Arrival Al Asad, Iraq 9FEB06

I had dosed off during the ride to Al Asad and was oblivious to the world until I felt something smacking my knee. I convinced myself it was just another soldier trying to get comfortable in the C-130's seating, until I heard my name repeated with each punch.

I opened my eyes in the green light of the transport's passenger area, strapped in face-to-face with other members of the unit. One of my buddies was waking me to get ready to depart the plane.

The plane's green lights flashed to white as we unbuckled, stood up and shuffled to the rear ramp door where we saw small buses waiting for our arrival -- not the typical American school bus, but 20-seaters like the ones you see in Japan. As we moved off of the plane ramp and out of the heat dispensed by the plane's engines, the cold nip of the 45 degree desert night struck my face.

Someone who appeared to be a local national was driving the bus and we trusted him to take us to the right place. We boarded and were whisked away to a nearby hangar, where we received a briefing of what not to do while stationed here.

For the second day out of three, we were dead tired as the day had started 24 hours ago. And we still had to unload our bags from the pallets, load them on the trucks, then drive to our sleeping quarters. Would there be cots, beds, or even a shelter? The long ride soon sucked some of us back to sleep as the local clock ticked to 05:30.

By Bert Stover |  February 23, 2006; 5:00 AM ET  | Category:  Arrival Iraq
Previous: Arrival Camp Victory, Kuwait | Next: Chowing Down at Al Asad


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I too remember my unit OCONUS departure to Viet Nam many, many years ago. Not much has changed I see. Good Luck, and safe flying!

Posted by: Isaac H. Suggs, Jr., CW4 (Ret), AVN | February 23, 2006 08:15 AM

"Not much has changed I see."

Ah yes, Vietnam, I remember it well. Another failed attempt by the United States to take over a faraway country that had done us no harm. Another war based on lies in which millions of innocent people were sacrificed to the national vanity of the United States.

Posted by: an American | February 23, 2006 09:35 AM

to "A Loser" - Let of the bloody politics. WO Stover is giving us a soldiers eye view of an American National Guard units deployment to carry out the orders given to him by the elected representatives of the American people. Take your politics elsewhere.
WO Stover - Hoah! Stay safe, make Virgina proud.

Posted by: Daniel | February 23, 2006 10:21 AM

...on the other hand, the current war dwarfs Vietnam in its impact on the United States and the world. Cheney and Rumsfeld in their arrogance and stupidity have managed to turn virtually the entire world against us. We are now almost universally hated for our aggressive, unprovoked war and occupation, and for kidnapping, secret prisons, torture, and murder. Ninety-eight prisoners of war have died in US captivity since these invasions began.

Think of it and imagine how we would feel if Bert Stover were captured by our enemies, tortured, and killed in captivity.
Cheney and Rumsfeld have put all of us, and especially Mr. Stover, in grave danger... all for a pack of lies.

Posted by: an American | February 23, 2006 10:38 AM

To "An American" and those who are like minded. Bert is a loyal american following orders. These orders came from the President and other elected officials. Bert didn't just get up one day and say "lets beat the crap out of Irak!" These American elected officials are there because a significant portion of Americans put them there. If you have a beef with the politics, then do something to change the elected officials. Bert and the rest of the military are simply doing what we, through our elected officials asked them to do. If we want to change the orders, then we need to change those who give the orders, and we do that we our votes. Not by harassing our troops...

Posted by: Also An American | February 23, 2006 11:43 AM

It is not harassing our troops to discuss the reasons for which they are being put in harm's way, and in many cases killed and dreadfully injured. Although our government is spying on us, kidnapping people, and putting them in secret prisons to be tortured, we do not yet live in a totalitarian state like the Soviet Union where it is considered illegitimate to to discuss policy. If we had had more honest discussion before the unprovoked war was launched in our name, we wouldn't now be in the deep mess that we find ourselves in.

Bert Stover and his colleagues are innocent victims of Cheney's and Rumsfeld's brazen lies. We should support them by rejecting the criminals who deceitfully put them in harm's way, and by forcefully rejecting the occupation of foreign lands that did us no harm.

Posted by: an American | February 23, 2006 11:57 AM

War is a time when old men argue and young men(and now women) die.

Posted by: Someone in Kansas | February 23, 2006 12:10 PM

It is interesting and sad that instead of a discussion, you provide a monologue on your views. Instead of presenting facts you insist that those whom you disagree with in government must be lying. Instead of suggesting viable alternatives you villianize and denigrate those who must decide and do.

Instead of fostering a positive dialogue on issues you use words that cut off further discussion, instead of seeking the positive or balance you seem to reflexively, unthinkingly project a cognitive monoculture of fear, loss of control, anger and hatred. You use a forum that has a distinct focus to act out your needs and weaknesses.

If you truly believe what you are saying... and if you're right why aren't you under arrest or "kidnapped"... then why are you using this forum? You will change no minds here with your "drive-by shooting" approach to discussion. Ypur eforts seem more like self gratification than a real contribution to a discussion forum.

Why? You fail to supply a name, but wrap yourself in a label that implies courage and individualism while skulking and hijacking dialogue. Whether you believe in an anti-christ or not, the category should be familiar from popular culture. Your behavior, not your dissonant rhetoric indicates that you are more of an "anti-american" than a positive protestor.

We know now who you don't like and what you fear... you should let us know what you do believe in and what you do stand for... and why not show some spine and believe in yourself by tossing a name into the arena to start with.

At the end of the day Mr. Stover and those with him will matter than 10,000 people like you because he does what he believes in. In life and death he and those with him change the world for the better because they are willing to stand up and do... a far more powerful combination than your secretive and frantic dystopian denigration of them and those who lead us because we put them there.

Posted by: Jim | February 23, 2006 12:55 PM

My husband spent seven months in Iraq, and I want to wish Mr. Stover's family a strong and safe deployment. As for the continuing argument/dialogue over the war in Iraq, it is only when we stop talking about our government and its policies that we lose a big part of being American. I know many Marines, all of whom would support "An American's" right to vent and voice an opinion contrary to that of our government and our armed forces. That is, after all, why we fight for democracy and participate in a democratic republic. The Marines may not agree with "An American" (though you may be surprised how many do!), but they will die for his right to voice his opinion. Ooh-rah, Mr. Stover. Wishing you a safe tour in Iraq. Or, as my four year old called it, Myraq.

Posted by: Marine's Wife | February 23, 2006 01:29 PM

Thank you very much Ms. Marine's Wife for supporting democracy. I know very well that many in the military have lost respect for our misgovernment and the misorders that they receive from deceitful people like Rumsfeld.

We are all less safe due to the disasterous decisions that have been made in the last few years, and nobody knows that better than those service people whose lives are on the line every day in the living hell that Cheney and Rumsfeld have made out of Iraq.

Again, thanks for your support for our democracy in the face of others who want us to shut up and follow orders mindlessly.

Posted by: an American | February 23, 2006 01:46 PM

I also strongly support the right of those who do support the current administration or who feel they are supporting the armed forces through that support. I can imagine many alternatives that would have me supporting government policies and those who now support government policies taking the position that I am one of those "others who want us to shut up and follow orders mindlessly."
It is also important to note that many Americans, especially those affiliated with the military, support our governmental institutions. The institutions that make up our three branches of government go through many cyclical changes (and administrations!)and are the strongest part of our system. Though it may seem to some that checks and balances are not working well at the present time, a sense of perspective does help, as does a knowledge and study of the history of our government, its members and our citizens.
It is also important to remember that in a democratic republic, one's civic duty is to remain informed and to vote. Do your part and things will change. In our nation and in our government, those you disparage today are often those you need to cooperate with tomorrow. While debate and opinion are healthy and good, hate is not productive in a functioning government. Perhaps there is a less virulent way to get your message to those on the other side of the debate.
I support our nation and its armed forces with a careful consideration of the issues, facts and opinions, as well as a dialogue with those who disagree with me.
All the best in your quest to create change. When you get it, our military will support the policies put forth by that administration just as faithfully as they do those of this adminstration. And wives like me will continue to keep the home fires burning for our loved ones.

Posted by: Marine's Wife | February 23, 2006 02:05 PM

Well said Jim!

Posted by: military wife | February 23, 2006 04:41 PM

Save America-vote the bums out in November.

Posted by: Bloomsberry | February 23, 2006 05:33 PM

With three sons in the military,one just back from Iraq-one "in-and out"of Iraq and one "on the way", and having served 34 years myself I take my hat off to "military wife" and to "jim" for expressing themselves so clearly and with an understanding that we stand for the right of others to disagree with us-it's what we fight for and will give the last full measure for!
Noone is more cognizant of the "lump in the throat" one gets when he commissions one of his children to wear the uniform knowing full well that the men leading them may not be aware of all the facts and certainly do not have a corner on the absolute truth(read facts).
They will make the best decisions they can with what they believe to be the truth at that time.Maybe "God" speaks to "an american" and he knows the absolute truth but in 34 years He did not give me any certainties. We just do the very best we can and hope we're right.

Posted by: JIM M. | February 23, 2006 06:05 PM

Its funny how much we tend to forget the little things that happen. When I went over there, Iraq, in latter 2003, I forgot about all the little things that occurred on the way getting into Iraq. Your stories about this reminded me so much of all the events, the uncertainity that we may face. However, not in uniform this time around (former Marine), I went over there as a contractor to work for CJTF 7.

I remember when we got on the flight from El Paso to fly to London, then from there to Kuwait. Not many of us on that flight could sleep. Like most of us civilians, we were the tail end of the first phase of contractors inro the country, we were all uncertain of things to come, where we were going and so forth.

The bus trip from Kuwait airport to Camp Victory was right on the money. Then sitting around waiting to be called after your indoc to catch the next flight into Baghdad. Afraid to sleep, in case you miss your name being called, which would mean missing your pick up in Baghdad, hence you had no idea who was coming to get you or what to expect upon arrival.

But I do remember, it was Sunday around noon, we just got off the C-130 flight into Baghdad International Airport, standing there, 125 degrees, sunny, no breeze and looking around, thinking, My God, I am standing in Iraq, a place I never thought I would be and now here I am for the next 12 months.

To some degree, when I called home to my parents to tell them I made it and I am standing in Baghdad, it was kind of neat. Of course to them, it wasnt, cause now the worry started.

Later that day we arrived at our location between Baghdad and Ramadi. We were expecting tents and the like, instead we were placed in a concrete shelter, which made us feel alot safer. Just after dark that night, we got our welcome greeting from the Anti-Coalition members, 4 hours of sporadic mortar attacks on our facility. That lasted every night between 5 and 10 pm until Ramadan commenced, about 2 months later.

In my tenure there, many things happened, many things good and bad, things I wish no one has to see or experience.

To all those there, stay safe, stay focused, and your in my prayers all the time.

Posted by: Former Marine | March 21, 2006 03:01 PM

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