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Finally Somehow Home - Chapter 11.1

When I was back in Estes Park I’d had my eye on a certain piece of property that was right next my South African friend’s house up in the mountains. He was a builder, so I bought the land and started working on plans to build a log house. I was making really good money and the housing boom was on so I thought I would build my dream house and then sell it if I needed to and make a little bit of money. First of all, don’t do that. Don’t build your dream house for someone else because you end up spending way more money on it than you otherwise would, and the return on investment isn’t nearly as high. But I didn’t know any better, so I started planning. In November it was my turn to rotate out on leave. I had already been there past the normal three months, and we needed to take frequent breaks to be on top of our game, so we usually did 90 days on and 30 days off. Poor bastard Army and Marines were doing 12-18 months with no break. I didn’t want to go because I knew that the Battle of Fallujah part two was about to kick off and things were just starting to get really interesting in Anbar Province. Sure enough. The team dropped me off at the airport and headed back for an afternoon run downtown. By the time I got off the plane in Amman, Jordan I had an email in my inbox from Snake telling me vaguely about the gun fight that day. Penlight had zapped a car full of baddies with the PKM and everyone else was busy too. I was pissed. Bad timing. That month, there were a lot of gunfights, and as I suspected, the Marines rolled into Fallujah and cleaned it out. Meanwhile, I was in Australia hanging out with afew Army Ranger buddies and visiting my old girlfriend from the Indonesian days. In spite of missing out on all the fun back in Ramadi, it was good to get away from the war and catch our breath. We were there just after the presidential elections when Bush was reelected and everywhere I went people kept wanting to talk politics with me once they heard my accent. The US wasn’t very popular in Australia at that time because of Bush and the war, so neither were we. But we decided - fuck it, we’re gonna have a good time anyway. It was fun being flush with cash, so we made good use of it because we didn't know if we were going to live through our next deployment. We got the most expensive rental car we could find and blasted up to Surfer’s Paradise from Sydney. About three o'clock one morning after a wild night of partying we were hungry and decided we were going to get some pizza. The pizza place wasn't really a restaurant, it was more of a place that catered to drunken bastards at 3:00 in the morning and sold pizza by the slice. As we were standing in the very long line we were getting fucked with about being Americans and were getting tired of it. So, much to the chagrin of everyone in line behind us, we bought every god damn slice of pizza they had. As we walked down the street to our hotel with about 10 boxes of pizza. We began handing them out to drunken revelers along the way. One group, after we handed them a box of pizza, yelled “hey you guys are awesome!” I turned back to them and yelled, “Your God damn right, we're fucking Americans.” They didn't know what to say. We had a good time, but were happy when the time came to go back. November had been a very busy month and I had missed it. I was bummed but I’d needed the break. Miami met me in Amman on the way in and we drove back to Ramadi the next day.

There’s so much to say that I am leaving out for various reasons. I ended up hanging around Ramadi until May 2005 doing much the same but with Fallujah taken, the enemy activity began to taper off in the area for a few months. In May, Blackwater, our company’s main competitor, won most of the security contracts that our company had as they had come up for a re-compete, and we were told to retrograde back to the States, sit tight and wait for future assignments. A few of the guys jumped over onto the Blackwater team to work with them but most of us decided to ride it out. The day that the Blackwater guys came out to Ramadi was a bad, bad day. They were driving Mamba armored cars, rolling slow down route Tampa when an IED blew the shit out of one of them. One guy died almost instantly and there were four more wounded, one of which was my good buddy Fondo, who had jumped over to the Blackwater side from Miami. That same day, Blackwater was sending teams out to the rest of their new sites. We had no sooner linked up with the guys who had gotten hit on the way out to Ramadi, than we heard the news about the Blackwater helicopter being shot down. They lost a lot of guys that day and lost another one downtown at the government center about a week later. It was then that I realized how close we had been running the gauntlet. I guess we were just doing some things right, staying ahead of the bad guys, or were just getting lucky, but we all made it out of there alive which I think was a miracle. I came back to the States with mixed feelings, but grateful to be alive and not sure I ever wanted to set foot back in Iraq again.

I went back to Colorado and started working on my house and trying to create a life for myself. Life in the States was good, but I was growing restless. I bought a dirt bike and would spend all my spare time blasting around the woods of Colorado on it or driving out to Moab Utah and exploring all of the single-track riding anyone could ever want.

Right before I left Iraq I had been snooping around online dating sites and had briefly talked to a pretty Costa Rican girl who had spent some time in Colorado. We hadn’t talked in a few months but one evening I found myself chatting her up online. She dared me to come and visit her, so I bought a plane ticket and flew down to meet her. She showed me Costa Rica in all of its beauty, and we hit it off. A few months later she moved back to Colorado, and we started hanging out more. It was a good summer overall, in spite of a few broken bones in my foot from my dirt bike, but I was still restless and bored and wanted to get back into the mix. My foot healed up and I took a job as an instructor teaching for the same company I had worked with before and was now screening and training their new generation of PSD personnel. I did that for a few months until some positions on the Israel detail opened up, so I jumped on it.

I got to Jerusalem in December 2005 and had my own team shortly thereafter. Israel was a good gig. We lived in apartments around Jerusalem or sometimes in Tel Aviv and worked for the Consulate in J-town and the Embassy in Tel Aviv moving their people around or whoever else happened to show up. My very first mission as a Shift Leader with my own team was shuttling a young buck Senator around Israel and the Palestinian territory. We were at a restaurant in the West Bank where meetings were often held. It started raining hard and in no time there was 3 inches of water in the street. The armored SUVs had been disbursed around the nearby area so as not to draw too much attention, as per our Standard Operating Procedure. Usually when a meeting is breaking up and the Principals are getting ready to leave there is a warning call sent out over the radio by someone in the meeting room so that we on the outside would have time to get the vehicles and personnel in position for a quick and secure pick up and departure. Well, this young Senator just stood up and bolted out of the meeting giving us no chance to get ready. He was ready to go. I got on the radio to get the cars lined up as quickly as possible, but it was too late. It was a cluster fuck. The vehicles came rolling in quickly, but late, leaving this guy standing in 3 inches of water in the middle of the street. Then he got into the wrong vehicle. He was not happy with me. At all. The next stop was the Muquata, which is the equivalent of the Palestinian White House. He was there to meet with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Prime Minister. No sooner had we pulled up to the Muquata than this guy realized that his tie was in a different car. So, someone had to run back and get it for him and then give him a chance to put it on before exiting the vehicle. It was a complete shit show part 2. After getting my ass chewed by the Department of State Regional Security Officer, I went up to the Agent in Charge and asked him: “Who the fuck was that guy anyway?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Some new Senator. Name’s Obama or some shit.”

NOTE: Finally Somehow Home is a separate book from The Perfect Fucking Life, and is not yet in publication at the time of this post.

All this shit is written and created by Jason Lee Morrison © 2022

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