Friday, July 9

23 May 2004 -- Kandahar
SGT Clawson goes on his first combat mission tonight. For the unit he's going with, this is also their first combat operation. The operation is called "Blue Candle". All their operations are named after cacti because the Task Force is named TF Cacti. He has been keyed up for the past two days-- bouncing off the walls and thinking intently.

They expect contact with the enemy in this operation. The 'pucker factor' is very high for everyone involved. Clawson has been to the briefings and rehearsals and had one-on-one conversations with both the Company Commander and First Sergeant. The First Sergeant had a very 'colorfull' conversation with Clawson where every other word started with an F and had four letters. The idea was to press the point that Clawson had better not hold up the unit, get in the way, expose any of them to danger, etc. As Clawson put it, "You couldn't get a BB up their _sses with a hammer right now." I think the same thing would apply to Clawson right now.

Other "straphangers" on the mission besides Clawson include the FBI, CIA, Army Intelligence interrogators, female search teams, and ZDF German TV. The unit was not happy to have any of them on the mission, including Clawson.

22 May 2004 -- Kandahar
Early this morning two mortars hit the base, but there was no damage done. CPT Myers said it was loud and it shook the tent... but I slept through it! Like I said before, I've been getting very good sleep in Kandahar.

Today was a slow day. I head back tomorrow afternoon. CPT Eckart says they've done a lot of work while I've been gone to improve and settle into our expanded office space in Kabul. Despite the slow day, I couldn't call or email anyone today. The internet is the slowest I've ever seen, and the phone lines were busy.

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