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Notes from a gay soldier
Local soldier makes it to Kuwait

Click here to see a complete listing of our soldier's adventures in Iraq.

Editor’s Note: These are the thoughts of a gay soldier — a North Carolina native — who has been deployed to Iraq. Because of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, he must remain anonymous.

The last few weeks have been amazing. I left Kuwait on a C-130 airplane and flew to a location I can’t say. I was only at that particular location for a few days. I got new orders to head south toward Baghdad. I then jumped in a Humvee and headed to the airfield — have to admit I was a bit nervous. I knew that getting on the Black Hawk helicopter meant flying over unfriendly territory. It was a good ride, a quick 20 minutes south. The aircraft was packed and the diesel fumes were nearly overwhelming; thank goodness it was a short flight. I prayed a RPG (rocket propelled grenade) would not come flying toward our aircraft. It didn’t, so I guess someone was looking out for me.

Currently, I’m doing a job working directly with the Iraqis. Sometimes it’s totally unnerving. I try not to think that the next Iraqi soldier I come into contact with could be an insurgent lurking. I feel protected and reassured because I’m an expert with a 9MM, which has 15 rounds, and my M-16, which holds a 30-round magazine and I have another 180 rounds to back them up.
I feel great about where I am and what I’m doing here in Iraq. I’m just careful about how I conduct business in my everyday job. My partner — who I miss and love so much — has been great through it all. He always reminds me to stay alert and trust no one. He has great insight, and understands the situation better than me, I think.

The poverty here in Iraq is overwhelming, and it comes directly into their Army. One issue is the stealing of equipment for personal profit. Old Guard Iraqi Army soldiers have told me that based on their economy — to support their family — they had to steal in the past to survive. The average Iraqi family makes $100 U.S. dollars a month.

They tell me stealing is not with ill intent; they just need things to feed and cloth their families. People just want a chance to support themselves and have a better life. According to what I’ve read and been told, the Iraqi people here support American and Coalition Forces in Iraq by 70 percent. The country is now finally forming a middle class, and people can afford to make a difference in their lives, educationally, economically and socially.

The camp I’m located in is still devastated from the Persian Gulf war. It’s littered with old destroyed equipment, unused explosives and disintegrated buildings. Things here are so primitive — it’s shocking to see the living conditions that Iraqi soldiers must endure on base. I have decent quarters, but the rest of the base is really torn up and the area where the Iraqi soldiers are housed is alarming.
I’m so tired of reading about our soldiers dying on a daily basis here — the progress is slow and sad. I hope my job here will make a difference, and get us home sooner than later.

— Reporting from Iraq,
your friend and soldier from Charlotte.

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