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Field Trips
“I think it’s important to get out, take a break, meet some people, learn something new, see things that most take for granted or don’t know exist,” ...

Field Trips

Lt. Col. Greg Rosenmerkel, United States Air Force

“I think it’s important to get out, take a break, meet some people, learn something new, see things that most take for granted or don’t know exist,” Lt. Col. Greg Rosenmerkel wrote about the weekly field trips he arranged for his Air Force engineering team.

One trip was to the CRAM operation at Anaconda-Balad Air Base, known as Mortaritaville. “CRAM stands for Counter Rocket, Artillery, Mortar It’s loud, and not a favorite alarm clock. The ‘shooter’ is a phalanx 20mm gun off Navy ships,” he emailed. Rosenmerkel attached a photo showing their tour guide holding the rocket that had interrupted their physical training session earlier that morning. The mortar turned “our ‘push-ups’ into ‘get downs.’ CRAM system did its job. We were back at it in no time.”

His team visited a number of places, including the reverse-osmosis water purification plant. The people were always more impressive than the process. The boss of the whole water production program is Eloy. Greg’s favorite story of Eloy is from summer 2004. He was relaxing on the deck at 11 p.m., shirt off, cooling down, and watching the new X-Men movie in 3D when a mortar hit about fifteen feet away. Of course he was knocked out, woke up and thought, how cool is THAT technology. They pulled a chunk from his skull, left one in his shoulder, and he laughs about it. Incredible guy, loves his country, loves the military, and loves making water.

They also visited “Monster Garage Iraq,” the contractor shop that assembles IED detection equipment and repairs battle-damaged rigs so they can return to safe-clearing supply routes.

“While the equipment provides great protection, we’re still losing people as the bad guys figure out how to break stuff. Our technology is constantly improving, as is theirs. The repair shop guys are warriors, incredibly dedicated to keeping soldiers safe. Seeing the vehicles in the shop with holes in them where people used to sit is the most angering thing I’ve seen since we got here. I find it ironic how cowardly the insurgents are fighting the battle,” Rosenmerkel emailed.

Rather than just stimulating their intellect, these field trips strengthened his team’s resolve. Rosenmerkel’s email after watching the president’s State of the Union address summed up their determination. “I will say this: I believe we can fight here, or wait until they come back to the United States. It ain’t pretty, so let’s say we fight ‘em here.”


Thank you for using the stories of ordinary people who do difficult things to inspire others who are facing danger.

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