My mission is to go through the wickets here to get onto the Freedom Flight (a charter flight for military and civilian personnel transiting to/from theater), fly to Georgia (USA), out process through CRC at Ft Benning, and fly home to San Diego in time to go to Dave’s SEAL Team 7 Christmas party on the 6th. It’s quite a goal.
Back in Iraq, I spent a few days packing, sending things home, and tying up loose ends to prepare for my departure. I am flying home ahead of the rest of my team to provide forward liaison. My company’s employees are flying home via military airlift, so there are some protocols that must be followed. In other words, mil air is a pain in the ass, so I’m acting as guinea pig.
Flying home from Iraq via mil air requires catching a flight to Ali Al Saleem Air Base in Kuwait, waiting around, and then catching a “Freedom Flight” to the East Coast. The thing about all that is, if you miss a single muster while waiting for your flight home, you won’t go home. Freedom Flights depart Kuwait once a week, so if you miss a muster and can’t hop the flight, you have to wait an entire week, doing nothing in Kuwait in a loud, horrible, obnoxious transient tent.
There is usually a muster Saturday morning, and there are no flights (embassy flights aboard USAF aircraft) from Baghdad to Kuwait on Thursdays. Waiting until Friday to hop an embassy flight is dangerous, because if an aircraft goes down for maintenance, the delay could result in missing the Freedom Flight and having to wait a week for the next one. With no flights on Thursdays, the only way to get a buffer is to fly to Kuwait on Wednesday. Flying on Wednesday means waiting around in Kuwait for WAY too long for the Freedom Flight. So here I am.
Ali Al Saleem has a very good MWR, some fast food joints (KFC, McDonald’s, Subway, Green Bean, Hole-N-One Donuts), a fairly decent DFAC, a gym, and a beauty salon (where I had a blow-out this morning and will go for a pedicure tonight). There’s also a whole horde of TCN’s here selling jewelry, sports apparel, leather goods, perfumes, moo-moos, electronics, and all sorts of crap that is made in India or China but not Iraq or Kuwait. The MWR loans out DVDs, shows movies on a big TV, has a whole bunch of gaming stations and internet kiosks, and has a phone center. The free internet is slow as crap and doesn’t allow MSN chat, but there is a $5/hour pay internet center that does.
I went to the MWR when I arrived here, hoping to send an email home and place a call to the office to let people know I had arrived safely. Well, when I walked in, I immediately bumped into LtCol Bill Seely, a friend of mine from the 11th MEU. When I deployed with him in 1998, he was a capt/major, and I was a lt/capt. He looks exactly the same, and he has had all sorts of amazing experiences since then. We both had a lot of stories to share. The funny thing is, he lives in Okinawa, and there is a TV program on there that co-stars yours truly. Haha. It’s a reality show filmed during my 2003 drive around the world. Check out http://www.drivearoundtheworld.com/ for expedition details (LONGITUDE Expedition), and check out the National Geographic show’s website at http://www.odysseyshow.com/. The series is airing everywhere except the USA, and it has an audience of some 65 million or so! It was cool that one of my friends has seen it. Heck, I haven’t even seen it!!!
So, that’s about it for now. I’ve lots more blogging to do to catch up, and, luckily, I have the time right now. Let’s hope I also have the inclination!
Pictures will follow, hopefully soon.