Tuesday, May 30, 2006

So Long, Kuwait

27 May 2006

I’m writing this on the flight to keep myself occupied. I’m dead tired, but can’t really get comfortable enough to sleep any. I tried to nap before we had to meet at 2330, but it just didn’t work. We hijacked a Gator when the soldier driving was dropping duffels and baggage off at a tent nearby. Then the six of us walked over to the customs area and asked them where we could store our stuff. At least I didn’t have to drag all that stuff across the compound again.

Took a shower and then we walked up to the meeting place at 2300. Good thing we showed up early; they were starting at 2315, not 2300. Not the first time we’ve been given wrong times, huh? So we got separated and briefed about what we could and could not carry back on the flight. Believe it or not, you cannot bring any pornography with you back to the States. First off, this is rather hysterical because it is illegal as liquor in this Muslim country. So them telling us that we can’t take it back with us only means that it was mailed to people in theater.

They also let us know that pills (prescription or not) that are not in their original bottles (you know, like put into the daily cases like I do with my vitamins and bp stuff) will be tossed. Oh, yes, they will have you empty out all your suitcases and duffel bags. For crying out loud, most of the civilian’s duffels hadn’t been emptied out since it was issued to them. We just don’t have a whole lot of need for all the crap they load us down when they send us upstream.

The whole customs ordeal for the couple of hundred of us took about two hours, so by then it was about 0230 on Sunday. Once we were through customs, we were held in a holding area which we couldn’t leave. That was shorter than expected since our flight departure time was moved up to 0730. Soon we were in formation again and led to six waiting busses to take us off to KWI.

We had a stop enroute to use some nasty porta potties out in the middle of nowhere…probably to remind us how much we would miss them in the real world. Waited there for about an hour and reboarded the busses and got taken to the flight line. We boarded an Omni Air International DC10 that looks like it was pulled out of the Smithsonian or at least from that airplane mothball field in Tuscon, AZ just for us. We are talking about one vintage aircraft. Actually it is a pretty cushy flight with real Corinthian leather seats even in coach.

The one saving grace is that we aren’t crammed in like sardines. We probably have a seat between all of us, so we can stretch out some. We have two stops enroute; one at Bonn/Cologne Airport in Germany and then one at MacGuire AFB in New Jersey. We are dropping about half the soldiers on the flight there, I guess on R&R.

Our stop in Cologne wasn’t anything to celebrate. All they do is take you off the plane so that they can service it and fuel it. So we got put on busses and were bussed over to the terminal. “Ahhhh!” I hear your thinking, “time for some great German Koelsch bier while we wait, right?” Not quite so fast. We are on a military flight…no liquor. So we get led to a holding area in the terminal that is all restricted and blocked off from everything except a bathroom and some vendors selling $4 pop!

We were only there for a two hour break and then back on the plane again. I don’t think I’ve slept in about 30 hours at this point, but I have managed a couple of cat naps here and there. My back is killing me from all this sitting, but soon it will be over. We should be arriving at MacGuire in about three more hours, so I’ll write more about the trip in a bit.
Hey, Dave, I've been reading your blog for the last 14 months since my husband went over to Iraq as a contractor. I have thoroughly enjoyed your entries.

Now as this journey comes to an end, it turns out...you were on the same flight home as my husband. Small world, huh?

We are anxiously anticipating his arrival home this evening.

I wish you well in your next endeavour! Take care.
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