For a number of years this was the official website of the Chicago Dance News, the place to go to find out where and when to dance In Chicago. The content below is from the site's 2004 archived pages.
The CDN is back online but will be a web based magazine format only from now on. A notification will be sent out when the CDN is updated to all subscribers.
The CDN will be updated every Monday. The deadline for submissions will be midnight, Sunday night prior.
DONNIE IN IRAQ
Read the latest message from DONNIE AGUIRRE who's convoy came under attack this week while transporting JP8 (fuel) to US troops fighting in Fallujah. Donnie is an ex-army explosives expert working as a civilian contractor there.
Donnie is a Cadillac Ranch regular dancer known for his two step as well as his love of bull riding.
Some know him his as Donnie the Bullrider - Appearing at Cadillac Ranch on many occasions with busted legs and arms from yet another tough ride. . . Or when he used to bring his mechanical bull to Cadillac Ranch.
Some know him as two stepping Donnie - Ready to whip a girl 'round the floor and dance the night away.
You will soon know him as Donnie Aguirre, demolitions expert telling you like it is directly from Iraq working a 12 month contract.
Donnie's reports and messages from Iraq will be published in the CDN until his safe return. There will also be an additional page added which will journalize his mission and his stories.
And so we begin his trip, and pray for his safe passage and return:
11 December 2003
Just so you know I was advised after dinner last night that I am flying out Friday morning to Baghdad and from there do not know. But tomorrow night, I will be fitted with an issued a bullet proof vest and helmet, along with my Bio/chemical suit that also must be worn when under attack.
So much to remember and so little time to do this all. So for now this may be my last email, but if anything just remember the crazy double 2 stepper who always went the wrong way. Do me a favor, next time at the ranch give my email address to Chris the D.J. I have his but cannot make it out.
So for now, I must say bye and I do hope that in time you will hear from me. I do hope that the year goes by so fast. and I hope that my family will not be worried with fear everyday.
So thanks for being a friend and have a very merry holiday. maybe you can request a song for me from time at the ranch. Wish I could tell you where I am headed, but cannot and you know why . . secret stuff.
So later there my friend,
Encouraging messages to Donnie may be submitted to: Donnie@ChicagoDanceNews.com which will then be screened and forwarded on to Donnie in Iraq. Due to the nature of his trip and the security, he may not always be able to reply or send in reports on a regular basis.
Anyone wishing to send Donnie a care package should contact Brian@chicagodancenews.com
15 December 2003
JUST SO YOU KNOW MADE IT IN O.K. AS YOU KNOW BY KNOW WHO WAS CAPTURED, AFTER THAT WE WHERE PUT ON HIGH ALERT AND ALL BASES LOCKED DOWN, IT TOOK ABOUT 23 HOURS TO FLY HERE. WE MADE ABOUT 5 STOPS BEFORE ENDING UP WHERE WE NEEDED TO BE.
WEATHER O.K. COOL AT NIGHT, STILL GOING THROUGH ORIENTATION MAYBE FOR 2 MORE WEEKS.
LAST NIGHT WE WHERE SHOT AT BUT NOBODY HIT OR HURT, SO WE WAIT TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS WITH HIS LOYALISTS.
WILL TRY TO WRITE LATER ON AGAIN, SO MANY TROOPS HEADING HOME AND NEW ONES COMING IN.
THINGS ARE A LITTLE UP IN THE AIR, BUT ALL IS O.K. RIGHT NOW.
TALK AT YOU LATER
13 April 2004
Brian, have not heard from you in some time but I thought that I would send you an email that was sent by a friend who was in my convoy. This was the day that all hell broke loose over here. We had about 10 convoys hit and several real bad. The mail is from a driver who was just north of Baghdad and we where south of Baghdad when we received a message to seek shelter fast and that we did! We where about 30 minutes away from where they where hit and not sure what would have happened to us if we had continued on. Right now we are stranded in a small base where this a total blackout and sometimes they shoot flares over into the base to just keep us awake.
If you could seen the TV coverage over here, it was not pretty. We lost a lot of trucks. One convoy lost all its trucks and as for lives we are not sure but a lot of good people where hurt. Just not sure how many are missing. We have been in this base for almost 6 days and still cannot head out and if we do we are not sure in what direction to go. If we head north we do not know what is waiting for us and if we head south also not sure there too.
We do know that the military needs this fuel and I know that we must finish the mission. If we do go, just not sure how we will get there or back to our base since both sides are blowing up main bridges and over passes.
We all look like refugee's. We all need a bath and also some clothes to change into.
We look like hell rolled over us.
But I thought that maybe you would like to read what was sent to me and how things look over here. I wish that I could send you some pic's and some voice sounds that where recorded while all this was happening to that convoy. Brian, it was not pretty. And yes, I sometimes wish that I was at home and not here but I am here and I will do what I must. I just wish that I could take away the fear my folks are going through each night by watching the news. Well, gotta go for now and I hope that you had a nice Easter. How is the Ranch doing?
You take care.
Message from Donnie's Friend
Date: Sat, 10 Apr 2004 23:26:38 -0700 (PDT)
" el vato loco "
We got hit real bad!
Coming down that last 5 miles before we got to the turn-off to anaconda where that little market, past the slaughter houses are on the right, where that intersection where that praying mosque is! As soon as we got up to it, people started to get up out the ditch with cherry grenades! When the first truck got stopped, then came the RPGs and machine gun fire!
They all stopped like a bottle neck, and then the crowd came out! I stopped for an instant, then I heard the gunfire bullets hitting outside the tanker! Then I heard a big blast behind me. Then I realized that Reggie Lane caught an RPG in the front windshield! He's hurt bad bro. His face is all cut up, and we where pretty sure that he lost his right arm below the elbow! He kept rolling behind me but when he wouldn't answer his radio, I knew he was hurt bad!
Jason Heard stopped and got him out of the truck and the MPs stayed with him. Then they medvac'd him out! But I wasn't out of the woods yet! When the bomb went off and everybody stopped, I said, "That's my cue to split!"
I saw the median on my left hand side, and just shifted that damn truck, gunned it and jumped the curb! Then I stepped on the gas super fast! I was in the north-bound lane, going the wrong way! When I looked behind me, everybody was rolling behind me, stepping on it to anaconda. I was losing JP8 big-time! Then I saw another tanker coming behind me, with a giant RPG round in his tanker belly!
Everybody finally started to get going, then they started to come after us throwing cherry grenades trying to light the JP8! BUT THANK GOD, we made it to the front gate! They had Reggie here, but they finally sent him to Germany to work on him after they stabilized him. Man, it was bad! 7 people quit, including Mark Longstreet, if anything happened good out of this.
Check this out! A crowd was starting to pull Ramon Camacho out of his truck, when they were all stopped trying to get away when a tanker driver( I don't know who he is) saw what was happening, put his truck in gear, stepped on the gas, and ran over the whole bunch off them! He came real close to his door, and mowed down at least 7 of the bastards! Ramon calls him his guardian angel! It was that close! I will keep you informed! Oh, and did you hear about the 7 missing KBR people going to BIAP? Watch the news!
In the News
Four Unidentified Bodies Found in Iraq
By HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Four bodies have been found in Iraq, possibly the remains of private contractors missing since an assault on their convoy outside Baghdad amid a wave of kidnappings of at least 22 foreigners.
A State Department official on Tuesday confirmed the discovery of the bodies, but the private contractor Halliburton said it did not know whether the dead were its missing employees. Initial reports said the four bodies were mutilated, but those reports were not confirmed, the official said.
NBC News reported that the four bodies were in a shallow grave between Fallujah and Abu Ghraib, scene of the convoy attack, and that U.S. officials were led to the grave by an Iraqi.
Two U.S. soldiers and seven employees of Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root have been missing since their convoy was attacked Friday on the main highway west of Baghdad, between the district of Abu Ghraib and the central city of Fallujah.
The roads west of Baghdad have been a site of many of the kidnappings since the bloody fighting broke out across Iraq this month. Some abductions have also occurred in the south.
25 April 2004
Just a few lines to say hi and to hope that all is well with you, family and friends at the ranch. Boy, do I miss dancing and the ranch!
Things here a bit crazy after two weeks of attacks. There are now bounties on us and our trucks and fuel. We are also getting military escorts for now as well as escorts that range from small tanks to air support and anything else they can throw our way. It was bad here and now we must resupply all bases. Some are out of food and water and just about everything else needed to function even ammo. This caught us so off guard and still we catch some small arms fire and sometimes and " RPG " fired at use, but things are as they for now.
Not sure when this will quite down to maybe even stop, we do know that it may happen again soon, it depends on what happens at Fallujah and if they surrender or what.
We have had some small but really bad sand storms and some rain. But all in all, the country to me is still very pretty, even if there is a lot of sand but the people make the land and the kids too.
Well, gotta go, may be pushing out soon, our missions what use to take about 2 to 4 days, now take double that, bridges blown out by them and us and roads also.
I do hope that all is well back home. Say hi for me at the ranch and will talk at you later. Can you believe that we where almost out of food and water? It is hard for me to imagine happening, but w came so close. Also no showers for almost 3 days. We did use the heck out of the baby wipes.
Talk at you later there my friend,
03 May 2004
Man Held Hostage in Iraq to Be Reunited With Wife
By KATHARINE A. SCHMIDT, AP
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (May 3) - Former American hostage Thomas Hamill, who escaped his Iraqi
captors after three weeks in captivity, arrived Monday in Germany for a reunion with his wife and treatment at a U.S. military hospital, a spokeswoman said.
Hamill of Macon, Miss., pried open the doors of the house where he was being held on Sunday and ran a half-mile to a U.S. military convoy passing by near the town of Balad, north of Baghdad.
The 43-year-old civilian contractor, who suffered a gunshot wound, was to be reunited with his wife, Kellie, at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Landstuhl spokeswoman Marie Shaw said. It was not clear when she would arrive.
A truck driver for a Halliburton Corp. subsidiary, Hamill was captured April 9 by gunmen who blasted the supply convoy he was driving on the outskirts of Baghdad. Hamill's captors had threatened to kill him unless the United States lifted its siege of the city of Fallujah.
Hamill's escape came two days after Marines started pulling back from Fallujah under a new agreement ending their assault on the insurgent stronghold.
A C-141 transport plane brought him to the Ramstein Air Base in rural western Germany, then he was taken by bus to the medical center for a checkup, Shaw said.
His wife was flying in from Mississippi to meet with Hamill at the hospital, Shaw said. It was not clear how long he would stay in Germany before returning home.
The U.S. military has said Hamill is in overall good health, but a gunshot wound to his left arm might be infected. Shaw said Landstuhl staff were standing by to treat him.
A U.S. soldier kidnapped in the same convoy attack as Hamill, Pfc. Keith M. Maupin, was seen in separate video footage. The remains of a second military man missing in the attack, Sgt. Elmer Krause, were identified April 23.
Hamill's abduction came amid a flare-up of kidnappings of foreigners during the intense violence that began in early April. Up to 40 people from a wide range of nationalities were abducted, though most were later freed. One hostage, an Italian, was executed by his captors, who filmed the slaying and sent a video to Arab television stations.
Hamill's family exulted at the news of his escape. His father, Leo, said he fell asleep Saturday night while watching a television newscast and woke Sunday to a bulletin reporting his son's escape.
''I knew when I saw him on TV, I knew it was him,'' the teary-eyed father said. ''I hoped they would return him safe.''
His wife said she got a call at about 5:50 a.m. telling her that her husband was free. He later called home, ''the best wake-up call I've ever had,'' she said.
05/03/04 09:27 EDT
03 May 2004
Brian, just read your message and for now we are still stranded in Bagdad. They have blown up some more roads and bridges and we cannot get back to our camp as of yet. The roads that we will travel will be dangerous outside of our routes and I am sure we will get hit. Have been out for almost a week and not sure when we will get back.
All is quite and getting boring here. We have no escorts and no platforms to protect us and we where even told that we may be used as bait to get them to shoot at us so we can find them which is fine by me. I would even volunteer for that. By now you have heard that the driver found a way to escape and is now safe and back to those whom have missed him but still we worry about the PFC who is missing. We pray for his safe return soon.
Well gotta go for now and I hope that all is well back home. Sure do miss dancing but I guess for now my dancing steps consist of just maybe like break dancing; hitting the ground and just ducking when fired at . . so many different ways to bend the body when being shot at.
Well be safe my friend and hope to hear back from you soon. It took me about 4 days to get to a system.
08 May 2004
Just a few lines to say hi and hope that all is well back home. As for us we are just trying to get by from day to day. We just got back from a mission which took about 6 days. . . Alot longer then we wished for but when we get back we will head right back out again. It has been quiet but we did get catch some mortar rounds about 100 yards from where we where staged for the night. They are bad shots and did not hit anything but give them time and it will happen.
The route that we take back to our base camp is lined with all the trucks and tankers and military units that where destroyed several weeks ago. Not a pretty sight.
if you look hard you can almost see blood on the streets and on the trucks. For about 20 miles that is all that you see. There are tanks and hum'v's all over the place now and all ready for action. They will not let this happen again or at least we hope. They now know how vulnerable we are and how to attack us and do more damage to the convoy's.
We had to take a different route and it took us about 2 hours away from our regular route and yes we did get lost once. Our escorts made a wrong turn and believe it or not the locals knew and they waved at us not to go any further. They new what was ahead if we went that way.
We also had to cross over on a portable bridge made up of pontoon boats. It was a bout 150 feet long and alot of the drivers had never done this before so some where a little afraid but it was fun. Just the idea of crossing on something like that and maybe sinking . . no where to go except down.
While in route we where stopped when the military did find a bomb on the side of the road and the blew it. You could see where others have gone off. Holes from about 3 feet wide to about 5 feet wide and about 4 feet deep. It is a matter of time that we will get hit on this road. There is no protection on either side of the road and to be going where we have never traveled before. All hell could break loose again and it would be over in about 5 minutes. Air support would be just a bit late to help out.
Well tomorrow is mothers day and yes I wish that I could be home with my family an I know that this is one wish that all mothers would make on this day but this is a 24/7 job and not sure what it would take to end this all over here.
Well i must go for now and get ready for tomorrow. I was told that I would be hauling more gas tomorrow and that is not my choice of fuels to be hauling.
One stray bullet or anything and it is lights out for me. No time to run or get out of my truck. I am sure that god will watch over me as he always does and for all of us over here too.
So you be safe and have a nice mothers day with all mothers back home. Say hi to Chris for me and yes, I miss dancing!