Sunday, April 13, 2008 3:49 AM
At FOB Warhorse
So Alex, if you want to know what it's like to ride around in a Stryker, get Bob Yaro and thirty one other people you've never met before and take them down below on Vignette and seal 'er up tight. then open your top hatches so your machine gunners can see what to shoot at and take her out on some semi-rough seas on a hot sunny day. make sure all your body armor is strapped on tight and your rifle is loaded.
i'll back up a little. we flew out of kuwait late at night on apr 7 on a C-130 -my first ride on military aircraft. it's like you'd picture it. in through the back ramp, sit sideways in the jump seats, it's hot, mostly uncomfortable, loud as hell (propeller plane). then they forklift all our stuff into the back on giant, strapped-down pallets. i opted for i-pod over earplugs and fell asleep pretty quickly for the hour 1/2 or so flight into Balad Airbase in central iraq.
(this place is HUGE. you need a map and busses to get around) we had 'room' assignments (heavily air-conditioned wooden shacks w/ bunk beds and mattreses that the springs were poking through) shortly after 11pm. i now found myself staying in a place that actually had a 'transient housing' sign hanging out front of it. i figure any place i've lived over the past seven or so years could have been labeled that, but this one actually says it.
chopper flights were grounded the next day due to a 'brown out' -all the sand and other junk in the air. we did mostly nothing for that day and the next day looked like it was going to turn out the same but we found out there were convoys that rolled through balad and went back to warhorse. (FOB = forward operating base) we threw most of our stuff onto a flatbed semi that was leaving w/ another unit and waited to see if we could meet up w/ our own.
a few hours later we were pulling out of balad in a convoy of five or six strykers and one gigantic other truck. including driver and three guys in the top hatches, there were eleven of us in our stryker (the first time i'd actually seen the inside of one) and we were packed in tight. i actually already knew the driver, he had been sent back to ft. lewis for some minor injuries and left back to iraq two or three weeks before we did. i think the ride was less than an hour. it was getting dark when we got to warhorse and then we got to start in-processing again. yaaaay. we still havn't finished, four days later.
they have worked driver's training into our in-processing and i will soon be licensed to drive a stryker, among all manner of other rediculously large military vehicles. and don't forget a twentyfive-passenger, manual trans, haji-bus. the stryker is kinda fun to drive, the others are not. the vehicle i actually drove was an MGS. which in army terms means: that big thing w/ all the wheels and the cannon on top. -it's a stryker outfited with the same gun on top of the M1 Abrahms tank. -essentially a tank w/ wheels instead of track. there's only room for driver, gunner, and vc cus the cannon's turret takes up so much room.
we've been staying in a big tent that used to have wooden walls in it. but they broke them all down and there was just construction trash and sawdust everywhere. you could taste it every time you walked in the door. yesterday morning some iraqi workers came in and told us they were replacing the floors and we had to move out. we put all our bags out front in the dirt road for the day but we were able to move back in before dinner. -welcome to iraq. yesterday we had more medical refresher courses, always good. among other things we practiced the 'nose tube airway thingy' and sticking IVs. on each other. feeling that tube go down your nose and into your throat is NO fun and the fat kid made me bleed everywhere when he stuck me but that's really no big deal.
so we're waiting to meet the battalion Sergeant Major and hear what he has to say. it's apparently his decision on which company we end up in and i guess he's busy...
i know that was long-winded, hope all's well back home.