26 June 2009

Things are different...(Part two)

I came back to Fort Riley on the 2nd of January and flew out the EARLY morning of the 3rd, stopping in New Jersey, Reykjavik(sp?), and Germany(I can't remember where but there was snow on the ground.) before we landed in Kuwait on the evening of the 4th. We were trucked to Camp Buehring where we had an In-Brief and they scanned our ID cards for "War-zone" accountability. We were able to stay in Camp Buehring for Breakfast, after we helped the Army guys that were staying there that were on the same flight as us unload their stuff from our truck. They loaded us onto another bus for the trip to Camp Virginia. Everybody slept for the hour trek.

When we got to Camp Virginia we offloaded our bags into our tents. After that we had to hike to the Navy LNOs offices, which gave us a tour of the Tent City, and we were able to see where our showers were. Why does it seem that they always stick you in the tent farthest away from the showers and shitters. At the LNO offices we did more paperwork, got our orders stamped and went off to our tent. We were able to get some chow(by then it was lunch), hit the PX and Barbershops to get our trims in. We had to be at Ali Asaleem at 3AM(which meant up at midnight) for an 8AM flight. Why? I dunno, I don't do schedules. Just follow them...

We landed at Baghdad International about an hour and a half after take off. We waited with our baggage for what seemed like an eternity. I also noted that things here were a bit different. Whereas Camp Virginia seemed like a ghost-town compared to Baghdad International. People were buzzing around, helicopters were almost flying in and taking off non-stop. We loaded our bags onto the bus, provided by KBR, and began our trip to Victory Base. For a few days we did nothing. Ate and slept was pretty much the highlight of our first days in Iraq. After a couple days like this we went to the Navy LNOs at Victory, which were housed in one of the Lakeside guest houses across the way from the Palace that Headquartered the Coalition forces. We submitted our final travel claims and such, did our final pay checks to make sure that our HazDuty pay and tax-free was started and back to the tent we went.

We started our check-in briefs with MNSTC-I later that week. This consisted of FINALLY finding out where we were going, Intel Briefs of Areas assigned, and some training about how the finances worked (more along the lines of submitting projects and such). After this we said goodye to some members of our team as we stayed behind in Baghdad to attend MRAP drivers training. This took a few days to get straightened out, as I've never seen anybody nuke something so simple. I guess that's the Army and civilians for you. After days of just being told that no-one could train us AFTER we had confirmed seats in the class. We finally had some help from the higher-ups and we got called back to get a "shorter-version" of the class, since we already missed 2 days worth of it because someone couldn't get their head out of their ass. After the training was concluded we sat around some more waiting for our Air Movement Requests(AMR) to go through. Here in Iraq, if you don't submit more than 3 AMRs at a time, you probably aren't going anywhere for awhile. It was a short time after we finished our drivers training that they decided on the bright idea to move us to Camp Stryker, which is closer to the airport than Victory

At 2100, sometime in early February(I think it was the 4th or 5th), we finally got a helicopter(UH-60 Blackhawks, one for our bags and one for us) to FOB Delta (at the time, I had no flippin idea where this was). We didnt know if anyone was going to meet us there, so we were prepared to sit in tents for another few days. I can't remember what time we touched down, but as soon as we off-loaded our bags the Helicopters taxied out and took off. There was no-one but us around. Here we were in a strange place, we don't know where to go, and there is no-one to guide us. Did I mention it was pitch-black on the flightline...