Tour de Iraq

I did catch that flight to Kuwait, but it was diverted to Ballad, where we all got off as the plane did some kind of medivac.   In Ballad, I heard that there was a flight to Al Asad with a 0325 show time, so I went to try to get on that flight.   I got on the waiting list, but at show time they told us that this flight would be for freight only.  No passengers.

The next flight to AA was on Wednesday, but I thought that was the best I could do, so I decided to look for some temporary billeting.   Unfortunately, the guy I asked, although very nice, directed me to general camp billeting.   It was a long way off, but I found it with the help of a guy in a pickup truck.  When I got there, they told me that I could not get that sort of billeting and that I needed to return to the air terminal and get temporary quarters. 

I asked the woman at billeting how to get back to the terminal.  She very helpfully pointed out the door toward a light shimmering in the pre-dawn gloom through the dust.  She told me to go toward the light and I did.

The Texas barrier below are at AA, but they look the same everywhere.

It is very depressing to walk around these places.  There are lots of sandbags and Texas barriers.  A Texas barrier is one of those concrete free standing walls.  It is like the smaller Jersey barrier you see along roads at airports, but it is around ten feet high.  In the gloom of night, they make you feel very constrained.  I wondered if I would ever get back and mentally kicked myself in the keister for just not staying put.

It was longer walk back w/o the help of the pickup truck guy, but I found my way through the dark and got to the building at about the time it started to get light.

To my surprise, the guys I had come in with still had not left.  They had evidently been having even a more frustrating experience than I had.  While I was walking around Ballad, they were going to the flight line on buses and then coming back.  I was able to get in line again, just as though I had never left, and get on the plane for Kuwait. 

The people at the terminal were very helpful in this bad situation.  Of course, they had taken me off the list when I told them I was going to AA, but they put me back on when I explained my sad story.  I notice the woman suppressed a smile.  I didn’t really mind.  It was kind of funny and I am sure I looked comical.   I had been just about everywhere around the base and in the end I finished exactly where I would have been if I never left.   To me, that was a victory. I was  back on the  bus.

The flight to Kuwait was uneventful.  I arrived and finished processing through just in time to miss the chow hall, which closes at 8 am.  I put myself on the waiting list for a flight to AA.   The next flight had show time of 2035.   I got on w/o incident.  We finally were off at a little past midnight and got to AA around 0200. 

I knew we were back in AA as the back of the C130 opened allowing a cloud of dust to come into the plane.  I caught the shuttle bus back to Camp Ripper.  It is funny how much the old can feels like home. 

Below is our new office space.

We are also out of the tents and back in the offices.  My office is actually very nice now.  They put in central air and plugged up a lot of holes, so the dust doesn’t get in as easily.   The office where my colleagues sit now has a couple of Plexiglas windows, so they have some natural light.

Below is my new office – sweet.

Well, back to the old routine with somewhat better surroundings