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February 17, 2005
Laundry Day (Part 3)By Greyhawk
He stared across the counter with unmistakable look in his eyes. The guys voice cracked a little when he repeated himself.
"We can't allow anyone to fly in to Iraq without body armor."
"I just flew out of Iraq without body armor" He replied, calmly.
Another guy behind the counter stopped pushing his broom and joined the conversation. "The rules are you can't fly into Iraq without body armor" To this day that guy has no idea how close he came to flying into Iraq without an airplane, much less body armor, and with a broomstick rammed up his
"We have armor you can use sir" Said the first guy, saving his partner's life, and sparing himself from having to finish sweeping with another broom.
A few hours later he found himself flying to Iraq, a 4-sizes too small flak jacket under his seat, in the company of one hundred GIs making their first trip in. They were cool, not nervous - they seemed more bored than anything, though a few were excited about their first ride on a C17. He checked his watch. The sun would rise before they landed and be well up in the sky when they took off again. Balad Air Base was one of the many places the inhabitants unofficially called "Mortaritaville" due to the number of shoot and scoot insurgent rocket and mortar attacks. Night would be better, but a jet-powered big bird was probably safe.
But if the plane was shot down there was one thing he could count on. If a pillow fight broke out as the big bird plumetted earthward he could don that flak vest and be protected from the sharper feathers.
It didn't happen. No one so much as reared back with a pillow that trip. They landed safely. Everyone else got off, he spoke with the crew.
"I'm flying on to Germany with you guys"
"Yes sir. But we need you to leave the plane while we do our stuff..."
"No problem" he said. He got off the plane and on the bus for the 200 yard ride to the pax terminal. There he held back outside and spoke to the lady who met them at the plane and seemed to be in charge.
"Hi. I need to get back on the plane. I'm going to Germany, but they said I had to get off first..."
"You need escorted back out? Come on let's go." She started walking back to the plane. He followed.
"I don't know if they want me back this soon..."
"It's okay," she said. "Let's go."
She had an Eastern European accent but he couldn?t place it. "Where are you from? I can't place the accent."
"Romania" She replied. Iraq was a magnet for non-timid souls from all over the world. That was something many folks never saw, the international face of the Coalition. They arrived at the plane. "Go on in." She said. He almost got a foot up on the first step when the sirens went off.
"Alarm red." She said, matter-of-factly. Meaning mortar rounds or rockets might have landed somewhere on the base.
"Are we supposed to hit the ground?" He asked.
"No." She replied, walking. "Come on we have to go in to the nearest building."
He looked. It was 200 yards away. "Can we make it before the all clear sounds?" He asked.
"Oh yes. We'll stay red for a little while. This is an every morning thing."
They had a nice walk back to the building. A truck came to the plane and picked up the crew and took them to a building in another direction. "See?" She said. "Everyone must go inside the nearest building."
It made perfectly good sense to him, in an absolutely senseless way.
They got there while the sirens still warbled. In the foyer he met a group of folks that were going to fly out on the same plane. Balad was home to the largest military hospital in Iraq, and the flight out was going to be a medevac taking the wounded to Ramstein for transfer to Landstuhl. The all-clear sounded, he rode with them back out on the ramp, then stayed out of the way as the ambulances delivered the other pax and they were loaded on their stretchers into the plane.
He'd traveled all night on little notice. Had a bag full of wet clothes. Had hours of travel ahead of him. A great trip compared to the ride these guys were getting.
Its all relative.
The jet engines fired up again, and he left Iraq for the second time in 24 hours.
He called her from the pax terminal. This was the scary part, he hadn't had time to let her know he was coming so he decided to go for the surprise attack. Would she be there? She answered.
"Hey... you busy?"
"Where are you?" But he knew from the tone of voice that she knew.
"Pax terminal at Ramstein." He said. "And I've got laundry that needs done..."
Posted by Greyhawk / February 17, 2005 2:08 AM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
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Original content copyright © 2003 - 2011 by Greyhawk. Fair, not-for-profit use of said material by others is encouraged, as long as acknowledgement and credit is given, to include the url of the original source post. Other arrangements can be made as needed.
Contact: greyhawk at mudvillegazette dot com