Apparently leaving Iraq is just as difficult as spending 10 months there. Two nights ago, we finally left for the helicopter pad to catch a flight out. continuing with one of the oldest army traditions, we sat around for about 3 hours before hearing that out flight was cancelled. About ten minutes later, we were informed that the flight was cancelled, but ‘not officially,’ prompting us to immediately spring into action and continue sitting in the rocks and heat for another six hours. Flipping off common sense when it came time to eat was the only thing that surpassed this blatant disregard for logic. Most of us had gone well over eight hours without a meal, which might not sound bad, but when you consider how fast your body burns it’s energy in high heat and moderate humidity, it became quite an urgent matter fairly quickly. Since we had a minimum of two hours before the possibility of leaving, sending people to get food seemed like a decision that most third-graders wouldn’t balk at. The way it was handled made it seem like we were orchestrating a lunar landing, and, despite my cast caloric reserves, I am certain that I came close to death.
We left the landing zone (LZ) around 4 am, and returned to our previously vacated tents. After sleeping all day, not knowing when we would be departing, we were informed in a 5 pm formation that we would be heading out in a few short hours. After a few minor military stumblings and much waiting, my chopper’s wheels left Iraqi soil around 1 a.m. the quick flight to Kuwait was uneventful in nature, but the chopping rotors lack of available conversation made me close my eyes and reminisce about the years I have dumped into the army and Iraq, I was grateful for my safety and the friends I have made. Corporal Spidey, Specialist Diablo-Cono, and Specialist Noshow have been here with me through this tour as well as the 04-05 debacle, and without them I would not have stayed as positive or happy. We rode out on a Chinook, and the ramp on the back was left open. This gave the rear of the chopper the appearance of one of the slack-jawed morons it was transporting, and allowed me to gaze nostalgically into the Iraqi night. The superheated exhaust blurred our camp’s billion-dollar lighting system into obscurity as I inched away from Iraq for the last time.
Sadly, the rampant idiocy followed us to Kuwait. Within minutes of arriving at our temporary camp here, some of the dim bulbs we sent ahead to secure things here were telling me how I had to be awake in 5 hours to fulfill some Random Army Requirement that involves driving a minivan to transport soldiers to and from the little shops and eateries here.. This sounds like a good idea until you find out the size of the base. From my tent (which is one of the furthest from the center of the base), the shops are about a 2-minute walk if you don’t know where you’re going. Basically, It will take longer to load up the minivan and drive there than it would take to talk, so I am sure my services will be ignored and most likely ridiculed.
I wish I could say that there is silver lining here, but, from the looks of it, we went from one version of purgatory to another. For those of you who have never been to Kuwait, it is nothing but sand as far as the eye can see. Combine that with driving wind and temperatures approaching ‘pre-heat,’ and you can get a tan and windburn just walking to the bathroom. The few amenities of note are completely offset by building frustration and despair. There is wireless internet here, but it is just a tease; you can connect and get a signal, but actually loading a webpage or sending an instant message is too much for it to handle. When I complain about things like this, people usually say “Oh Matty America, you’ve come so far and have so little time left! You are also unusually good-looking, so cheer up.” A deployment is like a mental and physical marathon, and right now I am running on fumes. Even the littlest things set me off, and keeping my cool in the heat is getting harder by the hour. With any luck, only people I like will talk to me for the next few weeks so that I don’t have to start defecating in other people’s sleeping bags to teach them a lesson. Known as a ‘Hot Pocket,’ it is a valuable source of entertainment and a powerful teaching tool. The lesson of ‘don’t fuck with me or I will shit in the little cocoon in which you sleep’ is not one you soon forget.
Recap: done with Iraq, the only thing worse than being stuck in Kuwait is being stuck in Kuwait with a camouflage circus, my tent has dog-sized rats.