MARK SWEENEY

Iraq/Killshot pics

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killshot1.jpg
mr. hollywood outside his trailer

killshot2.jpg
lady di and tommy j with director john madden (not the football guy)

killshot012.jpg
it takes a lot of people to make a movie

killshot028.jpg
many things must be discussed

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on location

killshot005.jpg
waiting on the sun

killshot3.jpg
rolling on the river

killshot031.jpg
heading home

Pics from Spring Break Iraq 2006

mps.jpg
with Marine MP's

scudwall.jpg
oh, these guys are funny

koreavillage.jpg
with the marines of korea village

bumpersticker.jpg
bumper sticker on a Humvee

chopperexit.jpg
on the road again

crashingsucks.jpg
I like the philosopy

zehotel.jpg
our very secure lodging

muddydays.jpg
dealing with the mud

capri.jpg
capri's solution

lastflight.jpg
winding down on a C-130

choppers2.jpg
kinda cool

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A Trip to Iraq:  Based on a True Story

 

2/8/06

Dear Diary-

I just got through security at the airport. I can’t believe I feel so guilty going through there. I’m not trying to smuggle or sneak anything on, so why do I feel like it? “Here’s my shoes, my belt, my loose change, my hat, the entire contents of my pockets and the skivvies I’ve been wearing for a week.” Ha ha, I hope they’re ripe. What are those? "Those are the scissors I use to trim my nose and ear hairs as well as trimming my sack, you may want to hold them by the handles."  Nimrod. Now, I’m in Memphis. I don’t know why they give the little safety spiel at the beginning of the flight. No one pays attention. Yes, yes, we know how to fasten a safety belt, thank you though. Will you please just shut up and let me read, you’re breaking my concentration. If you really want to save my life, don’t crash the plane. How’s that for a safety plan? No crashing. Seems like the best idea to me.

People are idiots. Why do they have to get on the phone as soon as we land and the seat belt sign has been turned off? The freakin’ second we land, dozens of them are on the phone “I’m here, I’m here,  Hi,I’m here, I’m here, Hi, it's me, I'm here”

Hey dumb ass, no one cares you’re here. You’re still on the plane. I wish I had a stun gun, that would give them something interesting to say. “I’m here” zzzzzap, “I’m here and I’ve just been stun gunned.”

Just got on the plane to Amsterdam. It’s a big plane. It’s a 9 hour flight, I hope they put enough gas in. Maybe I’ll listen to the safety talk this time, especially the part about flotation devices. Yeah, maybe I’ll listen to that one.

We’ve been in the air for 2 hours. I don’t know where I am. Had the pasta for dinner. It was some kind of special. We’re watching this thing on the movie screen about how to make home made baby food.  I don’t know what’s going on. First it was a documentary about Jack Nicklaus, then the baby food thing, now it’s a special about Johnny Cash, quite the eclectic selection. What’s next? How to survive a volcanic eruption?

12:30 in the a.m. Most of the plane is asleep, the guy across from me is spread out on the floor. I forsee a lot of sore necks upon landing. I sleep for about 20 minutes at a time. My prediction? Tiredness. I bought a book of puzzles and word games, but can’t do any because they’re too hard. Is that possible, am I getting too stupid to do Megafun puzzles? Maybe I’m just tired. That’s it, I’m not dumb, I’m just tired. Yeah, I’m tired.

I’m awake again, we’re about 2 hours outside of Amsterdam and I must have been snoring because the chick in the burka is staring me down. Easy sister. Just look away princess, just look away. The clouds look like sand dunes. Either that or the delusions have started.

3:15 in the a.m. We’ve gone 7 hours into the future. Breakfast is served. It took me 3 minutes to eat. I must be hungry. Now I have to go have a sitdown. I’ve never taken a sitdown on an airplane before. You know the whole “having your testicles sucked out the bottom” thing, has always made me a little nervous. I’ve always timed it correctly. Maybe I’ll wait awhile, you know, to see what happens.

We’ve landed. We’re stuck on the tarmac because we’re a little early and someone is in our gate. Morons. I still have to poop.

 

2/9/06

Dear Diary-

Had a five hour layover in Amsterdam, it’s now around 7 p.m. and we’re somewhere south of the Netherlands and north of Kuwait. We sat around the airport and had some Heinekens and now I’m a little tipsy. Had chicken curry for dinner, now there’s a meal that will stay with you. Curry. I can’t get that taste to go away. Why? Why eat the curry? Have you learned nothing over the years? We’re watching Zorro in Arabic with English subtitles, kooky, crazy stuff.

I should’ve gotten more Xanex.

I’ve slept in 20 minute intervals for 2 days.

They passed out newspapers, but they’re in Arabic. Ha ha, got me. I don’t read Arabic. Alert, we’re over Bucharest and heading out over the Black Sea. I look out the window and it’s Black alright. We land in Kuwait at midnight. I’m ready to get off the plane. It’s been almost 17 hours in the air. I’m getting crabby.

2/10/06

Dear Diary-

I am tired. Yes, definitely tired. We got to bed around 2 a.m. We’re staying at the lovely Swiss Inn in downtown Kuwait. Hmm. The Swiss Inn? What kind of authentic Kuwaiti Hotel is that? The Swiss Inn, or for the love of Mike. Had an interesting breakfast downstairs. Tried something called foul masamas, it lived up to it’s name. I’m not even sure what it was. I ended up having cereal and some fruit. The milk was warm. Apparently they don’t use ice in Kuwait. There’s not even an ice machine in the hotel. You think living in the desert would make people appreciate ice, you’d think wrong. I guess they figure they’ve gone without it for thousands of years, why change what works.

Went out in town for a little while to do some shopping. The boys (Bob Kubota, Jeff Capri,  Warren B Hall and Andy Hendrickson) spent 30 minutes looking through movies to buy. I guess buying DVD’s over there is some kind of bargain. Capri bought a set that had every Disney movie ever made on it. There were over 100 movies. All on one disc. I kid of course. But they did cram a lot of movies on to one disc. I thought that would be hilarious if all the movies were about 3 minutes long. Ha ha. That would be funny.

All I bought was a Coke and a bottle of water. Hey…somebody put a leash on me. You have to drink bottled water. You can shave, shower and brush your teeth with the water, you’re just not supposed to drink it. I guess they don’t want you getting the runs while on a helicopter.

Off to Camp Virginia.

A couple of great shows. The first one was an impromtu show. The Captain was giving us tour and then says “Oh, let’s go in here.” It’s called lockdown and it’s full of Marines going home. They’re all watching Braveheart.  Funny.  The Captain walks up, turns off the T.V. and says “We’re going to do a comedy show now, please welcome, Jeff Capri.” These guys are just staring at her, she’s not even a Marine Captain, she’s Air Force, and they’re just staring. Well, Jeff’s not here yet, it’s muddy outside, so he has plastic Subway bags on his feet to keep his little Southern California shoes clean, and is still tip toeing through the mud. What joy that brought us. There had to have been 100 Marines standing around waiting to go somewhere and here comes Capri, hair down to his shoulders, huge white plastic bags on his feet, trying to negotiate muddy puddles, all the while, trying not to spill his coffee. We’re all standing at the door going “please Jeff, hurry up, they’re waiting and staring and we need you to come up here and eat this bullet.” He walks in, removes his bags and does his shit. It turned out to be quite pleasant. These guys are all going home soon and were in good moods. We could’ve been making balloon animals and they wouldn’t have cared. Might even had cheered.

Then it was off to chow. Had the steak and lobster. I’m not kidding. I spent four years in the Marines and never had steak and lobster once. We’ve now been here over 5 hours and still haven’t done the show we were scheduled for. It’s getting closer though, I can feel it.

We’re getting ready to start, my first official show of the tour, I’m psyched, I’m primed, I’m ready to go, I’m chomping at the bit, get me to the stage boys, I’m ready to spit fire and crap thunder. I’m going last. That’s OK, I’ll bring this baby home. I didn’t realize of course, that will be 80 minutes away. Damn, now I’ve to kill another 80 minutes. I hope I still have the energy, because I’m tired, really tired.

Had to use the porta potty again. Things were a little different this time though. It was at night, and at night there are no lights. Hmm. No light while sitting a porta potty, how the hell am I supposed to know when I’m finished? I mean I know when I’m finished, but what about after? I’m holding paper up to the vents at top trying to catch a little light from the moon to highlight this paper and let me know it’s OK to move on. Wacky stuff man. I didn’t like pooping in the dark.

Tomorrow we get our helmets and body armor and head into Iraq. Cool. Until you think about why you’re wearing them. Hmm. Not so cool now is it big boy? Yes, it’s still cool. Body armor, it even sounds cool.

2/11/06

Dear Diary-

Had chow again. We’ve eaten like pigs since we’ve been here. Had to use the porta potty again.  I don't know what's going on.  I've been here 3 days and have had 20 sitdowns.  I hope I don't have dysentery.  We’ve received our helmets and body armor. It’ heavy man, really heavy. We’re flying on a C-130 troop carrying plane. It’s snug. Elbow to elbow, knee to knee. You get to know your neighbor. Two hour flight. I hope I don’t have to poop.

Finally in Iraq. Camp Al Asad. Here, everyone is armed. Everyone. They wouldn’t issue me a weapon though. There are bunkers everywhere so you have someplace to go in case of a mortar attack. Concertina wire is covering everything and huge blocks of concrete reinforce every wall. It looks like a damn war zone. Hmm. Things seem a little more real here. Well, enough sight seeing, I’m hungry, where’s the chow hall? We checked into our billeting. Nice digs. The five of us and two Army escorts. CWO 5 Pace and Sgt First class Foley. Good dudes. They were to escort us around under armed guard and make sure nothing happened to us. Nothing did.

We all stayed in the same room, the sheets I was issued seemed a little damp and just a touch musky. I opted for a sleeping bag and a towel. I had to make my own pillow out of dirty clothes. That was nice, sleeping with the smell of ass and dirty feet in my nostrils. Sweet, sweet bouquet.

This is so far, one of the greatest trips of my life, I’m already thinking about my next trip over here.

2/12/06

Dear Diary-

Last night I slept for all of 2 hours. Now I’m tired. I wish I could’ve been this tired last night. They don’t stop flying into Al Asad just because the “talent” are trying to sleep. The gall. Comedians need our beauty sleep. Since we’ve been here there has been a lot said of “hydrating” we’re supposed to drink 3 liters of water a day. Well, that’s a lot of water. But I did it, and last night it came back to me. I must have gotten up to pee fifteen times, it was ridiculous, no wonder I couldn’t sleep, by body was afraid to shut down for fear I’ll wet my bed. The latrine is too far of a walk in the middle of the night in the pitch blackness, so we all had to use “pee bottles” empty bottles of water into which you pee at night. Priceless, standing outside the billeting area 2 o’clock in the morning, complete darkness, helicopters flying overhead, fog in the area, a damp chill runs through you as you try to pee into a water bottle without going all over your hands. This is what it’s all about. This is being alive.

2/13/06

Dear Diary-

Wow. What a day. Our first helicopter ride. A Marine helicopter, our only day with Marine pilots, the rest of the time it was in Blackhawks with Army pilots. I don’t know if that makes a difference to anyone, but I wrote it down and now it’s being transcribed. And there you have it.

So anywho…on the way to the flight deck, the 1st driver pulls off the road and gets stuck in the mud. We spent 20 minutes rocking that thing and finally got it out, I say “we” but it was just me and the Chief. The other boys decided to just watch and run the video camera. As we’re rocking this vehicle, it starts moving forward, grabs terra firma and scoots out. Well, I’m still pushing as it takes purchase and when it takes off, I’m still pushing, but of course, there is nothing left to push. The vehicle is gone and I can’t stop pushing, I’m not actually pushing anything though, the truck is gone, I’m pushing air and the weight of the flak jacket keeps my forward momentum going. Yes, it keeps it going all the way to the ground, I go down to my knees and then went forehead first into the mud. Oh, everyone had a good laugh. A really good laugh. Of course Bob got it all on tape and when watching it later, it really was funnier than shit. What was also funny, is the way which people we showed it to laughed. Everyone got a huge chuckle from it, so, in the end, it was worth it.  I mean we're here to make people laugh right?  I didn't really hurt myself, so what's a minor concussion if it's for a gewd cawz, I axe yu, am I rite or em I rigt?

 

We flew into Korea Village, there are no Koreans there, but there used to be. Saddam had the Koreans who were building the highway living there. It was a Marine base, all jarheads, goody. We saw some insurgents upon landing. They were standing at the edge of the flight deck waiting to chopper out. They were blindfolded and handcuffed, but we couldn’t take pictures of them, so you’ll just have to believe me. These guys were out in the boonies, nothing but desert for thousands of square miles. Heavy. We did the show on a makeshift stage in front of a couple of heavily equipped humvee’s. Pretty cool. Most of them stood for the entire show. Took a tour of the base. Dusty is a word I would use to describe Korea Village. There was a layer of dirt on everything. This place was nothing like Al Asad. These guys were conducting a lot of their business in tents. Tough duty. Remind me to send them some stuff.

 

2/14/06

Dear Diary-

First of all, let me be the first one to wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day. I hope you get to be with the one you care about, even though, you’re just a diary. The Lieutenant brought us over to the Marine chow hall this morning. We had breakfast and then he asked us to walk around and talk to the troops. You know, just mingle around their tables and be funny. What?

What do you want us to do? Walk around and do improv at 6:30 in the morning? Who are we Robin Williams? Shecky Greene? First of all, that shit’s hard to do, just walk around and be funny, second of all, these guys have no idea who we are. If we were bigger names that everyone knew, it would be different story. To them we’re a 5 pack of civilians interrupting some of the only quiet time they get.

“Hi, where are you from?”

“Um, hey man, I’m right in the middle of my oatmeal. Now please go away.”

But we did it. We didn’t put anyone on the floor with a belly laughs, but surprisingly enough, we got some chuckles.

On the flight deck for another chopper ride. Everyone’s got their helmets and body armor on. We’re adorable. Just like little soldiers and Marines, waiting for our Blackhawk ride. You feel pretty safe wearing body armor. Not so much with the helmet though, I wasn’t so sure those things could stop a bullet back when I was in, and I’m still not sure they could. They are good for banging your head around the inside of a tank, though.

If you think about it, your body’s not what needs armor in a helicopter, it’s your ass. If you’re taking incoming fire in a chopper, it’s not coming from the side, it’s coming from underneath. We shouldn’t be wearing them, we should be sitting on them. Especially on Valentine’s Day, you don’t want to get your boys blown off on Valentine’s Day.

The machine gun guys on the choppers are serious. I’m thinking they’re not going to take us anywhere dangerous. I mean, we’re civilians for God’s sake. They won’t take us somewhere where we could get shot down. Would they? Yes, they would. I think I realized it when I saw them sweeping the ground with the machine guns. Hmm. But hey, if we get shot down in a helicopter in Iraq on the way to do shows for the troops, we’ll be comedy legends. So we had that going for us.

Camp Poliwoda

Holy shit. This place is fortified. The choppers land and someone on the flight deck is motioning to us in a somewhat frantic manner. We casually stroll out the chopper and the guy is waving us on, again a frantic manner. A little confusion at first, what’s going on? Why he is so spastic? Are we late for the show? What else could it be? The chow hall must be full and they’re anxiously waiting our arrival. No. He wants us the hell out of chopper so it can get out of here. If the birds stay on the ground more than a couple of minutes, the base becomes a mortar target. Oh well, then let’s skeedaddle shall we? By the time we put our shit down the choppers were taking off. Windy. Yes, very windy, standing under the blade wash of a couple of large helicopters as they soar into the sky. Now we’re all dirty again. Why bother washing? we’ve been covered in a layer of dust for 3 days. Cowboys, that’s who we are. We’re Cowboys.

Everything here is covered in sand bags and huge concrete blocks. You have to wear you armor everywhere. That was fun, trying to sit a porta potty wearing a bullet proof vest. Comfy. Cozy.

It was kind of scary knowing these guys had to live like this, basically underground. Not one square inch of that place was uncovered. We were the first entertainment to come out there, just like at Korea Village. I liked that. I liked being the first people to come to these FOB’s, which is a forwarding operating base, in case I haven’t told you. They enjoyed having us out there. We had the show in the chow hall because it’s the most secure building there. Everybody rocked and it was off to Camp Wilson. Another FOB.

Camp Wilson: still Valentine’s Day. Choppered in, got settled, took a small tour, and hit the firing range. Andy and I were the only ones who went, and it was awesome. We got to sit on the top of a humvee and fire a machine gun. That’s a feeling of power by God. Slinging out thousands of rounds of ammunition a minute. Just laying it down baby, a wall of lead, the metal blanket, the sheet of death, the steel curtain, no man’s land.  It felt good tearing up that trash barrel.  I’m sure word will spread through the barrel community, that I am not a man to be trifled with. I riddled that puppy full of holes with my machine gun. Rat tat tat tat tat tat tat tat tat tat tat tat tat.

I’m Machine Gun Marky. Don’t be messin’ with me. Wouldn’t that be great? To have a machine gun turret on the top of your car? You know, just in case? Cool.

Then we got to fire the M-14 rifle, which is sorta like the M-16 in weight and feel, but it has a lot of accessories. Infrared, grenade launcher and a scope, the whole nine yards, the complete package, the whole kit and kaboodle, , all the fixins’. It was righteous.

Don’t me wrong, I’m not a gun freak or anything, I haven’t fired a weapon since I got out the Marines in 1981. But damn, it’s fun. It’s a great feel and I love the smell of cordite. Nothing smells quite like a rifle range. It’s intoxicating, I want more, I want more. Because of course, to get that smell, you have to fire more weapons. Can I fire the pistol? Oh, please let me fire your sidearm sir.  Bang, bang. Yes, please let me go, bang, bang.  I just want to shoot some more. So we fired the M-9 pistol for a while.  They had somebody taping this whole thing and she’s supposed to send us a copy. (see link above) It was a fun way to spend Valentine’s Day. Now it’s off to chow and the show. Good thing, because I’m starving. Where’s the porta potty?

These guys slept in bomb shelters, most of them were underground. I guess it’s the safest place to be. It was odd watching people popping up from holes in the ground to scurry over to the chow hall for some comedy. Great show. Again, we were the first entertainment they’ve had. Everyone was incredibly cool and good times were had by all.

Originally, they had us all in the same room. There was a slight problem with the beds. They were so worn out and beat up, when you reclined on it, you were wrapped like a giant burrito.  It was almost comical. The five of us laying down on these racks all sunken down in the middle, struggling and grappling to rise out the depths of tortilla hell. OK, we’re going to have to do something about this. They got us some cots, but only three, so Bob and I grabbed a couple of them and headed across the hall to the conference room. The other room is getting kind of small, what with all the moving going on. Stacking two mattresses on top of each other in the hopes that it support the weight of grown man. Shuffling, figuring etc, it all became just too much. Bob and I set up our stuff and we gots room baby, we gots plenty of room. It’s a conference room, and it’s just us. But first, a shower.

This place was a FOB, so they don’t have any amenities. The shower is indoors, but there’s not very good drainage in the trailer that holds the shower, so the whole place is soaked all the time. Everything that comes near the floor absorbs moisture like a sponge. It’s not easy to get to either, the land in Iraq doesn’t drain water off, it just sits there until it evaporates, so it’s muddy all the time, and there’s always mud around the shower trailer, so it’s a tip toe job. Not an easy task to accomplish wearing shower shoes.

Everything in the shower trailer is dripping wet and after drying off, I dropped my new, clean, dry skivvies into a puddle. I don’t care how quick you are, you can’t catch a dropped pair of skivvies before they hit the ground. Boom, splash, one less clean pair of shorts for this trip.

I actually left my t-shirt full of dirty clothes in the conference room. Now Camp Wilson has a memento from me. My pillow full of laundry. Cherish my friends, cherish.

2/15/06

Dear Diary-

We’re supposed to go to three different FOB’S today but got rained in. Choppers won’t fly in the rain. They will, but the pilots won’t. Apparently they don’t like to fly if they can’t see the ground. Seems reasonable. We slept in until 9. They all got a good kick when someone suggested we go by road. "Ha ha sir, that’s a good one. Take the road.  Oh, that’s very good sir."                I actually felt bad we were missing some shows, especially since we were going to places that were out in the sticks, but damn, it felt good to sleep for a while. By the time the weather cleared and we get a chance to take off, the whole day was blown. We missed every show today, and it was guilt mixed with some relief from the pace. Yin and Yang, sweet and sour, tai and chi, you get my meaning.

We headed to LSA Anaconda. It’s a huge base and receives mortar attacks from time to time. As we were walking to the PX, the Captain was telling us what to do in case we hear the alarm for incoming mortars. I asked if it was a siren or whistle or something like that and he said no, the guy will come on and say “incoming.” OK, no mistaking that warning. That’s when you head for a “hard building.” The buildings we slept in were not “hard buildings,” so in case of attack we had to run outside and find a bunker, or a “hard building.” Most of the mortar attacks occur at night. Needless to say, I didn’t use ear plugs that night. You don’t want to sleep through certain things, and a warning for a mortar attack is one of them. We got to sleep in a bed though, in our own private room. We shared a latrine with one other guy, but it was indoors. Indoor plumbing, our first on this trip. Ooh la la. We were living large. I was asleep by 9:30. I was sleeping soundly and dreaming pleasantly when I waken to a boom, followed by a few seconds of silence then I hear about nine booms. Then nothing. Hmm, should I peek outside and see what’s going on? The booms sounded far away, but they still sounded like mortars. I didn’t hear anything else, and heard no one stirring, so back bed, my weary comedian. If they get closer, I’ll check it out, but right now, I’m tired. Plus, if there’s something going down, they’ll come and get me, wont’ they? Big day tomorrow, three shows I think.

2/16/06

Dear Diary-

I forgot to tell you. We met Andy’s brother yesterday, he’s stationed here at Anaconda. Ain’t that something? Small world. He’s a Commander in the Navy. Cool dude. Gave us all Special Forces coins. Most triumphant. So, we didn’t do three shows, we did five shows and we took tours and met people and had some chow and met some people and took tours and did a show and took a tour and had some chow and met some people and did a show and took a tour and met some people and did a show and met some people and took a tour and took a drive and met some people and did a show and met some people and took a tour and had some chow and met some more people and then did another show.

It was a rambunctious day to say the least. After morning chow we headed over to the hospital to take a tour and meet the Dr’s and maybe mingle with some wounded. Honestly, I wasn’t looking forward to mingling and trying to brighten the spirits of wounded troops because I’m a puss and I get choked up easily. I could envision myself walking around balling like a baby going “hey, where you from?” Good job man, you’ve been a real bright spot. Thanks for livening up my day, if I wanted this kind of reaction, I would’ve had my mom come over. Fortunately, there were only a couple of guys in there and they had minor injuries. Whew.

We did meet all the docs who went into great detail about what they could do in that tent. “Anything a regular hospital can do.” It was amazing. Full surgical capabilities. Then we did an impromptu show for some of the staff and a couple of wounded guys. We did it the little room they had set up for the chow hall. A couple of tables and us. Just standing at the edge of the hospital tent, weaving our magic. Well, it can’t get much tougher than this.

Later…

We’re in a hangar standing on the back of a big truck, with F-16’s taking off outside and doing a show for special forces guys. Not big laughers. It is surreal. You can’t hear shit when those jets take off, it literally rattles the walls. The special forces guys laughed, but it wasn’t big laughs. Or maybe we just aren’t that funny. Surely I jest. Maybe it was because they had to stand the whole time. Or maybe it was because they were special forces and they just don’t chuckle like the rest of us. Who knows, we came, we conquered and we moved on.

Let’s take a tour. Let’s take one more tour and then let’s eat. I’m starving. I came here eating twice a day. Now, after eating three times a day, I’m hungry two hours after eating. I need to eat. I’m starving. Did I say that already? Because I am. Let’s eat. We’ve got a show coming up. I may have to poop again too. What the hell? I’m here aren’t I?

Maybe 200 people in a gymnasium. Not the best acoustics, but if you talked slow, it sounded OK. As the show approaches the halfway mark the Captain comes in and asks us if we’d do another show after the next one. What? Do you mean one more after the next one? Um, OK. I don’t know how were supposed to say no. I mean, it’s for the medical staff that never gets time off to do stuff like this. Yes, of course we’ll do one more show. So, now after this show, we go over to the movie theater, do the “big show,” then head over another hospital and do a show at 11 o’clock. Super. I’m not tired anyway, but I am hungry. And I do believe I need another sit down.

We do the “big show,” about 600 people for this one. We had two generals sitting in the front row. I’m not military anymore but I still know that I have no business being in the company of generals. Generals for God’s sake. Generals. So we do the show and it rocks. Can’t go wrong with 600 people in the audience. We do the meet and greet and take somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 pictures, wrap it up and head over to the hospital to do our 2300 show. Groovy.

Another surreal event. Two doctors, five nurses, two patients…and the chaplain. All of us snuggled together in the employee break room. Very informal. Hard to actually “do” material. When you’re standing in front of a refrigerator with ten people sitting around, you have to be a little more conversational. It actually went very well, we got laughs. I made fun of the chaplain and a nurse who had chapstick in a holster and everyone had a good time. Are we done now? Can we go home? Is it time for bed yet?

I’m hungry.

2/17/06

Dear Diary-

Another chopper ride. Went to Camp Duke for another chow hall show. Another tough crowd. Great lodging, even though it was for a couple of hours. Took some pics with some Iraqi civilians. They like having their pics taken with Americans. Or at least seem to. This one guy gives me this brown plastic bag to hold during the picture. I, of course ask about it’s contents. “This isn’t a shit bag or anything, is it”? “No, it’s my lunch bag.” So I hold it up for the picture and the guys who gives me the bag is behind me and goes “one, two, three…boom.” All the Iraqi’s are laughing their asses off. Oh, yeah, ha ha you got us on that one. It’s good to know they’ve got a sense of humor. Well, we’d love to chat, but we’ve got a chopper waiting. I don’t know where we’re going. I do know that I’m hungry. Is there someplace I can have a sit down before we go?

Camp Mahmudiyah

I fell asleep on the chopper on the way over. What’s going on here? We’re flying over hostile territory on an armed Blackhawk helicopter and I’m nodding off. Have I become that complacent? Are my worries so few that I can sleep in this situation? Apparently. They were pretty excited to see us at Mahmudiyah. They didn’t believe anyone would come to their camp. It was not in good shape. The First Sgt told us the blown up chicken plant was the highlight of the base. “I’d give you a tour, but this is pretty much it.” They had a “special lunch” lined up so the soldiers could “eat lunch with the comedians.” They didn’t seem all that excited about that prospect though. They just wanted to eat and go about their business. They did all come to the show though. Great group. Another show in a hangar. Another show where they all stood. Shook some hands and took some pics and soon we’re off to somewhere else. As we were leaving, a patrol was heading out and the First Sgt says “don’t get blowed up.” Sound advice from a crafty veteran. Is the chow hall still open?

2/18/06

Dear Diary-

Well, it’s over. We did our last show tonight. Camp Rustimiyah. We did it outside in a boxing ring. It had to be 40* outside. Chilly. We’re in Baghdad now. We flew in by chopper to one of Saddam’s palaces. We flew in complete darkness. It was kind of eerie. Can’t use lights at night or we could get shot down. That would be a bummer. Baghdad has a lot going on, and none of it is good for us. The palace was amazing. Reminded me of how Liberace decorated. Saddam was lacking in taste. Gawdy is not a taste. It was very Vegas like. There were three bathrooms for our room. We all shared a room on the last night. The slumber parties were coming to a close and we wanted to get our last moments in together. Tomorrow it’s back to Kuwait and then take off on Monday. “I’m so glad we had this time together, just to have a laugh or sing a song…” You get the picture.

We had a great time. I’ll probably wait a little while before coming back though. I’ll need some time to regroup. We took thousands of pictures, hours of video, had 40 chopper rides, flew on two C-130’s, fired machine guns, did around 25 shows, met hundreds of our nations military, ate like pigs, pooped like animals and slept like insomniacs. Ta ra for now my sweet prince. Come back soon.

 

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I'm still quite the rebel

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our ride to work

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inside the chinook

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the eye in the sky

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the bunkers of poliwoda

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the freedom wall

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our first hospital show

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will the comedy never end?

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peek a boo

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our posse at Saddam's crib

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I shoot ze machine gun. I'm getting one.

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