snowboarding for me outside the wire. But it was fun to talk to those men and it was as if he read my mind. So they know about snow-boarding in Iraq! I got a good feeling from them and thought that we do indeed have friends here.

Anyway, this is quite sobering before Christmas but I ask again for your prayers for those families and wounded involved at Mosul. There lot to bear for Christmas will be unfairly heavy. Again I will tell you that prayers work and many many miracles have kept the casualties relatively low, but the cost is always too high even at a minimum. But I know for a fact that prayer saves lives, and those that are taken are taken home to God in wisdom for His purposes. Thanks for your ear, Ernie out.

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