Tuesday, June 17, 2008 5:28 AM
Home, Finally Got Hookup
so gettin' out was an experience in itself. the whole battalion was at the flight line with all their baggage -one over-stuffed duffel, one full ruck, and your assault pack. armor, helmet, sans bullets etc.- two hours before sunset. the choppers don't start flying 'til dark so we, in chalks of twenty or so, kept inching our way towards the landing pad [another pile of sand] for a fair amount of hours. they were flying in groups of four birds at a time. three CH-47 Chinooks -shithooks- and one UH-60 Blackhawk. i ended up on a chinook. these are the dual-rotor helos similar to what you see the president riding in, but stripped on the inside to pack in as many troops as possible. the downdraft from the rotors will knock you over if you're not braced for it. literally. so 'grab your gear and run!' gets interesting when it's pitch black, you can barely stand and you're trying to run through an improvised sand storm with two hundred pounds of baggage. not to mention my scrawny self lost about fifteen pounds of chris what with two months of 110+ heat, two meals a day and no constructive exercise.
i was sitting on the right side of the chopper with my back to the wall. the pilot took off straight to the right so i essentially went straight up and backwards. just snatched it off the ground. it was a cool sensation, especially when i realized that they hadn't closed the rear of the helicopter. they left the ramp down -it's pitch black anyway- and when we cleared the takeoff area the crew chief walked out to the end of the ramp and plopped down w/ his legs dangling over into nothing. i was near the back so it was cool to see iraq go by beneath me.
balad is a short flight. i think we spent two nights there. i ran into a guy at a bus stop there that i used to work with at the bike shop when i was in high school. i got to see Indiana Jones on the big screen there. stoopid air force, they have everything.
we flew to kuwait on another C-130 -super uncomfortable, so i just tried to sleep for the hour or so. bussed to another base there. being back in kuwait was like being in an oven full of sand that's so windy you don't know which way is up. i did see a city from the plane so, much to my surprise [not really] people do live there. two days there being nocturnal.. flew to Leipzig, Germany for refueling. germany has lots of novelty items like green grass and fresh air and faucets you can drink from... no, that's how it should be. why couldn't they give us those two days in germany??
our first stop on US soil was bangor, maine. i didn't bother to tell anyone when i might be showing up since they had given us what i perceived to be a 365-day window on when we might actually get home. so, of course, first chance off the plane call ma--
'oh, yeah, they called us yesterday and said you'd be home. i'm working. here, talk to your sister.'
--just teasin' ma, it wasn't that bad.
it's nice to be home. i guess i'm still sort of adjusting but it's been mostly relaxing.
no more sand fleas, no more mosquitos or spiders in the bed. no more constant stream of arabic- 'Mista! Mista!' no more incoming mortars or rocket attacks... yeah, i think i can get used to this.
as for how they kept us busy as we were getting ready to leave, i had written this on one sweatily frustrating afternoon and this is the first time this computer has been connected since--
..so i've been doing a lot of constructive and important stuff around here lately. we've been cleaning out the connexes - the big metal containers that go on the freighter ships, i could park my truck in one. we empty them out, look at it for a while, then put it all back in, in no particular order. it makes sense because the best way to get something clean is to take it out and set it in the sand on a windy day. i like doing it because it makes sense, it accomplishes a lot, it's easy -moving heavy shit around in the hot sun usually is- and the ultimate goal is achieved with the quickness of this rocket-scienceesque planning and execution. i also certainly have nothing better to do. like talking to my friends and family. or reading this book my father sent me -nice pick dad, it's a lot better than the last one i bought. if we were still running missions that would be one thing, but this makes about as much sense as spinning around as fast as i can w/ my forehead on a baseball bat and sprinting off to yonder sand dune like it had a 'beer heer' sign on top of it. i havn't tried that yet but there are some baseball bats in the container and it certainly couldn't kill any more brain cells than the army already has.
if you don't know, all of the official nomenclature for our equipment starts with an M 'cus M stands for arMy.
love you all, thanks for staying in touch. it helped.
everyone think happy thoughts for jimmy. he's already been there for too long.