December 27, 2008

Holidays in Al-Hillah

We had an unexpected visitor to the Al-Hillah Regional Embassy Offices, where the PRT is located. At 8:30am I was informed that MNF-I Commanding General Odierno had arrived and, after a brief ceremony with the military unit that is our neighbor, wanted to meet the PRT within 15 minutes. I set about rousting those not already awake, got the keys to our conference room and we pulled together about 20 people to meet with him. Al-Hillah was one of eight stops Gen. Odierno made that day visiting troops and PRTs.

As you can see from the photos below, he arrived and departed with a Santa hat emblazoned with 4 stars. Many of the contractors and local employees were tickled to be able to have a photo taken with him, making it a special Christmas moment.

Some of us were dressed in old track outfits about to run a 5K race, but he didn't seem to notice -- or was too polite to say anything. In any event, it turns out that Gen. Odierno grew up in Rockaway, NJ, just a few miles away from my home town of Boonton. He graduated a year behind me, same class as my sister. Small world.

I survived the 5K race and ate lots of great food, shrimp and prime rib, both rarely seen in Al-Hillah. All in all, it was a good Christmas, if you have to be away from family. Many persons serving in Iraq have spent multiple Christmas holidays away from home, so I have been fortunate over the years.

1 comment:

David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 12/31/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.