Archive: May 2006

TQ Upgrades

We are now living in the middle of a dump, or more accurately a construction site. Bulldozers are working daily to tear down the tent city that was pitched beside our wooden huts. Huge piles of sandbags, tent canvas, plywood, cheap steel bunk beds, and dirty mattresses surround us. They're a small price to pay for the new housing on its way. All the demolition has of course stirred up the base's powdery dust. Since the showers and bathrooms are on the other side of this project, we have to wade ankle deep through the dirt/dust to return to our huts -- and then wash our feet a second time. Removal of the tents has led to the insertion of what we call cans. They are tractor trailer/ship containers made to live in for short periods of time. Some in the unit are hoping we can move to the cans,...

By Bert Stover | May 29, 2006; 5:00 AM ET | Comments (69)

Cheating Death

Only five days after I wrote the last entry about our real enemies in Iraq, we faced one of them -- poor weather conditions -- and risked the lives of all of those aboard four of our aircraft....

By Bert Stover | May 22, 2006; 2:00 AM ET | Comments (107)

The Number One Threat in Iraq: Ourselves

I have flown several times over sections of Iraq labeled dangerous by the Dpartment of Defense. I've flown through tracer fire and what I believe was small arms fire. I've flown over a huge explosion, one that sent a fireball well above our altitude when it detonated about 2 miles (or 30 to 45 seconds) behind us. It generated enough light to make up for the fact there was no moon shining that night. But I believe the threats I faced in those encounters were trivial compared to three other threats that routinely confront aviation units in Iraq -- and these other, greater threats aren't thrown at us by the insurgents. Number three on my personal threat list, but still nothing to laugh at, is the desert environment and the loose soil that causes the feared "brown out" landing. As a helicopter gets close to a landing here, the wind...

By Bert Stover | May 19, 2006; 2:00 AM ET | Comments (44)

KBR and the Laundry

Though it is widely known that KBR -- formerly Kellogg, Brown & Root -- is running the show in Iraq as far as support operations for the military go, I'd like to give you an idea of just how pervasive the firm's presence is in Iraq. Veterans tell me that with each new military operation KBR has become more and more involved. What I noticed first was the laundry. KBR handles laundry at both Al Asad and TQ. We turn our laundry bags in and after a couple of days, our clothes come back, supposedly clean. Here at TQ, the "clean" laundry does tend to have a slight hint of a fresh scent when it is returned. But at Al Asad, we wondered if they didn't just put the clothes in hot water for a while and then let them dry. Whatevery the exact process, things came back smelling so...

By Bert Stover | May 18, 2006; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (32)

A Search for the Missing

A couple of weeks ago, a terrible accident occurred just outside the wire of Al Asad. A convoy was crossing a wash and one of the seven-ton trucks fell victim to the rushing waters, causing all of the Marines and one Navy corpsman inside to go missing. CW4 Phil Brashear, a fellow pilot, was one member of the many crews that launched in support of the Marines and sailors on that truck. I asked him if he share his account of the first day of the mission. In light of the situation and out of respect for the fallen and their families, Phil and I have delayed posting this entry. -- Bert I am awakened by one of my fellow pilots at 03:30 in the morning telling me that an emergency mission has come up. I gather myself and get to the briefing room with little time to spare. We...

By Bert Stover | May 1, 2006; 9:00 AM ET | Comments (83)

 

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