A quick post today. It was 140F yesterday, the hottest weather I've ever been in! That was the recorded temperature in direct sunlight. The temperature in the shade was 123F, and last night, it was a cool 103F outside. Nice and cozy, eh?
And we always forget to adjust the air conditioning in our tent for nighttime, so it's always 65F inside...a big temperature drop! No wonder I'm getting sick right now. My body is going WTF?!
As I post this, the planet Venus is crossing in front of the sun. This has never been witnessed by anyone currently alive, since the last time was 1882. I'm sure most of y'all have read about this in the paper...
Sorry for the lack of posts. I started my SAT-COM training this week (Satellite Communications). Last weekend I went to a waterslide park in Kuwait City, and I will try and get some pics up soon.
I will be going into Iraq very shortly, but I can't tell just yet. I will post the day before I go, as it may be a while before I can post again.
More to come...
I leave in just a few hours. I have to get up at 04:00 and meet up with the group so we can caravan to an air base. From there, it's a C-130 flight up to Baghdad (yippee). After a week of stay there, I will make my way to my final site...but things are always changing out here. I am hoping I won't get stuck in Baghdad for too long, but have a feeling I will.
The timing couldn't have been better, eh? Visiting Baghdad right before the June 30th deadline. I know I'll be fine. It's just uncomfortable not knowing what's going to happen next.
Well, I am now at Camp Victory, Baghdad. The flight up here yesterday was pretty cool. I took a C-130 flight from Kuwait up to Baghdad International Airport (or what's left of it).
We had several mortars this morning (including two that flew right over my tent). Pretty nuts up here. Nobody was hurt, but I don't know if there is any damage to anything yet.
There are some real differences between Kuwait and Iraq. One, Iraq isn't as hot (temperature-wise). Two, there are trees and vegetation everywhere, mainly thanks to the Tigris river nearby. This is one very old part of our world (Babylon is just an hour away).
Of course, the other difference is the threat condition is much higher here. I still feel safe, although those mortars were pretty crazy.
I'm going to try and post as often as I can, since I won't know when I'll be able to do so. If you don't hear from me, don't worry, it's probably because I won't have access to the internet...nothing otherwise.
I'll try and get some pictures up here soon. I still haven't finished up with all the Kuwait pics. For example, last weekend I went paintballing.
(Older picture: getting ready to leave Arifjan, Kuwait, and head into Iraq)
Here's some pictures from the flight over...
View from inside the C-130...
A view from inside the cabin. In the background you can see an airman in flak armor, sitting in a swing seat, looking out the window. There is also a guy on the right (out of view). Their main job is to watch for incoming missiles or RPGs.
Now flying into Iraq. C-130s are decent sized planes, and can maneuver very well for something so large. I wasn't allowed to take a picture of the outside of a C-130, but you can find a photo online somewhere. Close to landing, we banked so hard I was stuck in my seat, like a damn rollercoaster!
So this is my second day at Camp Victory. Victory is about a 15 minute drive to downtown Baghdad, and I just realized that my tent is right on the damn base perimeter! Fun stuff, eh? No wonder I always hear weird things at night.
This is my new tent...just like the last one. Only difference is a small wall of sandbags to protect against mortar blasts. Speaking of which, there were several mortars again this morning, but none came close.
This is one of Saddam's many palaces here. The whole thing is surrounded by a man-made lake, and it looks like there are other houses nearby, probably for his closest cabinet members.
It's pretty difficult to get pictures online here, so I may not get any more for a while.
I went to the pool today, also one of Saddam's. The pool is large, and moon-shaped, with a diving board at one end. I'll try and get a picture of that too.
This is a poor photo of a bat flying at night.
As expected, my transportation out of here has been delayed for an unknown ammount of time. In the meanwhile, I figured I should enjoy whatever there is up here. So my friends and I found the local pools.
This is the "moon-shaped" pool I mentioned in an earlier post. It reminds me of something I would've seen at the Wild Animal Park, back in San Diego.
This is the Aussie pool. Located across the pond is where the Australians seem to kick it, so we thought it would be fun to check out their hangouts.
The pool has a great view of Saddam's Palace (well, one of his palaces)...
I saw these reliefs carved into one of the buildings...
Part of this area was a zoo (more like a game park). This was a bat sanctuary, before the pigeons took over. Saddam also had an alligator pit, no longer in use.
On a personal note here, the food is really starting to suck! I'd rather eat MREs than what they've got at the chow hall. Speaking of eating, mosquitos are starting to take their toll on me, so it's time to break out the bug repellant.
We've had mortar attacks every day that I've been here, and a loud explosion early this morning. Also there's a fire to the north, dropping black ashes on the ground. It feels really weird to be up here, right in the middle of Iraq, the farthest away from home I've ever been.
That's it for today. I'll post more cool stuff as it unfolds...
Today I went to Camp Slayer, to see more of Saddam's empire. I was fortunate to meet up with another friend from Camp Doha, and we drove over to the other base to check out the sites. The photo above is supposedly where Saddam kept his harem. I'll leave it at that.
Similar to Camp Victory's palaces, this is one of several sites overlooking a large artificial lake, and this photo is of another Presidential Palace. As you can see, it took substantial damage when we bombed the property, and we are now in the process of restoring it.
This is a fireplace in one of the buildings on the property. Saddam built many guest houses for his closest friends, located at various points around the lakes, and furnished them with, uh, interesting luxuries.
This is some mystery network cable that Jeff found...Where the hell does it go?
This is what everyone here is affectionately calling the Flinstones House. Supposedly, this was built as a playground for children. Here are some photos in and around...
We went back to Camp Victory after lunch. This is another one of Saddam's Presidential Palaces, on the other side of Victory I hadn't been to yet. It also received a whupin'.
Yep, we got more mortars today...probably the most I've heard all week. Something like a dozen or more incoming, and it's crazy because nobody seems to notice them anymore! It's just business as usual.
Speaking of mortars, some of you might want to see what our bunkers look like. To be honest, I don't really use them. Nobody does!
Well, it looks like our prayers have been answered, and we are leaving tomorrow. Again, it may be a while before I post anything, but who knows?
More to come...
Our Blackhawk, coming in for a landing to pick us up.
I have finally arrived at my jobsite, Al Kut Camp Delta. We left Camp Victory in Baghdad just as things were really starting to get crazy. My friend emailed me, saying his C-130 took six hits in the tail, and the plane before him was the one with the civilian casualty I'm sure you've read in the news by now. I'm glad to have gotten out of there, although I had a good time catching up with some coworkers I met when I stayed at Camp Doha.
Below are some photos from the flight out of BIAP (Baghdad International Airport), to Al Kut Camp Delta.
Note the M-60s on the side...pretty badass!
Flying out of Baghdad International Airport. The signs "Saddam International Airport" were torn down and the site is being rennovated for commercial use eventually.
Flying over the countryside...
As you can see, Iraq is not a harsh desert like one would imagine in this part of the world, although western Iraq is much drier. This is due to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers that flow down the central part of the country.
We landed in Al Kut, and the Army dropped us off right on the flight line. We now had to hook up with our new battalion and find our living quarters.
Al Kut is controlled by the Ukraine Armed Forces, along with Poland and Romania. Things are very different here, and the quality of life is not as good as with the US Army. I have a lot of adjusting to make, and I have to take it one day at a time. I'm just glad that I made the most of my time in Kuwait.
I'll get some pictures of Al Kut up soon...