After my tour of the International Zone in Baghdad, I took the Rhino, along with the rest of the convoy, to return back to Victory Base. We were picked up by Captain Paul Thompson, a nice fellow from Fayetteville, AR, who is here on his second tour. Paul was kind enough to give a short tour to me and a pair of Marine captains who were at the conference.
The main thing that I wanted to see was Camp Slayer. This has several other palaces, and a place called “Flintstones Village.” But there are several other sights at Slayer, such as many palaces and a large artificial lake. The palaces include the Perfume Palace, a place allegedly used by Saddam and his henchmen as a brothel:
And also the “Victory over America Palace,” which was never completed, and was heavily damaged during the war:
My favorite part of Camp Slayer was the Flintstones Village. It is so called because it resembles something you’d see in the TV Show “the Flintstones.” Saddam had it built for his friends and family for the amusement of their children. It is now very run down and covered with graffiti by GI’s. Here is what it looks like now:
(CPT Thompson is on the left in this pic)
Camp Slayer is a strange place. Lots of high ranking people live here, because it is possible to get one of the old Baath party villas on the lake, which is pretty posh. Soldiers live in the old Saddam era palaces in some places. And they have an amusing sign at the entrance to Camp Slayer:
After our hour and a half at Slayer, Paul Thompson took me over to the airfield. This particular airfield was just a large gravel field in the middle of nowhere known as the “Liberty Command Pad,” and it’s supposedly where generals fly in. I was scheduled to go on a flight with some general, but that flight got cancelled. So I ended up spending two hours standing out in the dark at the Command Pad, in the dark, watching bats fly around eating the bugs in the sky. I finally got fed up and walked back to the main Liberty Helipad. After an hour or two of waiting, I got on a Blackhawk flight that was heading to Balad.
First we stopped at the Baghdad International Airport, then we stopped somewhere else to refuel, then we stopped at some FOB in the middle of nowhere, and finally we made it to Balad. It was a long flight, and the body armor and helmet made sitting for so long very uncomfortable. We were relieved when we returned to Catfish air finally. I was home by about midnight on Saturday, Feb. 28. I was very happy to be able to take a shower and sleep in my own bed.
It was a nice adventure. This will probably be my only trip to Baghdad, or indeed anywhere outside of Joint Base Balad, on my tour of duty over here. So I’m glad I made the most of it.
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