Guard Post (OP) Ouellette
It was an impressive experience for a young man at the time. You could hear the loudspeakers from NK spewing propaganda all the time. Blah blah blah in Korean. I guess it was for the benefit of the South Korean soldiers and KATUSAs stationed nearby.
I got to meet Jose Feliciano, who came to sing "Feliz Navidad" to us defenders of freedom and bastions against Communism. We were more interested in meeting the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, but got stuck due to a snow storm, and by the time we got to Camp Greaves, they were AWOL.
We got to brief every visitor that came by. A funny anecdote: A three star Marine Corps General, along with a two star Army general came for the obligatory briefing. The guard post OIC was also present. And there I was, SPC Jerry with the most obnoxious fart waiting to happen. So I let the little ninja E&E and waited for the results. Well, it was the most disgusting thing in the world. And we were underground in the cement bunker with no windows... I look at the three star general, and kind of nudge my head toward the GP OIC. He kind of smirks, and then I look at the two star, and nudge toward the two star general. Then I look at the GP OIC and and nudge to the general's direction. Nobody said a word, but it was so funny, the exchange of conspiratorial looks, everybody ended up blaming it on the GP OIC. Little things soldiers do to pass the time I guess.
One of the saddest things was observing the poor NK soldiers in their respective guardposts, doing Tae-Kwon-Do outside their buildings, doing spin kicks and other MA related moves, just to keep warm. You could see their hot breath through the thermals... They were just like me, but the enemy.
Ziggurat of Ur
About a month after we arrived in the region, we got a chance to grab some trucks and go visit the site. We've heard so much about it (most of the accounts were a bit innacurate) and we were stressing a bit, so they gave us a day off. Well, more like 4 hours off. So we took it.
This was around April or May of 2003 (for timeline reference). I was very impressed and humbled when I arrived. I just could not believe this structure was 4000 years old. And it was in pretty good shape. There was an effort to unhearth other structures surrounding the Ziggurat and it was in various stages of success. Of course, the place was deserted, with the exception of a man, who I later learned, was the caretaker of the place. There was also another person who was selling Sumer Cigarettes (probably the most disgusting things you will ever smoke) and we were happy because we had run out of smokes two weeks before. He was also selling Iraqi Dinars but we did not buy (hey, a dollar a pop was a bit excesive you know).
We also had a chance to examine Abraham's House and that was also a very interesting experience, but I have to confess that I had a bit of an archeological faux pas.
This is very embarrasing, but as I was walking about, looking at the site (and also keeping security), I stepped on a little wall. Of course some person or a group of people painstakingly laid the bricks, carried them there, while some other group made them a long time ago. Fast forward to 2003, when an idiot (me) steps on the wall and the whole thing comes crashing down, with me on top of it all.
Needless to say, I was very saddened that I destroyed some historical/cultural site. This still bothers me until now.