Monday, September 10, 2007
Back In Iraq, and Meeting Bill Roggio and David Tate
My return trip home from my boondoggle in the states took me through Amman, where I had yet another great 12 hours in a foreign city. I seem to have a knack for finding great things to do in countries where I only have 12-18 hours to wander around.
In Amman my Iraqi Officers took me out to an Iraqi-owned outdoor restaurant, with mostly Iraqi patrons. Had a great time eating real Iraqi food, and taking in the sights and sounds of a real Middle Eastern city, with no T-Walls, gun toting guards, and Humvees in sight. The only Hummers in Amman were the ones for sale at the Hummer/BMW dealership, which rivaled any U.S. dealership back in the states.
We ate a mountain of lamb and shredded meat by rolling it up in thin bread and dipping in various sauces. About the only things I didn't like were the liver (I never eat liver, I know what it does), and the milk. The milk came in a little store-bought container, and I mistakenly took big swig without testing it first. It wasn't rancid, but it was filled with milk, salt, and water. It tasted like liquid cottage cheese. After dinner we drank our Chai Tea and headed back to the hotel, where everyone but myself went up to bed.
I strolled up to the 'Champions' sports pub and watched the first half of the France/Italy soccer game. There was a good crowd of Italian and French fans in the pub, but a large portion of them were maybe 14 or 15 years old. Way too young for a sports pub. I left at half time and walked across to the hotel's cigar lounge, where I spent the next 6 hours smoking 'Romeo & Julieta Churchill's' and sipping beverages appropriate to the occasion. Myself and two other Americans who worked for the State Department had a great time sharing stories, opinions, and talking about the world. Once we closed the place down I headed back to my room at about 0430, got my 2 hours of sleep, and then packed for our early morning departure down to Baghdad.
I really needed that evening of relaxation and conversation. Sure, I was just in the States for two weeks, but it wasn't all that fun seeing how I had to escort the Iraqis to meetings with some of the US Air Force's highest ranking members. There isn't much time to relax around those folks.
The next morning we took the Embassy C-130 back to Baghdad International Airport. I said my goodbyes to the Iraqi Officers, and then headed back to my unit counterparts over at Victory to change back into my uniform (no more civies) and arrange travel up north to the IZ. Later that night I was dropped off at the Rhino yard to hitch a ride north. With several hours to kill I walked into the 'Stables', or waiting area, and just tuned out. I was almost done with my two + week journey, and I wanted to save what little energy I had left to make sure I made it to my bed in the IZ without missing my ride.
While sitting there I overheard someone in civilian clothes talking about MilBlogs, and that he worked with a blogger/journalist from New Jersey. As soon as this gentleman finished his conversation he walked over to my empty table and sat down. I couldn't help but ask him what he was saying about MilBlogs. Turns out this guy was David Tate, an Inbedded Journalist who was touring Iraq with Bill Roggio. If you're not sure who these guys are, check out Bill's online journal, The Long War Journal. He's the reporter being supported by readers of BlackFive.Net, and he represents the pinnacle of what MilBloggers have been able to accomplish in terms of sending out their own Inbed Reporters to do the jobs so few mainstream agencies are afraid to accomplish, covering the good news they're afraid to report.
Meeting with, and talking to these guys was the highlight of my trip. It was nice to hear their side of the story on what it's like to report the real news from Iraq. It was even nicer to share with them what the Air Force is doing out here on the ground with the Iraqi Air Force. I probably bored them to death with the stuff, but it's rare to be able to share what we do here with people who give a damn. They were great to chat with, and I was very lucky to have met them both. If you know who they are and enjoy the great work they do, feel free to throw a few bones to their organization that supports independent Inbeds throughout Iraq and Afghanistan. They've earned it.
After our Rhino convoy arrived in the IZ, I went straight to my room and straight to bed. Finally woke up and drug myself into the office at 4pm start where I left off; rebuilding the Iraqi Air Force.
I still think it's the best Air Force job in the AOR. I'm lucky to be doing it.
**FYI, stay tuned over the next few days. I have some great stories to share about what it was like touring the Southern US with 3 Iraqi Officers.
posted by El Capitan at 9:58 AM
wow! cool story.1:18 PM
You didn't bore me in the least. It was great to meet with you and talk to you at the Stables. It truly made my day, which consisted of travel. Always a pleasure to meet a fellow milblogger, and one who I read regularly!!!
Please send me you email and I'll have DJ follow up on the IZAF.
Take care and keep in touch.
Sorry I didn't know which specific states you were in while you were here. I would've asked if we could meet up. How long has it been since we've seen each other? 1998?
Sounds like you had quite an adventure. At least you got to have a few rounds and some cigars to relax.
I start up working again in a week with a contractor right back in the same building on base. Still looking for a civil service job and going into the NIC somehow.
Mrs Tumbleweed and I are house-hunting too. Fun times.
I was about to ask if you had told them about your blog - but by Bill's comment here, obviously you did.
Glad you made it back to "work" safely. Take care over there!
I watched much of Gen. Petraeus' testimony before Congress today. It was quite impressive.
Gotta make this short & sweet, my internet is acting up (I blame Pres. Bush, or maybe Gen. Petraeus).
Glad you're back safe & "relatively" sound & delighted you got to speak with the blogger journalists we all read.
As Bill said, I am interested in anything on what the IZAF will look like as it matures. The lack of apparent direction has been driving me crazy. One of the details in a previous post explained a lot...7:59 AM