While I like to think of myself as the Godwin Grand Poohbah: Kuwaiti Branch there would be no end to the ribbing that I would endure if that was actually published. In actuality, I’m Anita’s hubby, Sydney’s daddy, city planner for Godwins Hollow, a local expert on most things US Government Contracting related, hobby farmer, drone pilot, and just your everyday expat running around Kuwait. The details are below, just keep on reading.
The Early Years
Ok, so 17 May 1974, just hours after midnight the ground shook, lightning crashed, and there I was – live and in person. After being yanked out of a field exercise he was in, Dad rushed to the hospital. Running in the door, he rips off the camo and gets cleaned up, The first thing he says to my mother after she’s been through (in her version of this tale) 8 days of labor is “Have you seen his hands? He’s got huge hands! He’s gonna be a wide receiver!” Couldn’t catch a football to save my life.
That was back in the day when it was just the three of us. My mom and dad (Cindy & Bill Godwin) and myself. They’re both from Hot Springs, Arkansas – home of former president Bill Clinton and some of the best damn BBQ you will ever have. Dad was in the Army and of all the places to be born I picked Ft. Polk, Louisiana. So I get to put in my resume that I’m technically a Ragin’ Cajun but then I have to deal with that sympathy nod whenever I mention Ft. Polk to US Army types.
So a few years later Uncle Sam up and moves us from the garden spot of Leesville, Louisiana to Grafenwöhr, Germany. Dad built some ranges that are still in use today over there, got in a horrible fight with a Gamma Goat (old style amphibious vehicle for the uninitiated), and before we left there was one more of us. My sister, Margaret Jean Godwin joined the crew at this point. Over the years after Graf we lived in Louisiana again, Texas (Red River Army Depot), Arkansas (a small unit outside Little Rock, AFB), and then settled in Columbus, Georgia (Ft. Benning – Home of the Infantry). There I attended W. H. Shaw High School and was on the football team, played in the symphonic band, was involved in too many clubs to mention, and was the 1992 AAAA Heavy Weight Wrestling State Champ.
Life After High School
After graduating from Shaw I moved on to Colorado Springs, CO where I joined the Roadrunners of Cadet Squadron 32 at the US Air Force Academy. Four years of Academy training and BS in Civil Engineering later I graduated with the rest of the Class of 1996. The US Air Force then let me loose on Moody, AFB in Valdosta, Georgia where I was a logistics officer with the 347th Supply Squadron. After the Air Force, I moved back to Columbus, Georgia and joined a company in the bank card industry. Not too long after that, I received a call from the military recruiters Bradley Morris, Inc. They offered me a job and I was off to Atlanta, Georgia. I has only been in Atlanta for a few months when a mutual friend introduced me to Anita and we started dating. After surviving almost a year in a 100% commission sales job I decided that as much as I enjoyed it I needed to find a real job. After interviewing with this little company in Manitowoc, Wisconsin I apparently lost my mind and went to look for it up there. I managed a manufacturing facility for a division of Newell-Rubbermaid. About six months after I arrived our sales staff thumbed their noses at Wal-Mart who promptly dropped our line and the entire operation went under within six months of that monumentally good idea.
I moved back to Atlanta recently engaged. Just a few months later, Anita and I were married in Independence, Missouri. Since then I’ve worked as a Project Manager for defense industry manufacturers and with the US Army’s Task Force Soldier back in Columbus, Georgia. I thoroughly enjoyed my time on Task Force Soldier and was part of the five-man team that wrote The US Army’s Soldier’s Creed (and since the other four folks were active duty Army types we won’t make any direct assertions about who did how much writing). While working with TFS I received a call from a friend of mine still working in the military recruiting industry. Eric told me all about this wonderful position that mixed project management and logistics. The company wanted a former military type and the pay and benefits package was tremendous. This story went on for the better part of 30 minutes before I forced the location out of him. The job was in Kuwait. So I promptly thanked him for the info, hung up the phone, and figured Eric had finally lost his mind. That night over dinner I mentioned it to Anita and again we all had a good laugh. After dinner, Anita did a little surfing and then informed me that I would be calling Eric back to find out what this Kuwait thing was all about. I had an interview 24 hours later, a job offer 24 after that, and three weeks later I was on a plane to Kuwait.
The Expat Life
I spent six months over here working for PWC Logistics (now renamed Agility) before Anita and Sydney joined me. I managed a 4 country operation involving over 300 employees of 33 different country and ethnic origins. Together we supplied more than 22 million liters (over 70 MILLION gallons) of petroleum products a day to the people of Iraq. When that program ended I went on to head up PWC’s corporate Strategic Planning Group. In October of 2005 PWC and I went our separate ways and I began consulting in earnest. One of the largest projects I personally handled under the moniker of ‘consultant’ was developing the logistics strategy for a Kuwaiti investment firm importing cars from China into Iraq. I have also assisted Kuwaiti organizations serving as agent to US firms as well as offering general guidance in doing business with Uncle Sam. I spend the bulk of my time as a consultant developing proposals for US Government contracts. Over the last few years, I’ve worked with firms from Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Dubai, Jordan, Kuwait, Germany, and the US.
While I was just starting up and enjoying what I was doing I also enjoy the stability of a monthly paycheck. So when the ALMCO group approached me about heading up their Business Development & Marketing department I seriously looked into it. The company officially opened their doors in 2003 and their core competencies are construction services and life support services in Iraq & Afghanistan. Despite their age, they have some substantial past performance and have successfully executed over $1,000,000,000.00 in US Government contracts in less than six years. I support the organization from the Kuwait office and again spend most of my time submitting proposals and developing different marketing strategies. I kept WSG Consulting alive and over the last decade have assisted a number of different clients throughout the MENA region. In 2013 ALMCO’s US government work was winding up and I moved on, joining my long-time client, KGL, in the Government Programs division.
Moving Around Kuwait
On the home front, we moved from our first place in Qurtoba to a new villa just south of 6th Ring Road in May of 2008. Our old landlord kicked the downstairs neighbors out so that he could move in and wanted us to make up the difference in rent. For what he wanted to increase our rent by we were able to find ourselves an entire villa with our own garden. Anita got a fountain and ton of new bougainvilleas for her birthday that year so our outside space was really starting to become our own. Sydney loved having an entire floor as a play room and we all really enjoyed the tremendous amount of space that the new place has. At the time, we had two dogs (Ted and Zed) and two cats (Mike and Patches) so the square footage was very much appreciated by us all.
After just 3 years there, those landlords decided we’d pumped up their renovation budget enough with our rent and they moved back in. We moved a bit farther south to Adan. This place was great. Our first place in Adan was ridiculously over-sized for just the three of us. It had a little grass out front, two courtyards downstairs, an entire room for Godwins Hollow, and a giant bay window on both sides of the house for Christmas trees! We really had a great time at that place and our last Christmas there our good friend Bill Robinson helped us with our Christmas Eve shindig and had folks from Ruby Tuesday’s in Kuwait come and staff the party! As our first ever ‘staffed’ party it ended up being lots of fun. Unfortunately, as per usual, the landlord gave us a call and said he was moving back in. So off we went looking for our next place. It just so happened to be right around the corner.
In May of 2014, we moved into Villa Al Godwin 4 – also in Adan. It is so close to the old Adan place that we decided to move everything ourselves. That lasted about ten seconds and we brought in some guys with a truck. Even with six, extremely, hard working guys it took us a week to move less than a hundred meters around the corner. We had a little difficulty communicating with the movers so everything was moved over backward. Meaning stuff in boxes arrived before stuff to put them on did so we lived in a house that was chin deep in stuff for a good long while. Anyways, we’ve since settled in and are gearing up for our third Christmas in the ‘new’ place. We have a pool up on the roof and I’m working on setting up a little garden up there too. I took a bit of a hiatus from the blog during that time but have started things up again and if you’d like to get caught up on 2015 & 2016 at the Godwin household you can do so here.
That brings everyone to where we are now. To find out how the story turns out just keep checking in at our little site here.