Archive: March 2006

Finally Some Room

I'm not complaining, because we have a pretty good living situation, but it just got a little better. All of the rest of the 2/224th battalion (HHC, Delta, and Echo companies) moved out of the tents and into some more stable arrangements. Some into actual buildings and others into trailers commonly referred to as 'cans'. We're not in buildings yet. But the others' exodus has made way for the flight companies to expand out of the one tent-per-company situation that had put us literally on one on top of another....

By Bert Stover | March 27, 2006; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (104)

Ground Hog Day

Work, eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep.... That's pretty much the routine, minus a few details of when and how long, but you get the idea. One of the pilots appropriately answered "It's March!" when asked what day it was. "Tomorrow will be April."...

By Bert Stover | March 24, 2006; 9:15 AM ET | Comments (19)

Taking Fire in Iraq

We took our first indirect fire last night. I was in the flight planning room when all of a sudden people charged into the room in full battle rattle, Kevlar helmet sand body armor, telling us "IDF ... no joke, this is not a drill!"...

By Bert Stover | March 20, 2006; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (73)

A Near Miss Over Baghdad

Getting ready for my second night flight in a row, I found myself going through the same ritual as before: mentally coaching myself on what to do if something were to happen, while tending to the details of prepping the aircraft, my body armor and my sidearms. I slid the metal magazine of rounds into each weapon until I heard and felt the metallic clicking of the spring loaded catches and thought about possible situations where I would have to use the bullets. I flew with a different crew, and before long we were checking the radios of the aircraft and pulling pitch to begin the flight. We were over Baghdad looking down at what seemed to be a fire fight marked by the swarm of tracer rounds, when all of a sudden the aircraft in front of me climbed in altitude so fast that I couldn't keep it in...

By Bert Stover | March 17, 2006; 10:45 AM ET | Comments (40)

Across the Wire at Night

I crossed the wire for the first time. The wire is our term for the base perimeter, beyond which safety is definitely not assured. And just to keep things interesting, my first trip across the wire occured at night, even thought I'd had just three flights since flight school, all of them during the last three days of pre-deployment training Yuma, AZ. In other words my fourth night flight turned out to be a combat mission beyond the wire in Iraq. I was completely lost during the pre-flight brief, but my pilot in command reassured me that he knew what was going on and all I really had to worry about was flying the aircraft. He had spent one of the previous nights riding along in one of the CH-46 helicopters operated by the Marine Corps unit we are replacing....

By Bert Stover | March 16, 2006; 7:50 AM ET | Comments (49)

Al Asad Services

Things here are mostly inert, with the last indirect fire occurring months ago, causing us to develop a false sense of security. Aside from living in open bay tents and having to walk everywhere, the services available are quite accommodating....

By Bert Stover | March 4, 2006; 9:20 PM ET | Comments (27)


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