Picture, Thoughts, and Impressions: Mar. 2004

Picture, Thoughts, and Impressions: Mar. 2004

Pictures From Mambo Club Party

Here they are in all their glory.

posted Wednesday, 31 March 2004

Thoughts From The Chief To Be Shared At BYU

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

The Chief will be speaking at Brigham Young University on April 1st. Below are a few of the things he will be sharing.

The Chief Wiggles View of Life from Iraq

I am Chief Warrant Officer Paul Holton a Utah Army National Guardsman, better known to some as Chief Wiggles (a nickname I used while delivering toys to hundreds of Iraqi children). I have just spent the last 12 months living in Iraq, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, with the assignment of interrogating or debriefing hundreds of Iraqi civilians and military officers.

During the past year in Iraq, I had the great opportunity of interrogating 17 Iraqi Brigadier Generals at a prisoner of war camp in southern Iraq, of living through the horrendous heat of the Iraqi summer, of spending 6 months in Saddam’s government palace in the center of Baghdad, and of interacting on a personal level with numerous wonderful Iraqi people, who I now consider to be some of my dearest friends.

In retrospect, the past year in Iraq was at times, as you might imagine, difficult, dangerous, uncertain, trying, and unpredictable. But, at the same time much like a mission, it was one of the most magical and wonderful years of my life. So many miraculous testimony building things occurred, that I am still astonished and in awe of. So many good things were accomplished by our group of some 100 LDS returned missionaries in my unit, many who had missionary like experiences in Iraq.

Personally I was enlightened by the experience, my understanding and knowledge increased daily, and my path towards living more deliberately, authentically, and abundantly was prepared before me by the hand of the Lord. The Lord definitely was in charge of a much bigger historical plan to open up the Middle East for the teaching of the gospel to the people in that region of the world. I believe this will be known as the start or opening of the way for that to happen.

I was but a humble servant, a tool to be used as the Lord saw fit, with nothing more than a desire to serve, a willingness to follow the chimes of the savior’s voice, caused to sing by the winds of my faith. I knew that our cause was just, our purpose clear, and our way prepared before us by his hand, for we were not alone.

I arrived in Iraq with a firm conviction that the liberty of the Iraqi people was worth my sacrifice away from the life I knew. I was inspired by Moroni’s account, depicted in Alma 48:10-11, “and thus he was preparing to support their liberty, their lands, their wives”, and ” Moroni was a strong and mighty man, he was a man of a perfect understanding, yea a man that did not delight in bloodshed, a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country”. As with Moroni, I felt moved to do by part in bringing liberty, justice, and freedom to the people of Iraq.

It is the will of God and the inalienable right of all men to be free, to choose for themselves and to not be in bondage to any man, at any time, as President Bush quoted from my journal during his Annual Prayer Breakfast speech, as he applauded Operation Gives efforts in taking toys to the Iraqi children.

It was just a matter of opening my eyes and ears as the miracles of life unfolded before me, to discover what the Lord desired of me. I was constantly asking the questions of “What would you have me do?”, “What would you have me learn?”, and “How do you desire to use me?” The Lord’s answers to those questions continuously amazed me, as a steady stream of miraculous events occurred.

In no way do I imply that I was like unto Moroni or that I had anything to do with bringing about the course of events that occurred, only that I was of the frame of mind, the attitude, and the faith knowing God could make something happen in Iraq. The following scripture comes to mind in D&C 101:16, “Therefore let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion, for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God”.

God is able to move mountains standing in the way of his divinely inspired plan, which I witnessed on several occasions, causing me to humbly acknowledge his hand in all things. God’s expectations clearly explained in D&C 59:7 & 21, “Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things”, “And in nothing doth man offend God, save those who confess not his hand in all things and obey not his commandments”.

Perhaps it was easier in a war zone to see the Lord’s hand as he continually preserved and safeguarded those around me, as doors were opened up and as people everywhere were touched by his spirit. The light of Christ could be seen in many Iraqi eyes, as they reciprocated the abundant sharing of care and concern exemplified by so many American servicemen.

Over the last year in Iraq, I discovered my passionate desire to help and assist those people, who have been without freedom for decades, under the bondage of a ruthless tyrant. After tasting the sweet joy of sharing toys with one impoverished little girl, I made the decision to “Share Joys with Toys” with many children. Later a group of great people and I organized Operation Give, a non-profit organization which has now taken toys and school supplies to thousands of Iraqi children, in an effort to brighten the lives of those children, perhaps giving them hope for a happier future.

You can check out all of this on my web sites, at operationgive.org and chiefwiggles.blog-city.com.

Doing something positive

In the course of my travels I have come to the realization that life is too short to be caught up in the constant energy drain of negativity. Being pessimistic is a liability, continually sucking the life out of each of us. People that chose to be negative and pessimistic are a distraction to others that attempt to focus on the positive aspects of life. There are many takers, as opposed to givers, in this world, who stand in the way of our own individual growth and progression, as they look for ways to suck others into their spiraling black hole.

In this world we live in, with a whirlwind of voices expressing their desires to choose evil over righteousness, there seems to be no middle ground in the battle of forces raging amongst us. If we chose to do nothing, we are actually sliding backwards, aiding the evil forces that would subject us to various forms of bondage. As with many things if we are not moving forward with positive progress then we are moving backwards towards the evil forces of control and captivity. We are admonished in Galatians 5:1, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage”.

We as a people cannot sit idly by, while we watch our world be overrun with the evils of our day, by men that have selfish aspirations to take power, wealth, and control. We must chose to take some form of initiative in stopping these forces, so that the children of the world have hope for a brighter future. We cannot ignore the problems of the day feeling that we can transfer responsibility of solving these problems to our children.

The children of the world are our future. The future lies in the eyes of what they can see, but we must help paint the picture of hope with our own sweat and blood. We must sacrifice today so that our children will live freely in peace tomorrow. Otherwise their smiles will be gone as they become consumed by the hate and anger of their parents and adults around them. Who is going to show them the way to joy and happiness in a world filled with hate, greed, murders, abuse, and bondage?

I chose to do something, I chose to love them:

The affects of love were made evident to me time and time again while in Iraq, as I accepted the humanity of those people, through my own unconditional shared acts of kindness. Then and only then did I see them as equals, people in need, with feelings and desires very similar to my own.

As I was able to initiate honest interaction, they were able to exponentially return love to me through their own shared acts of kindness and concern. They opened up their arms and took me in, offering me whatever they had, selflessly and whole heartedly. They brought me into their homes, fed me all of the abundance they could muster up, with a sincere desire to share their time and money with me if needed. They openly expressed their brotherly love for me, as they were able to complete the circle with their own honest acts of kindness.

This love for our mutual humanity spilled over into the hearts of their family members and relatives, who automatically took me in as their own. It is contagious and if the people are open to the spirit it will infect their heart with the love of Christ. It is no wonder that I can say I love these people, for I have seen their inner self, the true desires of their hearts and I have connected with them on a different level, a level of love not hatred.

“I am able to make you holy and your sins are forgiven you”, D&C 60:7

Now some of us as we ride along life’s bumpy road, look at life as being difficult and arduous, full of trials and tribulations, which causes us to constantly struggle with our own weaknesses and imperfections. All of which causes us a certain amount of consternation and guilt as we continue to fall short, to stumble and trip along the way. It seems at times we are on a viscous merry-go-round, never seeming to graduate to another more direct ride, one of progression and perfection.

Others though see it differently, enjoying the freeing feeling of placing our life in the Lord’s hands, allowing him to take us where he will in order to bring about this higher state of holiness that is referred to. We may try and struggle on our own to bring about growth, but it is when we put ourselves in his hands, with a willingness to allow him to adjust the direction of the course as he sees fit, which brings us closer to holiness.

It is after all we do, that he is able to make us holy through his atonement. It is then that we are totally free, allowing him to guide our course, placing things in our path along the way, in hopes that we might pay attention long enough to capture the inner purpose of the experience.  The accumulated affect of life’s experiences is further growth and purification.

Many soldiers, who were caught up in their own struggle with self pity and unceasing thoughts of going home, missed the whole experience in Iraq. They just never showed up, consequently failing to open themselves to the wonderful experiences that might have happened. Instead they found themselves complaining about having to be there, wasting their time in Iraq, when all they really had to do was open up to the opportunities that would have come their way. If they had just opened their minds, their eyes, to the magical, mysterious and wonderful things that were there but they just failed to see.

The Abundance:

After returning from a year overseas, while dining at a popular restaurant along the LA coast with my son, several things came to mind as I watched intently at the patrons, who were all busy eating and socializing. I know that life goes on for most Americans while soldiers are off in a distant land putting their lives on the line. Most citizens of this great country hardly miss a beat in their daily lives, as they continue to be caught up in a whirlwind of capitalism, materialism, and commercialization of life.

I saw them with their fancy cars, their name brand clothes, their vain and selfish efforts to look their best, with the latest in hair styles, facials, breast jobs, designer nails, tattoos, body jewelry and piercings. I hesitate to speak for the fear of seeming judgmental but superficially it appears they have little awareness regarding what is really going on in the world and what is really at stake. I am sure it is not totally the case, but it seems for the most part that people go on with their self serving life styles with little more than a limited awareness that another nameless soldier was killed today.

I am struck at the sheer abundance we selfishly enjoy, the excess we possess, and the flaunting of wealth in the face of so much poverty in the world. We as a whole consume way beyond our needs, perhaps to the point that many have forgotten what it is like to go without, to really sacrifice something for someone else, as we continue to focus our attention on our individual selfish pursuits.

The Reality

The media does little to really inform the general populace about the reality of the situation in Iraq, promoting nothing more than a body count of the dead. So what can I expect out of people that have been misinformed and are spoon fed bits and pieces of misconstrued information regarding the real need of the people of Iraq and how much good is really being done by the American soldiers, who continue to perform spontaneous and random acts of kindness way beyond their job descriptions.

When are they going to enlighten and inform us with any in-depth reporting on the majority of the people of Iraq, who are overjoyed with our presence, who are now relishing in the thoughts of their newly acquired freedom, who welcome us with open arms, and daily express nothing but love and appreciation for what we as Americans have done for them. When is that story going to be told?

When are we going to put politics aside to provide accurate reporting on how the majority of Iraqis really feel? The hundreds of people that I encountered who could not say enough regarding the atrocities of Saddam Hussein and the great blessings of freedom they now enjoy without him, as they now with hope look forward to the future, out from under the oppressing heavy hand of the Baghdad Butcher, Saddam, who killed an estimated 1,000 people a day (recently reported by the History Channel).

When is any one going to tell the story of how so many Iraqis took me into their homes to lavish me with gifts and share the abundance of their blessings with feasts of food?

Where is the story of how so many great Americas have donated and contributed their time and money, sharing with the Iraqi people and with our own service men and women in need? So many Americans are consumed by their selfish political agendas, complaining and finding fault with no real solution in mind. They have forgotten the joy that comes from selfless acts of sharing the abundance we have been blessed with.

May we reconsider the Lord’s will in dealing with our fellowmen and make our selves available to him, so that all of us can be used as a tool to further his work and bring about his will, not ours.

We will be blessed abundantly as we share abundantly

posted Wednesday, 31 March 2004

 

MY IMPRESSIONS OF THE PARTY AT THE CHIEF’S CLUB

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Pictures to be uploaded later.

Excuse me for taking a bit of space on the Chief’s site. Tonight my wife and I traveled to Salt Lake to be with the Chief and friends at his club. The party was to start at 6:00 pm, we were a little early. We arrived before other guests and helped the Chief and his wife with the final set up. The Club was ready. Soon, Gary and Terry arrived. Gary and Terry flew in from Michigan to meet everyone, having played a pivotal role in getting FedEx to work with Operation Give and donating an incredible amount to the Chief, his fellow soldiers, the Iraqi people and others out of the goodness of their hearts.

After greeting them with hugs, my wife and I spent some time just getting to know Gary and Terry, having only met by email previous to this. While Gary had known the Chief before, this was the first time for Terry to meet the Chief. As we sat there, getting to know each other, those who had served with the Chief began to arrive. I recognized many of them from their picture, but couldn’t tell you their names. Chief Authentico didn’t make it, he being the only one besides the Chief I knew before they left. If you read this, know I was a bit annoyed that you didn’t come.

For a while, the four of us sat and talked about this past year. We talked a bit about the Chief’s journal, the experience he has had over the past year. We marveled at the changes that the internet has made for communication. Gary mentioned how shocked he was to receive an email from the Chief, letting him know he was okay and telling him about Iraq and mentioning his journal. Gary mentioned remembering sending care packages to Vietnam and how that experience made him want to help the Chief. Terry talked about learning of all of this from Gary. She mentioned how much she felt inspired to help as well. I sat there and quietly contemplated all that had taken place and all the coincidences that brought this diverse group of people together.

As the soldiers continued to arrive, Gary and Terry went to meet and greet them. Gary, Terry and their group had supplied Christmas for many of them and this was their first time to see and say hello. The soldiers were very appreciative of their efforts; you could see it in the hugs given and the smiles on their faces.

Around this time, I got a chance to meet Baghdaddy. We spoke only a short time and we found we had some connections that I didn’t know existed. It was then that the Highland High School band came in. They played some patriotic songs for the soldiers, their way of saying thank you for your service. I was amazed that you could get a bunch of high school kids to come out on a Friday night. Following that, a group of Korean Folk dancers performed for the soldiers. They were quite amazing. Finally, considering the club is called the “Mambo Club”, a Latin dance presentation was given, including the Chief’s daughter. Amazing!

Following this, the music played and the soldiers and their wives danced and ate and talked. Watching the Chief dance, it is easy to see where he got his nickname. My wife and I drifted back, just watching the whole thing. I think it was Gary who I overheard asking a soldier about the difficulty in leaving his wife for so long. The soldier smiled and said even now, it was hard to leave his 5 year old long enough to come to the party.

We sat there a bit longer, just content to watch and take it all in. We decided it was time for us to leave; we took a few more pictures with some of them and made our way out. Who knows how long they went into the night.

As we made our way back to Provo, we discussed the evening. It was one I won’t forget for a long time. It isn’t that there was anything spectacular that happened, it was just the feeling there. While I’m sure, as a group, they would deny it, but there was a special atmosphere there, and, to be honest, we felt a bit like intruders. Everyone was incredibly polite and nice to us, many thanking us for coming, but we were out of place.

I’ve always read and heard about a bond between soldiers, those that have served in wartime together. I think I glimpsed a bit of that tonight. Luckily, all the members of this group made it home safely, so there were no toasts to their falling comrades, friends that went over with them. That didn’t matter. This group of completely different people, people who up until about a year ago lived normal lives, the only thing in common with many of them being a member of the Guard, was bonded together during a year in the desert. As we watched them, in this moment of celebration and relaxation, we realized, even if they didn’t, the link they all shared. We were a couple of outsiders given a small glimpse of this special camaraderie. Thankful to be allowed this moment with them as a group, our hearts were full of gratitude for the service they have rendered to us and the Iraqi people as we left.

Thank God for all of them, and may God bless those still there.

posted Saturday, 27 March 2004

 

SITE CHANGING, NEW FOCUS, ALIVE AND WELL, HOLY, MAGIC, PARTY!!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Disruption in Service

Sorry for the disruption in service. Over the past few weeks, ever since Blog-City upgraded their software, we have been experiencing technical difficulties, which have made my site appear to be down. Let me assure you that it is not down and actually it is not my problem but Blog-City’s. We will do all we can to keep the site up at all costs. We are planning on combining both the Operationgive.org site, Chiefwiggles.com, and the chiefwiggles.blog-city.com site. All of these URL’s will connect into one site that will be hosted on the Internet not as a blog.

Just when you might have thought that Chief Wiggles was going to fade away into obscurity, my sites will just get stronger. I have decided to press forward with a firm conviction to not allow the vision of Operation Give to die. My guiding light has never been brighter and I am now even more committed to continuing on with all the initiatives, which began while in Iraq a few months ago.

I trust you are all with me in making this happen. Please get the word out to all of your friends and family that we are still alive and kicking, taking advantage of the momentum we have gained and ready to launch this into the next phase.

Our new focus

In the next week or so we hope to further clarifying our focus and our direction with Operation Give, by pushing a program which focuses on School Supplies and Medical Supplies. We are planning to add additional functionality to the site, first of all with the ability to make choices about who you want to help and the ability to make personal contact with a student, a class room, a hospital, or a school.

We now have two Iraqi doctors on our Iraqi do-gooder team, both who have great ideas of how to help children in hospitals. There is a great need for supplies and equipment in Iraq, many times hospitals just going without, resulting in lack of care for treatable conditions. I recall visiting the oncology ward of a children’s hospital in Baghdad, where numerous leukemia patients where laying in bed without any treatment available for them.

One of the doctors on our team, who has close ties to the Ministry of Health, would like to be able to offer cornea transplants for the hundreds of children whose sight has been injured. It would be a wonderful thing if we were able to offer a child the gift of sight. All that is needed is sufficient funds to purchase the corneas for transplanting.

Chief Wiggles is alive and well.

As you might recall I was on my return trip back to Iraq, when out over the Atlantic Ocean I received a fax instructing me to get off in Amsterdam and take the next return flight back to Salt Lake City. With astonishment and amazement I did as I was instructed returning back to my home, where I have been for the past two weeks.

At some point in time I will divulge the cause of this sudden change in plans, which will surprise many of you. Let me just say that the saga continues as now I find myself on orders waiting for the word to return to the large sand box. As of yet there has been no word, just plenty of uncertainty and silence.

But, it is all good. Everything has turned out to be just what should have happened, further strengthening my testimony of who is really in charge of this unusual magical path I find myself on. Things could not have worked out any better than they have, everything appearing to be part of a much larger divinely inspired plan, all interconnected by magical strands, sewn into place by the master’s hand, long before I even began to think about them.

“I am able to make you holy”

As I was having lunch with Tennis Guy, from our team back at the CPA, he mentioned a scripture that had special significance to me as I reflect back on the events of the past 12 months. The scripture reads, “and I am able to make you holy.”

Now some of us as we ride along life’s bumpy road, look at life as being difficult and arduous, full of trials and tribulations, which causes us to constantly struggle with our own weaknesses and imperfections. All of which causes us a certain amount of consternation and guilt as we continue to fall short, to stumble and trip along the way. It seems at times we are on a viscous merry-go-round, never seeming to graduate to another more direct ride, one of progression and perfection.

Others though see it differently, enjoying the freeing feeling of placing our life in the Lord’s hands, allowing him to take us where he will in order to bring about this higher state of holiness that is referred to. We may try and struggle on our own to bring about growth, but it is when we put ourselves in his hands, with a willingness to allow him to adjust the direction of the course as he sees fit, which brings us closer to holiness.

It is then that we are totally free, allowing him to guide our course, placing things in our path along the way, in hopes that we might pay attention long enough to capture the inner purpose of the experience.

Many soldiers, who were caught up in their own struggle with self pity and unceasing thoughts of going home, missed the whole experience in Iraq. They just never showed up, consequently failing to open themselves to the wonderful experiences that might have happened. Instead they found themselves complaining about having to be there, wasting their time in Iraq, when all they really had to do was open up to the opportunities that would have come their way. If they had just opened their minds, their eyes, to the magical, mysterious and wonderful things that were there but they just failed to see.

Of course we can acquire holiness only by enduring all of life’s experiences and through persistent personal effort. Even after all we do it is through his grace that we are saved, that we become holy.

Therefore, it is our job to provide the consistent effort and it is His job, His duty and His delight to make us holy. He wants us to come unto him as we are.  We do not have to be perfect to go to him…The Lord does not ask us to heal ourselves of our imperfections before we approach him, but to come to him with those imperfections and he will assist us in overcoming them.  The Lord loves us and wants us to initiate the process of repentance and strive with all of our might to overcome our weakness. But as the scripture states, “he will make us holy”, for we know that we alone cannot accomplish the process.

The magic continues

I had great cause to rejoice this past week as I received fantastic news from one of the pilots on my team of Chief Wiggle do-gooders. It was one of those moments in life that will go down in my personal history, further solidifying my belief in a God that loves me.

You might recall from past journal entries about a case I was building against a certain Iraqi official high up in the government.  I had been debriefing a number of sources, gathering information in hopes to add proof of the individual’s corruptness and bad intentions.

I had worked long and hard to gather what I considered to be a pile of incriminating evidence, in hopes to prevent the individual from gaining any additional power. One day as circumstances would have it; my heart pushed me to act, to do something, to make a difference right then and there.

But also as luck would have it, I was pulled out of my assignment and reassigned to another camp with in Baghdad. At that moment I felt the rug had been pulled out from under me, preventing me from accomplishing my goal.

But, it appears the wheels of justice move on even in my absence, although very slowly at times. The word of this individual’s demise came this week to my joyous ears, as I was told the individual in question had been moved to another lesser position. That is just so cool. I can’t begin to tell you what a huge thing this will be for the further stabilization of Iraq.

Also, as luck would have it, not one but two great bits of news came to me this week. I don’t know if I told you in the past but there was one other major injustice that I was endeavoring to remedy.

The story goes like this. Two Iraqi companies are vying for a large contract with a foreign company. The one company obtains the contract worth millions of dollars. The competing company in discovering they were in second place, are only able to capitalize on the contract if the first company fails in anyway to fulfill the terms of their agreement, fabricates a story about the owner of the first company.

With ties to old intelligence reports, they spun a believable tale regarding the owner of their competitor, which they presented to our forces in the area. Upon hearing the fable, not knowing for sure the truth, our forces had the first company owner arrested and put in prison, where he has been for 4 or 5 months.

I got involved a month or so before I left Iraq in interviewing the family members and other high ranking officials from the man’s home town that should know the owner’s background and character. Upon completing my debriefings, I was convinced that the individual had been, in my opinion, unjustly imprisoned.

I immediately initiated actions to get those in charge to review this man’s case in hopes that they would find out the truth of his incarceration. I had high hopes of getting him released while in Iraq, but those hopes were dashed when I was abruptly moved to another location. At the time, I felt extremely sorry to the family that I was not able to help them, or so I thought.

Totally unexpectedly, a few days ago, I received an email from the man’s brother joyously informing me that his brother had been released. The email portrayed a very excited and happy family occasion celebrating the release and return of their loved one back to his family and back to his business. They thanked me for my help and promised that I would always be considered part of their family.

I was so happy to hear of his release, which gave me additional hope for goodness and righteousness to prevail over the evil intentions of corrupt and poisoned individuals in Iraq. Just like this Iraq will find its way, case by case, through the mine laden course towards democracy.

A Party

For anyone that wants you are invited. We are having a party over at my club tomorrow night for a little get together with many of the people involved in Operation Give, many people from FedEx and with many of the soldiers that I served with. It will be Friday at 1800 at the Mambo Club at 3620 South State.

Have a great day.

Chief Wiggles

Doing it the wiggles way.

posted Friday, 26 March 2004

 

Sharing Joys With Toys

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Sharing Joys with Toys

On a beautiful spring like day, when the sun was glistening off the not too distant snow capped mountains, while the now greening grass is starting to recover from a long snowy winter, and the warmth of the sun signals all living things to begin rearing their heads from their winter hibernation, I had an experience of a life time. It was another one of those magical days, not unlike the continual stream of miraculous days I have encountered over the past 13 months. It seems that miracles continue to happen, blessing me with an abundance of inner joy, each time causing me to confess silently that it just doesn’t get any better but each time somewhat better if not different from the ones before.

I found myself in a large gym room with 800 joyful elementary school kids, which represented the entire student body of the school, all waiting to meet Chief Wiggles, along with the thousands of stuffed animals they had so generously donated to Operation Give. It was a site to behold. A moment that forced me to pause while I tried to capture the full essence of what this experience really meant to me. I had to fight back the tears as I relished in the moment of such a glorious sight.

I was totally flabbergasted by their show of concern for me and the children of Iraq. There was hand written signs all around the school welcoming Chief Wiggles, who it appears has become something much bigger than me, now representing a movement of caring generous people. I am still extremely humbled by the expression of love and concern for me and my fellow soldiers by these students, teachers and parents.

I have been thinking that perhaps the caliber of experiences I had in Iraq would be hard to duplicate now that I am back home in the states, but this one ranks right up there with the rest. It was at that moment that I realized how this work must go forward and how, even though my mission will change, Operation Give will live on. I have a new calling with a vision of what my involvement might entail now working from this side of the pond. There is still much to be done and these children gave me a glimpse of how is might come about.

As I entered the gymnasium I was awestruck by the sheer number of stuffed animals that had been brought in by the students. There were animals of all shapes and sizes, old and new, of all different colors. Many children had brought in their very favorite one, in hopes that it might bring joy, hope and happiness to a special Iraqi child.

All of this had been instigate by a handful of motivated, caring parents and teachers, to help the children focus on more than the body count of the nightly news. They wanted the children to feel the joy that comes from serving someone less fortunate and to feel that they are playing a part in improving the Iraq children’s quality of life. The parents, teachers and children had been following my escapades in Iraq through my weekly journal entries. They had seen the news reports, the photographs of children receiving a toy or a stuffed animal and had a strong desire to do something.

Colonel Long, a member of my home unit, and his wife played a major role in bringing this to fruition. They, without my knowledge, took the initiative to organize this program at the school to get the children and the community involved in a doable program. The children have also been writing letters to service men and women from Utah. Along with their fellow helpers the Long’s put together this awesome plan that brought about these fantastic results.

The school was a buzz with excitement when I arrived, the children obviously anticipating my arrival and anxious to show me their accomplishments. The local news channels had been alerted and upon their arrival, their presence in the school making the children even that much more enthusiastic.

I stopped at a third grade and a kindergarten class before entering the gymnasium. The students were anxious to ask me questions and to have a short dialogue with me before the rest of the school got their chance. I walked about the room or sat down with the students to engage them at their level. At the end of each question and answer, more hands would shoot up to further engage me. They were so inquisitive and had so many great questions.

At one point, as I tried to help the students understand what it might feel like for the Iraqi children to get their very first toy, I asked the question, and the following response caused me to laugh with astonishment. In the Kindergarten class, Colonel Long’s own son responded by saying, “I am sure it would be like a monkey getting his very first banana?” How true.

From there I proceeded to the gymnasium to make my presentation to the entire student body and faculty. I had a few items for show and tell, put on the customary traditional man dress of the Arab world, showed off my sword and dagger gifts, and presented, in power point, about 60 photographs of children receiving toys. The students laughed at the Chief Wiggles comic book caricatures that were intermingled with the photos.

The high point of the afternoon for me was the playing of the Toby Keith song, “An American Soldier”, while a class room of children did the lyrics to the song in sign language. I was really choked up while that was playing and I couldn’t help but start my presentation after that by saying, “I am proud to be an American Soldier?

I tried to convey in my presentation to the children, my feelings for what we had accomplished and why we had to do what we did for the Iraqi people. But, they already knew. They knew we had freed a nation of people in bondage, with out the freedoms we enjoy on a daily basis. They knew that it was necessary to allow these people to live a life with free agency, with choices, with opportunities to perhaps even get one small toy for the first time.

The next day the children were all getting their pictures taken, so buttons could be made to put on the specific toy each child had brought. In this way the children of Iraq would be able to see and make some connection with the child that donated the stuffed animal they received. What a great idea and what a great program.

I was, to say the least, overjoyed and full of the unconditional love of 800 children, supported by loving parents and faculty. This program can and should be duplicated all over America. I would love to speak with any of you that might have ideas and desires to contribute and donate to the cause of “Sharing Joy with Toys” giving hope and happiness to the Iraqi children.

We would like to focus on school supplies and allow schools to adopt schools, or classrooms adopt classrooms, or students and students. They are in great need and we can provide assistance and solutions for their needs.

Please visit operationgive.org to see how you might be able to participate in this great cause.

Have a great day and check out the news clips of this experience on my site.

Chief Wiggles
Doing it the wiggles way.

posted Monday, 22 March 2004

 

A FEW GOOD WORDS, LOVING THE IRAQI PEOPLE, LIFE IS BETTER, FREEDOM

Tuesday, March 19, 2004

The affects of a few good words

A few days ago while checking into a hotel in Los Angeles, I rediscovered a very simple but vital basic truth of life; one of life’s essential principles that can make living in this world a little piece of heaven. After traveling all day from Amsterdam, tired and ready to crash, I walked into the front lobby of my hotel to find a long line of people waiting to check in. It was late in the day, well into the evening hours, so I was somewhat surprised by the number of people in line. Things were relatively quiet as people seemed to just be going through the motions, following procedure and going through the process of getting a room.

When it came my turn I stepped up to the front counter to proceed with the sequential steps I am all too familiar with. As you might imagine I informed the young lady at the desk that I was there to check in. But, as I paused after speaking I noticed the clerk looked especially tired. She had no life in her eyes, her head hung down and you could tell it had been a long day of dealing with customers.

As customary for me, I asked a few questions, not without meaning or as some pickup line, but sincerely interested in her answers. I asked her how she was doing, surprised by her honesty in relating to me that she was tired. I told her she looked tired and asked if she was going to be able to go home soon. She informed me that her shift would end in an hour or so. I responded by jokingly telling her to hang in there till she could get home to crash. I can’t remember exactly what was said after that, but a few more pleasantries were exchanged and I was on my way.

But as I was bringing my luggage in from the car, I passed through the lobby as I proceeded towards the elevators, to see her again as she was heading into the office. She called out to me, with more energy in her voice and a genuine friendly interest, wishing me a nice evening and a good stay.

There was a noticeable difference in the two encounters with this young person. There had been a transformation from a lifeless, exhausted, work is a drudgery kind of person to someone who actually cared and could energetically express sincere interest in another person’s life.

The difference was that for a brief moment sincere interest in another person’s humanity had been expressed through simple but meaningful conversation. It is amazing what friendly genuine interaction can do to uplift and influence another person’s mood and overall existence. It seems in most cases that kindness and sincere human interest, expressed through a smile or a kind word, will be returned back to the initiator so as to complete the circle.

In a more positive sense the old saying “What goes around comes around” rings true. People everywhere as they go through the repetitive steps of everyday life, at times become numb to the humanity of those around them. Each person actually hoping subconsciously that happiness will be in their path that day, not realizing that happiness is something internally initiated, not externally created.

We actually can fall in love with life, through the kindness of those we encounter; a sincere interaction, a smile, a kind word, an expression of honest interest, a feeling of compassion and empathy, as we perhaps initiate the same with the people we pass by along our own journey. It is through truthful acts of selfless expression, coupled with purified motives, which brings about the internal happiness we are all seeking for.

It is through losing our self through sharing that we really find our self. It is when we become acutely aware of the humanity of all people that we become in tune with the inner feelings of those around us, so that we might share a smile, an expression of concern, a kind word, a listening ear, which will initiate an exchange of love and happiness from one human being to another.

Loving the Iraqi people

This was made evident to me time and time again while in Iraq, as I accepted the humanity of those people, through my own unconditional shared acts of kindness. Then and only then did I see them as equals, people in need, with feelings and desires very similar to my own.

As I was able to initiate honest interaction, they were able to exponentially return love to me through their own shared acts of kindness and concern. They opened up their arms and took me in, offering me whatever they had, selflessly and whole heartedly. They brought me into their homes, fed me all of the abundance they could muster up, with a sincere desire to share their time and money with me if needed. They openly expressed their brotherly love for me, as they were able to complete the circle with their own honest acts of kindness.

This love for our mutual humanity spilled over into the hearts of their family members and relatives, who automatically took me in as their own. It is contagious and if the people are open to the spirit it will infect their heart with the love of Christ. It is no wonder that I can say I love these people, for I have seen their inner self, the true desires of their hearts and I have connected with them on a different level.

Life is better and they do want us there

As was evident in the findings of the pole that was taken by CBS announcing yesterday that 89 percent of the polled Iraqi people are against the attacks on the Coalition forces. The majority also voicing their feelings that things are better now, a year after the war, then they were before. Most of them either have or are buying refrigerators, air conditioning units, and are step by step improving their life. Yes, they do have concerns about employment, security, and the future. Yes there are a number of fanatical factions that want to continue to disrupt the stability of their country, for their own selfish reasons.

But, they will have no hope if we pull out. How can anyone in good conscience plead for a withdrawal of our troops, knowing that it would launch them into a civil war? There are too many evil factions that would fight for power and position in order to further subject the general populace to additional control and bondage. The vast majority of good Iraqi people want us there; they realize our presence will deter the minority fanatical factions from initiating aggressive actions against the more passive Iraqi majority.

We must finish what we have started. Our credibility in the world is on the line and the trust of all freedom seeking people of the world is at stake. We cannot allow evil power hungry men to exercise unrighteous dominion over our fellow brothers and sisters of the world.

The stability of Iraq and that region of the world is at stake. They have the right to live peacefully, free to act according to their own desires. They should have the freedom to choose their own future and map out their own course. The only way this is going to happen is if we keep the door of opportunity open and assist in controlling the aggressive actions of those who would desire to take control by force. We need to give freedom a chance to take hold.

Offer them freedom

Over the last year while in Iraq, I found myself and came into my own as I discovered my passion for helping and assisting the people of Iraq, who have been without choice for decades. I still have higher aspirations to do something of greater value and to make a difference anyway I can. I will continue to endeavor to give hope to children everywhere, that they might be optimistic about their own future.

In the course of my travels I have come to the realization that life is too short to be caught up in the negative energy drain of negativity. Being pessimistic is a liability, continually sucking the life out of each of us. People that chose to be negative and pessimistic are a distraction to others that attempt to focus on the positive aspects of life. There are many takers, as opposed to givers, in this world, who stand in the way of our own individual growth and progression, as they look for ways to suck others into their spiraling black hole.

In this world we live in with a whirlwind of voices expressing their desires to resort back to isolationism, there seems to be no middle ground in the battle of forces raging amongst us. If we chose to do nothing, we are actually sliding backwards, aiding the evil forces that would subject us to various forms of bondage. As with many things if we are not moving forward with positive progress then we are moving backwards towards the evil forces of control and bondage.

We as a people cannot sit idly by, while we watch our society be overrun with the evils of our day, by men that have selfish aspirations to take power, wealth, and control. We must chose to take some form of initiative in stopping these forces, so that the children of the world have hope for a brighter future. We cannot ignore the problems of the day feeling that our children will have to deal with it.

The children of the world are our future. The future lies in the eyes of what they can see, but we must help paint the picture of hope with our own sweat and blood. We must sacrifice today so that our children will live freely in peace tomorrow. Otherwise their smiles will be gone as they become consumed by the hate and anger of their parents and adults around them. Who is going to show them the way to joy and happiness in a world filled with hate, greed, murders, abuse, and bondage?

I chose to do something, how about you?

Have a great day!

That is it for now, from the desk of
Chief Wiggles.
Doing it the wiggles way

posted Friday, 19 March 2004

 

FIRST CONTAINER ARRIVES!!!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

The first container has arrived in Kuwait and is now being transported to Baghdad!!!!

There are 2 more containers on their way, filled with all the wonderful items you have sent!!!

Remember folks, this is really just the beginning, with the Chief home and his crew set up in Iraq, there are a lot of wonderful things we can do. We will let you know more about this in just a short time, but be ready for a huge expansion of Operation Give!

Thanks again for all the support given so far!!

posted Wednesday, 17 March 2004

 

GOING BACK, WHAT?, GOOD LUCK FAIRY, TIME TOGETHER, ABUNDANCE, 9/11, FAQ, DAD, YOUNGEST

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

There must be a reason for going back

With the sound of the airplane engines gently humming in the background, lulling the passengers to sleep, I sit restlessly in my airplane seat trying to capture the full essence of my mixed emotions as I return to Baghdad. I am trying to find the words to explain my inner feelings but find myself writing and rewriting the words over and over again.

I was barely home long enough to put a dent in solving the many problems and issues that have been awaiting my return, only to have everything put back on hold as I am forced to leave for an undetermined period of time. I was told that I will probably be gone for another month or so in order to take care of some unfinished business.  I am hoping that at some point in the near future I will be allowed to discuss the nature of the events that now take me back.

I was home just long enough to discover how much I am needed at home by so many people, both family and friends. It isn’t that I am indispensable, but that I know I can make a difference in the lives of those around me. I see people everywhere who are in need of assistance, in need of someone to talk to, someone to spend time with, or some to lend a listening ear.

Even so, I know for a fact that I must have some unfinished business in Iraq. Based on the way things have gone so far on this magical excursion, something new to learn, or some additional experience must be awaiting my return. This magical mystery tour is not over yet, for my mission in Iraq has not been completed. There is a divinely inspired purpose for my return, one not yet visible by my minds eye.

Although I am unaware of the potential benefits of this trip to myself or others, my mind and heart is open for the possibilities of what might be placed in my path. I have not forgotten,  the events that have transpired during this last year, the lessons learned still fresh in my mind, being constantly cognizant of the things that can and will be placed in my path if I will but forget myself.

I can only hope that I have sufficiently prepared myself for what lies ahead. I am at this moment refocusing my mind so that I might be an efficient tool in the master’s hands to perhaps assist in accomplishing the Lord’s will. As I ponder on these words, miraculously at this moment I can hear the words of the computer game behind me declare, “I surrender my will”. Just another spiritual wind chime sounding off to remind me of who is in charge of my journey.

I am now totally settled into the idea that I will be going back for a period of time, not sure about any of the specifics, such as where-when and how, but ok with this stage of my life. I am enjoying the music channels on Delta Airline, along with the TV channels with a monitor on the back of each and every chair. Pretty soon, I have just been told, a delicious hot meal will be served, so I am full of anticipation for that tasty delight. (Are you kidding?). I am thinking about the eight hour layover in Amsterdam, hoping to perhaps leave the airport for a little bit to grab a bite to eat and check out the scenery.

What?

But, then the totally unexpected happens, further witnessing to me how this miraculous journey just refuses to be over. If I might, let me set the stage for you. I left Salt Lake City this morning at around 1030 heading for Atlanta. I then transferred planes to head for Amsterdam. I had a two hour layover in Atlanta and even after we boarded the plane we had a 30 minute delay due to some paperwork problems. Ok so here I am about 30 minutes after liftoff, out over the Atlantic, one of the flight attendants comes down the isle with a faxed message from my Colonel, informing me that my mission orders have been changed, that I am not to go on to Kuwait city and that I am to turn around and go back home.

I am filled with wonderment regarding what possibly could have happened to bring about this sudden change of events. Even before leaving Iraq the first time, I was concerned about having to come back after my emergency leave was over. My 365 days boots on the ground are up and I basically returned with my unit, not sure if I would have to return, but hoping that a decision would be made prior to doing so. Since my arrival I have been working with my leaders to initiate some kind of a conclusion to this whole matter.

There have also been some extenuating circumstances requiring a decision to be made at a much higher level to bring it to fruition. My leaders in my direct chain of command and the two-star Adjutant General for the state of Utah have all been working to influence the timeliness of this action to perhaps forego leaving to go back. So it is quite ironic that the message would come now that I am on my way up at 32,000 feet.

 It will be interesting to call once I get to Amsterdam to find out what is happening.

I actually received two faxed messages on the plane that day, one from my cousin Steve, who works for Northwest Airlines, and the other from my commander. The first one came informing me to call my cousin the minute I get to Amsterdam, so as you might imagine I was quite alarmed, thinking that perhaps my Dad had passed away or something. Fortunately, the second message came within minutes of the first informing me to get off in Amsterdam.

Upon arriving in Amsterdam I was unable to get a seat on a return flight, so I found a room at the airport Hilton, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to leave until the next day. I felt bad of course about being stuck in Amsterdam for a day. Not!

Not having slept for more than an hour on the plane, I was totally wasted after my 12 hour plan ride. After catching a quick power nap in my hotel room, I decided to venture out into the city to find out what Amsterdam was really like, having never been there before.

I loved it. I found it very clean, quiet at times, and very unlike many other major cities I have been in the world, with all its old architecture, the water canals, and the many bicycles buzzing around the city. It was very cozy and quaint, with plenty of friendly people who spoke English fluently. I had a great one day trip, with many memorable moments and a plethora of cuisine choices.

I was amazed at the number of people I met from other countries, other nationalities, a real mixture of people from all over the world.

Upon calling from my hotel room in Amsterdam I discovered that the decision was made to have me attached to my unit in SLC, until such time that they determine if I am needed back in theater. This was definitely music to my ears and an answer to many prayers. Miracles continue to happen as I put my life in the Lord’s hands and follow his will.

The next day when I attempted to leave Amsterdam with my M-16 in a case, I ran into a few minor problems, which caused me to spend an hour or so in the airport police station, as they tried to figure out what to do with me. In the end things worked out and I was allowed to leave with my weapon in hand. For a few moments there it was touch and go, as I felt as if they were going to charge me for having such a weapon, perhaps even confiscating it or locking me up for a while. But, as always my life is in good hands, as I boarded the plane bound back for the USA.

Due to the hassles I had encountered with the Airport police, the United Airlines counter help felt sorry for me and upgraded my ticket to business class, which turned out to be quite a treat. The chairs were huge, the room was spacious, the food and drinks were non-stop, and the individual movies and screen in my chair were awesome. For the next 9 hours or so I was in airplane heaven.

The good luck fairy strikes again

I had to pass through Washington D.C. to clear customs, which was a joy, given the fact that I was still toting around my M-16. This alone caused a great amount of delay in my travels, but well worth it, considering that I was headed back home again.

I was waiting in line to re-board the plane, now headed for L.A, the next leg of my journey, when I noticed a young lady with a new born baby. She was struggling with all of her luggage, the crowds of people caught up in their own world pushing ahead of her, the baby cart, and her newborn who was crying at this point.

I walked over to her to see if I couldn’t be of some help in getting the baby and her on the plane, who up until this point had been totally ignored by the flight attendant manning the entrance to the plane. With my carryon bags on my back, I gently grabbed the baby in my arms, like I did so many times before in my life with my own 4 kids, and with a gentle bounce in my step I proceeded down the isle to the rear of the aircraft where both of our seats were. I got the baby settled down, the mom got herself situated and her luggage stowed, and she gave me that look of complete appreciation for the small gesture of help I had offered. I was so happy to be the one to notice her moment of need.

Time together

I wasn’t the one to book my flight or choose the course of my return trip, but it couldn’t have worked out any better if I had. Unbeknownst to me, in order to get to Salt Lake City, Utah, I had to go from Washington D.C. to L.A. to SLC and I was going to have to spend the night in L.A. due to my late arrival time.

Now for those of you that don’t know, my oldest son Daniel just happens to be going to school in L.A. at UC Irvine, whom I haven’t seen for over a year. This short unexpected layover was just one more wonderful blessing added to the heap of blessings I have already partaken of.  I was going to be able to see him on my way home. What a great treat, one I have been hoping for some time, knowing that he would not be able to travel to Salt Lake in the middle of his schools quarter.

When I arrived in LAX, there he was waiting to pick me up for a quick evening together out on the town. We went down by the ocean to partake of some really fresh and delicious seafood, with plenty of French bread with real butter, and lots of good conversation. We had a great time as we caught each other up on all the things that have transpired over the last year. Both of us had plenty to talk about as you might imagine, fully interested in what each had been dealing with and the lessons learned from a mutually very busy year.

What a great son, in whom I am so proud.

The next day he picked me up so that we might hit one of my favorite Korean restaurants in Korean Town, down town L.A. I had intentionally missed breakfast, choosing to instead catch up on some lost sleep from the past few days. So I was really ready to pig out on lunch, excited to order all my favorite dishes, which I had been deprived of over the past year. I am sure my enjoyment over the food was heard by all the other patrons, as I surely made grunting and slurping noises while I ate.

Abundance

While dining at a popular restaurant along the LA coast with my son, several things came to mind as I watched intently at the patrons, who were all busy eating and socializing. I know that life goes on for most Americans while soldiers are off in a distant land putting their lives on the line. Most citizens of this great country hardly miss a beat in their daily lives, as they continue to be caught up in a whirlwind of capitalism, materialism, and commercialization of life.Â

I saw them with their fancy cars, their name brand clothes, their vain and selfish efforts to look their best, with the latest in hair styles, facials, breast jobs, designer nails, tattoos, body jewelry and piercings. I hesitate to speak for the fear of seeming judgmental but superficially it appears they have little awareness regarding what is really going on in the world and what is really at stake. I am sure it is not totally the case, but it seems for the most part that people go on with their self serving life styles with little more than a limited awareness that another nameless soldier was killed today.

I am struck at the sheer abundance we selfishly enjoy, the excess we possess, and the flaunting of wealth in the face of so much poverty in the world. We as a whole consume way beyond our needs, perhaps to the point that many have forgotten what it is like to go without, to really sacrifice something for someone else, as we continue to focus our attention on our individual selfish pursuits.

The media does little to really inform the general populace about the reality of the situation in Iraq, promoting nothing more than a body count of the dead. So what can I expect out of people that have been misinformed and are spoon fed bits and pieces of misconstrued information regarding the real need of the people of Iraq and how much good is really being done by the American soldiers, who continue to perform spontaneous and random acts of kindness way beyond their job descriptions.

When are they going to enlighten us and inform us with any in-depth reporting on the majority of the people of Iraq, who are overjoyed with our presence, who are now relishing in the thoughts of their newly acquired freedom, who welcome us with open arms, and daily express nothing but love and appreciation for what we as Americans have done for them. When is that story going to be told?

When are we going to put politics aside to provide accurate reporting on how the majority of Iraqis really feel? The hundreds of people that I encountered who could not say enough regarding the atrocities of Saddam Hussein and the great blessings of freedom they now enjoy without him, as they now with hope look forward to the future, out from under the oppressing heavy hand of the Baghdad Butcher, Saddam, who killed an estimated 1,000 people a day (recently reported by the History Channel).

When is any one going to tell the story of how so many Iraqis took me into their homes to lavish me with gifts and share the abundance of their blessings with feasts of food?

Where is the story of so many of you who have donated and contributed time and money to share things in need with the Iraqi people and to take care of our own service men and women in need?

So many are consumed by their selfish political aspirations, complaining and finding fault with the current administration, that they have forgotten the joy that comes from selfless acts of sharing the abundance we have been blessed with the less fortunate of the world.

9-11

That tragic day, although sad, was a wake up call for many of us to the realities of the hate filled world we live in. It was a very sad page in American history, which cannot be ignored and is far from being over. That event marked the beginning of perhaps other tragic events to come if we continue to ignore the signs of the times by going on with our daily lives as if nothing had happened, feeling perhaps it is someone else’s fight.

On the other hand, perhaps for many that day changed our lives as we committed to take up the fight against terrorism and do something to positively influence the collective group we call our world family, which includes the Iraqi people, whom I just helped for the past year. You nay-Sayers can take nothing away from all the good that was accomplished during that time.

President Bush’s ad campaign is just to remind us as a nation of what we have gone through and what we are up against in the fight against terrorism. We must be wiling to stand up against our enemies and the enemies of others in our world family, to protect and secure the freedom of all mankind. We must never forget the price that was paid that day by so many, hopefully motivating us to do our part in preventing such acts of violence in the future. I do believe the world is now a safer place, as many of our enemies have been killed or captured. Saddam was definitely one such enemy.

I didn’t know how much I could do until I started to try.

 Let the Lord lead the way, as we pursue those that would want to destroy our freedoms and subject us to their bondage in the form of chains of fear or trepidation. The world is our home, all mankind with the same inalienable right to be free.

Answers to frequently asked questions

I recently had the opportunity to speak at a Rotary club meeting at the Marriott Hotel here in Salt Lake City, with the Adjutant General of the Utah National Guard. At the end of my speech, during a question and answer period, I was asked several questions. I will summarize my answers in the following short remarks for those of you who are interested.

Yes, we are making great strides in improving the situation in Iraq. There is great progress being made in every area. There are many schools being rebuild, refurbished, many roads and buildings constructed, the old dilapidated infrastructure is being rebuilt, and the standard of living is improving.

It is becoming more secure, but yes we still have small groups of enemies out to thwart our efforts every step of the way.

The people are wonderful and openly express their love and appreciation for what we have done. Yes, it was and is worth it. We did free a whole nation of people, who were in bondage to a tyrant and this will be a critical turning point in the history of that region of the world to bring them into a free world economy.

Yes, we have made great strides in capturing or killing known enemies to include many terrorists, belonging to Al Qaeda.

I recently went to the annual prayer breakfast in the state of Utah, where Steve Young, the famous 49er football quarterback, spoke. He mentioned one thing that stood out in my mind regarding making mistakes. When he was a young quarterback whenever he would throw an interception he would go back to the huddle full of excuses regarding why he had made such an error, blaming other individuals or circumstances. Later on he learned that the best thing he could do for the confidence of the team was to say to his fellow players, “I messed up. So, lets go get a drink and rest on the side lines, then lets come back out and play football, and I promise to never throw an interception again”.

Now as a military we are inevitably not going to make all the right decisions. We are going to make mistakes and mess up. But, we are at least making an effort and we are going to keep at it until we get it right. Now, many would spend their time pointing their fingers or blaming others for the mistakes made along the way, but at least we are engaged in a good cause making an effort. We are still in the game, actively trying to make a difference in everything we are doing. We aren’t on the side lines, or at home wondering what needs to be done, or if the right thing was done, or how the game would be one way or the other.

Decisions were made and we believe they were the right ones for the most part. The game is far from over and we are still in it

For those that were wondering?

My dad is stable and I was able to take him home where he will probably be able to spend the rest of his days. The doctors don’t give him any hope but he still has hope and continues to try. The prognosis for his colon cancer is not good, but I hope we can maintain some quality of life until it is time for him to go.

Love you Dad

My youngest son too

To my surprise, my youngest son Matthew took it upon himself to have his own toy drive at his high school to gather up toys and school supplies from all the kids and faculty. He did a great job in gathering up many boxes of donations for the children of Iraq. My hat goes off to you son, for your initiative. Way to go.

Well that is all for now.

Have a great day and keep those toys and school supplies coming in.

Chief Wiggles.

Where much is given much is expected, go out and do something.

posted Tuesday, 16 March 2004

 

THE KOREAN SITUATION

Monday, March 15, 2004

Hopefully you have all been watching what has been happening in Korea. I was considering writing a lot about this, but others have done a much better job.

First, the site I usually refer to when talking all things Korea, the Marmot’s Hole. Start here: (everything about the impeachment), then here: (post impeachment).

Next, catch Oranckay’s site. This is a site I haven’t read much, but his ability to translate is amazing. Start here: (impeachment happens), then here: (massive protests), next here: (North Korea’s predictable reaction, interesting history on impeachment in Korea), finally here: (protests illegal?, underhanded moves to change the constitution?).

After that, here is a great post on the impeachment process in Korea and some other things.

Finally, this post should NOT be missed. It talks about how ridiculous this impeachment is, something I completely agree with. Despite my disdain for the current President of Korea, this impeachment is a mockery. This post does a great job of explaining why.

posted Monday, 15 March 2004

 

WHAT A TWIST, THE CHIEF IS HEADED BACK HOME AGAIN!!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Well, the Chief called me from the airport in Salt Lake City to say good-bye. We only talked a moment and he assured me he would email as soon as he could from Iraq.

This evening, Mrs. Wiggles calls me, he is on his way back HOME! His commanding Col. in the guard frantically called her, trying to stop Paul before he got on the plane, but they were too late. He was gone.

From what I understand, they finally got a hold of his pilot on the way Kuwait. So, as far as I know, the Chief landed in Kuwait and then was in the process catching a flight back to the US.

Now, this doesn’t mean he might not have to go again in the future, but for now, they have decided they can do without him and he is coming home! Hopefully for good this time!!!

UPDATE: He is in Amsterdam, awaiting a flight home, not Kuwait.

posted Wednesday, 10 March 2004

 

TIM BLAIR AND READERS COME THROUGH AGAIN!

 

Tim Blair has been on the blogroll from the beginning. Even though he is half-way around the world, he has always supported the war and especially the troops. When Operation Give first started, he raised money through his site and sent over what the Chief called, “One of the most memorable boxes of toys ever.” I think it included the only cricket bat they got!

Recently, a memorial fund was set up for Staff Sergeant James Cowley. James Cowley was killed in the early parts of the war and left a wife a two young children. Tim went to work again, collecting funds on his site to send over. Since I live in Utah, I volunteered to see that the funds got the appropriate place. The other day, Tim sent the funds via PayPal, I had a bank check cut and sent the money to the memorial fund.

A big thanks goes to Tim and his readers for caring enough to get involved.

If you wish to see the check, click here.

Below is the text of the letter sent with the check:

March 9, 2004

Dear Cawley Family,

The readers of http://timblair.spleenville.com wish to thank you for your husbands and fathers service. Not only did Staff Sergeant James Cawley serve the people of the United States and Iraq, he served and sacrificed for the people of the world. Because of men like Sergeant Cawley, we can all feel safer as we sleep at night.

Please accept this check as a token of our appreciation.

Regards,

Tim Blair and the readers of his website.

posted Wednesday, 10 March 2004

 

RETURNING HOME, BACK TO IRAQ, MY ATTITUDES, MEDIA, WHY DO THEY BLAME THE USA?

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Returning home

We still need your toy and school supply donations. Don’t forget about us.

I am sitting in the kitchen gazing out through the window watching large snowflakes gently falling, beads of moisture dripping from the tree branches and the neighborhood all covered in several feet of white powder. I see my dog’s empty cage covered with snow, causing me to reflect back on a time gone by when my dog was alive. I remember playful times when we used to run around the yard together. I miss the past but so grateful for the present, with great aspirations for the future. But, I miss Jasmine, my dog, too.

It is great to be home with the towering majestic Rocky Mountains surrounding the city, the deep piles of white snow throughout the valley, the cheerful faces of friends and family, the home cooked meals, the variety of choices at near by restaurants, the freedom to sleep in late in a full-sized queen bed, eating popcorn in a full-sized movie theater, long hot showers, the feel of soft carpet on my feet, music playing everywhere I go, houses without fences and traveling around without the fear of being attacked.

I realize the present is but a fleeting moment which I cherish, but can’t hold on to, for within a matter of seconds it has also become the past, never to be relived. We can only celebrate the moment, with hope that the future will be even better. Time brings change, as with each lonely snow flake landing on several feet of snow to become part of a larger mass, soon it will melt becoming runoff into the Great Salt Lake, never to be a snowflake again.

I arrived home one week ago today and I feel really bad that I haven’t been able to send out a journal entry to all of you who have been tracking my journey. As you can imagine, I have been really busy trying to catch up on all the things that have been waiting for my return. My family did a great job of taking care of things while I was gone, but some things just needed to be handled by me. I have also been spending some time with my ailing Dad. Plus, each family member is demanding some personal time with me to discuss what has been going on. It is nice to know I have been missed and still needed.

Going Back To Iraq

The joy of being home was short lived when I received a call informing me that I will be returning to Iraq on Wednesday, in order to finish a few matters of business. It looks like I will be there in Baghdad for about a month or so, just not sure which part of the city I will be in or what I will be doing.

I am ok in going back, not merely because I have no other choice, but because I know the course of my life is in the master’s hands and under his all knowing watchful eye. I am sure there must be a reason for this return, something new behind an unopened door, some unknown, unforeseen new experience awaiting my arrival.

I am the only one returning to Iraq, so this trip will be very different from the past one, but perhaps just as rewarding. At least I am promised it will be short, but not necessarily sweet. To be honest, I have my moments when the thought of returning with the military to Iraq is difficult to swallow, especially now that I am just readjusting to the comforts of life here in America.

My attitudes

America is a great place, which I love. There is so much to enjoy and so much to miss. If only all of our eyes could be opened to see the abundance of blessings which we enjoy in this great country. To see and humbly appreciate the extent to which we have been blessed with so much in comparison to others in this world. As we, at times, blindly live our daily lives, there is so much that we take for granted, only wishing that we had more, seeing only what we don’t have instead of appreciating what we already have.

My need for more material things has changed dramatically, now only hoping for my basic essentials, focusing more on appreciating daily blessings and moments of happiness. I aspire to nothing, but hoping to carry on with what I have started in Operation Give, to feel fulfilled in all that I do, to add value to life through serving others, to magnify my inner self, and to hope for change that will bring happiness and peace in this world of greed, anger and hatred.

Flying into Salt Lake

My return flight home was very memorable, further enhancing the value of this trip to Iraq. As our three C-135s touched down in Salt Lake City, we could hear the cheers from the throng of people waiting inside the air guard hanger. I had to hold back the tears of joy as I looked out the one window in the plane that I could get to and saw the hundreds of people yelling and screaming. I was so appreciative of their support and expression of appreciation. I can’t put into words the feelings of joy that I felt at that moment, knowing that we were home indeed, back among loved ones.

As I walked down the tarmac towards the cheering crowd, a small group of people holding a poster and a flag came running in my direction screaming “Wiggles, Wiggles.” My family, my cousin Steve, and a few good friends had broken past the barriers and were running down the tarmac towards me. It was a great to embrace my family members, especially my son Michael who has been living in Russia for the past two years on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I was humbled by the interest the news media had in Chief Wiggles and Operation Give. More than anything, it was the numerous close friends and relatives who had come out to welcome us back. I was so appreciative of their expression of love and support for what we had all gone through over this last year. It was a great moment, permanently burning into my consciousness the feelings of pride and joy for having this opportunity to serve the great people of this country.Â

Since arriving home, there have been a few live interviews on a couple of radio stations with a ton of questions regarding the efforts of Operation Give and my mission in Iraq. I have a few speaking engagements scheduled before I leave again, which I am really looking forward to. If any of you have a need for someone like me to speak I would be more than happy to participate. I have a real passion for speaking regarding the things I have been through over the last year and for discussing how much we were able to accomplish with Operation Give.

Our media is not so great

Upon returning to my real life here in the states, for some reason I now find TV very boring and superficial. I am bored with the things we consider to be entertainment and find most programming to be meaningless and without any real redeeming value. Are we just being fed a constant stream of meaningless garbage which merely promotes negative values and mindless interaction? I don’t know what happened, but I am now appalled at the things discussed on TV in the name of “news.” I find many programs disgusting and meaningless.

I was alarmed by the news of the additional bombings that have taken place this week in Iraq, targeting the Shiite’s religious gatherings. I was not surprised by the anti-American Iraqi reaction to this apparently indiscriminate killing of citizens. I am sure many of you have a hard time understanding this type of mentality that blames and expresses anger towards the US for an act which we definitely had nothing to do with.

Over the course of the last year living in Iraq and interacting with the Iraqi people on a daily basis, I have formulated my own opinions regarding the mentality and mind set of these people. It is a very complicated situation with many variables that have had an impact on their way of thinking and the way in which they react and draw conclusions.  They definitely have a different way of thinking, which is neither right nor wrong, just different.

Why do they blame the USA?

I am going to attempt to put words to further define the Iraqi mentality, but in doing so I hope none of you will be offended by this meager attempt. I don’t mean to insult anyone by making this endeavor, only to try to put words to clarify what I have concluded. This is also just my own interpretation based on the individuals that I have come in contact with. By no means is this all inclusive but merely my perception. I’m doing this because the question above was asked of me and in no way am I trying to stereotype them.

It appears that after having been controlled and brain washed in every way by Saddam Hussein for the past 30 years, not to speak of the years previous to that, the Iraqi people have a tendency to blame those in charge for anything and everything that happens. They seem to need to blame someone or hold someone other than themselves responsible for the events occurring in their life. At times they say “In Shalla” to everything, as if to hold God totally responsible for what happens in their life, everything being according to God’s will. All of this to say they have no control and are not responsible for the events of their life.

Their deductive reasoning skills seem to be influenced and negatively affected by what they appear to see on the surface and by the rumors which get spread about every event. The rumor mill churns out rumors, which are accepted at face value, believed, and spread. Without knowing the underlying facts, they draw conclusions about what is happening based on the irrational gossip being spread.

They seem to concentrate on the present, on the day to day, forgetting what happened in the past. They focus on the way things are for the moment and who is in charge of taking care of those things for the moment. The difficulties of the past are easily forgotten, replaced by thoughts of the way things are right now.

They tend to be very emotional people, their reasoning and interpretive skills tied directly to their emotions. These emotions tend to be negative, without much hope, and with very little positive ideas regarding what might happen in the future. I am sure that because of their past plight under the rule of Saddam that many of them have taken on a fatalistic, defeatist attitude.

Even right after the war when utilities were down, many of the citizens were calling for the return of Saddam, claiming that at least under his rule they had electricity and water. To think like this would appear to be totally ludicrous, if one was to recall all the suffering and torturing that went on before and if one could imagine what life might be like in the near future with all the possibilities.

It appears that they have quickly forgotten the times when Saddam favored the Sunnis and discriminated against the Shiites. Under Saddam’s rule they did not have the freedom to say what ever they thought, or to meet in large groups whenever they wanted, or to protest or demonstrate against who is in charge.

They speak out against us now because they can. They blame us now because we are in charge. They expect us to take care of them and prevent such open acts of aggression from happening. They have to blame someone. They have to point their finger at someone, holding anyone outside of God responsible, because surely God wouldn’t allow such a terrible thing to happen.

For the most part, I found them to be somewhat emotionally immature by our standards; many times feeling like I was dealing with teenagers. They tend to be pessimistic, and overall negative. I am sure their past has influenced their way of thinking, not giving them much hope for the future. Their past has probably completely impacted their ability to be positive and optimistic.Â

Well that is my take on things. I did meet many people who were not like this, but for the most part these tendencies existed in most of the people I debriefed.

Also, that is not to say that many of us don’t have the same tendencies or propensity to be negative, with an inclination to blame others for our own mishaps.

That is it for now.
Have a good day.

Chief Wiggles
Doing it the Wiggle Way

Keep those toys and school supplies coming.

posted Sunday, 7 March 2004

 

GAHHHH!!!! CHIEF WIGGLES IS HEADING BACK TO IRAQ

Friday, March 5, 2004

Yes, it’s true. He just got, home and now is headed back over to Iraq. Seems there are a few things they need the Chief back over there for so on Wednesday, March 10th, the Chief heads for Baghdad.

Hopefully he will be there for only a couple weeks at the most and then he can FINALLY come home for good!

Keep the Chief in your prayers! I’m sure he will write about this soon!

BACK UP! NEWS COVERAGE!

Woo! blog-city is FINALLY back up and allowing us to post again!

First, here is the full news coverage of the return of the 141st to Utah. You get to see many of the members of the 141st, Chief Warrant Officer Paul Holton (Chief Wiggles), Wife Wiggles and Son Wiggles (wigglet?).

Just click here.

posted Friday, 5 March 2004

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