Vol. 22, No. 5,514 - The American Reporter - September 7, 2016

by Capt. Gabe Scheinbaum
American Reporter Correspondent
Baghdad, Iraq
May 29, 2006
Frontline: Iraq

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SOMEWHERE IN IRAQ -- Hey, All. Well, another month has passed me by, and though there are a few days left in May I thought it safe to knock out my end-of-month report. In concluding my first month as the XO of the 572nd Military Intelligence Company I have regained my mojo at work. My depressed professional state has rebounded and I again have the job satisfaction I had under the tutelage of John Hawbaker in old C Troop. My new boss, CPT Andy Hierstetter, who hails from parts close to my own (Fort Pierce), has really welcomed me in.

The 1st Sgt., Andy and I spend a lot of time together daily - gym, work, eating - and our rapport builds with each rep lifted, each piece of paper stapled, and each cup of ice cream downed. Things are good. The challenges are different than that of my old job but they are vast and welcomed. Gone are my bored days here on Marez; I spend nearly 19 hours a day working or something like it and I am totally fine with that as this past month has zipped by.

I now straddle the start of my eleventh month here and know the end will be here sooner than anticipated. I also have time to play soccer three times a week with the likes of Iraqi's, Turks, and now Albanians. I really enjoy the different levels and styles of play and I have regained a hunger and passion for the beautiful game that I lost for some years. I may not be as quick as I once was (but still faster than you, Omar), but I think with age comes smarts - to know when to throw it all out there and when to hold back. I love that I am playing soccer in Iraq.

I am also eating better than I probably have in my life. I am not talking about quantity, though there is plenty, but quality. My new co-workers have really turned me on to better eating habits which have helped my workouts immensely. I am very pleased with the results and the whole thing gets my day started on the right foot.

As for the title of this email, Toby Keith came here to perform for the Soldiers today. I will say this, I am not the biggest country music fan, but he really showed true support by coming here. In a day and age when performers of all types routinely tour to promote albums or movies, Keith took 17 days out of his busy schedule and came over here to Iraq for the fourth straight year (12 shows in three days around northern Iraq.

His support and admiration for the Soldiers is well documented, and everyone knows his father was in the army, but it goes beyond that. Playing to a packed house of nearly 3,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and DOD civilians, Keith and his lead guitarist (Scott something) spent nearly an hour doing acoustical versions of the songs that gave America goose bumps after 9/11.

Opening with the un-radio version of "I Love This Bar," Keith showed he doesn't need a big band and heavy electronics to showcase his talents. He quickly put the obviously already patriotic convention in more of a mood with "Beer for My Horses," and his O'Reilly and Axis of Evil taunting "Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue," which was joined by a 3,000-strong chorus. He also played bus, or underground favorites like, "The Taliban Song," and "I'll never Smoke Weed with Willy Again," but it was his "American Soldier" that really spoke to all those who wear the uniform. It is an almost surreal thing to hear this song live and actually be involved personally with the basis for the prose.

If there is any criticism about the show that the USO produced it would be the venue, the temperature, and locale, but you will not get any complaints from me. Just having Toby Keith come was the highlight of the month and a great morale boost for all those in attendance.

In the upcoming month of June I forsee a lot of paper and prep work, my birthday (unceremoniously celebrated in quiet and sobriety), and temperatures passing the 110 mark (106 today!).

As for when I am coming home...soon. Not June. Not August. But that's all I am saying. If you received this email you are no doubt in my thoughts, my prayers, and my heart. I am okay and doing what I can. I'll talk to you all soon on an individual basis. Take care.

Capt. Gabe Scheinbaum is the son of AR Correspondent Mark Scheinbaum.

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