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
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.