With a US Naval Lieutenant at the table, Uncle Weed traces the history of the Tigris and Euphrates crescent and discusses the ground level experience of life in Iraq. Lt. Magnum explains his rebuilding mission to Kurdistan, plus quests to various coalition bases including visits with Korean, Slovakian and Polish forces.
Anecdotes include Haliburton food, hookah shishas sessions in Qatar, religious concessions, cables on marble walls, hiking in rolling hills and meeting local folks getting just getting by in their war-torn world.
My brother who did some time in Iraq as an engineer for the US Navy (long story) then shipped out aboard a vessel USS Peleliu – named for the my fave island
Peleliu, Palau – for the Philipines to tend to some humanitarian tasks for the people dealing with the strife caused by a recent typhoon.
Turns out, the goodly Lt. performed such noble service, the USN wrote a press release article extorted his efforts. The article twas found ‘in the wild’ by brother #4 who is bound to be the future mayor of some small town in Alberta.
The photos mentioned in the release were not attached (i’ll write the military attache for help) … but instead, here are a few photos Lt. Magnum snapped while in the islands plus one from my trip to Peleliu back around 1995 or so.
NAVFAC Far East Engineer Recounts Pacific Partnership Humanitarian Mission
YOKOSUKA, JAPAN – When Lt. Robert Olson volunteered to be an embedded engineer for the Pacific Partnership Humanitarian Mission in the Philippines he knew the area needed help, but he didn’t know the full extent of the difference he was going to make. He went as part of an advance team – his part, to plan projects for the Seabees. Olson, whose primary responsibility is as an engineer for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Far East, Public Works Department, learned about the assignment while he was serving in Iraq. He returned to his home in Japan for two weeks and left for the assignment.
The areas where he worked in the Philippines had been hard hit by volcano and typhoon damage from eight months ago.Entire areas were buried.
“It was the kind of contribution I wanted to make from the very beginning,” he said. “Everywhere I looked, there was something needing to be done – they needed help!”
Olson identified the projects to be worked on immediately, such as a hospital in desperate need of repair, where most of the doors and windows were missing.The roof was damaged with ceilings handing down.
Olson said he learned a lot from retired Senior Chief Builder, Ed Guillermin, who worked with him from the onset. “Guillermin had a lot of experience,” Olson said, “especially with preparing the bill of materials.”
The next hurdle was getting the materials, but they had quality help there too.Olson explained that a retired marine named, Duane McDavid, working in Singapore was the contracting specialist.He said this man also made a difference.He was able to award contracts to vendors to deliver materials locally – getting the materials on site when they were needed while helping the local economy.
“Another plus was that the materials were to the local standards,” Olson said, explaining the importance of this issue as events unfolded.
He went to Manila to work out materials but acquired more than materials on his trip.
“I stopped in to the headquarters for the Philippine Seabees and met with their Rear Admiral and asked if he could spare five Seabees. He gave us fifteen! Additionally he put us in contact with the Philippine Army Corps of Engineers who provided us with an additional 25 enlisted and officer engineering personnel. So we went from having 20 Seabees to having a work crew of over 50!”
Olson put them to work, coordinating work efforts in several locations.
“It made things interesting,” he said.
One of the projects included a river clogged by debris. They started by clearing a section with the one bull dozer that the Seabees had.
“We started with that,” he explained. “When the Army saw that – they wanted part of the action too, so they brought their bull dozers and it turned into a real international cooperative effort.”
Olson discovered the value of charitable organizations saying there was a great spirit of volunteerism. They provided lunch time meals, coordinated equipment needs free of charge, and provided transportation for the Medcaps.
The medical portion of the mission was part of Olson’s job too, scouting for landing sites and making ready for on-land needs for the USS Peleliu – a ship carrying doctors, dentists and other specialized health care personnel.
The Pacific Partnership Humanitarian Mission resulted in 2844 pediatric patients and 4987 primary/acute care people being seen. Health care providers filled 21,112 prescriptions and specialists made 3683 eye glasses. A total of 14,133 patients were seen in all areas of patient care.
But that’s not all. . .a river now flows free.
Lt. Robert Olson snaps a photo while at the Headquarters of the Philippine Seabees.
My brother Lt. Magnum (USN) is in Iraq and recently traveled to Kurdistan and says,
“I am in Irbil (sometimes spelled Erbil.) It is Capitol city of Kurds (you know, in Iraq, they have Arabs and Kurds) – you should look for it on a map. Kurds have culture closer to Turkey. Also, Irbil is a lot closer to Turkey than to Baghdad. The camp is run by the Korean Army. Only about a dozen Americans here.
I flew down on a Japanese Self Defense Force C-130 painted pastel blue. My Japanese buddy, Major Natori, hooked me up. Today I got a tour of a vocational school and a hospital that the Koreans built here. I met lots of really friendly Iraqis who are getting an education. A lot of them speak English really well and even make jokes.
This place is so nice. Lots of hills and green grass. The air is very clean and clear. Maybe like North Dakota from pictures I’ve seen, or Mongolia.
It is fun being with the Koreans. I ate lunch and dinner at the Korean cafe. For lunch I had bulgoggi and the red hot spicy soup that Kaito likes. It has meat and tofu and big green onions. For dinner, it was mackerel Korean style, two types of KIMCHI, and beef with Toppogi mochi. And rice is sticky rice. It is delicious after all American in Camp Victory for 4 months!
Rebuttal Letter to Lt. Magnum’s letter in the Stars and Stripes newspaper.
Dear Stars and Stripes,
I shudder to think LT Olson is a leader of troops, more likely he commands a keyboard from which he rants on about his leftist theologies, instead of doing the Lords work, which is what we Americans are here to do.
While liberals may be able to complete the military training and cower in the ranks of the blessed, they fail, as they must in the face of our divine cause. Their agenda is to disrupt with subterfuge and liberal ideals that which binds the military soul together and keeps us strong and focused on the Presidents goals.
I’m most certain that at the end of days his name will not appear in the book of life and he will be “thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.” Remember this, ours is not to reason why, but to do and die.
Keep that in mind and with the inspirational leadership of our Commander in Chief and his chosen ones we will be victorious and will one day see the Promised Land.
Submitted by the Coalition of the willing.
And behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a balance in his hand. The beast was taken, and with him the false prophet who worked the signs in his sight, with which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulphur.
20:12 I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and they opened books. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works.
A letter published in Stars and Stripes by my brother “Lt. Magnum” serving the US Navy in Iraq in response to this letter:
After reading the 07 FEB 07 Letters section of the Stars and Stripes, I felt it my patriotic duty to hop on the First Amendment Rights bandwagon as SFC Elesky (ret) chose to do. How dare he push his criteria for serving in the Armed Forces as the norm? The “Special Breed” he describes is a wildly romantic notion at best.
Last time I checked, people entered the Service for a multitude of reasons beyond the one described in Mr. Elesky’s letter. They include money for school, see the world, get in shape, etc. And a fact that would cause even the most delusional “Special Breed” to get weak in the knees, many among our ranks who are as liberal as any Birkenstock-wearing, granola-eating, Eastern religion-loving, yoga-practicing, Prius-driving, homosexual tree-hugger living at Haight-Asbury (and they all made it through boot-camp!)
Indeed, there are an abundance of philosophies among our ranks; this diversity is what makes our country and military strong, and keeps me in. But getting more practical, if we get very general and categorize, as many do, liberals as non-Republicans (Mr. Elesky did not provide an adequate definition himself,) why do so many decorated war Veteran Congressmen and Senators belong to the Democratic Party? And why are they the ones with the most children in theater serving with me here in Iraq?
Why don’t more sons and daughters of the decidedly non-liberals who put us here get involved? Lastly, the supreme dishonor in Mr. Elesky’s letter is categorizing the concept of draftees as being in a lower category than the great “Special Breed.”
If you want to talk of insult then this viewpoint is the ultimate insult to the many brave men and women who fought valiantly on the foreign soil of battlefields from WWI to Vietnam as draftees.
Older borther Lt. Bob is an naval engineer who – due to his Japanese language ability – ended up translating for some joint military exercise which involved a trip to a Aircraft Carrier named for the esteemed Republican President Lincoln (yes the same one on which BushII unfurled the Mission Accomplished banner). Besides his tripp to my old stomping grounds of Guam, he also recently embarked on trips to Italy, Hawaii and the Japanese Alps for summits and soaks.
LTJG Robert Olson, project manager at NAVFAC Far East’s Yokosuka Public Works Department Facilities Engineering and Acquisition Division, participated as an interpreter for a group of Japanese military officers and reporters observing the Valiant Shield 2006 exercise in the Northern Marianas from 16 to 23 June. Olson, who is fluent in Japanese, escorted the group on tours of Guam military installations and aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72). The exercise included an arrested carrier landing and catapult-assisted takeoff from a C- 2A Greyhound. Valiant Shield 2006 tested joint operability of three carrier strike groups and over 300 aircraft. Military members from seven Pacific-rim nations participated in the foreign observer program.”