August 14, 2008

It's not easy returning to Iraq!

Timeline of my return after a hiatus in Warsaw, New York, Virginia, Washington DC, and Maine, sharing some special time with family and friends:

Friday, August 9
I made it to Kuwait just fine, although on a slightly longer timeline that I had thought.

The flight from the US, which was scheduled to leave at 5PM, did not depart until 9:54PM, so I had an extra six hours to kill at Dulles. I was able to sleep a good part of the trip, having spent $119 to buy an economy plus seat at the bulkhead. They charge extra now for those seats!

I am ensconced in a lounge at the Crown Plaza for the next 10 hours, and plan to go into the city with a colleague, who used to serve on the Babil PRT.
I have to get up at 3AM to catch the milair flight to Baghdad and then I will be staying in Camp Victory for two days for a conference on civil-military affairs. Then, I'll spend another day in Baghdad doing check in and will be down in Hillah around Aug 15.

August 10 (0400)
Thanks to a traveling contractor, I have a minute on his computer.

I didn't get out of Kuwait today-- missed three planes that broke down or were canceled. Hope to get out on Monday, but may not be able to do so until Tuesday.

My lack of luck with transport seems to have stuck with me for my return to Iraq.

I will probably sleep in a tent this evening here at the Ali Al Salem Air Base in the desert, unless we luck out and get on a flight today by some miracle.

August 11
I am still in Kuwait. Woke up at 4:30am and took a shower.

Yesterday afternoon we sat in the C-130 on the runway and had all four engines started, when one overheated (the temperature outside was 130F) and the mission was canceled.

I will find out this morning if I can get on a plane today, but it looks doubtful. Am told I have a spot on Tuesday's plane, which would get me to Baghdad for the end of the conference. (I had left two days early so as to be able to attend. )

We were also supposed to fly out last night but the mission was canceled. It appears that a lot of planes have been diverted to move the Georgian troops in Iraq back to Georgia.

Time (5:30am) to go to breakfast

August 12 (0130)
Am flying to Baghdad in another two hours -- without my suitcase, which was lost? misplaced? in transit.

August 13 (1600)
I am now in Baghdad.

I need to check what I have down in Hillah. The conference just ended today and I am waiting to hear about when I can get a flight down. The new Division (10th Mtn) that replaced 3rd ID has fewer helos and does not make the same regular runs to Hillah. So, I don't know when I will get a flight down.

The weather code is now red for weather (dust) and the helos won't fly in this weather.

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