Letter from A Rower in Iraq
Rowing referee and US Army captain Diane Godorov writes from Iraq
by Diane Godorov
posted on December 19, 2003
Rowing referee and US Army captain Diane Godorov writes that she's "still alive and well and rowing in Iraq". Diane is a mother to two teenagers who I'm sure are looking forward to their mother's quick and safe return. You can drop Diane a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A long overdue Happy December to one and all!
I again must apologize -- I had every good intention of writing sooner, especially after the 4th Infantry Division (my division!) captured the
wicked Saddam Hussain; however, the internet powers that be had other plans. This evening 17 Dec is the first web access I have had since, oh last week! That being taken care of...
Many of you have asked that now the demon is captured does that mean that I'll/we'll be coming home sooner? The answer is a resounding "NO!" First, intelligence reports indicate that we are expecting an increase in riots and violence from the Saddam supporters, also that they will attempt to kidnap several people in order to try and make a prisoner exchange for their beloved leader. We remain currently with the plans already in place for a spring time return. In addition, we must remain and wait for our replacements to arrive. I believe the president is still planning on turning the government stuff over to Iraqis come summer, and keeping troops here to keep the peace. You'll have to ask him if his plans have changed.
I am proud to announce that I am the new owner of a beautiful Concept II rowing machine. I have to believe that it may be the only one of it's kind in country. Thanks for this incredible gift to Geoffery Knauth and friends, I am teaching the rabbi as well as the battalion commander and others the healthful benefits of rowing. It is especially nice to have the erg during the rainy/muddy/ mucky/yukky season when the silt/sand is now wet and like quicksand sucking you down. I have personally never liked the erg, it tells about your rowing performance, dear machine of torture, but I am fast to admit it makes for an awesome workout and an even greater conversation piece! AND, it turns out that one of the doctors with whom I do humanitarian medical care was on some US world team in 19XX! We rowers are everywhere, and that is a great thing!
I had the opportunity to have a tour of the base perimeter last week by the chief NCO of base security, a patient of mine. One of the things I did not realize is that there remain many bunkers on base as well as many now abandoned airplanes flown by the Iraqi air forces. People tell me that many of the planes were shot up and still smoking as the US Forces took control of the property. Many remain untouched except for the search performed on each and every one of them! Each planes is within a square with three sides made up of sand, the fourth side, an open area. The open fourth side was how the plane got into/out of the bunker. Apparently the Iraqi's believed this tactic would save the planes. In addition, the base is 12 kilometers square and most of it is flat desert with nothing on or around it. The buildings that did remain were poorly constructed with no running water, marginal electrical wiring and few intact doors or windows. As we were driving I was also struck by the number of unexploded bombs that they had lobbed at us and we at them that remain on the ground, as well as the shells of those that did explode.
I want to try and describe the sounds of being mortared both here and at the palace. I have often tried to find a familiar sound to liken the sounds to and all I could come up with was this... the mortar, as it is fired, may be far or near. Either way ,it kind of sounds like a base drum being hit. If the bombing is near, one may also feel a shock wave as well a wave of temporary fear! Often, one can hear out-going mortars being fired, this is a similar sound but if you wait about 30-45 seconds you can hear a far off explosion as the bomb hits the ground. In addition, our own folks will intentionally explode captured ordinance, this sounds remarkably like incoming!
Another sound that never gets old is the sound of the Bradley fighting vehicles as they come in and go back out to protect the perimeter of the base. As I mentioned in an earlier email, I have had the opportunity to drive one of these 33 ton monsters. The guys who actually do that for a job do 12 or 24 hour shifts in the rain or heat or cold. The machines have no such thing as shock absorbers and jostle a body around something terrible. I have become pals with the platoon that took me out for my rides. The guys are some of the toughest soldiers and most dedicated to protecting us that I have met. The sound of this vehicle on the road is unique and always serves to make me feel a little more protected.
I remain proud to have volunteered for this assignment. I am sorry only to be missing many things at home. To my niece, Jess, I want to wish a happy 1st birthday and remind my sister and her husband Dennis that there are so many more wonderful years to come. It only gets better until they are teens! To my cousin Leslie and her husband Gene, Oh boy! Oh Boy! Oh boy! A boy!!! To Ronda Lanna, thank goodness medicine is wrong sometimes and patients continue to defy us with their strength and miracles! Go Darla!!! To all who write or email or send packages, without the communication of all types I would have withered and died. To all of you whose birthdays I have or will miss, I apologize. I am usually pretty good about those things. Everyone please continue to take good care of yourselves.
And to everyone, I wish you a happy holiday season and a healthy, warm, wonderful and prosperous 2004.
with love, diane
snail mail address:
CPT Godorov, Diane F
E / 704 4th ID
APO, AE 09323-2662
Diane F. Godorov, D.O.
CPT MC, US Army