May 14 - 19, 1991

Steven Dutch, Professor Emeritus, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay

Camp II is up; I go to the Mountains

Tue 14 May

We have been fighting a running battle for several days over what we issue (everything, it turns out) and how to protect it. What we need is a chain-link fence. What we are getting, for the time being, are some GP Large tents at intervals with a perimeter rope in between. We used the tents to store clothes and blankets. Late in the morning we got stuck with the additional task of issuing the initial rice and blankets, a task formerly done by in-processing. The rest of the day was confusing but not otherwise bad. We spent a lot of the slack times brainstorming how to get all the extra tasks done.

Wed 15 May

A surprisingly smooth day. We have a real flow going and things went well. We handle the daily issue by giving each tent a water jug two-thirds full of rice; we issue two things at once. They have to figure out what to put the rice in once they get home! We have gone to a "lumber yard" approach to issuing food. An escort takes each zozan leader into the yard with his helpers and has them take the necessary amount right off the pile. It saves moving everything twice. Blankets are only issued to zozans; that keeps the double-dippers from Zakho from processing in just to get a free blanket.

Late in the afternoon the Engineers came by to find out where to place our latrine, and the contractors started on our storage tent. There can be no permanent structures in these camps; they are supposed to be temporary. Thus we can have a storage tent that can be put up and taken down in a few days, but not a hard-sided building. Also we cannot keep permanent records, lest they be used to identify camp occupants later and lead to reprisals. What occupant records we keep are supposed to be easily destroyable once the camps are vacated. No computer files.

There are over 8,000 in camp now. We are issuing to Lieutenant and E and giving initial rice to D. Wally Coyle is helping issue zozan cards, and we have some Kurds working as well. SPC Mark Kuyper is helping in the office. He takes a lot of ribbing from a lot of people in the unit, good-naturedly, but he proves to have an astonishingly good rapport with the Kurds and soon is taking care of almost all the issuing along with his Kurdish assistants.

In the evening we had a big mail call. I got two letters and a birthday card from Shawn, a letter from a former student, Andy Alles, and a goodies package from Muriel.

Thu 16 May

We had a violent rain and wind storm all night after midnight, and rain squalls off and on much of the day. Getting to work was a comedy of errors. The roads were so muddy and slippery we could scarcely move, so we went cross-country. The work flow was smooth, and it was a very quiet day. About 1200 the clouds took on a strange orange-brown color. At first I suspected we were seeing smoke from Kuwait, but the next shower solved the mystery. It was wind-blown dust, andd every raindrop left a pink splotch of mud. We were done by 1530. I dictated a tape home to Shawn. We got more mail. I got some journals from Fritz and birthday cards from the kids at Green Bay Christian School. This is the first day since May 4 that we have gotten off work even a little early. It is so nice to have even a little time off.

I was in a good mood one morning about this time and was humming "Zippidy-doo-dah". When I got to the line about Mr. Bluebird on my shoulder, it all came together:

Zippidy doo-dah, Zippidy-yay
Oh my God, another Kurdistan day
Busloads of refugees headed my way
Zippidy doo-dah, Zippidy-yay
There's a Kurd squatting by the shoulder
It's the truth, it's actual
It's been months since I've been sexual
Zippidy doo-dah, Zippidy-yay
Please God, not another Kurdistan day

A day or so later I was moved to yet another flight of lyric achievement:

I don't wanna go home, I'm a Wars'R'Us kid
And there's a million wars around the world
That I can fight in
From Kurdistan to Congo-land, wherever CA stuff is,
I don't wanna go home, cause baby if I did,
I couldn't be a Wars'R'Us kid
More guns...more bombs...Oh boy!
I couldn't be a Wars'R'Us kid

These were duly posted on the bulletin board for the cultural enrichment of the unit. (At the time, there was a cyclone in Bangladesh, a really ugly civil war in Liberia, and no shortage of places to send a CA unit after Kurdistan. There's a grim note of prophecy in the "Congo-land" bit, which was put in solely because it fit about four years before Rwanda.)

Fri 17 May

We had to chase a mob of would-be workers out of the area; they refused to leave after we selected our workers for the day. After that the morning was quiet until 1100. Then, all at once:

I called home 1t 0500 and talked to the kids (that was 9 P.M. Green Bay time), then again at 1300 to talk to Shawn. We had a satellite link to Fort mccoy, then they put through a commercial collect call.

Our fest tent is going up today. The frame is up. Camp 1 has a completed tent by now. Thanks to the melee with the workers and the security problems over clothing storage, we had Italian MP's much of the day. I got to use my Italian just a bit.

Things that would be perfectly reasonable to do for individuals are impossible with hundreds of people around. The other day an old couple came up just as we were shutting down and asked for their day's allotment of rice. I didn't have the heart to turn them away, but we ended up dishing out another 50 or 60 rations to others as a result. Much as we would often like to help some people sometimes it is just impossible because we'll end up with a mob demanding the same thing.

We also have had problems with double dippers from Camp 1 coming over with Camp 1 ration cards to get food here. I know all the Camp 1 symbols and alerted our crew to the scam. I caught one guy and read him the riot act, calling him a thief and every other name I could think of, and shoving him out of the area. I deliberately put on quite a show so the word would get out. I don't care if he spoke any English or not; he knew perfectly well what the issue was. After I was done one English-speaking Kurd said: "Good for you, Mister".

Every day ends with payoffs to the Kurdish workers; sugar, rice, or whatever.

CPT Haney invited me up to the mountains for 4 or 5 days to advise on food distribution there. I have wanted to get into the mountains ever since we got here, so I am absolutely delighted.

The great anti-climax of the evening: We saw a great cloud of black smoke, so CPT Watson and I barrelled over to check it out. Some Kurds were burning a tire!

Sat 18 May

The 418th CA Company is opening Camp 3 a few miles east of us, to be run on a KOI (Kampgrounds Of Iraq) basis: bring your own tent. This camp would fill quickly with our backlog plus newcomers, to 10-15,000 people, but it would not stay full long. The bottleneck is a town called Dohuk; once Dohuk is demilitarized, which it would be in a few days, many of the Kurds would go home. There were plans for a Camp 4 a bit further east, but it never materialized.

CPT Haney came by at 0830, said he'd be back about noon. I packed and waited - all day! Apart from a hike to Camp 2 to take some pictures and see what's going on, I hung around camp all day. The outer skin is going up on the fest tent in Camp 2. Haney finally showed up about 1800, and we drove to the British 40th Marine Commando near Kani Masi. The scenery was lovely, even if it was almost dark when we got there. SPC Lahela Corrigan is the third member of the team.

On the way to the British camp, Haney stopped to examine a truck for evidence of tainted seeds. He found piles of orange lentils, which are tinted to indicate they've been treated with a mercury-based fungicide. He suspects that tainted lentils, probably taken unwittingly from seed stores, may have been responsible for some infant mortality in the mountains. We found piles of orange lentils later at many locations. That may be a good sign: that people were aware of the danger and discarded the seeds.

There's a story going around about a shootout between British soldiers and Iraqi guards at Saddam Hussein's Winter Palace near Sirsenk, in the next valley to our south. The Iraqis deny it; Haney says it's true and that two Iraqis were killed.

Sun 19 May

A gorgeous sunny day. We spent the morning conferring with the British Marines at A and C company on food distribution. I described how we had laid out allocation tables, and we brainstormed ways to devise field methods of weighing out food. That really only took a couple of hours, but it seemed to help the British get a handle on the problem.

At A company I met a U.S. medic named COL Griffin who graduated from Berkeley in 1965. We had some fun reminiscing about Mario Savio and others. Bettina Aptheker, who scandalized everybody by announcing she was a Communist back then, is now one of his daughter's professors at UC-Santa Cruz!

In the afternoon, we drove up the "switchback road" toward Sirsenk to chat with the U.S. Marine way station and check out a temporary Kurd encampment nearby. Using my little Arabic I was able to get a count of the people there from the head man. We also encountered Kurdish graves in the road cut; simple boxes of rough stone slabs. Then we went through Kani Masi and on to Baloka, the end of the line. As Haney put it, "if this isn't the end of the world you can see it from here". The "end of the world" is a surprisingly busy place. We met Americans, British, French, Canadians, Germans, and of course Kurds. The scenery is breathtaking; any national park in the world would fight to get scenery like this. On the way to Baloka we ran into a Special Forces team that included SSG Paul Timmerman, whom I haven't seen since his team left for the mountains three weeks and more ago.

Haney has a selected spot where a small waterfall creates a good, if cold, shower point. We stopped there to clean up, and he slipped on a rock and hurt his foot. It causes him severe pain.

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