"Not the victory but the action. Not the goal but the game.
In the deed the glory."

Monday, August 07, 2006

Boondoggle over Baghdad

Here is the Latest Article from Rebecca Santana. She makes a pretty good point that we all forget here sometimes. It is easy to get down or complain about little things, when it is important to remember that people are giving their lives to support this effort.

I got to take an interesting trip this past week to the fabulous city of Baghdad. It was for a 2 day legal conference, AKA Boondoggle. I was surprised to learn that Boondoggle was in such widespread use, I had assumed this to be a ConAgra term that Kris had made up, but it appears it has permeated to Iraq as well. The conference was okay, most was boring, a few good speakers. We heard from LTG Chiarelli (a 3 star in charge of a good portion of the troops here) on the secretarian violence in Baghdad and what they are doing to stop it.
This is a picture from the Blackhawk (UH-60) that we flew on. It was a nice 30 minute flight from Anaconda to Camp Victory. We flew with the windows open and about a 100 feet off the ground. It was my first ride in a helicopter and much better and safer then taking a convoy. The pics from the air didn't turn out as well as I had hoped, they are a little blurry.
This is the palace of Al Faw. It is a site of a victory by Iraq over Iran in their war in the 80s. Saddam didn't hang out here too much, but Udai and Quasi had hunting parties up here. It is approx 45,000 square feet. The lakes are all man made. It is now office space for the US Army.
This chair was a gift to Saddam from Yassar Arafat. Our tour guide said they weren't sure how it ended up here in this palace. SGT Sauvageu is a legal nco from Minnesota.
This is the big chandelier that hangs in the foyer. Pretty impressive, except for it is plastic. The columns are pretty cool as well. They are made of 1/2 inch marble instead of the more standard 4 inch to save money. Much of the palace looks very nice but is actually very cheaply made. They think it will be un-livable within 25 years. The Army has pumped a bunch of money into it to improve the structural quality.
This is the "deck" outside. There were decks/patios all along the outside.
The entrance to the palace.
PFC Blackstad, me, MAJ Hagen, and SPC Dumbauld on our way out of Baghdad.
Our ride home. The blackhawks always fly in pairs. The only negative of the trip was waiting around for 4 hours for my flight back.


Anonymous said...

Looking good steve. Youve got another great story to share with Mr. Ben when you get back. Stay motivated.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking and sharing cool pictures while you're there. It's good to see what things are like over there. I think you've got a lot of people living vicariously through you.

By the way, I was at your old stomping grounds this weekend. Remember Victory Tower? They just graduated the largest class ever on Friday.


Sack said...

Maybe the largest but certainly not the best. That was the B 2/39 Bulldogs! I found the Victory Tower on Google Earth! Good times, good times.