Sunday, April 10, 2005
Greatest Hits From Iraq
I'll be taking an exciting 'Department of Defence Acquisition Course' all this week, which means I'll be away from my blog. In the mean time, here's some of my posts from Iraq. Kind of makes me miss the place.
Originally Posted 9 September 2004 (link)
'A Fond Farwell'
Here's a little update. I was hoping to have posted more last night, but I never really had the opportunity. Everything is good here, and I'm working hard as usual. No, I'm not being sarcastic this time. With the transition between rotations, everyone is coming and going at once and it makes for a busy schedule. Yesterday was something that made things a little harder.
Late yesterday afternoon we got word that one of our Army folks here on base was Killed in Action. Since we had a C-130 arriving soon, they planned on transporting the young soldier on it. The folks that schedule those planes, located at another base, decided that we had to place our outgoing troops, luggage, and pallets on the plane along with the casket. Since the plane was originally intended to take folks home, they wanted it used for that.
I have to give my boss credit on this one. He fought for quite a while to just have the casket flown back on the empty plane, and finally just did it despite the folks telling him he had to load it. It just wouldn't have been right. We all agreed, good call.
Just as the sun was setting, the plane pulled up and parked on the ramp and the new passengers walked off. They were greeted by a few hundred Army and Air Force personnel, all quiet, who were in formation at the rear of the plane on each side of the ramp. Those new troops joined in once they saw what was going on. What a way to be introduced to the base.
Anyways, we stood there at attention as they carried the flag-draped coffin along the flight line and onto the plane. We stood there for about 30+ minutes moving between attention and parade rest while waiting for the coffin to arrive, but nobody complained or griped or even said a word. After 4 years of training and 5+ years in the Air Force, that was the first time I realized why we were in and what we were doing here. I used to hate formations and military bearing and all of that pomp and circumstance stuff, but no more. I will never forget that sunset I watched while standing there as the coffin went by.
None of us knew the guy, but we're all going to make an effort to get to know his fellow soldiers that are still here. I can't imagine being his commander...After that we went and delivered food to all of the passengers that were supposed to have left that night. Then a few of us went up to the roof of our building and chatted about everything while watching the stars, the lights from the city, and the moonrise.
Most of the troops here are all leaving in a few days, so I'll be the 'old guy' as their replacements arrive. Kind of funny I guess. Other than that, it's starting to feel like the movie groundhog day.Repetition... it's torture. I'm not complaining, it's just strange to wake up and not know what day it is because they're all the same.In the 'Clam-tina', which is where most events take place on base, they're going to have another Bingo night on Saturday. It's free, and they have a few thousand bucks worth of stuff, so it's worth it. Maybe I'll get an AAFES certificate so I can buy the stuff the Air Force lost on the way up.
If I haven't mentioned the food, it's good. The servings are a little too big, but the Filipino women who serve it don't speak good English, so it's hard to tell them to not give as much. Half the time they think you're flirting with them if you try and speak up, so you just shut up and get your food. I now skip the meal line all together and go straight to either the 'fitness food' bar, full of fruits and nuts, or the sandwich bar. I may just lose a few pounds out here thanks to those women.I've been working out almost daily, and they do have a swimming pool, but I'm one of the unlucky guys who work for a living so I never have time to go and enjoy it. I have been running outside more because the sun feels nice even though it's 115 degrees. It's a dry heat. The only concern is all the oil smoke in the air. People say it'll make you wheeze after a while. I've even heard that everything you send home smells like oil. Have fun Tonya!
Did I mention I got my first Helicopter ride yesterday. Quite the ride. Hopefully you'll all see the pictures. It was very different then an airplane. I know, you're saying... duh, of course it's different. It just felt different, and the movements and turns were very strange. I almost liked it better. Of course I'd trade it in for a flight to Australia in a 747 any day of the week.
The admin staff has been asking me for my OK, or my opinion, on a lot of things. I forgot that I'm in charge of their office and they're supposed to do that. It's been a long time since I've had folks under me, and I've never actually had a 'staff' working admin issues for me. Hmmm, maybe they can write my blog posts for me too. Kidding, this is the only fun I have. I won't have them doing my laundry, cleaning my bathroom or anything else like the last Commander did.
Speaking of laundry, it's time to go and get it done. I don't want to say up late tonight. I've been having the strangest dreams for the last few days. Very vividly real dreams that are so strong I wake up and lost track of where I am. They say that's a common thing here too. It ruins my sleep, so I don't like it. Funny, I sleep right behind an ancient Muslem cemetery, so I wonder if the ghouls are bugging us. Kidding of course... just a thought. I want to walk through it and look at the head stones, but I don't want to tick anyone off and I wouldn't understand the writing anyways.
Thanks again for the emails and the good cheer. I miss you all, and I can't wait to be home.
posted by El Capitan at 10:25 PM