Monday, November 22, 2004

How I Got to Kuwait

This is a blog I did on my computer a few days ago and haven't had a chance to post yet. Though I don't use profanity this particular blog alludes to it.

Camp Doha

We started our trip to Kuwait at 3:30a.m. Ft Hood Texas time. We didn't take off until about noon. First off we carried our three duffel bags worth of stuff downstairs to be loaded on a truck and ultimately the plane. Then we drew weapons and MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat) for the trip. When I came around the corner from the weapons room I was forcibly volunteered to be the seating NCO (non commissioned officer) for the plane. This is important later. Every task in the Army has something called the NCOIC (NCO in charge) For this particular task I was supposed to make sure everyone filed onto the plane and filled it from the back in an orderly fashion. One of my friends was in Saudi Arabia for the first gulf war and has story about being the NCOIC for a particular duty. It seems at this particular camp they didn't have port-o-podys, they had these little huts with a big metal drawer under them. The only way to get rid of the previously made deposits was to take them out in the desert and burn them. So him and another guy would take these big drawers and load them onto a humvee and take them out in the desert. Now, as he explains it you have to imagine carrying a big metal drawer full of urine and feces. The shear grossness of the task makes you laugh, the more you laugh, the more it sloshes around. The more it sloshes around the more that gets on you. The more that gets on you the only thing you can do is laugh and the cycle starts again. Once there they would pour some fuel on the drawers and let em burn. You can imagine the smell that would permeate your clothes and skin. He said it would even smell when he'd sweat because it would come out of his pours. Anyway, in colorful Army terms he was called the crap burning NCOIC only his title started with the letter S. I guess that was a pretty crappy job. (sorry, I had to) At this point we weren't sure what type of plane we would be on or how many seats it would have. The morning progressed like this with us sitting outside under an awning in the freezing rain. We had already turned our room key in and had nowhere else to go.

When it was time for us to get going we went to a gym on post where they were playing really loud, really bad country music. I know what you're saying, is there such a thing as good country music? I'll let you debate that fact. So, after sitting here for a few hours we finally get on a bus out to the flight line. To our satisfaction we were flying on an ATA 757. I was the first on the plane so I could do my all important job of seating NCO I'd been training all these years for to find we had about three times the number of seats that we need. So we put two people to each row of three seats. When it was all over I got to sit where I wanted. I got a whole row to myself. This came in handy when I wanted to fold the arms up and lay down across the whole row.
A few hours later we were at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey. We picked up a few more people and some more equipment. They had a small USO in the hanger where you could get some free snacks and sodas and play games like ping pong and pool. I'm proud to say I skillfully defeated all ping pong challengers. All two of them. We stayed here for a couple of hours and then boarded the plane.

A few, few more hours later we landed in Shannon Ireland. We got to spend about an hour in the terminal. It was middle of the night for them so there weren't many people in the terminal. They did have a duty free shop where you could buy stuff. A few guys bought Cuban cigars for $160.00 for two boxes. He says it's a good deal but it sounds expensive to me. They took Euros or American dollars. I tried to get some euro coins but they wouldn't change dollars to euros. If you paid in dollars you got dollars for change. They did have a little exchange place but it didn't open until the next morning. The ATM, however, disbursed euros as an unfortunate soldier accidentally found out when he tried to get one hundred dollars out. He was surprised to get euros. If you went to Ireland and used an ATM what do you think would come out. He got a few people to buy them but they were close to 20 dollar notes and I didn't want that much.
A couple of more hours and we were in Budapest Hungary. They didn't let us off the plane here so we spent the next two hours looking out the window.

22 hours after we left Fort Hood we landed in Kuwait.

The trip was actually quite comfortable. Since it was a civilian plane we had stewardesses and hot meals and in flight movies. I got quite a bit of sleep off and on. When we landed in Kuwait it was morning by my biological clock but it was late at night locally. We got a few briefs and went to midnight chow. This was the best food I've had since being back in the Army. Since it was midnight chow we had the choice of breakfast or lunch. The chow hall was big and nice. So far it doesn't really feel like a foreign country. We're on an American installation surrounded by Americans. The only thing that looks different is the signs written in English and Arabic. And the Kuwait license plates on the numerous SUVs. They put us in a building with a bunch of bunk beds and we tried to sleep. I got about an hours sleep and couldn't sleep anymore. I walked down to the AT&T phone center to call my wife to tell her I got here alright. I found that the exchange rate on phone cards is 10 to 1. So the 500 minute card I had was worth 50 minutes. I'm not sure what it'll be like in Iraq. I've heard of different options like VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) apparently there's a company called Segovia that has set up these types of phones in certain camps. You can go to their website and charge minutes to a virtual calling card. I've heard anything from 5-10 cents a minute internationally. Hopefully this option exists. The time difference is close to half a day ahead of the states so if I call in the morning I get my wife before she goes to bed. If I call before I go to bed I get her just after she woke up. So far so good. We're supposed to get more equipment tomorrow, including body armor. I'll let you know what happens.


Post a Comment

<< Home