My kid brother in Iraq

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 17, 2005

Here are excerpts from e-mails from my 78-year-old brother who is a consultant with the Defense Department after retiring as International President of Hatteras Yacht. He spent two years in the Ukraine educating former communist businessmen and is now in Iraq teaching Arab leaders how to set up new businesses. You might find this interesting.

&uot;I have been in and out of Bagdad, now finishing orientation in well-guarded compound near Kurdistan. Tomorrow morning I will be fitted for armor, helmet and gear, and return to Bagdad for imbedding in Infantry One and starting work.

Schedule extended a bit and will advise. Amazing level of security but more insurgent action in Bagdad as I write. I feel secure with the guys – 13 soldiers with me as I move to meetings. Cheers!

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Now firmly embedded with the 3ID, resting in a sleeping bag on a cot, 300 yards from the latrine, I finished my first meeting in Baghdad today, accompanied by nine soldiers (including two majors and my constant companion Cpt. Lynn Schneider) in a three-humvee convoy.

I’m left rear seat with the calves of the machine-gunner nine inches from my shoulder. Everyone inhales whenever we pass a parked car. The forward and aft gunners (Humvees 1 and 3) are ordered to warn, fire, then &uot;disable&uot; any vehicle that gets too close to us as we roar down city streets.

Tomorrow morning there’s a memorial service on post for a young soldier killed by a roadside bomb yesterday. Those are the scariest.

We hear frequent explosions, one today during our meeting. There was small arms firing (answered) outside the &uot;secured&uot; area we were in today and within five minutes, two attack helos zoomed in. As we climbed into our transportation this morning I heard Captain Lynne berate a guy when she discovered Humvee 3 did not have under shielding, but we went. I dearly love my companions who have made me a real team member. Of course, no one asks them why they are risking their lives to move me around, for they know I’m in the same line of fire. Robin (as in girl soldier) is the gunner in Humvee 2. Tomorrow morning, Robin, Lynn, the guys and I will go to work again. Goodnight

Yesterday’s meeting with about thirty tribal sheikhs went well, with some problems. Some wives and kids accompany us. As we rolled in, the heavily cleated tire of a Humvee kicked up stones, one of which hit a child in the eye area. There was blood so as soon as we could arrange a soft-skin vehicle he was taken to the hospital. Of course, this stopped the whole affair for an hour. According to my host officers, I made good progress. I arrive armored and remove it in front of the group and put vest and helmet at my feet.

Suddenly, my host infantry major rushed into the room, yanked me out of position, said an unknown car had stopped at the side of our exit road, told me to rearm, then told an infantryman to put me in my HV and close it. I sat in the hot sun while a demolition team rushed in from base. They sent in a robot then tried to &uot;light up&uot; the target, failed, then hauled it away, determining that there was no bomb.

Because the terrorists hate us they also try to kill anyone they know is talking to us. I was working in a normal building on a 1/2 acre walled area complete with three tanks with very large cannons, 23 HVs I could see, snipers on the roof and a whole lot of sweat.

Everybody is fully armored, as I am, and carrying very large automatic rifles, sidearm and lots of ammunition. The machine-gunners stay alert on their HVs with preassigned target areas. Talk about security! And all these wonderful people are in harms way, more than I am. Still, in the last three days, &uot;roadsides&uot; in three different incidents killed four soldiers.

The camp where I live is a forward operating base, with teams operating 24/7. There are thousands of people, and hundreds of tanks and tire vehicles, plus helos for transport and medevac. It is unreal. I really love these people.

The word is around in the business community that I’m here and some friendlies have gotten permission to come on base to talk to me. So I’m a little busy. No lights or running water for two days in our housing but ops and mess have generators. More later. Herb.

I just returned from a memorial service, for Cpl. __________, killed four days ago. The whole battalion, one at a time, paid respects to his helmet, rifle and boots, in the center of the basketball court.

Sirens outside the wall disrupted the readings; two Medivac helicopters spoiled the bagpipe music, landing at the hospital 125 meters away. The helos take off like rockets but land very gently and you know why.

The Cpl. left behind a wife and four children, two of who are in the military. Every soldier who came up to touch Glen’s boots likely thought, &uot;There but for the grace of God go I.&uot; A lot of tears and hugging.

On the way back to work, a friendly Captain that Lynn and I hung out with on the Sabbath yesterday, took me to the hospital clinic to meet a delightful Iraqi child, a little girl recovering from terrible burns which, in the hands of Iraqi doctors, left her in a fetal position. Saddam’s soldiers (before we got here) had raided their house and killed an older sister (one of 10 children.) At a certain time the Iraqi doctor brutally tried to straighten the legs and broke both. She is now in thigh-down casts and riding around the

forward operations base hospital in a wheel chair. She is doing well, learning English, joking with staff (and me).

Earlier today I co-hosted a meeting

(with the Army) with Sheikh Alaman who was seeking a grant from me to renovate his fish farm, and for spoke for another Iraqi who needs money to put a roof over his chicken coop. (I am a full service guy). His Excellency gave us some free advice about giving his tribe weapons (instead of rebuilding the Iraqi army) and said he would help us attack Iran when we are ready.

Major Brown and I said we would consider his offer and get back to him.

I had lunch today with Fatima, an American Iraqi translator, and Khalid, an Iraqi translator who is hot after sexy Fatima. I joined them in holy matrimony. As you know, livestock is often the dowry here.

As arbiter I said we could work a deal if he were to offer one camel. Better at negotiating than I, he offered one sheep, and then quickly revised that to one lame sheep. As lunch was over and I had to go to work, I asked for Fatima’s hand, then Khalids, and declared them man and slave. I have photos. More later.&uot;

Robert Pocklington lives in Suffolk and is a regular News-Herald columnist. He can be reached at