Chowing Down at Al Asad

Sleeping quarters turned out to be open bay tents with skinny, black steel children's sized bunks that looked like they came from Ikea. We dumped our gear and had the soldiers who arrived earlier in the month escort us to the chow hall.

The quantity and variety of food was astounding, definitely the best chow most of us have seen in the military. Still, there were some oddities.

For example, milk comes in individual boxes, like the juice boxes that kids carry to school in their lunch bags. It requires no refrigeration. Coke and Pepsi come cans with the old style pull tabs last seen in the U.S. on a mass scale in the 70's. The cans have both English and Arabic versions of their logos, a bit bizarre. As for water, it's bottled. Tap water is not potable.

After gorging ourselves on the breakfast menu, we returned to our new homes where succumbed to jet lag, sleeping all day long and waking in time for dinner.

Again, we trekked to the chow hall to discover more opportunity for overindulgence. At least once a week, there is a surf and turf dinner of steak and lobster tails -- admittedly tough and well done, but still pretty exceptional for insitutional food. There is even Baskin-Robins ice cream, though available in fewer flavors than the standard 31. It's not like Mom's cooking, but we're eating well.

By Bert Stover |  February 23, 2006; 1:00 PM ET  | Category:  Al Asad, Iraq
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My Marine niece is on her second tour at Al Asad and it is fun to read Bert Stover's impressions with the place. When I asked her about how she felt about returning to AA she said it wasn't so bad, she'd heard they had Burger King there and a new gym.

I read somewhere that the camp is roughly the size of Arlington County -- 24 square miles. While researching it last year I saw references by Marines posted in Fallujah to Al Asad as Camp Cupcake because of the rather cushy living conditions. There are occasional sandstorms of near biblical proportions. Last year there was a huge one and one of the military contractors there posted awe-inspiring photos of a massive cloud of dust descending on the base like the first blast of the Dust Bowl in the Great Depression.

I hope CWO Stover and my niece and all our people at Al Asad stay safe and out of harm's way. That goes for the rest of our people there, too.

Posted by: Carla | February 23, 2006 01:36 PM

Bert,
After you eat and sleep make sure you check out the showers. The are hot. Time it so you go take a shower with some of the hot guys in your unit, you won't be disappointed. You get to see them completely nude and they have no idea.
Enjoy!!

Posted by: kinton | February 23, 2006 04:45 PM

At least you seemed to ahve figured out that in aviation it is a hangAr, nor hangEr like you hang clothes on. ...called midrats for midnight rations, getit? An of course, a C-130 is not a jet you jeenyus!!

Posted by: | February 23, 2006 07:06 PM

CAN YOU SPELL I-D-I-O-T ?

Posted by: PATE'S DAD | February 23, 2006 08:56 PM

glad to see you are able to eat and sleep berto...sent you some stuff today...post office says about 2-3 wks until arrival.

Posted by: docadam | February 24, 2006 02:12 AM

Bert, for you young guys, those "pull tabs" on the Pepsi cans were called "pop tops". A pop top is what Jimmy Buffet (in Margaritaville) blew out his flip flop on. We used to drop them down inside the cans when we opened them, and they tinkled around in there when the cans were empty. I wonder if anyone is around who remembers what a real actual "beer opener" was like?

Posted by: DJBundy | February 24, 2006 11:58 AM

Still got a number of functional "churchkeys".....

Posted by: Dave | February 27, 2006 01:33 PM

Thanks Mr. Stover your article is very helpful and comforting. I comb the internet everyday looking for articles that give me any idea of what my wife is going thru in the midst of the hard times for the troops and for the families back home. Keep the information flowing and more of it. Your articles are interesting but too short.Incidentally I checked with MBP and she said that your info is right on target. Keep up the good work and stay safe!

Posted by: Raymond | February 27, 2006 02:59 PM

Remember the "John Wayne" can opener?

Posted by: SeniorChief | February 27, 2006 04:23 PM

Hmmmm. The "John Wayne" can opener must be the handi-dandi p-38 that came with all C-ration meals. I remember getting some in boot camp, on bivouac (sp?), which must have dated from the Korean "conflict." I liked 'em. Even the scrambled eggs and MFers. Jeez, but those cigs they used to include were a dry and dusty treat. Little 3-packs. 'Twas most certainly a far different army back in the day.

Posted by: Sgt Stephen K. Nicklay, USA Ret-Med | March 15, 2006 10:25 AM

Ah, the DFAC! Let's not forget those oatmeal cookies. It seems there was a direct correlation between the height of the fly season and the amount of raisens on them cookies! You think?

Posted by: John Scanlan | March 16, 2006 09:28 AM

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