Editors Note: In September 2007, Dave Kluck's (Troop 477's number 1 Assistant Scoutmaster) Army Reserve unit was called up for active duty. On this page, we will post Dave's e-mail and pictures that we receive during his 1 year tour of duty.
You can e-mail Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org. His mail address is:CW4 JAMES D. KLUCK
August 28, 2008
Ramadan begins here on 1 September. We are in the beginnings of training our replacements. Our official ceremony is mid-month. We should be back in Michigan by the last weekend of the month.
August 11, 2008
This is where the Multi-National Force Iraq headquarters is located on Victory Lake.
August 2, 2008
You've heard of "Not Much To Write Home About". It's true. The temperature here today will be 121F, and it's a partly cloudy day. Lows are low 90's. In Iraq there is no such thing a "partly cloudy" day. It's either all blue or sandstorms "hence partly cloudy". The only cloudy day we had here in Baghdad since arriving was nine days ago when the morning sky had hundreds of popcorn style clouds in it. We can see the light at the end of our deployment tunnel. We'll be transitioning with our replacement unit late this month. I've attached this weeks' menus for four of the eight dining facilities here on the complex.
I attended the health fair at the Al Faw Palace (Complex HQs for which I'll send pictures next week.) Blood pressure was 120/69. Blood sugar was 130. And arm strength on the "squeeze the handle" test was that of a 30 year old and left hand stronger than the right. I said things are slow.
I told you partly cloudy meant no clouds.
I went to the town of Taji last week, about 45 minutes north of Baghdad, where we're doing some construction work. I'm in the seat behind the driver of the HMMWV(High Mobility Multiple Wheeled Vehicle aka HumVee). Some pictures are out the left side window and others out the front.
The military has right of way. We drive the normal lane, then cross thru the median around traffic and travel in the on-coming lane, then back thru the median to the normal lane the whole way. All traffic is required to stop when the military is traveling. The Iraqi Police and Army have checkpoints all along the way. Kind of like toll booths on the turnpike but no fees collected.
These are all waiting for the scrap metal contractor to take away. Probably a ten year project. All of this stuff is at Camp Taji.
Open this website and you'll see an aerial picture of the march to the shrine on the feast day of the death of the 7th Imam. This was the march that the three female suicide bombers attacked last Saturday that you might have heard about in the news.
July 15, 2008
My daily routine hasn't changed any. Sparrows nesting outside my quarters wake up at 0430 so I'm up by 0500 and out the door by 0600. The following pictures are of the Oasis Water Bottling Plant across the lake from our headquarters. It's operated by an Australian company. The big sacks are plastic resin beads about the size of the clove spice which is emptied into a hopper and fed into the injection moulding machine after melting at 400 degrees to manufacture the bottles. The water is pumped out of the lake (Zee Lake) in front of our headquarters building (I sent you a picture of that a few months ago) into a series of three 60,000 gallon rubber bladders, then thru six (6) filtration systems (reverse osmosis, carbon filter, sediment filter, ozone ionization, chlorination and ion exchange) prior to the bottling process.
I forgot to tell you that it produces 500,000/28oz. bottles per day to include shipping to military Forward Operating Bases outside of Baghdad. The company has five (5) additional plants in Iraq producing for the military and contractor employees.
This past Saturday the MNF-I (Multi National force-Iraq) Commander, General David Patraeus, the commander of all military forces in Iraq came to the headquarters to receive a briefing on our detention operations and several soldiers including myself were presented with the Commanders' Coin for Excellence in Combat. I've attached the two pictures of my interaction with the commander. He will be leaving his current position next month to become the CENTCOM (Central Command) Commander located in Kuwait and oversee all of the operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the rest of Southwest Asia.
June 6, 2008
As I mentioned earlier, things are slower here so I spent my day off last Sunday visiting the Victory Over America Palace at Camp Slayer inside the military zone called the Victory Base Complex which includes the Baghdad International Airport. This entire area was home to the Republican Guard, the Iraqi Military Academy and the Baath Party Headquarters. The spot Baghdad photo shows the military zone and the Green Zone (where the embassies area at). Camp slayer is in the bottom right corner with the lake (where this palace is). Camp Liberty (where my unit is) is in the upper right corner to the right of Zee Lake. The Victory Over America palace was never completed. Its construction began after the 1991 Gulf War. Sadam Hussein called it the Victory Over America Palace because even though he was kicked out of Kuwait, he was still in power. It had 75 rooms. When the invasion of Iraq began in 2003, the Air Force fired a JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition), a laser-guided bomb at it and it came thru the roof at the right side as you look at front shot photo with the grass. The first floor has three large ballrooms. The third floor has one huge ballroom.
The following images were taken from the roof of the Victory Over America Palace. The Flintstone Village was constructed by Saddam for his grand children to play at. Udai was one of Saddam's two sons and was in charge of the Republican Guard. The Purple Palace was not a palace but a brothel for the senior members of the Baath Party. There were two houseboats on this lake. They were both sunk on orders of the Victory Base Complex Commander after he got tired of two lower ranking generals fighting over them. In the photo named 2nd largest mosque in the world you won't be able to see it due to the dust storm (but it could be seen vaguely in person from the roof). It is twenty miles in the distance. Only the structure was finished. Never the interior. It was another of Saddam's ego projects. When the Saudis found out about it, they notified the Shiites in Baghdad (who were forced to build it) and they walked off the job.
The Baath Party Headquarters was the first building hit when the invasion of Iraq began. It was hit with a Navy Tomahawk missile. You can see where it hit in the photo of the HQs from DCMA. All of the officials were in the conference room. There were two hundred and they were watching the movie Pretty Woman (as determined when the tape was removed from the damaged projector by the intelligence folks). Everyone died. Only fifty bodies were able to be removed. The rest are buried in the rubble. The building also contains an execution room.
June 3, 2008
You may have read in the newsletters or I may have mentioned it in a previous e-mail from Camp Bucca that one of the Reintegration Center programs that is offered is the Art Colony. This allows detainees to produce artwork for their families during visitation. The following images are from this program that I had blown up on the engineers plotter, framed and hung in the military/civilian dining facility. The individual who did these was called Mohammed Picasso. He was released several months ago and has since been contracted by the military to manage the Art Colony program at Camp Bucca.
June 2, 2008
I don't know where I left off but the temps here since mid-May have been in the low 100's ( averaging 104 degrees F). My responsibilities here are much reduced from Camp Bucca as the military/civilian dining facilities are overseen by the divisions ( 3rd, 4th and 25th Infantry, 1st Armored and 101st Airborne). My focus is with the detainee feeding here at Camp Cropper and the construction of the new detention facility feeding kitchens about a 45 minute drive north. Don's church has sent numerous boxes of a variety of items that I've put out in the unit Day Room tent for self-service. The military runs a program called the Class 1 Supplements that allows our supply section to order muffins, cookies, sodas, Gatorade, Crystal Lite beverage powder, energy drinks and bars, beef and chicken jerky, pop tarts and other items that keep us in the snacks. We took our semi-annual APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test) this past Saturday. Push-ups, sit-ups and the two-mile run. For my age group 55 and older, the requirement was 20 push-ups and 25 sit-ups in two minutes for each event. I did 40 of each. The run is also optional and since I hate running (I'd need to do it in 20 minutes), I did the 2-1/2 mile walk in 32 minutes (that's a 4 mph pace). I'm attaching to this e-mail information released by our Public Affairs Section. The Spartan Times June 2008 Newsletter
March 30, 2008
My unit has been called forward to Baghdad. I'll be leaving the southern desert by the end of the week. Easter Sunday temp was 109 degrees.
March 15, 2008The Camp Bucca March 2008 Newsletter
March 13, 2008
These are the menus the Army uses for its 28-Day Contingency Operations like Iraq, Bosnia and Afghanistan.
March 13, 2008
Well the pictures aren't ready yet. I'm still figuring out how to use the new digital camera. Staying busy with the dining facility upgrade and the distinguished visitors that tour the pita bread factory. The temperatures are moving into the 80's now and that means the return of the fly season. Similar to mosquito season at home. They have no mosquitos in Iraq. Just flies. We have been remissioned to move to Baghdad by mid-April. New zip code. Won't know what our responsibilities will be until the command group returns next week. I'll still be working the food business but in an even larger capacity. Health wise I'm doing great. Drink six bottles of water a day and that's staying indoors a great majority of the time. Watch for pictures in two weeks.
February 25, 2008The Camp Bucca February 2008 Newsletter #2
February 24, 2008
This picture below is of the brigade commander presenting me with his distinctive coin for achievement in setting up the POW/MIA table in the dining facility. This table is a tribute to the soldiers still missing from the Vietnam War and not with us at the dinner table.
February 9, 2008The Camp Bucca February 2008 Newsletter #1
January 31, 2008
I am sending this from a different e-mail address as the other one is inaccessible due to a massive cable interruption. I have attached a public announcement by the Chief of Staff of the Army Reserve regarding the activities here which explains a lot about what is going on. As far as my duties, I am managing the food service contract for feeding the 20,000+ detainees (3X per day) and the contract for feeding the military and civilian contractor personnel on the base (in the four digits, 4X per day). My routine is seven days a week from 0700 to 2000 hours. In the near future, I'll send photographs of our training back at Ft. Bliss, TX. There is a mini-mall here with a Pizza Hut, Burger King, Green Beans International Coffee, U.S. Postal Service, barber shop ($3 a pop) and beauty salon, laundry service with three day turn-around, the Army and Air Force Exchange System PX/BX, Subway, AT&T phone center, SPAWAR internet service and several local national merchant shops. The current chapel is under expansion. The MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) tents have the fitness center, and game, movie and television rooms. The Stars & Stripes newspaper arrives every other day and is two to three days behind the actual date of the month when it gets here. The weather has varied from late March-like to early May-like back in Michigan. Only four days of rain in January which is very unusual. November thru February is the winter but that just means rain, torrential type rain.
December 14, 2007
We've been packing the last two days since we completed our eight day, 24-hour/day Army Evaluation and were validated by First Army to do our mission. Each of us has four duffel bags and a forty pound rucksack for our carry-on. We'll be flying out of El Paso before sunrise Monday and stopping somewhere on the east coast for fueling. Then to Shannon, Ireland for refueling again and on to Kuwait. We'll be in Kuwait about five days for a second round of HUMVEE roll-over training, IED detection, and weapons fire and first aid refreshers. Then helicopter to our destination in Iraq at the detention facility. This will be a much different mission than was Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. We'll be responsible for housing , feeding, clothing and reintegration (education and vocational training) of the detainees prior to returning them to their government. The size of the detainee population is approximately the size of the U of M Ann Arbor campus student body. We should be at our destination for Christmas.
Contact you next year.
October 28, 2007Things have slowed down this past week. Our weather in early October was in the high 90's. Now the low 80's. Nights are in the 40's. We've completed the Combat Squad Movement Tactics Course against an enemy shooting at us with a paint ball machine gun; the Dismounted (walking) and Mounted (in a vehicle) Land Navigation Courses; the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Reaction (CBRN) Course including the gas chamber; weapons qualification on the M16A2 rifle and M9 9mm pistol; the Combat Life Saver and First Aid courses including giving I.V's to other soldiers; classes on Iraqi culture including twelve hours in the Language Lab; updated our shots including a Smallpox and the third of the six series Anthrax; the Improvised Expolsive Device (IED) Detection Course; and the Blue Force Tracker class that allows you to monitor the battlefield (see everyone and everything including the enemy and obtacles) from your computer in your vehicle. We have the Combat Reactive Marksmanship Course, the HUMVEE Roll-Over Reaction Course, the Live-Fire Convoy Course and the 5-mile Road March to complete yet. After that, there will be a series of Staff Exercises to evaluate our headquarters' ability to command and control our subordiante units on multiple tasks. I'm the oldest person here but healthy as a horse.