Amid firefights in Iraq, a son talks with worried mom
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Nothing makes a mother worry more than seeing her child in harm’s way.
Adam Mooney, a communications specialist for the U.S. Army’s 258th Military Police Battalion, was dispatched to the front lines of the war in Iraq nearly two months ago.
His mother, Maureen Mooney of Woody Creek, was understandably nervous about his departure. Her anxiety grew over the following weeks as she waited for word from 25-year-old Adam.
“I kept reading in the paper about the accidents that have been happening. Every time I would hear something like that, it would scare me,” Mooney said. “It took six weeks until I heard from him. My poor co-workers – they’ve had to endure me.”
Adam finally phoned home on May 3 to tell his family about his latest assignment – re-establishing lines of communication in Baghdad.
U.S. bombs first fell on Baghdad on March 19. Adam told his mother that he landed in Kuwait just one week later and soon received orders to march north toward Iraq.
Once the country’s capital had been secured, Adam’s unit moved in to re-establish vital connections between coalition forces. They’ve hooked up everything from satellite televisions to computer terminals for U.S. troops.
“The whole group that went into Baghdad started setting up communications and networks in the different compounds, and setting up the computer systems,” Maureen Mooney said.
Currently, Adam’s unit is bunking in the bombed-out shell of a former military compound – reportedly one belonging to a top Iraqi general. The general and his family left in a rush to escape Baghdad, Adam told his mother.
“They ran off and left all their weapons, their uniforms and supplies – they left everything behind,” she said.
The battalion’s new headquarters is still without power and other amenities, nearly two months after the bombing of Baghdad began.
“There’s still no electricity, but they have generators, and they’re living on rations,” Mooney said.
Still, the compound gives soldiers access to the first “real” bathroom they’ve seen since the war began – though, according to Adam’s reports, it’s not nearly as opulent as those found in Hussein’s abandoned palaces. There were no gold-plated faucets or million-dollar artwork where Adam was, he told his mother.
U.S. forces aren’t the only ones facing tough conditions, of course. Adam’s unit has distributed food and medical supplies to Iraqis displaced by weeks of war.
“They’re trying to help the civilians and trying to get everyone back on track,” she said.
But U.S. assistance isn’t always enough. Adam has seen his fair share of looting since arriving in Baghdad, Mooney said, and he was called in to help prevent a robbery at an unarmed bank. The would-be robbers even turned their weapons on Adam and a Humvee full of U.S. soldiers during the confrontation.
“Adam was manning the gun on the Humvee that shoots 300 rounds a minute,” Mooney said. “They told him not to shoot it – they were afraid it would hit too many civilians.”
Though Adam didn’t tell his mother how the attempted robbery ended, he assured her that he hasn’t been forced to shoot anyone since the war began. There’s no shortage of firefights between U.S. and Iraqi soldiers, however.
“There’s machine-gun fire around day and night, constant fire,” Mooney said, describing her last phone call with Adam. “The phone went dead while he was talking – first there was machine-gun fire, then the line went dead.”
After a momentary panic, Adam called back and assured his mother that the gunshots were routine and that the call was cut short by faulty communications lines.
Maureen Mooney, an employee of the Aspen post office, has sent seven care packages to Iraq in the last two months. She’s mailed everything from sunscreen and bug repellent to homemade snacks and junk food in an attempt to make her son’s stay a bit more comfortable.
Soldiers are apparently enjoying a few unique comforts while stationed abroad, Mooney said. Some even use generators to power electronic devices smuggled from home.
“[Adam] has already made a trade with another guy. They’re so desperate for entertainment – he traded a PlayStation cord for a camcorder,” Mooney laughed.
Adam’s tour of duty in Iraq will last until August, though future assignments aren’t clear.
“He’s going to be running all over Baghdad. I imagine they’ll go to Kuwait sometimes, but they’re basically staying in Baghdad,” Mooney said.
Adam hasn’t talked about his plans after the war, she said, though he may return to college after his return to the states. At the moment, he seems to be dealing with his situation day by day.
“`I just want you to stop worrying about me, because I’m OK,'” Mooney said, recalling Adam’s last phone call. “I think he’s pretty much trying to hang in there.”
[Mooney is encouraging interested locals to send packages or letters of support to SPC Adam Mooney, 519 MP BN HHD, APO AE 09302-1341.]
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