Quick update on the pledge drive in support of Fisher House. Thanks to David, the Duty Officer over at The Sandbox, who put my original post up on his site a day or so ago, I'm now at 140% of my goal. Outstanding! I think I need to set a new goal, but I'm not sure what a good number would be. If you have any suggestions leave a comment. I'm simply amazed at the power of community and all of the many, many supporters of me and my fellow soldiers there are. You guys are the best.
This is a pretty awesome link up at Blackfive that you should go check out. It is about a fellow soldier that wrote a letter to his best friend's children after he was killed in action. Gripping post, and another great example why Blackfive is one my daily stops.
Our travels have officially started. We left Anaconda yesterday, and are now in Kuwait. As far as Army travel goes, it actually wasn't too bad. Wake up at 0500, clear the wooden building that we had made our home for the last 3 weeks, have a formation to get accountability, board the bus at 0700, have a few more formations, and then wait. In typical Army fashion, the waiting room had about 30 cots, and there were over 100 of us from HHT alone, so most of us sat outside in the sun and enjoyed the sights, sounds, and smells of Iraq for the last time.
Around 1100 we get on the plane, wait a few minutes more, and then liftoff. There were a few hoops and hollers, as we went wheels up, but not too many as most of us were waiting for the corkscrew maneuver they usually do when leaving/entering Balad. For those of you that haven't had the pleasure of a combat take off, they basically are looking to get airborne as quickly as possible, so it isn't your typical smooth ride. They hit the gas pretty hard, and then make some aggressive turns that leave your stomach in knots. The neighborhood we live in isn't the best, and there is always a worry that the insurgents will find (i.e. buy one from Iran) an RPG and shoot a plane down. Although I think that if they could do it, they would have done it by now. Needless to say it is quite an experience, thankfully this is the last time we have to do it.
We made the approximately hour long flight to Ali Al Saleem, which is where almost all military flights stop in and out of Iraq. The only real delay was on the ground here, we boarded the buses about 1300 and then waited for our bags for about an hour. After that a quick ride to Camp Virginia, our home until we leave theater in a few short days. Offload our baggage in quick fashion, and then a mad scramble for everyone to find their bags. You know how it is always hard to find your bag at the airport because a lot of luggage looks similar? Try finding your duffel and rucksack amidst hundreds of the exact same bag. Always a fun project! Once I had my bag, time to pick out a cot. And then wait. All told, we spent about 11 hours traveling around 300 miles I would guess. Not too shabby for Iraq, in fact if the rest of our travels go as smoothly I for one will be pleasantly surprised.
The weather here is absolutely brutal. We have been fortunate in that Anaconda is up North in the Tigris river valley, and although it is extremely hot and windy, it isn't terrible. Down here it is about 10 degrees hotter, and the real kicker is that the wind is constantly blowing sand all over the place. It is hard to describe what is like, I know I used the sticking your head in an oven to describe Iraq. Kuwait is kindof like sticking your head in an oven while somebody takes sandpaper to your skin while at the same time pouring gravel directly into your eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. Kindof like that. I think if I was stationed here I would have considered putting a bullet in my head. Or at least in the leg. But you have to hit bone, because if you don't and it goes right through muscle, you don't get to go home. Although you may get a short trip to Germany out of it. But enough on that, nobody is going to be shooting any one any time soon, primarily because we don't have any bullets any more.
We'll just be here for a short time, and then off to McCoy. The word on the street is that we'll be there for a few days shorter then we had planned. In fact, the Family Readiness Group back home is already telling our families the date and location we'll arrive home. Of course nobody has told us anything yet, but that is pretty much par for the course. Usually we hear from home what is going on before we get it through official channels, and the info so far has been pretty reliable. The important thing is that we are about 95% done, morale is high, and everyone is ready to jump through whatever hoops we need to in order to get home to our loved ones.