July 3rd 2006
IRAQ, FIRST IMPRESSIONS ---
That being said, I will catch you all up on what I’ve been doing for the past few weeks. I waited a long time to write, because I wanted my next entry to be in Iraq. Bear with me guys, this will probably be a long entry.
I arrived in Iraq three days ago on a C-130 cargo plane. We
were strapped into webb seats, the ones that the Airborne
soldiers use and you see in movies- they run parallel to the
plane. It was about an hour and ½ flight from Kuwait, and was
very loud. We just wore our earplugs and made faces at each
other because it was really too loud to talk, but in he back
of our minds (my mind anyway), we knew we were going to
Before I get too far into talking about Iraq though, let me first tell you a little about my first experiences in the Middle East: Kuwait. My trip there was a 3-day journey that started with a 20-hour bus ride from Mississippi to Wisconsin: that was actually the worst part. I arrived in Kuwait on the 19th of June, and stayed for about 10 days.
Probably the most interesting part of the desert for me was the heat. When people say that the heat in the desert is “like an oven,” they are telling the truth. That is the best way I can describe 130-degree heat. When I stepped off the plane the heat felt exactly like when you check on your cake in the oven. It rushes at you and sucks the moisture out of your mouth, and you think to yourself, “my body is cooking.”
Really though, it only took a few days to get used to it. I surprised myself by not being too bothered by it. It was really a good thing that we spent some time in Kuwait though, because Iraq is significantly cooler (by about 15-20 degrees), and doesn’t seem unusual at all.
In Kuwait, we really didn’t do a whole lot of
training; we actually had a lot of down time. The biggest
things we did were: 1. a 3-day field exercise (no showers-
ew!) that included close-quarters live firing and convoy
training, and 2. HMMWV rollover training (they actually
flipped us over in a HMMWV and we had to crawl out). I
can’t really describe the training in much more detail
because of security reasons, but always in my blog, I will
tell you guys as much as I can.
Ok. So I’ve explained Kuwait. Now I am at Camp Anaconda in Iraq. My first impressions are good, as I’ve come from a “worse,” place. For example, here there are trees (palm trees, even pine!), and lots of birds, and in Kuwait there was only sand. It’s cooler here, and it’s a bigger base, so in theory, there should be more to do. The downers would be that here, the base gets attacked by mortars several times per day. Usually no one gets injured, and they have a good warning system here that basically tells you to get down on the ground if one is incoming. It can be nerve-racking though. Also, there aren’t as many supplies here at the Post Exchange (a Wal-Mart for service members), because its harder to transport them up here. Needless to say I will be doing a lot of online shopping.
The best part about my being here though is my job. Of course I don’t know exactly how it will be yet, but the unit that is leaving is showing us the ropes and telling us how they’ve done it. They split up their unit into teams and each team was responsible for covering media in different sections of the country. If we follow their lead, it looks like I will be traveling about one half of the year and get to see basically as much of Iraq as I wish. In other words, if I want to travel “outside the wire,” I can as long as I have a story.
As a journalist, my schedule will be exciting, and mostly set by me as long as I’m getting my stories done. We’ve gotten a running start, and I already went on my first interview today for a story I will write when I am done writing this. There are only five of us print journalists to run a weekly publication, but I believe we are the largest public affairs unit in the country.
Well, that’s all for now, I’ve got to get working. I will write more soon, as I’m sure I will have plenty to say!