I don’t remember leaving Hawaii. I remember it was June just before my mother’s birthday but otherwise leaving has not left an imprint on my mind. I do recall that it’s one of the few times I was allowed to carry a rifle on an airplane. I found it funny that the Army makes me carry my gun yet the TSA still requires me to partially disassemble it. Only one of the many ironies I would run into during my time in the army and working in securing the nation.
We went to Iraq on commercial flights with stops in Germany and Kuwait. From Kuwait remember sleeping in a large open bay area with me and all my other replacement troops. We were there to go to ranges and some other training before entering a rack. Again the experience did not leave much impression on my mind however I recall being on a bus driving to the desert and seen herds of camels. I also thought it interesting to learn that sand is one of Kuwait’s biggest imports because there is so much of it. However it is unsuitable for construction so I guess it isn’t worth much. For our trip to Iraq we rode in a C-130. It was not the most comfortable flight but also not a bad flight. We sat on the bench is made of mesh woven out of cargo straps with our backpacks in our lap and the rest of our gear on pallets at the rear of the plane.
I slept for some of the flight couldn’t of been more than a couple of hours though. I remember as we approach the airfield Iraq the plane took a tight spiral so as to avoid any antiaircraft fire. While there was no regular Army in Iraq at this point the threat from insurgents was beginning with the fading euphoria of victory over Saddam. So we spiraled into the airfield hit the runway a bit rougher than what you would expect from a commercial flight though not bad considering. I remember is the cargo bay ramp open everything was tan. The buildings the trees the ground the air is all the same color of dust. We waited in their seats until the pallets of our gear and other supplies are unloaded so we could leave the plane. We carried our weapons, backpacks, helmets and other gear and walked across the runway through the prop blast to the nearest hanger. For some reason I remember in my mind the picture of this hanger looking like something you would see in an old movie with the twisted tree growing next to it. It was the middle of summer. No leaves on the trees or grass on the ground. No visible water or clouds in the sky. Just tan and blue.