Pro Deo Et Patria- An Army Chaplain

I am a chaplain in the US Army, serving in Iraq. I'm keeping a blog to share my thoughts and experiences while deployed. They are my thoughts and they don't necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Army! :)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

NFL Draft and Temperature in Baghdad

Well, it's hard to believe, but I've been able to watch part of the NFL Draft here in Baghdad. Of course, some of you don't know what the draft is... so I'll tell you. It is the day of the year that reminds me that football will soon return. Soon being August/September. It is the day of the year when I get to focus on football again for a while. It is a good day. It is the day when the NFL teams take turns choosing new players from the ranks of the college players eligible for the NFL.

So.... I watched my Minnesota Vikings choose the player I had hoped they would get: Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson. Nice. This was a great pick for the Vikes. When it was their selection, they had a choice of either Peterson OR Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn. I'll admit I was kind of intrigued by Quinn, but seeing how far he has fallen, and thinking about the running attack the Vikes will have now with Peterson and Chester Taylor has gotten me excited. It's just past midnight here, and it's still the first round, but I think the Vikings will probably take a Wide Receiver in the second round. Skål Vikings!

On another note: when I was in Minnesota over R&R, I bought an indoor/outdoor thermometer and mailed it to myself in a care package today. I "installed" it, and it has a little wire going outside, so it will tell me the temperature outside and inside. Why did I buy it? I don't know. Maybe the glare of the multitude of products at Target simply compelled me to buy something, anything, and this caught my eye. Maybe it's because I want to see how hot it will actually get this summer.

Whatever the case, I'll proud to say that my thermometer tells me that the temp here in Baghdad, at midnight, is 76.8 degrees. But it feels warmer than that. It is uncharacteristically humid here right now. Normally 76 feels cool in this dry place. But we had a ton of rain yesterday, and it's still humid today. In case anyone cares, inside my room it is at an almost perfect 71.6 degrees.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Worth the Wait

Well, I'm finally back in Iraq after my R&R. I flew from the States Sunday and arrived in Kuwait Monday, but I didn't get to Iraq until today (Thursday), because of weather (massive sandstorm, plus thunderstorms), mainly. However, it ended up being worth the wait. We flew into Iraq in a C-130. This time, however, I got to sit in the cockpit on this flight. It was amazing. Coming down fast into Baghdad, seeing the takeoff and landing from the cockpit, learning about the navigation systems, etc., really was pretty incredible.

However.... because of missed and delayed flights, I haven't slept more than a few minutes here and there since Monday. So.... I'll keep the blog short today.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Well, last night (Kuwait time) I flew into Kuwait. Our flight from Ireland took us over London, Brussels, Germany, Austria, Romania, Turkey, and over Iraq into Kuwait. I had a fantasic view of Kuwait City coming in. I have not been to downtown Kuwait City, though I've driven through parts of it, but it looks like a great city.

What a contrast to Iraq. That is the sad part of all of this. Iraq could be a Kuwait.

Granted, there are serious obstacles. Kuwait is a small, fairly homogenous kingdom, with growing and limited democracy that has followed prosperity brought by oil. Iraq is a diverse national- in both an ethnic and religious sense- which had decades of oppressive rulers.

Yet, one cannot help but wonder, "what if?" The Iraqis have enough oil to have what Kuwait has- a high standard of living and peaceful prosperity. But they need to learn some fundamental lessons about living together with diversity.

It seems that most Iraqis understand this at some level; but enough troublemakers (both foreign terrorists and Iraqi ones) are causing enough troubles for the rest of the nation to make it so difficult.

Soon it will be off to Baghdad for me. Strange to say it, but I'm looking forward to my comfy trailer after spending a day in an airplane, and last night in a tent.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Shannon, Ireland

I'm in Shannon, Ireland right now on a layover. I feel like if I post a blog from here, then it means I've really been here.

Shannon is on the west coast, almost, of Ireland. It's just west of Limerick.

It's pretty. I'd rather be deployed here than Baghdad!

Ending R & R

Wow... it's time to head back to Baghdad. I left home early this morning, and now I'm sitting at the Atlanta airport, waiting to fly overseas.

R&R was great. It went by quickly... yet, time goes slower here in the States than in Baghdad. That may sound strange, but I am so busy during my work day, that it just flies by. During my time at home, I was able to enjoy being with my family. I didn't get to see everyone I wanted from church, but we also spent a good chunk of the time out of town.

However, we did make it to three hockey games and a Twins game. My youngest son rode his first roller coaster, at the Mall of America, and is ready for more when I return later this year (yea!).

It IS hard saying good bye. Not as hard as when I first left, since I know what to expect. But leaving home always creates a hole in your heart. That is the real sacrifice of this war (aside from the deaths): the families back home. Every time a Soldier leaves his or her family behind, it raises the question of whether it is worth it for what we're doing in Iraq.

My prayer is that the Iraqis could somehow, some way, realize what an opportunity is before them. Everyone- from left to right- agrees that the time is short for the Iraqis to get their stuff together. I hope they do. Maybe they won't. What a shame if they miss a chance to modernize and live peacefully because they cannot move past the barbaric hatred of some of their brethren.

But being back in the US reminds me how good we have it. Maybe the Iraqis cannot conceive of what life would look like if they worked together and stopped killing each other. Freedom of movement, soccer fields, fast food, superficial TV shows, good schools... the simple things we take for granted. We love to critique our obesity and our strip malls and our superficiality... but, it in the end, it is the result of the blessing of living in a country that is, by and large, peaceful and prosperous.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Accommodation or "Dawah?"

Here is a good article from Katherine Kersten, of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, looking at the ways in which Muslim immigrants are demanding more and more "accommodations" to force their religion on others:

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Playoff Hockey

This is a great use of time while on R&R: attending a Minnesota Wild playoff game. The Wild lost 2-1, but it was a great game, and the Xcel Energy Center is one of the best places to see a hockey game anywhere. I think if Iraq had hockey, there would be fewer problems there!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Global War on Terror Article

Here's a funny article, written by a Major, posted on, speaking about how the Global War Terror is defined and what his award should be called.

Disclaimer: the guy makes conservative political remarks, so, if you don't like them, don't read the article. You are fore-warned. :) Here is the link:,15202,131739,00.html

Favorite Pictures

As I mentioned, I'm going to post my favorite pictures from deployment so far. This picture is taken on approach to the LZ (Landing Zone) at Rustamiyah. Notice the other Blackhawk ahead of us.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow....

It's snowing here in the Midwest! It's great. Snow isn't unusual in Minnesota in early April, but snow is still a nice surprise... as I was facing my first winter without seeing snow at all, for the first time in my life. Even when I lived in California, I would ski in the mountains almost every weekend.

Apparently, April is on pace to be the coldest April in 113 years. Keep it up! I'll be facing 90s when I get back to Iraq, so I'll take the cold weather now.

My youngest son is like me: he loves cold weather, so he's loving life right now.

Starting tomorrow, I think I will start postings some of my favorite pictures I've taken during my time in Iraq. Some of them will be repeats from past posts, but some will be new.

It will be kind of a "greatest hits" blog until I get back to posting from Iraq.

Monday, April 09, 2007

It's Cold

Well, I'm home on R&R right now! I've been able to attend a couple hockey games already (whoo hoo!), and plan to go to a Minnesota Twins game this weekend.

It's great, aside from the fact that the US is getting bitterly and abnormally cold weather right now. That's ok... I'll be suffering 100+ degree weather this summer, so this is fine.

However, in the spirit of the cold Midwestern weather, here is an article written by a Professor of Meteorology from MIT. Here is the link:

Thursday, April 05, 2007

British Hostages Freed

It's good to hear that the hostages are being freed.

A couple points on that:

1) It shows that the weakness being showed by the US and UK, and especially by the European Union, is paying dividends for rogue regimes. By weakness I'm not talking about nuking Iran or anything like that; I'm speaking of unified political and diplomatic resolve.

2) Thank God theyre being released. That's the bottom line.

Also, on a different note: There were some comments on my last few posts which got a little heated. Folks, make sure that when you post, you think about what to post as a Christian. I struggle with this, as do many people. It's part of the sin nature to say the wrong thing at times.

Just remember, there are people all over the world reading this blog (my counter tracks the countries from which the blog is read). Not everyone is a Christian, and not everyone is favorably disposed toward the US.

Anyway, I'm just glad the Brits were released. It's hard to understand the motives of Iran sometimes, and sitting in Baghdad 70 miles from Iran, it would be nice to know that there was a stable, rational regime over there.... but sadly that is not the case.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A Devotional

Here is part of the devotional I presented at the Commanding General's Battle Update this morning:

Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.” Oswald Chambers

Faith is often misunderstood or mistaken for simply acknowledging something exists. In other words, when people ask “Do you believe in God?” quite often they are meaning to ask: do you think God exists?

But acknowledging the existence of God is not the same thing as having faith! To have faith, as Oswald Chambers said, is something more. Having faith means trusting- or, as Chambers said, having deliberate confidence in the character of God. Faith is about believing that God has a plan for our lives, and that this plan ultimately works for good.

Take an example from marriage: if someone asked me if I believed in my wife, I wouldn’t respond: yes, of course she exists. I would understand that they were asking something deeper. Do I trust her? Do I trust her character and trust her actions? That is what’s really being asked.

The same is true with God. To have faith is to speak of a relationship of trust and hope. It involves obediently following God’s plans for our lives and for this world, even when they don’t seem to make sense to us. Faith is to dare to believe that God has something bigger in store for us.

Most importantly, faith saves. As the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God of God- not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-10

Monday, April 02, 2007

More thoughts on the hostage crisis

First, we all need to be praying for the hostages held by Iran. It’s hard to imagine what they are going through. Of course they're all smiles (sort of) on the video tape. Coercion will do that. The accounts of the Brits held in 2004 bears out that their conditions are probably not great. So pray for them, their families, and our allies the British.

Second, this shows why a strong United States and a strong Great Britain are crucial for peace and prosperity in this world. The rest of Europe will do virtually nothing. I hope that the British will not become more like the continentals in that respect. I am proud when I see Soldiers from the UK around here in Iraq, and it's a reminder of the special relationship our countries share. We Americans ought to act as though these British hostages are Americans. We should have the same level of outrage as when the Iranians seized our embassy workers back when Carter was President. Again I'm curious to hear from people back home: how much is the media covering this? Is it a big issue?

Finally, I want to point you to another blog, whose British author commented on my post from yesterday. His blog has some interesting stuff on it. We Americans ought to be more aware of what’s going on around the world, especially with our closest ally. Check out his blog at:

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Our British Allies

I'm curious how much press the issue of the British hostages in Iran is getting back in the US. It is a disgrace to see the Brits being paraded around and forced to make statements. One wonders what the Iranian end game is, but at the very least it shows the instability of this government in Iran.

Here is an interesting article from a British paper:;jsessionid=HOADO45SIMCEVQFIQMFCFFOAVCBQYIV0?xml=/news/2007/03/30/wiran730.xml

Part of the Iranian boldness comes from the growing perception of American weakness in the face of declining support back home. It is a dangerous side affect of our cut and run mentality.