Just thought I would give you guys a quick update. Finally got to Iraq about 5 days ago. First few days are quite frustrating. You have to go to a Transition Camp and get processed. It is the most stark, dusty, hottest place I have ever been - plus the wind always blows because it's so open. I had to file for homesteading because I had so much dust in my eyes, lungs, nose and mouth I qualified as a land owner.
After a couple of days, I got transferred to Camp Slayer which was my assignment. Went through the whole processing thing and got to the last stop and they told me I had been reassigned. Great! Camp Slayer was like an oasis in the desert. Anyway, I was a bit pissed because ONCE AGAIN I had to deal with 165 pounds of luggage and equipment.
So back to the Transitional Camp for a day. My new assignment was the Green Zone right in the heart of Baghdad. This is basically a combination of 4 camps and I am now at Camp Prosperity. To get here, you have to ride what's called a Rhino bus - an amour plated bus. Plus, you are required to wear helmet and flack jacket. You know, like riding IndyGo to certain parts of Indy. All in all, it took 5 hours to go 50 miles.
The green zone was a pleasant surprise. A lot of palm trees and lakes. We use a lot of "bombed out" facilities. I kept looking around for General Patton. Some of the facilities we use look exactly like those in the film. For the most part, things have exceeded my expectations. The people I work with in MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) are really good people and the facilities are fine. Right now I kind of rove around to three different ones. Yesterday, one of my journeys was interesting in that a helicopter landed RIGHT behind us on the street.
A couple of friends have asked the question so I thought I would pass along the answers here. Is it really as hot as they say it is? Yes, it is. Average temperature is around 112 but I understand yesterday was 121. You can laugh if you want but dry heat does make a difference. The 112 with about 5% humidity isn't as bad as Indy at 95 with 95% humidity. Do you ever hear explosions? Well, I've only been in Iraq for a week but yes you do. You probably read about the guy who was a human bomb killing 42 people at a recruitment center. That happened about 900 yards away followed by massive gunfire. Do you feel safe? Yes - it's not been an issue with me from day one.
I should be getting my private living quarters within the next couple of weeks where I will have my own internet. Then I can start posting more. Until then - keep posting. Coming to the Digest makes me feel much closer to home.