Saturday, August 18, 2007

CRC living quarters. Nice sunset, eh?
Well, so here we go, finally. I know, I know. You are all angry with me for not blogging. Well, I apologize. CRC didn’t allow access to blogs, and ditto for our systems here at work. Yep, I am now in Baghdad. And speaking of Ditto…

We, my new friend and coworker Melissa and I, spent a week together in Columbus, Georgia, the swamp ass capitol of the world and home to Fort Benning. Why is it the swamp ass capitol of the world? Well, I am not certain it has been officially bestowed with that title, but I doubt anyone who has been there during the summertime would disagree that it is a fitting moniker.

It is HOT in Georgia. I mean to tell you, it is STICKY HOT. Sweaty hot. Nasty, icky, disgusting, sweat-in-the-shower hot. It was so hot there that I just could not WAIT to get to Iraq so I could enjoy the hotness of Baghdad. You see, in Georgia, the humidity makes you sweat as soon as you step outdoors, and you stay soaking wet until you can get inside and cool down. In Baghdad, the temperature is hotter than in Georgia, but, as they say, it is a dry heat. You sweat, but the dry air dissipates moisture and keeps you feeling halfway human half of the time. Georgia offers no relief.

Anyway, now I have begun to bore myself. I think you get the point. Georgia is hot and miserable. Moving on.
The Gazebo, where most of the socializing at CRC takes place.
Back to, “and speaking of Ditto.” CRC is a total suckfest, but the one good thing I can say about it is that we at least got to meet some really great people. Every evening after each long day of “hurry up and wait”, large numbers of our “classmates” would congregate outside under the smoking gazebos to drink, tell lies, and, well, smoke ‘em if they got ‘em. I didn’t smoke, but I did drink beer, and I did engage in the telling of tall tales. We met all kinds of awesome folks, including an Army sergeant, female type, with the last name of Ditto (ah, finally, the correlation). I’ll accidentally leave somebody out and regret it if I try to list all the wonderful civilians and soldiers we met, so just believe me when I tell you we made a lot of wonderful friends, and I am glad at least a few of them will be hanging out here at Camp Victory.

CRC, by the way, is the CONUS Replacement Center, which is a sort of hub for individuals and units deploying to and redeploying from theaters such as Iraq and Afghanistan. That includes military individual replacements, active duty, guard, civilians…you name it. Everybody who goes to Iraq has to have a Common Access Card (CAC), and CRC is where you get them. CRC is actually mandatory even for those who already possess a CAC card. By the way, I do realize that CAC card is redundant (common access card card), but just calling it a CAC (pronounced “cack”) seems vulgar. “Let me check your CAC,” and, “I need to go back to my tent and grab my CAC,” are phrases that can be unsettling if you don’t tack “card” onto the end of them. The rule is, anybody who has been out of theater for more than 30 days has to go through CRC again.

At CRC, we learn interesting skills such as sleeping with our eyes open, how to complain openly and often, and how to fill out forms for official records that will never actually be filed. Seriously, though, I suppose parts of CRC are useful. I don’t know which parts, but some of them must be. Last time I did CRC, at Ft Bliss, Texas, I at least thought the first aid and hostage rescue classes were interesting. I didn’t find anything interesting this time, though. I was mildly interested in what people were buying off the roach coach during breaks, but only mildly. And I was vaguely interested in seeing what new flavors of MREs they had come up with since I last checked.

After a week of the famously boring Army harassment package that is CRC, we were all pleased to finally get out of Georgia and on our way to Kuwait.

We boarded our chartered flight at 2300 EST on Friday, 10 Aug, and we were rolling by 2315. At least they know how to board planes efficiently in the Army! The sergeant major and personnel in charge of the movement were really sharp and very good. (I must also say that the cadres in charge of us at CRC were good, too, for the most part.) At 2315 and 30 seconds, I heard a thunk sound, followed by, “Medic!” It was hot as crap on the plane, and someone had gone down. That meant a delay while they checked him out to ensure he was ok to fly. In the meantime, we sat and stewed in our own sweat, since the aircraft couldn’t really crank on the A/C until we were airborne.

Liquor at the airport in Leipzig, Germany. We won't be allowed to have booze until we arrive back in the U.S. so it was just there to taunt us...not that I wanted any, anyway...

We finally took off at 2320. It was hot and sweaty for two hours, and then it was absolutely freezing. I put on my blindfold and my earplugs and slept all the way to Leipzig, Germany, 8+ hours away from, and twenty degrees cooler than Georgia. We spent about an hour or so there refueling before taking off for the final six-hour leg to Kuwait. We arrived in Kuwait at 2203 local time Saturday night, then we did the requisite waiting around, bus ride, waiting, baggage unloading, waiting, and manifesting until early morning Sunday. We were very lucky to catch the next flight out of there, landing at Baghdad International Airport, military side, at 1105 local time on 12 Aug. I seriously thought we would be stuck in Kuwait for a number of days waiting for a flight, but we got lucky.

And there ends this blog session. Pictures follow. Stay tuned for news from Camp Victory.

Baggage we unloaded at Ali Al Saleem in Kuwait.

Dust in the air reflects my camera flash. I forgot about that. Only photos taken without a flash will turn out in this dusty crap hole.

The airfield in Kuwait. Those hangars in the background are bombed out and crumbling, but they are still in use as offices, or something.

Mustering before getting on the bus that would take us to the flight line. Look at the nasty civilians. I'm one of those, now. And I love it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yo - like your blog - I am headed to Iraq in September - any advice - do I need a visa?

Sunday, August 22, 2010 2:43:00 PM  

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