Before now poetry has taken notice
Of wars, and what are wars but politics
Transformed from chronic to acute and bloody?
from "Build Soil"
Robert Frost

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Welcome Back

Welcome to Baghdad, ladies and gentlemen”, the pilot said. The attendant opened the hatch, and the scent of burning garbage reached through and tickled my nose. I was back in Iraq. I flew up on a Gryphon Airways plane, direct from the Kuwait City airport. That meant a few hours of waiting at the airport after leaving my hotel, rather than a day or two waiting at the main air force base for a military flight. I also got to fly on a normal passenger plane, instead of stuffed into the back of a hot, cramped C-130. I’ll take that trade any day.

I spent the next 4 hours waiting again- this time for the RINO, which is a big armored black bus. It looks like a prison wagon, and I can’t imagine it would fare much better in case of an IED. The route into the International Zone was along the infamous Route Irish- at one time listed as the most dangerous road in the world. Now, route clearance checks the road before the RINOs move along it. As we left the gate, I saw an RG pulling in, and I was suddenly homesick for the road, and for my old truck “Roadrunner”. Our RG took more abuse than ever intended- we blew the engine out of her twice, and blew the entire front end nearly off once. We replaced every single window in her at least twice. The guys before us blew off the back axle. That was a truck whose creaks and rattles I trusted utterly, unlike the RINO I took bumping down the road last night.

While I was waiting for the RINO to come, I spent a fair bit of time talking to a British Aegis Corp. contractor. Aegis is like the British version of Blackwater, without the allegations of shooting civilians. He was former British military; I mentioned that I had deployed to Iraq before, doing the ‘ol route clearance. He said “Oh, so you were the crazy nutters in those big trucks!”. Indeed we were. I was crazy enough to come back again. The Specialist with the press center that came to pick me up asked if I’d ever been to Iraq before; I explained a little of my history, and he asked if I’d brought my pipe along with me, because he wanted a hit. So there you go- not everyone feels that pull to come back. I bet he misses it a little after a few months home, though.


  1. Welcome to the IZ! Home to overpaid contractors, effeminate staff officers, and various T-walls mixed in with Saddam-era architecture that honored the greatest person ever in his mind, Saddam. Enjoy your stay! (FYI The Embassy DFAC has the best food).

  2. Anonymous7/2/08 02:06

    Be careful over there. You know.

  3. I look forward to reading your reports, just like old times, stay safe my friend.

  4. You take care of yerself over there, TD...

  5. The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 02/07/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

  6. Ah... the smell of burning garbage - I'll bet that took you back.

    Look forward to hearing more. Take care.

  7. Yea, lookin' forward to reading about the way things are over there.

  8. So I saw Angelina Jolie is in Baghdad too. Perfect for, uh... an interview. ;)

  9. Anonymous7/2/08 21:09

    Take care. God bless you!
    Donna, Los Osos

  10. My husband smokes from the same pipe, apparently. Everyone thought he was crazy for trading orders with a guy. The guy gave my husband a case of beer and his Iraq orders...and my husband thought he'd gotten the good end of the deal.

    Nice to hear from you. I'll check back.

    Sarah (we met in Vegas, remember?)

  11. Anonymous10/2/08 18:29

    Bless you. And, thank you for turning on the full feed. Looking forward to reading more.

  12. Funny how smells bring on memories. I'm looking forward to more stories complete with with your wit and wisdom.