This is the bolt of a M240 7.62 Machine Gun, where the back side of the bullet sits, then the firing pin comes out of that hole in the middle of the bolt, sending the bullet downrange. This is a filthy bolt - sometimes weapons weren't used in so long they'd accumulate dirt like this, but it gave you something to do in the boredom, my weapon was constantly immaculate after discovering this, not out of my care, but out of sheer boredom.
As discussed in May 16, 2007 entry, these men are waiting to come on base to sell wares and deliver supplies. It was a constant hassle keeping them in control on the sidewalk and managing who wanted to use the restroom.
If you're from the middle east,w hich I'm not, you can tell most of these folks aren't from Iraq - many come from the phillipines or East Asia, lured by the quick money that running trucklines provides in Iraq. Our interpreter only spoke Arabic, and an Iraqi dialect at that. Communication by hands here was key, and almost became a fun challenge in the morning when making them form up and keep organized for searching.
Linked .50 caliber rounds. The M2 .50 cal is a great weapon and also a source of great stress relief. Furthermore firing weapons at the dunes kept our working knowledge of them up!
Wreckage and crap from war. This whole area was bombed out so we used it for a weapons range to practice marksmanship and maneuver with, but it was littered with shrapnel and rubble, making it very depressing. Its hard to understand what war is until you see a bombed out area like this.
Returning to base after a quickie at the range.
M16A2 rifles were to be had by every Marine on base, unless they had a SAW, M4, or some other weapon, but these are the bread and butter weapon for anyone that doesn't have a special purpose in combat.
These carried MEDEVAC cases, men injured so badly in combat that they were almost being operated on in the sky during flight back from the scene. Our Navy corpsmen worked insane hours on these under seriously risky conditions - looking at all the helo flights shot down, the odds aren't that bad, but if you had a 1/1000 chance of dying every day, how many days would you want to repeat those same odds? These also carried mail, and every time you looked up and saw one, you'd know which it was by intuition.
Out on a mini observation post. In the distance is our only close-by reaction team, three guys hanging out in a HMMVW. Most of Iraq looks like this.
A closeup of our backup.
This is the same herd from May 16, 2007, and it was curious to be able to see them so closely. Every morning and night herds would travel this road and go back home with their shepherds.
Although this bluff looks fairly large, its only 20 feet in height (about 6m). These were a common occurance in our area.
Some crazy bug on our MRE box. We saw a lot of crazy bugs in Iraq, but I didn't manage to capture pictures of all of them. I really wanted to go for the traditional scorpion fights, but three or four years of Marines has really hurt the camel spider and scorpion population around our bases, leaving us with non-violent bugs like this.
My M16, with the real firepower, the machine gun, right in front. You can see how much body armor we wear - it gets hot out there, but on cold days like this one, it was downright cozy.
The inside of a HMMVW, once vast, is now stuffed with packs and ammo. Packs are generally stuffed with warmer clothing, food, and ammo. Again, my rifle jammed down by my seat. Best place to shoot it off accidentally would probably be into the bottom of the HMMVW.
In the towers, it can get pretty cold or hot depending on the sun and time of year. The AC/heat units up there were a godsend, but I saved mine for the darkest time of night or the height of the day to minimize wear and tear. If it went out, life would become pretty uncomfortable.
This is the best indication I can make as to the dust in Iraq. It coats everything, everywhere. Perfectly fine dust, sometimes with sand, mostly without, was a huge hassle, making for weapons cleaning every day.