Arrival and Remodeling at TQ
Departing Al Asad with the usual last minute snafus -- forgetting to pack necessary equipment, loading an aircraft with so much material that the passengers couldn't fit in, etc. -- Alpha Company finally parted ways with the rest of the 2/224th and headed east to camp Al Taqaddum, commonly called TQ (Tee-Que). Some company members went ahead to procure housing and work space, but the majority of us took two days to fly all of our personal stuff and aircraft to our new base.
Unlike Al Asad, almost everything in TQ is actually within walking distance, so there is no need for all of the bicycles we'd bought and that we'd of course shipped here. Nonetheless, we have them and will probably use them as it still will shave off transit time.
Our housing has significantly improved from the forty-man, open bay tent situation at Al Asad. Here, we're housed in wooden shacks that fit twelve per. A fellow pilot gave the best description: "You know, some of my friends at home that have built their own barns would be ashamed to admit having built a barn of this nature, the floor all slanted and warped, but we are more than happy to live in them, especially after living in those tents."
Once installed, we quickly got into the home remodeling business. Procuring supplies from large piles of scrap wood near our quarters, we've built makeshift tables and even walls to create something like rooms in an attempt to create some sense of getting away from the people you see almost 24/7.
Except for the fast food and the coffee shop, all of the services that were available at Al Asad seem available here, including indirect fire from the enemy. And it seems there is quite a bit more action here since the town of Habbiniyah is northeast of the camp, whereas Al Asad is out in the middle of nothing. We were not on the ground more than seven hours before we heard our first explosion, which we later learned was a rather large attack.
Our work space started out much the same as the living quarters, empty wooden shacks, so we are building everything from rooms for offices to the desks in which to do our flight planning. On the plus side, our planning and operations offices are not even 50 meters from the aircraft.
Time will tell what the workload will be like compared to Al Asad. One of the reasons we came to TQ was to decrease the length of flights.
-- Written 4/18/2006
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