Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving in Iraq- 2005

An American Advisor’s Experience

Thanksgiving actually began about 2330 pm the night before. It was a typical emergency that lasted until 0200. We went and had a bite to eat at the mess hall, eggs, bacon, coffee, potatoes, before returning to our bunks.

The day ‘began’ at 0530 with my alarm going off, shocking me awake after but a few hours. I struggled to locate it in the dark and finally succeeded in knocking it off the small table beside my bunk.

The power had gone out again in the night and our room was a frosty (for Iraq) 52 degrees. In flip-flops, boxers, and fleece jacket I staggered out of the room and into a slightly colder outdoors. Lighting up a cigarette I shuffled across the courtyard to the bathroom to pee.

Iraqi bathrooms have no toilet bowl. There is a hole in the floor you squat over. There is no toilet paper. They use water. We use a porta-john…but it’s another hundred yards away. For peeing…the hole in the floor works fine.

Job done I return to my room and automatically begin to make coffee…and remember as I repeatedly punch the start button that the power is off. I yell at my roommate (the Brigade S4) that the power is off. He yells back something that if legal in Iraq, isn’t legal under General Order Number One.

I fire up the Colman Stove. Ten minutes later…coffee. God does exist.

OK…time to shave. Armed with coffee I walk back over to the bathroom and stand in front of the mirror. After returning to my room for a razor…and then returning again for shaving cream, I looking into the glass and see…ugh…let’s not go there…

Cigarette dinging from my lips I turn on the hot water. Nothing. I walk over to the water heater. The dial is down to 23 degrees C. Oh…yes…power was off…

Shaving in cold water is fun. Ask your recruiter.

Back to the room. More coffee. SSG A comes over and wants to go eat breakfast on the American side of post. (we live on the Iraqi side) We finish getting dressed, get our weapons and head out to the vehicles. On the ride over we talk about his family getting together for thanksgiving dinner and mine visiting the neighbors for dinner.

After going through an armed gate we drive to the mess hall. Here we find out that chow is closed because they are getting ready for the big meal. FUCK! OK…we’ll drive over to the PX and get a coffee and a cinnamon roll. We give another SGT a lift and walk to the Cinnamon hut…a line of 50 soldiers who couldn’t get breakfast is there already.
We give up and go back to the Iraqi side, drink more coffee and eat out of the remains of MREs.

MREs are a required taste…that is…they require you to be starving before you’ll eat them.

ANYway… after hanging out in the courtyard for an hour or so, one of the other Captains reports that he saw some French 75mm cannons over in a certain part of the post that has only recently been opened. So we drive over to see if we can add to our lawn ornaments. Unfortunatly, we should have remembered that this officer’s ability to identify weapons is only slightly greater than his navigational skills…(Baghdad is south of here, by the way- another story). The only thing we find is abandoned Russian boots.

BUT- we successfully kill enough time that it’s lunch. We head back over to the American side and get to the mess hall about 1 pm. The line is out the door. For those of you who have never been in the military, the Army does Holiday meals in a big way.

The food is very good and although crowded, it is nice. I get to sit next to a pilgrim (SSG from the mess hall- pretty cute, really) and a Indian…er…native American…whatever…(SGT- very cute!) so it’s a nice dinner. Turkey, Stuffing, and Massed Potatoes for me. There was also prime rib, ham, lobster, sweet potatoes (out when I was going through…corn on the cob, etc etc etc.

Imagine going through a really nice soup kitchen with 17,000 people all dressed like you. Fun.

After we return to our room and it is nappy time. I sleep for about an hour and then we have to go watch a LTG come and talk to us. We drive to another corner of the base and wait for him to arrive. Usually Generals are late, but this one shows up on time and is a pretty good speaker. Doesn’t give us any info that we don’t already know, but it isn’t a total waste of time- I got a coke from the refreshment table.

And then we come home again. The power is back on and I sit down at my table and log online to see how many e-mails I got. I read the ones from my wife and friends and then lean back and think about the day.

And so I sit here typing thinking that I should be more positive, but you know…I am being more positive. There are many things that suck over here but they are, in a larger picture, really kind of funny.

So, that’s my Thanksgiving day! It’s only 8.30 AM at home, the wife is up getting the kids breakfast, I’m sitting here tired because it’s 6.30 pm and it has been another long ass day.
dutch- out

(All our soldiers out in the field were brought in for dinner- they rotated out with others so everyone could have a hot meal.

When you sit down to eat today, say a prayer for those guys over here sitting out on the checkpoints. They deserve every chance of going back home).


At 7:48 PM, Blogger AW said...

Thinking of ya, buddy. While uneventful and cold, glad hot food got your way.


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