Friday, September 10, 2004

The L.A. Times from September 5 has a really good article about American soldiers who are blogging from Iraq. The article also offers samples from different blogs, and I wanted to share this one, which chokes me up a little every time I read it:

Sean Pearce enlisted in the Army in 1998. He served six years in the Signal Corps as a satellite technician, with tours in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and at Camp Victory, the main U.S. military complex near Baghdad airport. He returned to the U.S. in September 2003. He now lives in Virginia, where he works in communications and plans to complete his college education. He has now married the girlfriend he writes about in this excerpt. His Iraq blog is at http://www.turningtables.blogspot.com .
August 5, 2003

Tonight I got to talk to my girlfriend via visual teleconferencing. It went really well. I waited around until the middle of the night, and then I was escorted into the area where all the magic happens, past giant wall-sized television screens with maps and diagrams, past rows and rows of desks with computers and soldiers working around the clock on the war effort, and into the conference room, which was exactly that. I'm so used to seeing rooms and quarters converted into conference rooms. They are set up in kitchens or garages or boiler rooms. But this one was an honest-to-god conference room that I'm sure was used by Saddam and all of his buddies. Now it belongs to us, because we took it.

As I stroll in, the family of the sergeant who went before me is still on the giant screen. I see his wife trying desperately to keep her composure and get her three kids out of the room where they were filmed in an orderly fashion. Then, in the corner of the screen coming through the doorway is a very distorted shape that the camera is trying to focus on. It walks like my girlfriend. It's the same size as my girlfriend. And it is my girlfriend. She giggles, and I wave and smile.

I have to press a foot switch every time I want to speak so that the microphone turns off. Otherwise the delay will cause a killer echo. There is at least a 15-second delay that makes normal conversation useless. Speak. Pause. Pause. Pause. Pause. Response. But she is there and she can hear me and I can see her.

She's wearing the Curious George shirt I bought her on the Universal City Walk in L.A. It fits her perfectly, and her hair is beautiful. She's had three hair cuts since I left, but luckily she sends me pictures, so I stay up to date with the girlfriend fashions.

We have this silly thing that we do. It started one night when we were at a rave in L.A. To the beat, I say "girlfriend" while I nod my head. Then I say "run in place," which I do to the beat. It's a sign of my affection. So there I am, in Baghdad, Iraq, running in place in Saddam's conference room so that my girlfriend can watch me on the other side of the Earth.

I showed her my muscles, my big ol' arms that are twice the size as when I left. She was impressed — or she at least faked it for me. She's a good woman.

I left hating this place more then ever, but also feeling a bit more relaxed. I made it to my cot, and I sweated off into sleep. This is almost over.

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