We came in on a two-hour flight, in full combat gear; crammed into the
narrow sling seats of a C-130 transport. The ride was uncomfortable, and
the landing was performed in a steep corkscrew drive, topping out at around
4 g's. I clutched the buttstock of my weapon and breathed deeply.
Stepping off the plane, I was amazed. We're stationed in north-central
Iraq, and this part of the country lies on the edge of the Fertile
Crescent--the fabled Garden of Eden. I was shocked to see how truly GREEN
everything was. Everywhere I look, I see swamps and dense groves of cyprus,
fig, and date palm. Outside the wire, mud huts stand out amongst the
fields, many with satellite dishes poking from their roofs. I must admit,
it was a strange sight. The air is hot, but the sky never gets truly blue
here; instead, the sun filters into a diffuse, milky haze. When I look up
in the evenings I see storm clouds brewing. It rained last night, sweet and
warm, and I took this as a blessing.
I live with another Specialist--Kanelos--in a two-man room. We're housed in
trailers, stacked double-high into small subdivisions, or pods, which are
sandbagged and surrounded by fifteen foot-high concrete barriers. The
protection here is good. Lots of bunkers; lots of reinforcement. Here and
there, one can see Phalanx automated gun batteries squatting with their
white domes and chain cannons behind yet more concrete. Only the infrared
sensor shows, scanning the sky for incoming mortar rounds.
Still getting settled in, but I feel good about things in general. It's a
beautiful area, in spite of the danger, and I really feel that I'm going to
grow and change in new ways over this next year. I won't always have time
to post, but rest assured there will be entries. Also, I have a little side
project in the works for devoted readers.
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