Saturday, November 05, 2005

Back in Iraq

I've returned to Iraq from emergency leave, though I have not yet arrived at Camp Fallujah. My leave went as well as could be expected although inevitable delays caused me to miss my step-fathers viewing and funeral. Unfortunately, Marine Air is not a guaranteed form of delivery in or out of theater. When a passenger travels "Space A" (space available), he competes for a seat with other Marines, sailors and soldiers, as well as cargo, equipment and other goods. Despite the fact that emergency leave recipients are supposed to have priority, my fellow emergency leave recipients (3 Marines and 1 Sailor) were bumped off of several flights for one reason or another and did not arrive home until 5 days after we started out travel.

Our trip home took us through a series of airfields and landing zones, all traveled in the hours of darkness. One of the legs of travel took us into Baghdad, the only excitement of our journey. As we approached the city, we were greeted by small arms fire, punctuated by the glow of tracer rounds. The pilots reacted suddenly, catching us off-guard and pitching the helicopter into a sharp bank downward and starboard. The door gunners remained unfazed by the incident and didn't even attempt to return fire. As soon as it started, it was over.

The return trip to Iraq has been quite similar - having been bumped off of several flights, I am in a holding pattern at Al Asad Air base, northwest of the city of Hit. Fortunately, LtCol. Tim Crowley is keeping me entertained and has graciously allowed me to use his computer to check email and write this post. I hope to catch a flight out of here tonight for Camp Fallujah, although I will not hold my breath. I've been bumped 2 nights in a row and a 3rd may be forthcoming.

I am residing in the transient tent located yards from the Al Asad airstrip. Also living in the tent are Marines and soldiers from various units, all awaiting transportation out of theater or to other FOBs or bases in Iraq. The tent is large and fairly comfortable, with wooden pallets for flooring and portable heaters located inside the tent. Since my departure 2 weeks ago, the weather has changed and I have returned to a more seasonal climate with balmy days and chilly evenings. Were it not for the fact that I "appropriated" a blanket and pillow from my Northwest Airlines flight, I'd be shivering uncomfortably at night. Far from a field environment, it is still somewhat less than ideal. Being located so close to the airstrip, the roar of the engines of C-5's, C-17's, F-18's, E-8 Prowlers and various helicopters throughout the night keeps the evening air alive with noise. There's nothing quite like the sound of the afterburners from a Marine fighter launching skyward at 3 a.m. It is the sound of freedom, however, and I shouldn't complain.

I've got a few loose ends to wrap up at Camp Fallujah before heading westward with 2nd Marine Division. Tim and I will attempt to "blitz" the Division in a quick 2-week effort of collections. Stay posted.


ET said...

Sorry for your loss and the inability to get home in time for the funeral. Hope you made the most of your remaining time with family and friends. I appreciate your sacrifices for your country.

MissBirdlegs in AL said...

Ditto the above! I appreciate all you do and am sorry there are sacrifices that must be made. Hope you get the flight you're needing.

Beth* A. said...

It doesn't seem quite right to say 'glad you're back', due to where you're 'back' to and also due the solemn reason you had to leave, but I guess 'glad you are back to posting on this blog' would be acceptable. Hope so, anyway. Stay safe and thank you so much for your service to our country!

Anonymous said...

I'm also sorry to hear of your loss.

My bro came home from Al Asad at about the same time you were deployed, LCpl Philip Johnson with CLB-2.

How can I send you a care package?

Let me know my email(backwards to avoid spambots) moc.liamg@nosnhoj.gniliem