Mired in a Mine
13 Feb 96, Tue — Ðurðevik
All must be forgiven with the 47th FSB staff because there was nary a discouraging word from them today. LTC Self gave us a laundry list of (relatively easy) tasks with no firm date on when he wants them done. It’s better than nothing, but I would still prefer to be with a maneuver unit. My personal mistake was in getting emotionally involved in where I would prefer to be and what I would prefer to be doing, rather than accepting what I was given and driving on. The rules still grate though.
Speaking of emotional involvement: Some of the troops up here adopted a dog. (It’s an old GI tradition to adopt stray animals; some have even managed to smuggle theirs back from previous wars.) It’s a great morale booster for a lonely GI, but it is against a general order. A couple of days ago they went to the chaplain to have him intercede on their behalf so they could get a vet to give shots to their mascot. This morning LTC Self reemphasized that pets were forbidden. End of story? No. Later in the day we were down at PakBat I to coordinate with the 30th Med BDE. I was outside guarding the vehicles when a little puppy wandered by. He was wet, shivering uncontrollably and obviously hungry. I fed him a ham & egg MRE. When he was done, I scratched and petted him. He got my pants all muddy, but it was worth it to bring a little happiness and relief into such a wretched life. Leaving was difficult because he kept trying to follow me when I tried to get into my Humvee, and I kept having to pick him up and move him over a snow bank so he wouldn’t get run over. It was also difficult because I know the little fella probably wouldn’t be able to survive long. Yet, I wouldn’t have taken him with me even if I had been permitted to. There’s no way I could have brought him back to the States with me, so I would have been forced to abandon him in less than a year. He would have been a domestic animal trying to survive in the wild and thus doomed. I figure that difficult thought the circumstances and lessons may be, they would be useful should he survive. It’s heart wrenching. I pray that God protect and provide for him.
While we were in Visca, a kid offered me dinars for deutschmarks. I have DM, but didn’t want to give them up because that is what the local economy runs on. I offered him dollars instead. Yesterday our finance unit was trading 1.44 DM to the dollar. Last I heard the Bosnian government had set 100 dinar to the DM, which I’m sure is way overvalued. The kid counteroffered 10 dinar for a dollar. I bargained him to 50 dinars for $2 — still way too much, but an insignificant amount to me. There’s not much difference between denominations, but one interesting feature is the bridge on the 5 and 20. It is the bridge that gives Mostar (“old bridge”) its name. It was built in the 12th Century and blown up by the Croats during their fighting with the Muslims in 1993. Bosnia doesn’t mint coins. I sent the bills to Ed Houston’s kid.
The 96th Civil Affairs Battalion left us an unusable database, apparently of local contacts. We were also able to pick up a treasure trove of print material that the 96th CA left to our 432nd team attached to the 3/4 Cav at Camp Molly. I vetted it this afternoon and will go through it more thoroughly in the next few days.
14 Feb 96, Wed — Ðurðevik
The size of these journal entries does not necessarily indicate the extent to which my team is being employed. I spent the whole day putting together a database for LTC Self, who wants all the contact info distilled from all the information we’ve gathered over the last few weeks. I’m not sure what the rest of team did, probably more “coordination” which is what we normally do, but which has come lately to be a euphemism for “not much”.
At dinner, LTC Self and CSM MacDonald handed out “Any Soldier” Valentine’s. It was a nice, unexpected and welcome touch.
Got a whole big pile of mail today. Most of it was mailed to my Mom’s address in Green Bay, or to some other unit I was supposedly attached to here in Bosnia. I don’t know how it got to me, but I am glad it did. Still, it makes me wonder where the heck my mail is that was mailed to my correct address. Which was division and is now:
15 Feb 96, Thu — Ðurðevik
Breakfast sucked. For some reason a SPC Rodriguez chose today to mess with people going through the chow line. It was the old, “You already got eggs, so you can’t have any potatoes” routine. It sure would have been nice if she had said something before the eggs were on my tray. It would have been even nicer if she had just given me the damn eggs since mess halls always end up throwing shit out anyway. Christ, I felt like Oliver asking for another bowl of gruel.
We went down to 30th Med Bde for more “coordination”. I got some reports to add to LTC Self’s database and — more importantly — three Diet Cokes, while I lent them some of my 96th CA Bn material. The Diet Cokes alone made the trip worthwhile. One of the people we talked to was a veterinary officer (yes, they still have veterinarians in the Army). He said they were thinking of killing off the stray animals because they are a health hazard. All I could think of was that little puppy I saw outside the front gate yesterday.
SFC Libassi got the first care package today. Amongst other things, he got some “Boston Baked Beans” candy, which he passed around. I’m glad someone else got mail because I really felt bad about getting some 3 out of the last 4 days when no one else had gotten any.
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