Christmas in Iraq

My cousin's Christmas email from somewhere near Mosul:
Hello, everyone!

I'm sorry I haven't sent out an e-mail in such a long time. We've been without power for long periods (over six days once), so I haven't been able to send anything.

Christmas was good. I had Staff duty on Christmas Eve. When assigned to Staff duty, you have to stay up all night. I was able to spend the night webcamming with [my wife] and her family. I was able to talk to them, then watched as they opened their presents. It was the next best thing to being there.

I slept all morning on Christmas day. I then spent the afternoon installing a generator at our barracks. We got it put in and running just after dark, so we got power just in time. My Christmas dinner was a bratwurst and red beans and rice. We did have a "traditional" dinner trucked up to us from Tal Afar, but I was too busy getting the generator running. I'm not complaining, though. I would rather have power and heat than a piece of ham or turkey.

The rainy season has finally arrived. Now the whole place is one big mud hole. It is impossible to go through the day without getting mud everywhere - clothes, boots, in the rooms, etc. Along with the rain came the mosquitoes. We're getting eaten alive, especially at night. I've been trying to get a mosquito net, but the PX in Mosul sells out almost as soon as they get them in. The temperatures are falling, we even had a spit of snow.

I've attached a photo taken while on a convoy to Bayji, located just north of Baghdad. It took us four hours each way to get there, and we had to make the trip twice in three days. This photo was taken while we were recovering a vehicle that broke down. I was providing security while the vehicle was being prepared to tow.
I'd include the picture, but it's meaningless for anyone who doesn't know him. It's of a soldier in uniform in a desert similar to the one east of L.A.

By the way, I keep posting these because they're snippets of personal life that you don't get much of in the news (for once, I'm not criticizing the news, I'm just making an observation).

I should also add that while I think this war is based on a series of lies, I do hope Iraq gets some sort of decent government in the end and citizens wind up better off. I'm just afraid that it won't happen for many years, and in the interim there will be much more internecine violence.

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