Monday, February 13, 2006
Camp Victory Kuwait, a fitting name. For Warrant Officer Fay and myself, it was indeed a small victory, the end of a successful tour in Iraq, both of us leaving Fallujah healthy and filled with memories of a lifetime. Memories that will only be surpassed by our next deployment, wherever that my be.
Camp Victory is our second waypoint between Camp Fallujah and home. The layovers are built into the retrograde for the purpose of mental and physical decompression. Studies conducted on post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have prompted such efforts, Marines and sailors using the opportunity to discuss their experiences and enjoy each others company for the final few days without the worries of leaving the wire, the possibility of striking an IED or being ambushed by an invisible enemy.
The camp is similar in appearance to the military camps in Iraq – Hesco barriers, checkpoints, concertina wire and endless rows of tents. Marines and soldiers mill about the area, waiting for the buses that will ferry them to the airstrip, taking them on the final leg of their journey. Despite the isolation from civilization, the camp has several amenities to keep the Marines busy during their lull in travel. A wonderful USO tent sits in the center of the camp, air conditioned and carpeted. A sign inside the door reads "Please remove your boots - Really!!" Similar to the practice of removing ones shoees before entereing a home in Japan or Hawaii, all Marines entereing the USO take off their boots and store them in little wooden cubby holes ab le to accomodate a hundred pairs of boots and shoes. Marines stroll the USO in uniform and stocking feet, a funny sight for all to see. Free internet terminals sit off to one side of the USO, the very spot I sit writing this post. Situated inside a large quonset hut, it is filled it with furniture typically found at Ikea, comfortable sofas scattered about; large soft pillows piled high in the center of the room. Weary Marines lie peacefully among the pillows, dreaming of their impending reunion with family and sweethearts. Free coffee and internet service is available, and lazy boy lounge chairs provide comfortable seating areas in front of several large screen TV’s, movies running all day long. We sit in the lap of luxury.
The rest of the camp is typical – the remainder of the area containing the KBR chow hall, AT&T telephone centers and Haji-marts, those small local trinket stands where Marines have the last opportunity to spend their hard earned money on tacky plastic camels and Arabic headdresses.
Waiting for a flight has never been so pleasant. I’ll take Camp Victory over Dulles International Airport anytime!