Tuesday, August 14, 2007
On Sunday night I was on a helo flight back to the International Zone. I've been flying on Blackhawks quite frequently now, but this flight was different. Yes, the pucker factor was still there. You're flying over some people who would give anything to take you out. While you're sitting next to the windowless door you can't help but think about what one bullet shot up could do to you, let alone one shoulder-launched missile.
Then again, all of those fears are overshadowed by the beauty of what's below. During the day you can't help but smile as you fly between towering buildings, over power lines and ornate mosques, past groups of children playing soccer or farmers tending to their sheep. At night it's completely different. The city is lit up as far as the eye can see. It reminded me of flying over Dallas at night. Every house had backyard lights on. Some had camp fires, others you could see TVs flickering through windows. New and old cars in driveways. These people... they're so much like us.
Looking out across the city at night is like looking at a bunch of sparkling diamonds. Looking up, I noticed the constellation Orion just above the horizon, seemingly watching over the city. Orion is my second favorite constellation, right behind the Southern Cross. Orion has watched over me every place I've ever been to around the world. Superstitious, sure, but also reassuring.
It was a great flight back and forth along the rivers, weaving in and out until touch down. Occasionally the defensive flares would launch from the helo, but instead of worrying about why they launched I couldn't help but enjoy the show.
There's so much going on out here, and so much more to write about, but so little time to write. I think I've become more of an arms dealer than an Air Force Officer in my daily business, but it's all for the better. If the Iraqis don't have what they need to protect themselves, we'll be here forever.
Wish I could have filmed that flight.
posted by El Capitan at 7:30 AM
Glad to hear you're safe and sound. Take care of yourself over there - and keep up the good work.11:23 AM
Lights as far as the eye could see, huh? You're either in a different Baghdad than the one I fly over, or are extremely nearsighted. Rolling blackouts and swaths of neighborhoods with no power at all. Then there's the "suburbs", like Arab Jabour and the towns between you and Taji.
Perhaps you only had your eyes open for a second as you were so worried about that random bullet flying through the Blackhawk's "open" (read: removed) window