Thursday, March 01, 2007

Getting Settled

The first two weeks here at Camp Ramadi are what we refer to as the RIP (Relief in Place) process. The first week the outgoing unit is in the driver's seat--so to speak--and they show us how they have been doing things. Chaplain Steve Kosylo and Specialist Reichelt helped give us a sense of how they did ministry here at camp Ramadi and in the city where the majority of our soldiers will be manning combat outposts (COPs). The second week, we're in the driver's seat, and they offer feedback and advice. In theory, the practice makes sense, but since so many of us are on our second or third deployments the process (in my expert opinion) could take place in a couple of days.

During the RIP we woke up a few hours after going to bed so we could catch the Superbowl. Both SGT Tremain and I were rooting for the Chicago Bears. I would like to say the photo above is of Soldiers/Sailors/Marines attending my religious services, anxiously hanging on every word--but it's actually of them watching the game. We watched the game at the gym/MWR (morale, welfare and recreation) on a big screen TV. The military TV system out of Europe only runs dry, uninteresting public service announcements--no commercials. This fact is bad enough during the rest of the year, but a Super Bowl without commercials--especially when your team is losing--is particularly painful! Sacrificing sleep to see your team lose is also painful; but what are you gonna do? That being said, it was a very memorable experience. Just about everyone present was pulling for either the Bears or the Colts. (Who else is going to wake up in the middle of the night, right?) So most plays were answered by either cheers or groans. A few times I thought a fight would break out. I went prepared to minister and console disappointed Colts fans afterwards--but little did I know I would be the one in need. In addition to enjoying ourselves, it was evident others appreciated seeing the chaplain and assistant there at O-Dark-Thirty.

Here is a picture of Chaplain Kosylo and Specialist Reichelt in their/our room during our first week at Ramadi. Then there is a picture of SGT Tremain sleeping in the high loft of a bed Reichelt left for him. The last picture is of SGT Tremain painting our room an ugly brown. Not only was it the only color we had (other than white) but it was exterior latex--so it is still drying three weeks later! (The previous color was actually white-turned-beige from dirty-greasy finger prints and stale cigarettes (when the place was used by the Iraqi Air Force).

We're happy with our new diggs. Our conditions were much better than were led to believe. We appreciate having a comfortable room to return to when we come back from our weekly 2-3 day visits to the Soldiers at the outposts in the city.

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