Continuing on a conversation about Iraq and Afghanistan, Lt. Magnum of the US Navy shares experiences from an assignment helping the Philippines recover from a variety of natural disasters aboard the USS Pelilu (named for the Palauan island). Stories include logistics of engineering, construction projects, diplomatic relations, ingenuity on the ground, pig roasts, helicopter landings and the goodness of the Navy’s construction battalion AKA SeaBees.
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.
They had a call out for Civil Engineer Lieutenants to be liaisons at each of the locations. I volunteered and got selected to spend 16 May – 19 Jul in Manila, Philippines. I will work out of the US Embassy and make trips out to the two project locations in southern islands of the Philippines, closer to Malaysia than Manila. The locations are Tawi Tawi and Cotabato. I already found an aerial picture of Tawi Tawi and it looks like a fabulous tropical island.
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!