I thought I would get this email out a week ago, but so much has been happening that I just have not had the time. So, I decided that getting up early would be a good way to get it done.
As many of you know already, I am now a CC. I have been waiting for this for a while. But I have found it is a bigger responsibility than I had ever thought it would be, with the events of the last few weeks. But let me get on to my last trip into Iraq.
Ian, my foreman wanted me to have one more trip with another CC in the mix, so Mike was my bobtail once again. We had a quiet trip up to Anaconda. We were supposed to drop off 4 pallets of ice at Scania but when we got there they didn’t want it. Now, Scania will let us have access to all facilities, EXCEPT, the showers. I didn’t want to have to spend the night there so as soon as they said they didn’t want the ice, I told MCT to get us rolling. So we made it from Kuwait to Anaconda in 2 days.
Once at Anaconda, I had a talk with Rick, the reefer supervisor and told him that I was ready to be sent out on my own. So, they sent Mike to BIAP and me to Al Asad. I spent the next day putting together my mission. I was lucky to get 5 of the guys that had run from Kuwait with me. One of those guys, Joel, had just gotten to Kuwait and made his first trip with me. There were 8 of us in all. I ended up being my own bobtail on that mission. That was fun. But we did have to sit and wait for escorts. The Al Asad camp is not on the beaten path and is not a camp that they have a convoy going to everyday. So we sat a second day. The 3rd day we finally got our escorts. The guys from the 660th Trans. Co. They were great and I loved their attitude. They usually escort a fuel mission but I guess they were loosing it and picked us up. We had a great trip out to Al Asad. It was quiet and beautiful. Once we got there we did the usual things, like eat and hit the PX and shops of the locals. As many of you know, I don’t walk around these camps at night without an escort. Richard, one of the drivers in my convoy, volunteered to do me the honor. While waiting for the DEFC to open, we ran into they guys that had escorted us out. We had a nice chat with them over dinner. They all said that they would be glad to escort us any where we want to go at any time. “This was the best convoy we have been on since we got here 2 months ago” one of them said. I was very pleased to hear that. We got to talking about leaving and I told them that we would not be ready to leave the next day that it would be the following day. They asked me if I wanted them to wait for us and escort us out. I told them yes. Getting escorts out of there is also a hard thing to do. The last 2 convoys that have gone in there have had to wait for a week to get out. Course, one of them had to wait a bit because the camp was bombed and they wouldn’t let them go. So I was very pleased that they were going to get permission to stay and wait on us. After dinner, and standing in the raining mud (there was a sand storm going when we got there), several of the escort guys and Richard and I stood out side the DEFC and talked for a bit.
While we were chatting, we heard an explosion. We weren’t sure if it was a controlled one or something else. But when no one went running we just kind of blew it off. About 20 min. later, everyone was running from the DEFC and were heard someone say to clear the building. Of course Richard and I ran with our escorts to a safe distance and tried to find out why they were clearing the building. I am not sure what the escorts heard that I didn’t heard, but they took off running and saying “Get your Kevlar on!” Of course, I went right behind them. They are the ones with the guns. I told them that my and Richards Kevlar was in our trucks, one said that I would wear his. I told him that he could wear it and I would hide behind him. They tossed Richard and me in the back of their 5 ton, put their helmets on us and locked and loaded. Then we took off. I told them that I had to get to my guys and get them up and into a safe place. The hole time I was running I was on the radio telling one of the guys that was where we were staged to get everyone up and into their PPE , I needed an accountability. I told my escorts that I need to get to them and they took me. When I got there all my guys but 2 were up, out front and all were in their gear. I explained what was going on and then we started looking for someone to tell us what was going on. A solider passing by told us that the reason they cleared the DEFC, was that there was an unauthorized vehicle go through the barriers and park in front of the DEFC. I told the guys that I was sorry that I bothered them, but better safe than sorry. They all said that they didn’t mind. A couple of them heard the explosion, but none of them thought anything about it. Well, they went to bed and Richard and I went off to the showers.
When we got to where the showers were, Richard had to go find the guy with the key. This guy and Richard showed up and told me that he camp was under a bomb alert and we should have been in the bunker. We told that I had an accountability of all my people and gave him a copy of my mission log just in case they needed it. I then got in the shower and Richard stood guard. Now, it wasn’t funny when it happened, it pissed me off, but now looking back it this all it I have to laugh. While in the shower, with soap in my hair, I heard Richard calling the guys on the radio. I stuck my head out of the shower stall and asked him what was going on. He told me that the camp manager said that we were to get in a bunker ASAP. That was just great! I told him to let me get rinsed off and I would be right out and we could go get the guys up again. Well, I get about half dressed, when Richard calls out to me and tells me I can finish my shower, that we now have the all clear. I wont repeat here what I said, but I finished my shower. It was an exciting night and I had a hard time falling to sleep. I hope that if something ever really does happen that I can handle it was well as I did that night.
The next morning we met some of the guys from our escort group for breakfast. They told me that they had been up running around the camp looking for me for about 2 hours the night before. They had promised to let me know what was going on. I told them that I had waited for a bit for them to come back and then went to get a shower. They were glad to see that I was alright and they laughed about the shower incident. They offered to give us a hand in trans-loading the 20 pallets of ice we had to move and I told them I wasn’t sure that we would need their help, but they were welcome to come on by. At least we could all get together and find something to do after we got the ice moved. They said that they would be by after they went and got a few other guys that said they would help as well. I didn’t see them for several hours later. They showed up and told me that they couldn’t stay till the next day, they were ordered back to Anaconda and wanted to know if we want to go with them. I told them yes and could they give me ½ to 1 hours to get the guys together. They said I had ½ an hour.. 4 guys had been in the shower and 3 of us had put our laundry in to be done. I managed to get our laundry back, the guys out of the shower and everyone at the fuel point in 30 min. to meet our escorts.
For the most part the ride back to Anaconda was a quite one. We did get stopped a few miles before our turn off for the camp by a supposed car bomb. But neither my escorts nor my guys and I saw any evidence of where a car bomb went off. And that does happen sometimes. Our escorts pushed us on though the traffic and got us into camp. I told them over the radio that I wanted a group picture before they ran off. They were nice enough to all stop and come up and pose for a picture. (I have it on the group site. So go take a look. They are great guys!)
As soon as we hit the camp, I was told I would be the CC on the mission coming to Kuwait the next morning. I managed to keep some 2 of the guys that went to Al Asad with me. Actually they made sure that they were on my convoy. We got the 16th Airborne MP’s for the beginning of the trip back down. I liked their attitude as well. When we got stuck in a traffic jam on Sword, they cleared out all the civilian car between us and the tanker convoy in front of us. There were also 2 rock trucks sitting beside us and they brought them up to block one side of my truck to give me some protection on that side. I thought that was kind of cool that they did that. But at the same time, I was a bit pissed. Those rock trucks were sitting beside 2 of my guys and protecting them. I am told that it is this thing about how the American people will accept a man being killed better than a woman. Course not to mention the deal that men have this instinct to protect the women, so I am told. I really hate that the man/woman thing comes into play on a situation like this. But there is nothing I can do about it. We sat on Sword for about an hour. It made me really nervous. Sword is one of the most dangerous roads to be on. They are always finding IED’s on it and it is just one of the more busy roads around Baghdad. While we were sitting there, our escorts and the ones from that tanker convoy scouted out the area and found an IED about 100 yards from where we were sitting. We didn’t sit there very much longer after they found it either. They started pushing us on through the blockage. They told me where it was and I have a picture of that as well on the group site.
The rest of the trip was for the most part uneventful. We traveled Tampa and since I was running bobtail for myself, it was a REAL rough ride. The current uprising started the day we were stopped on Sword. We were on the first push out of Cedar II and I am glad that we were. If we had been on the second push, we would not have gotten out of there that day. That was that first day that they shut down Iraq.
I have been sitting here in Kuwait for 2 weeks now due to all the activity up north. Almost nothing has moved for that long. Several of my friends are stuck up there. I have heard from most of them or they have been in contact with someone that I know. Eddie, the foreman out at TDC has been kind enough to call me and let me know how the guys from there are doing. He knows that I am still close to several of them and doesn’t want me to worry. I thank him for do this. I know that he doesn’t have to, but he is doing this without my even asking him. Lie I have said before. There are some people that are like family to me over here. Some are out at TDC, some are in reefers, and some are in tankers. I will be glad when I hear from Dennis and Raymond. They are the only 2 that I have not had some kind of contact with. I did email Halliburton and they told me that neither of them were part of the tanker convoy hit and kidnapped. I hope that they are telling me the truth.
Well, I have to start getting ready for work now. I know that ya’ll have waited for 2 weeks for this email. I am sorry. With everything going on here, I have had to write this in several sittings. Everyone take care, I miss you all, and I will email again soon.