Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Moving On Up.

At first I worked on minor stories for example; additions to the camp, what people were training on, what programs were offered at the Education Center (Soldiers had the opportunity to take college courses, Arabic classes and a shitload of other classes ), what movies were playing at the theater (yeah, we had a theater…rumor had it our camp use to be the training grounds for Iraqi Olympic athletes. We had a huge pool too.) Whenever I covered a story I was able to have a new job for at least a day…it ruled. After a while the newspaper editor took notice of my writing and photography. So in December there was a special story to be covered. An aviation unit was going to fly into Irbil (which is in northern Iraq) to pass out presents on Christmas day. Irbil is basically a Kurdish town and a lot of them are Christian or at least celebrated Christmas. The Kurds were suppressed by Saddam Hussein…thousands were killed during the 1980s. I volunteered for the story and they gave it to me. I was so fucking excited. I was psyched to get to fly in a Blackhawk, go into northern Iraq which I heard was beautiful and do something not many people will ever do on Christmas. I went with another Specialist …He was a broadcaster and was there to videotape the whole thing. We left at about five in the morning and it took three hours to get there. One of the Soldiers dressed up as Santa Claus. The crew were the best guys I had met since being over there. Funny, down to earth, laid back…they ruled. We landed on like a mountain side VIP mansion. It was insane. You could see hills, mountains, trees and grass. I completely forgot where I was. We were welcomed by one of the top Kurdish officials and other big shots. They were all dressed in suites and were professional…they looked absolutely nothing like the shit you see on TV. They had a traditional lunch set up for us…and we all sat in this enormous dinning room. Gold plates and silverware. They gave speeches and presents. They gave me a necklace, a ring and a Kurdish flag. After we ate we went into town. We were put on buses and the Kurdish Army acted as our personal security. I was so confused…I had a book bag filled with ammo because I defiantly didn‘t think we‘d have Iraqis protecting us . All the guys laughed at me because it was so heavy. I was leaning to the side while carrying it. I didn’t know what to expect. We ended up going to a community center type place… and when we walked in at least 300 Kurdish children dressed in traditional clothing played music and waved American flags. It was overwhelming. They had a ceremony, sang, thanked the aviation unit, the unit spoke…people ate cake, the kids took pictures with Santa, we passed out presents. Well kind of passed out presents…it went well for about 30 minutes and then by that time tons of kids and adults started gathering at the gates of the center. They wanted gifts and they were curious as to what was going on. All of a sudden they broke through the gate… it turned into a free for all. Shit was thrown everywhere…kids were grabbing whatever they could…adults were stealing shit from kids…it was fucking nuts. After that they took us shopping. We went to some store…kind of like a mini Walmart, I guess. We bought candy and trinkets. After that they took us around Irbil and showed us landmarks. We passed some mountains and one Kurdish guy sitting next to me said, “my family is buried in there…Saddam killed my family with gas.“ Come to find out U.S. Special Forces teams found mass graves in the mountains from when Saddam had committed genocide on the Kurds in the late 80’s. They also brought us into the middle of nowhere to fire weapons. Their Army let us fire AK47s. They passed me the weapon and I automatically put it on burst. When I shot the weapon it went straight up in the air…it had a strong kick and everyone laughed at me. It got late and we headed back. That trip had to be one of the best experiences of my life.

2 Comments:

Anonymous timmy said...

Is this the pool you mentioned?

http://storiesinamerica.blogspot.com/2006/03/welcome-to-iraq-would-you-like-burger.html

As you can read, her post is all about how shameful it is that our soldiers have a nice swimming pool and get to dine at Burger King. Plus the usual Bush-is-Satan stuff because he's spending money to turn our bases into Cub Meds. Jeezus.

And yeah, those are my comments from back in March...

8/08/2006 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger Lois Lane said...

yay! that is my pool.

Shes a stupid bitch...1) because we didnt build that pool, it was already there. 2) burger king and pizza hut are mainly used by Soldiers that are always on convoys...and when they stop, they can actually get a hot meal.

Once again, people should've talk about things they dont know about!

8/08/2006 04:31:00 PM  

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