It was a strange last day. The night before we left, there was a sudden, violent dust storm. I was riding my bike, and ended up cycling right into a wall of strongly blowing dust. This was followed by rain, which lasted off and on until the morning. This was the first rain I’ve seen in Iraq since about April, and I was glad to finally have something to reduce the dust. It was terrible news, though, because a helicopter crashed that night on JBB. According to the newspaper, one person was killed and 12 others injured, and the accident was caused by high winds, and the fierce sandstorm that I had experienced on my final night in Iraq. As I was awaiting the flight home, there was an incoming fire attack, and so I had to get down on the ground and wait for the “all clear”. So my last day brought some grim reminders of how dangerous it can be in Iraq.
So anyway, the rain really cleared up the weather the following day. No dust and just a light breeze, so our flight was able to leave slightly ahead of schedule. We flew on a nice, gigantic C-17, and it was a quick flight of just over an hour to Ali Al Salem airbase. Here is a view of the interior of the C-17 (note, you can click on these photos to enlarge):
We spent about 5 hours just sitting on buses after we arrived, which annoyed me greatly. We got on buses after getting off the C-17, then got off to clear weapons, and got back on. Then we got off for a silly briefing, then got back on. Then got off to load luggage, then got back on. Then got off for another silly briefing, and got back on. We finally arrived at our tents at Camp Virginia, Kuwait, around midnight.
Camp Virginia is close to Ali Al Salem. It is similar to Camp Buerhing, in that it is a desert landscape with pre-fabricated buildings and tents dotting the area. When you deploy into Iraq, you stay at Camp Buerhing. When you re-deploy out of Iraq on the way back home, you stay at Camp Virginia. Here is what it looks like:
And a map (not to scale) given to me by a third-country national at the rec center:
Of course, they have a USO, a phone center, a shopping mall, and of course everyone’s favorite coffee shop, for those who insist on paying for their coffee:
I got a little sleep in the tent last night. It’s not that bad here, and the weather is not brutally hot. Then again, maybe I’m getting used to hot weather and walking around in sand by now. I’m very excited to be able to go home soon!!
So we’ll be here for a little while, awaiting our flight to the USA.
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