Thursday, January 31, 2008

Goodbye Iraq

Goodbye Iraq... two words I sometimes thought I would never say soon enough. A couple nights ago, as we lay around the tent watching movies and playing games a large boom echoed across the base. We all whooped and hollered. Shortly after, the alarms went off we heard the Giant Voice proclaim, "Exercise, Exercise... this is only a drill."

Relieved that we were completely safe, we went back to our movies and games as a few more booms shook the ground beneath us... I don't think they told Hadji is was just a drill.

Last night I was awoken at 2am and told we were leaving a full day earlier than expected. I got up a few hours later, crammed all my clothes, sleeping bag and computer into my bags and tossed them into the back of the 5-ton and walked to the air terminal for out processing.

Many of us were leaving on an earlier plane and several others would follow several hours later. Though there was a chill in the air, I decided to tough it out and pack my jacket. Kuwait is not a long flight and we would be there long before the chill of the night... or so I thought.

Everything was going as planned, which is when we should have expected something was amiss. We got the order to pick up our gear and head onto the flight line. Our plane had just landed and was ready to board. The back of the Japanese C-130 lowered and we smiled. We were chomping at the bit, waiting for the signal to proceed. The heavy bags were not so heavy and as the airman approached, we started a slow shuffle to the plane... right up until the time he stopped us and said our flight was canceled.

We could see the plane, 100 yards away on the flight line under a chilly, slightly overcast day. Many words of disappointment and anger were expressed as we turned and carried our packs back to the holding tent. This time, the bags seemed to weigh a ton. We are vagrants, transients; like Tom Hanks in 'Terminal', we have no where to go. For as long as it takes, we stay at the flight terminal, waiting for a ride to join the rest of our brothers who are already in Kuwait.

As the hours drudged by, the weather got worse. The wind picked up and the flaps of the tent slap loudly in the wind. Dust and sand spray in through holes, tears and openings and create a smokey feel to the place. The weather is turning bad, just as the pilots said it would. The air is turning cold and my jacket and sweater are packed, strapped and locked down somewhere out by the flight line.

So, for a few more hours I hold on. For a few more hours I continue to make memories here in Iraq.