Saturday, August 11, 2007

Homefront: Wireless Connection from the Ahwatukee Foothills News

August 9, 2007 - 12:17PM
HOME FRONT: Wireless Connection

Commentary by Missy Martin
I’m on my cell phone, wearing one of those posh white bathrobes I found hanging in the closet, at noon, leaning over the third floor balcony of my room in a New Hampshire hotel trying to get good reception, talking to my brother Mike who is calling from “Mortaritaville” in Iraq. Spread out below me is a sea of green, perfectly manicured grass and trees without the single stain of a brown blade of grass or a yellow leaf. Beyond the grounds lies a bay, where sailboats and small fishing boats drift back and forth past the mammoth colonial houses that line the granite coast. It’s an idyllic scene, which is why the gift shop downstairs is brimming with things like note cards, trivets and ornaments depicting it.

Mike has flown into Mortaritaville, officially named Camp Anaconda, in the volatile Sunni Triangle north of Baghdad, from his duty station in Kuwait. His convoy security crew was recently assigned a new vehicle, called an armored security vehicle or ASV, to replace their humvee. They’re at Mortaritaville to learn how to operate it. I know nothing about an ASV to feel either good or bad about it.

I ask Mike what he thinks of Mortaritaville. He answers that it’s the first place where he’s seen a tree since he arrived in the Middle East a month ago (I choose not to brag about my view). I ask him if the camp is aptly nicknamed, and he tells me that sirens and loud-speaker announcements warn of mortar fire about three times a day, but admits that the camp is so large that he’s actually never heard the rounds explode or seen where any have hit. In fact when the last warning sounded, he was eating lunch in the dining facility, and without missing a beat, kept on eating.

I know from experience that our conversation will last about 30 minutes, the length of time it takes a 300-minute calling card to expire (the bulk of minutes are supposedly expended just making the connection) or the point at which the next soldier waiting in line for the phone will urge him to hang up.

When I hang up, I’ll get dressed and my family will drive in our rented car to Boston where we’ll meet my other brother Bill for seafood on Newbury Street. Bill is in town from Missoula, Mont., to learn about his new employer, Textron. Over clams and Sam Adams Summer Ale, I’ll repeat the conversation I had with Mike – the tree, the mortar fire, the ASV. We’ll compare the contents of care packages we’ve each sent. After dinner I’ll lobby Bill to join us again, but he’ll decline, apologizing that his week is booked with Textron business.

The next morning, while training in some Boston conference room, Bill will send this text message: “Textron makes the ASV.” The threads connecting my family to this war will pull tighter.

From my laptop on the desk, next to a bottle of sunscreen and a map to York Beach, I’ll learn that the Armored Security Vehicle is bigger and better than a humvee; that it promises “battle-proven protection” against small arms fire and roadside bombs. I’ll read specs on the vehicle’s survivability, mobility and firepower – a lot of technical jargon that means, in layman’s terms, it’s designed to ensure that soldiers come home.

When I return home, I won’t credit my week of spa treatments, restaurants, beaches, boats and sleeping in late for reducing my stress. It’ll be the armored steel hull and the ceramic composite expandable armor on Mike’s new ASV that does the trick.

Missy Martin is an 11-year Ahwatukee Foothills resident, mother of three and editor of Bombshells: War Stories and Poems by Women on the Homefront. Her brother, U.S. Army Specialist Michael Dunn, attended Arizona State University and graduated from the University of Montana with a degree in accounting and now provides security on convoys in and out of Iraq. He can be contacted at Spec. Mike Dunn 7th Chem – APO AE09327.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I'm Sending Too Much!

Quick somebody stop me! Rumor has it, I am sending my husband too much stuff! It has almost become an addiction for me. Everytime I go into a store all I do is look for things I can buy him and send him, whether it be snacks, bathroom items, or magazines and books. My frivolous sending has turned him into a packrat, with 4 bags of sunflower seeds hidden in his locker, and candy bars here and there. He even has numorous stacks of books he probably won't even read.

I don't know why I feel this need to constantly send him goodies. I think it makes me feel better about our situation. The more comforts from home he has the better he will feel...that is my impression.

He told me a few weeks ago that sometimes when the mail comes in, some of his friends think a package is for them, but it always ends up being for him. He said it makes him feel bad. I could understand this, so I started sending packages to his friends as well! I even send packages to his friends who are now on other orders and other ships!

I was just wondering if I'm nuts or if anyone else sends countless flatrate boxes full of who knows what??