Casspir The Friendly Armored Personnel Carrier

Fallujah.

Naturally.

Bumping along in a Casspir, a South African armored personnel carrier, on our way to Anbar Province, western Iraq. The year was 2007 and we were under attack.

Perfect.

Perfect? Yes. For you see, if you decide to get shot at in Iraq in 2007, the best venue for that is inside a Casspir. A Casspir is a big, white, heavily armored vehicle. During Apartheid, the South Africans needed such a vehicle; well, the White South Africans did anyway.

The first time I heard of “Casspir” I was somewhere close to Camp Speicher, northern Iraq and this was to be my “commute car.”  I thought instantly, after seeing my first Casspir, that it was so moniker-ed because it was this big white thing and, being an American, immediately thought of “Casper the Friendly Ghost.” I was wrong. There is nothing friendly about a Casspir, aside from the fact that he (it) will save your ass.

Casper_Commuter_Vehicle

Riding in a Casspir is probably one of the most uncomfortable things one can experience.

The seats are small. The quarters cramped. The air conditioning nonexistent. The suspension sans shock absorbers. The windows, smallish, which open up just enough to point a rifle through, or perhaps allow a round to one’s head. The driver, usually a Wanna-be Rambo with poor grammar and a poorer sense of direction.

No fun riding in a Casspir.

Inside Casper

But on that day, back in ’07, just outside Fallujah there was no better place to be. Casspirs were often called the ‘Best Bug-Out Vehicles’ in Iraq.

 

 

 

First they shot at us with RPG’s (rocket propelled grenades). They fell somewhat short. Following up, they hit us with AK47 rounds. (Those didn’t fall short) Our PLS truck (Pallet-loading system) lost a windshield. Some of our “light-skinned” vehicles lost windshields and windows as well. “Casper” got hit, but the rounds barely scratched the paint (Thank you South Africa). No one lost his life, but we were somewhat shaken and more than a little pissed off.

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He Went to Paris: I Can Smell the Darkness or… Guess I Could Never Do Nothin’ Right–Someday I’ll Get A Round to it. Expanding This Post–Sooon As I Find A Suitable to-it

An Illusive Tuit:

Jerry Jeff Walker –

“Guess I Could Never Do Nothin’ Right”

Or…

“The Lamp is Broken On The Mantel”

Yet another one to not read!

paris.jpg

And he went to England; played the piano, married an actress named “Kim:”…  She was a good wife… ‘I’ loved her.

This is a continuation, albeit a flashback, to my story of Janet and Random Memories from The Middle East.

Months before the events inked here, here, here, and here, I found myself in Paris (actually two Paris’s—One Texan—One French). Confus’d yet? Stand by: it grows worse(r)

Let’s back up a mite (mites are hard to back up by the way, militarily that is: damn small and damn slippery, them mites… and they tend to mite-bite one, usually on one’s ass)

We call that “Green on Blue” and if you are following the recent news cycle, you will surely know that, that is inappropriate. But that is just how I roll.

Screw Afghanistan and their pretended bullshit “We gonna take over security of our country…” Won’t happen. Will NOT Happen.

But after ten plus years there (and some several months there by me, after Iraq–got ‘liberated’–now there is yet another joke. I can speak to the idiocy that is ‘our’ foreign fallacy.

I was in Sinai, 1978 and I received a letter from my step-sis. This was not unusual back in those days, as we were still ‘speaking’. She sent me a rather long and boring letter regarding Honey Grove and all the ‘Happenings’ thereabouts. The letter was indeed ‘boring’ until I got to her ‘PS’. It read and I quote (loosely), “By the way, R is marrying J. Jesus-Beezus!”

This was, to me, devastation by way of bad.

Unspeakable news!

‘How could she?! She was MINE. Mine to mine and to have and to hold… just as soon as I finished with my wanderlust. How dare she?!” How DARE she?!

What to do?

Well, I had some R&R time ‘on the books’ so I hopped on a freighter (airplane), and flew back to Texas, ostensibly to break up the marriage, just like Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate. Problem was, was that I screwed up the dates and the logistics, and arrived not in time to bust up the wedding, but just in time to see the happy couple speeding off fast to Waco and their honeymoon.

Shit!

Never having been more depressed at missing a rendezvous, what to do? Rebound Son! Rebound!

So, I sought out Janet. Let’s call it a ‘bank shot rebound.’ I knew she was working at the Hopkins Lamar (See? To this day, I never know which county I am in)  County Courthouse as a probation officer, so I timed (this time, my timing was spot on) my entrance during her lunch break: Intercepted her coming down the stairs of the courthouse.

“Hey Janet!”

“Lance?”

“C’est moi! How’s Trix?”

“You are supposed to be in Egypt,” she said.

“I escaped,” I said. “Wanna have lunch?”

“Uh… Sure. Why not?” (Why not indeed)

We went to lunch. Then she took the rest of the day. We went to her apartment and drank gin. Later that eve, after I had regaled her with fantastical tales of the Middle of the East, she took a drag from her Virginia Slim and asked, “So are you gonna f*#k me tonight, or what?”

I said, “No Ma’am; I am gonna make love to you—something I should have done five years ago.”

So we did—I did—make love to her.

The problem now became that I had a plane to catch to that other Paris: that one in France. The other part of the problem was that my plane was waiting in Houston. I was about five hours at seventy miles per hour away from my Air France plane at Houston Intercontinental. I had to go. Now.

I hit the road to Houston, not really wanting to go, but I had promised my buddy Bart, Black Bart, that I would meet him in Paris on such and such a day. Naturally, I ended up missing my flight and arrived Paree a day late. On the taxi ride from Charles de Gaulle airport we drove under a bridge and the taxi car lost its windshield to a lone rifle shot. (my theory) “Terrorist?” I asked the cabby? (en français).

“Merde!” Was all he said, as he dodged the flying glass. I did not care anyhow, but this rather happenstance occurrence did not bode well for my first day in Gay Paree.

“There’s my hotel!” I exclaimed as he had managed to (somehow) keep driving.

I paid him off, got out of his now mangled, windshield-less cab and made my way into the cheap hotel lobby. Went up to my room, dropped my shit; then went looking for my buddy. Found him at last sitting on his rack, rather sullen in mood. I checked out his room. It had a wonderful view of the Eiffel Tower.

“So Bart,” I asked finally, “What have you done here in The City of Light for twenty-four hours?”

“You see that tower there?” he asked, pointing to the window.

“Yep,” I said. “That would be the Eiffel Tower.”

“Well, since you didn’t show, I went out on my own… and hey! Ya know what, they don’t speak English here? I went out on my own. (You mentioned that) Walked over to that tower, looked up at it—kicked it—and said to myself, ‘Yep. That there Bartamus, that there is the Eiffel Tower. Then I came back here and took a nap. And would you please tell that France Maid that I do not want no f*#kin’ breakfast? She wakes me up in the f*#king morning with her biscuits (‘croissants’ Asshole) and lousy coffee.”

“Sure Bart,” I said. “I will post a note, en français on yer door.”

“You speak France?”

“Oui.”

“Well Hot Damn then! You be Bogey. I’ll be Bacall.” (of course)

“I weren’t able to bust up the wedding.”

“What?”

“The Wedding.”

“Oh you mean between R and J?”

“Yep. That one, you moron.”

“Yer better off,” he said.

“OK. Then why am I so depressed?”

“Dunno. Did you have any other adventures while you were back In-The-World?”

“Matter of fact, I did. I hooked up with Janet.”

“Bullshit.”

“Nope. No bullshit. Why I missed my flight, in fact.”

“Well, I was just about pissed off at you, but now I unnerstand.”

“Thanks for that,” I said.

“Hey!” he said. “Let’s smoke a bowl and you can tell me all about it while we go and kick this town in the ass.”

“Light her up,” I said. We smoked and drank and then off we went stoned and semi-drunk and in Paris (France) Just two more ugly Americans (Texans)

Now Y’all…

I hesitated while choosing the vid to represent this post. Then I swerved onto this one below. It is somewhat depressing, yeah. But, but… This is how I see my life ending up. I hope you will take the time to watch, listen, and comment.

Vid Credit: 

John1948SevenA

Cheers,

Lance

To Be Continued… Hopefully.

“Losing his hearing, but he don’t care what most people say.”

“Lately I been thinkin’ I just might quit drinkin’...

“I feel like Hank Williams tonight”

Cred: JJ Walker

tex flag

Re-Run Alert! Warmed Over Shit: “Dispatches From Iraq: The Man Who Blew Up Goats”

Cred for Vid: GoatStep

*****

I try really hard not to be asshole.

I truly Do,

But I Just Cannot Help My Nature

In ‘08 I gave my notice to Parsons and went to work for an Iraqi company called Leadstay. Leadstay was the outfit that provided all the heavy equipment and operators we employed at Camp Wolf in Anbar Province. They worked under the direction of our EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) guys, (Tetra Tech) helping them to locate and destroy the UO (unexploded ordnance) that Saddam had so graciously left behind.

goats

The project, USACE CMC (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Coalition Munitions Clearance project), was a noble one and I worked for them two years, “Kicking bombs” as my IT guy referred to it.

Previously I had worked for Parsons on the USAID (U.S. Dept. of State) Rural Water Project. We built water treatment plants for rural villages all over Iraq providing clean potable water to people who had never put lips to same. Spent two years doing that. I was in the ‘Construction’ business. At CMC I had moved into the ‘Destruction’ business, or for you literary types: ‘deconstruction business’. The circle was now complete.

CMC was winding down in ’08 after having destroyed roughly four hundred thousand short tons of old live ordnance during the five years they had been ‘kicking the bombs’ which the bad guys would surely have turned into IED’s.

I needed to find a new gig.

leadstay_operators

Through my connections with Leadstay I was hired on as ‘Business Development Manager.” They paid me fifteen thousand bucks a month (In cash if I so desired) plus two percent of any new contracts I landed. Potentially very lucrative.

The Leadstay ‘Man Camp’ was in the ‘Red Zone’ just outside the wire of Camp Victory, which bordered BIAP (Baghdad International Air Port).

Electricity was hit or miss. The power grid from Baghdad was kind of like Texas weather; “If you don’t like it just wait a minute and it’ll change.” We had backup generators, but they were only for show.

The shower in my hooch often gave me little shocks, reminding me that “OSHA does not live here.” All the Iraqis (and some of us) were armed. I wasn’t, but I had my eye on an AK-47 for sale in the duty-free shop Ahmed owned.  Mostly the Duty-Free was a liquor store.  We were only allowed to drink booze on Thursday nights. (Of course we mangled that rule, being ‘By God Americans!”)

I lasted about a month.

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This Post is for Jim Rezba–Days/Months/Years/ Tears & Beers Lots Of Jeers–Time Spent Together In Basra, Iraq–

Money Means Nothing To Me–

I’ve Been Rich and I’ve been Poor–

I Was Happiest When I Was Poor.

Smoke That Revelation.

I May Elaborate Later, or Not–

Most Likely Not–

Fore I am Worthless and Lazy.

And Just A Little Bit Crazy

***


I Have Found Me a Home – Jimmy Buffett

The Days Drift By…

They Don’t Have Names

Street Cred For Vid: Parrothead Poet

I Have seen too much shit

Behind his back and often to his face we called Him ‘Jumbo’– He had an overweight problem, but he took it all in stride–he had a beautiful wife and two beautiful daughters… He did not care–he was good-of nature–

A Great, somewhat humble man–

He never knew how he sustained us.

I once tried to tell him–he just laughed at me

I Loved the People Of Iraq

Baghdad Bob!

Cred For Share: AP Archive

I posted already…. But WordPress–Never mind.

I’ll try to re-Create it when I am sober

Narrow window there.

Fuk Me! World!

Press Bears NO ‘Symphony‘ For Music

No Honesty

No Honesty

No Honesty

“All I want.. Is someone to believe”

In Honesty

Street Cred: Billy Joel

Duh to The Fukkin’ Duh!

Re-Run Alert–Watch The Vid–The Happiest Year of My Life Remembered

The news of late from CNN foretells the fall of Anbar Province and of Baghdad. I spent one year working in Anbar Province. This was the happiest (on record) year of my life.

I am attaching a video and yes it is corny, and yes, the music is somewhat ‘gay’, and no, this was not a video that I made, or would have made.

It is a video made by the Filipinos who worked for/with me during this time. They made this vid as a ‘going away’ present for me when I decided to leave Anbar (Camp Wolfe) to work for an Iraqi company in Baghdad. Filipinos lean toward sentimental, hence their choice of music. To them it was fittin’. I loved them all.

I cherish this video and the sentiment behind it.

I do hope you will watch.


Cheers,

Lance

P.S. Hint: I am the guy in the black gimme cap and the black jacket. Bob The Mechanic is the guy with the beard, wearing the overalls.

080116 Wolf Looking Northeast
080116 Wolf Looking Northwest
080116 Wolf Looking Southeast LN LSA

Steinbeck

Edit That.

 As a “thinking” person, I do not believe in ‘Creation Science’. Nor do I believe in “God.”2.0

“Tired of being all alone here…late at night”

I am a Socialist!

“Socialist:” One who needs warm bodies akin… his skin.”

Uh Huh? I Remain firmly Ensconced In My ‘Pity Party Mode’ Thinking Back To The Good Old Times–And Much “Missing The Most Interesting Man In Iraq” P.S. It Is Impossible To Edit This. Fuk U WordPress! G’Damn You!

I Caint Fix This Post– I Am So Very Sorry

But I’ll Survive

Stray’ed Alive

(Yes. I’ve Been to Petra–Watch The Vid

 

***

Survive’d

Stay’d Alive

(Yep. Did.)

Bob (The Most Interesting Man in Iraq) is my life-long frin…

I miss his dumb ass (and ‘dumb-ass’ is a term of endearment where I come from)

If one is lucky, really lucky, one meets maybe one, two, or  three or four people in life that transcend funny.

Bob is one such ‘transcendent’ lucky for me.

He saved my fragile sanity.

**************

My mechanic (Of Parsons Mechanic fame) came by to have some ‘chat’ with me:

Bob

The most Interesting
Mechanic in the World

“Way’ll… I have a natch’ral disaster on my hands.”

“Ok Bob,” I said, “I’m ‘bout to bust with anticipation.”

“Yep. A natch’ral disaster.”

“You mentioned that already.”

“A real-life natch’ral calamity.”

“Do I have time to go to chow while you go through your preamble?”

Ignoring me, he continued, “That Six Kay (‘6K’ as in six thousand pound lifting capacity) forklift is all a-pieces. hamorr’agin’ parts all over th’ place. The Boys (Filipino mechanics times two) tol’ me it was the fuel injector pump.

So, I kin’ly smiled and said ‘Okaaay…,’ and let ‘em go at it. They need ta learn how ta fix thangs without me onct in ah’while. Well,  they dun got tha’ forklift tore all ta pieces.  Now, I dun give ‘em all mornin’ to dick ‘round with it, an’ I’m gonna give ‘em all this aftr’noon to dick ‘round with it some more. Then first thing tomorra, I’m gonna ask ‘em, ‘Boys, how come that forklift ain’t a-workin’ this fine morning?’”

“I’m hip Let’s keep it real.”

“Your ‘personnel management style’ is showing Bob,” I said.

“Yeah, whatever… An’ tomorra’s Thursday. An’ day after that’s Friday. An’ I ain’t doin’ nothin’ on Friday. Tomorra, we gonna start our dee-cent inta th’ day off.”

(I NEVER Got a Day Off–I was The Camp Manager)

“Kinda start slowin’ ‘er down ‘round mid-noon time, eh?” I said. (I can do ‘Southern’ just as slick as you please when I want to.)

“X-actly. We start double-clutchin’ and dee-celeratin’ an’ bring her in nice and slow like.”

“And what about my forklift?” I asked, even though I already knew the answer.

“She’s all ‘In’shalah’d’ out Boss.”

“Dead in the water?”

“Tits up.”

“Broke dick?”

“Send her saddle home.”

“I need to call Baghdad?”

“She ain’t lookin’ none too fav’erble.”

“Call HQ an’ tell ‘em we need another forklift?”

“Now, jes hol’ on. Doan git ’em all wadded jes yet.”

“Ok. I got it. Thanks.”

“We’re Parsons’ Mechanics an’ jes watch how we roll,” he said on his way out the door.

I love my job.

I have a “Ten Kay” forklift that still works. So I should be alright for now. Besides, Bob just  loves the drama and we do this little dance everytime there is a crisis in the motor pool. If I were a betting man (And actually I am)

I’d wager two of my pay checks that come Friday if that 6K forklift is still down, he’ll be out there bright and early with his boys working on it until it is repaired even if it means giving up his day off. I’ve seen him do that already too many times over the past year and a half he has worked for me. There is no man made of better stuff. An’ he sure do entertain. Yessir, he certainly does. And I’d never have been able to keep the operation afloat without him.

I love all my crew and wouldn’t trade a single one of them for a pile of cash money or a case of Johnny Walker Black with the authorization to drink it.

Feetnote to this story:

After I had been in Mosul for a month, running that camp, they sent me Bob.

Upon seeing him get off the chopper, I ran over and kissed him (not on-the-lips–he is a disgusting individual) But I needed him! To help me run the Goddamn Camp And I had sorely missed having him in my life.

This song is firmly dedicated to Bob, wherever he may be:

 

OK: Ed. Note:

Y’all gotta love how ‘Texan’ this vid is—look at the ‘ensign‘-Texan Flags-behind the sage, er…stage.

(and if you look really close–for you guitar players out there–you will notice the hole in the guitar. Willie tells some stories ’bout the gee-tar. He tells one about a drunken party with Leon Russell in a hotel room, when Leon almost broke it. Willie, in classic form, invited Leon to stop touching that guitar.)

When I am coherent, I may write about that.

And then there is this:

Willie sang, “At the airport in Milwaukee…”

Lenny

Lima

on that: Milwaukeeeee!

 

Footnote:

Recently Paul died (Willie’s drummer)

But Y’all know that.

(Or Shoulda Known That)