October 06, 2009

Name: America's 1st Sgt.
Posting date: 10/6/09
Stationed in: Iraq  
Milblog: Castra Praetoria

Brows furrowed, my battalion commander angrily punched keys as he scrolled through something that was currently giving him a migraine.Casually I leaned against the door jamb of his office and sipped my coffee (Kona of course). “Sir, what are you working on there?

I had put on an air of nonchalance specifically to annoy the CO, a graduate of VMI.*  I prefer to annoy Naval Academy graduates but I take what I can get; besides, the XO was a Naval Academy guy and his office was my next stop.

As much as I’d like to say that the CO’s response was replete with colorful expletives it just wouldn’t be true. It was packed to gills with words like “darn” and “doggone” and things of that nature though. Despite this strange vocabulary I was able glean what had disturbed him that morning.

Framed AmFirst Done 1

One of our companies was manning a Point Of Entry (POE) on the border with Syria which for us is pretty much the ragged edge of the universe.

Framed AmFirst Done 2

Framed AmFirst Done 3

Their toasters had burnt their last loaf and they were asking for replacements, and also for some slow cookers. Any of you familiar with FOB life knows that the amenities there are not what the average person would call humane, and food there is only food in the sense that if you eat it you will not die.

This in and of itself was not the source of the CO’s consternation. In Iraq when we open purchase something we have to buy it through an Iraqi vendor. It’s the rules. And when we had put a request in to open purchase this stuff with battalion funds the prices were ridiculously high.

Guess how much a toaster costs us in Iraq? Are you ready? $500, no kidding. You’ve heard of Arab Traders yes?

Furious at this, our battalion commander was scrolling through prices of these things on line, making himself madder with every click of the mouse. There had to be a better way! Enter America’s 1stSgt, leaning up against the door frame with one fist on his hip and the other wrapped around his coffee mug, smirking. I knew just what to do.

“Sir, I’ve got this. We’ll get that stuff for free. How many do we want?” I waved my hand around as if to dismiss an annoying insect. This would be no problem at all. One just had to push the right buttons:

“Dear Hope,

I’ve got a favor to ask…Marines starving to death in Iraq…Would like toast with their peanut butter…Iraqi toaster costs $500...Think there are enough red blooded Americans out there to help us out?..."

Laugh maniacally and hit "send".

Yes, I have to admit I deliberately launched that missile right into the heart (quite literally) of my nearest mil support heroine. Every key stroke was simultaneously punching one of Hope’s buttons. I knew it would send her right over the top. Watching Hope operate her mil support connections is like watching a bunch of those Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots blast each other on the chin. It really was something. In the meantime I cackled like the mad scientist who had set events into inexorable motion.

I have rarely seen her that wound up.

"Why didn’t you tell me?"

"I just did."


Hope is deeply in touch with her expletives.

In the end it worked out great. Great Americans came forward and took care of their Marines and Hope orchestrated the delivery of a number of slow cookers and toasters that even now grace a couple of separate chow halls on the ragged edge of the universe.

Framed AmFirst Done 5

Framed AmFirst Done 6

Framed AmFirst Done 7

To those who were a part of making daily life out on the POEs just a little bit brighter for some Marine way out in the desert, thanks. I always say that if we take care of the Marines then they’ll take care of the mission. I appreciate you all doing your part.

And a great big electronic pat on the back for Hope, who made it happen. You also realize there would be no Castra Praetoria without her incessant nag--  I mean without her dedication. She’s not a bad piece of gear.

Now everyone, back to salt mines!!!


*VMI: Virginia Military Institute


America's 1stSgt;
You are hilarious! When is your book coming out?

I grew up with stories of American ingenuity in war zones and corporate America.

Thank you for your service to our country, and please help those academy and institute graduates in need of your help.

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