Sunday, February 27, 2005

Ohio University Assistant Coach Blogs from Iraq

Last August, Ohio University Men's Assistant Basketball coach, Kevin Kuwik, was called up to serve in Iraq.

He completed his recruiting responsibilities for the Bobcats, and reported for Fort Sill, Oklahoma on October 23, 2004 for training. At that point, he began sending regular emails which have been posted to the OU website.

On December 20th, he went to Kuwait. On January 9th, he went into Iraq.

All the while, balancing his military responsibilities with his love of Bobcat basketball, routinely listening to the games on the Internet at 2:00 in the morning.

Here are a couple of excerpts. Go read the rest for yourself.
Wednesday, January 5

Hey everyone, I’m actually writing this on the 6th, at 2:12 am, as I sit on the computer cleaning up my inbox for the first time in a few days, and more importantly, get ready to tune in to Derek Scott and hear the Bobcats take on Ball State. That will make for a pretty sleepless night, but hopefully we can shake our road blues and get some momentum heading back to The Convo on Sunday.

I haven’t had an entry in a few days because we’ve been swamped – early mornings (a given with the Army) and late nights as we do all the planning and preparation for our move. I always thought moving a basketball team and its traveling party of 20-25 for a road game was a pain, but that pales in comparison to moving all our soldiers and all our equipment.

Since I last checked in, there have been plenty of adventures to go around. First off was my first sand storm on the 2nd. Although people who have been out here for a while tell me it was an easy one, the amount of sand that got in my ears and teeth and in general all over my body was quite the nuisance. I never thought I’d long for a good old Buffalo snowstorm, but at least the snow melts and becomes water and goes bye-bye!

Saturday, January 29

A great win for the Bobcats over 1st-place Bowling Green! We seemingly couldn’t get over the hump all second half but the defense really bore down over the last five minutes and we pulled it out, making four wins in our last five games. Now it’s back to my hometown to play Buffalo on Wednesday – they beat us pretty good last year in front of many of my family and friends so hopefully we can get a little payback.

The game was a good escape from what has been a very busy week for me. Obviously, the elections in Iraq are a huge story and will take place tomorrow, and Mosul is at the forefront of all that. Our unit has worked through the night the last couple nights to get all the polling sites ready and hopefully safe to vote at. But there definitely is some uncertainty here as no one knows how many people will really come out to vote. Not to mention how much violence there may be. So tomorrow probably will be one of the most memorable days of my life, one way or the other.

Wednesday, February 2

Over here, the elections went fairly well. Relatively speaking, there was a low turnout in Mosul due to all the violence and intimidation that has been going on but the numbers were considerably higher than what was expected – as a matter of fact, additional ballots had to be rushed in. One of the best stories I heard was at a polling site which had over 200 people milling around it as the polls opened but everyone was afraid to actually walk up to vote. Finally a very elderly woman had the courage to walk up and everyone else followed suit.

For our unit, despite only having been here a few weeks, we were thrown into the fire as we were responsible for emplacing over 800 concrete barriers at all the polling sites in Mosul to protect against vehicle borne explosives – a serious threat out here. Our soldiers ran all night for two consecutive nights to get the job done and it can be considered a mission well-done as there were no vehicular incidents at the polling sites. And then we had to turn around and spend two nights hauling them all back in.

Not to get preachy or sentimental but the last two days were very meaningful for me. First, I ate the first meal in the newly-opened dining facility that replaces the one destroyed by the December bombing. There was a commemorative flag that everyone there signed which will be on permanent display. Then tonight I watched “Miracle,” the story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic gold medal team and its dramatic victory over the Soviet Union. I can’t say for sure how Operation Iraqi Freedom will be looked back on in history but what I do know is that the men and women that I am serving with over here, with as ordinary of backgrounds as they come, display that extraordinary resilience and dedication that makes our country what it is. And as much as I’m missing not being with the Bobcats this season, I’m gaining just as much through the chance to experience everything that I have.

So, go USA, and go BOBCATS!

Saturday, February 12

After we got this brief, we rolled out the gate and headed into town [Mosul]. The first thing that struck me was all the little kids lined up on each side of the road waving at us – definitely tugs at your heart.

Sunday, February 20

Not so fast, however – at this point it was 0700, the sun was up and we faced the unenviable task of rolling right through the best parts of Mosul (not!) with our snail-like engineer equipment. Well, thankfully we had a safe 30-minute ride back to the base (not a lot of people waving at the Americans in this part of town, however). Before I got to go to sleep, I had to sit through a 45-minute meeting, spend another half an hour coordinating events for the day, check in on the Bobcat game on the internet (not good) and finally, at 1000, I was able to sneak to my living unit and steal three hours of sleep. Just another day in Mosul.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that there was joy in Mosul at about 0200 this morning as I jumped around in my living unit and probably woke up some terrorists when Jeremy Fears’ 3-pointer at the buzzer went in and Derek Scott went crazy as a short-handed Bobcat squad showed a lot of heart in coming back to beat Detroit. Just wish I could have been there for the backflip!

Have a great day – go Bobcats, beat Eastern!
The OU Bobcats are currently in a 4 way tie for second place in the MAC East with a 10-6 conference record.

As you can tell, Cpt. Kuwik is doing even better.

You can send him an email at the following address: