Update from Iraq: No Frills Set-Up in the War Zone

Jul 12, 2008

In the first part of MSG Jeffrey Pennington’s email home, he touched on the atmosphere and his current mission centered near the ancient Iraqi city of Samarra, a 2007 UNESCO World Heritage Site north of Baghdad.

In today’s column, we’ll see how he describes the everyday living conditions he and his fellow soldiers face at Patrol Base Kaufman.

If you don’t count the sand—or the cheesy children’s wading pool the troops brought in for heat-relief—then there is nothing at PB Kaufman that remotely resembles a day at the beach.

Here now, MSG Pennington’s account:

Essentially we have nothing separating us from the city of Samarra but a couple of buildings and guard towers surrounded by concrete barriers, sand bags, and concertina wire.

We have no phones.

Dining room, PB Kaufman, IraqWe have no Internet, except through a couple of computers we use to communicate with our Barbeque deck, PB Kaufman, Iraqheadquarters.

We have no dining facility; we have to transport our food in containers from the patrol base down the street.

We have no PX–that’s a military store for things we need to live on.

We have no trash service.

Laundry service, PB Kaufman, IraqWe have no mail service; we have to drive to a Forward Operating Base (FOB) about 10 miles away toFitness center, PB Kaufman, Iraq get mail…and this isn’t your normal stretch of highway.

There are a couple of bathrooms for the entire base. We did, however, build a few outhouses to help with the “traffic”, and we’ve got a piece of PVC pipe that sticks in the ground that’s in use as a urinal…

…Patrol Base Kaufman is not outfitted with electricity; we supply our own with generators.

There is no fuel service for the generators; we have to make fuel runs to another base.

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Toni here once again, and in closing for today, I can’t help but ask, even with all we’ve been going through stateside just to keep gasoline in our autos…How do MSG Pennington’s last two lines make you feel?

Yeah…me, too.

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Next week: A brief thought on how MSG Pennington’s focus on the mission, rather than his material surroundings, can give us the courage to face our own difficulties with resolve and grace.

This will be followed by the story of one Poplar Bluff man who’s taken action against the high cost of gas. Check out his strategy in Neighbors: I Downsized My Ride!

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