Pass, Getting There

I hitched a ride, with our sister company, Bravo, from TQ to Al Asad to catch a flight to Qatar. (Thanks for getting me and putting me up for a few hours while I waited for the flight.)

After a 12-hour stay at Al Asad, catching up with friends in Bravo Company, I boarded the plane for the one-hour flight. There was some excitement at take-off when the C-17, loaded only with passengers, powered its engines to full throttle with its brakes set. I could not control my body when the brakes were disengaged, aven though I knew it was coming, and was tossed toward the rear of the aircraft. For the next five minutes, none of the passengers seated along each long side of the fuselage, facing the center of the plane, could control their posture. The opposing forces were just too great, making for a roller-coaster feeling.

After take-off, I decided to try to nap. As I started to drift off, the plane banked to the left and my stomach dropped to the floor as several G forces were applied to all the passengers' bodies, pressing us into our seats. We let out a collective yell of approval (intertwined with some screams). We were already having fun as we departed Iraq.

I only stayed awake for the following few minutes, napping through landing and taxiing. I woke up when my neighbor was gathering his stuff.

We disembarked the plane, processed into Qatar, picked up our luggage and boarded a bus. Now under control of the R&R Pass program, we stopped to eat as all of us had missed dinner chow and wanted to get to base and consume a beer or two. It was a good idea to get some food in our stomachs.

Upon arrival at Camp As Sayliyah, we were briefed on the rules and regulations while on pass, especially the one about purchasing or consuming no more than three alcoholic beverages a night.

With the briefing over and our room assignments issued, we raced to get our linens, unpack, dress in civilian clothes,and go to one of two bars on the camp. An hour before last call, I made it to the bus stop, but did not know which bus to take.

When a bus arrived, I looked inside and the driver asked me in broken English, "Where you going?" I replied "For a beer. You know where that is?" He waved his hand indicating I should get in and shut the door. After passing several buildings, the bus made a few turns and several stops. Eash time I asked the driver, "Is this the bar?" Each time he said no. After about the fifth stop I assumed he just would tell me when we got to the bar.

A couple of stops later he turned around and said, "It is here, sir." I thanked him, got out and headed inside. Around a corner I spotted the line to purchase a beer. With several choices I went for a 16-ounce Kilkenny. I paid and handed over my ID to swipe, so they could keep track of the three-beer max, then sat down and sipped the ice-cold beverage while watching 'Sports Center' on ESPN. Memories of life in the U.S. came back instantly. I forgot everything about being in Iraq: the flying, the heat, the people, all of it...

--Written 6/10/2006

By Bert Stover |  June 21, 2006; 5:48 AM ET  | Category:  4 Day R&R Pass, Qatar
Previous: Looking Forward to a Four Day Pass | Next: Finding Out What to Do On Pass, Day 0

Comments

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Through out history war has been fought the most that have been over Beer. I like the whiskey rebellion the most. For a service person to have three beers I cheer! And raise my glass of florinated water. How lucky we are to have these choices. Nothing better than the thrill of arriving in this wonderful country USA. There seems to be a shroud of glory when you know your plane passes into our air space. That my friends surpasses any beverage made by man. Maybe someday I will read from others that wonderful feeling of being here home. Knowing you did your best over there. And thanks to the press were the best!

Posted by: PRESTON BERGIN | June 21, 2006 10:19 AM

Glad you are getting away from the everyday grind and are able to decompress for a few days. Enjoy it to it's fullest!

Posted by: Cali-Girl | June 21, 2006 10:21 AM

Bert, Glad to hear the cold ones are 16oz.
Enjoy-

Posted by: Shirley Anne | June 21, 2006 12:09 PM

Good for you, Bert! We're glad you made it to a relaxing location. Have fun. No women there, right? Too bad. You're in the wrong part of the world to have real fun.

Posted by: Captain Nemo | June 21, 2006 01:35 PM

I don't know. I still think you might have enjoyed some mud packs, a new hair style, and a nice manicure/pedicure. Maybe priorities are different for guys.

Posted by: Carla | June 21, 2006 01:47 PM

Bert and Co,
I hope you had a great time. Be careful and stay in touch. Your friend,

Posted by: CW2 Hill | June 22, 2006 09:16 PM

Glad you could get away for a while buddy. You deserve it!!!

Posted by: docadam | June 24, 2006 05:30 AM

Cheers! Thank you for all you do. Hope you have a great R&R.

Posted by: annie | June 26, 2006 05:16 AM

Unbelievable. Bert is taking 2 four day passes while he is on his 6 month tour. I have known of military folks who have done a year in Iraq without one pass let alone two. I have also read about Berts comments on the laundry. My gosh man how much more do you want. You complain because you think they soak it hot water and its not clean enough for you. When was the last time you had to wash your clothes in a bucket because there were no other options? Juast two short years ago thats what some had to do in Iraq. You are trying to get internet in your living space. Big deal, go to the internet center like everyone else. You complain about walking through the dust coming back from the shower and have to wash you feet again. What about the grunt on the ground who doesnt have the chance to shower daily? I guess your main concern is for yourself. If you ever happen to look and see how bad things were in Iraq not to long ago and how bad some still have it maybe you would try to find something positve about your time in Iraq instead of all this whining and crying you are doing now. Suck it up and stop being such a baby.

Posted by: Bert is a whiner | June 26, 2006 03:53 PM

@ the last poster:
I doubt Bert is the only soldier that has compliants about his particular situation and experience. He is just expressing his thoughts here on this blog. I wouldn't read into them too much.

For reference dictionary.com defines the word blog as "an online diary; a personal chronological log of thoughts published on a Web page".

Posted by: Tiger Tribe | June 27, 2006 05:22 PM

Hey pal: To the idiot that was talking like he was John Wayne, his handle was bert is a whiner. Hey hero, I would like to know what you did during this conflict. And how many trips did you make. Hey this is my 4th time over, and no matter how long you get a break, or where you go, it is well deserved. My team and I have been able to get a "ride" and been pulled out of some "comprising" situations and saved our ass. Good for them, I wouldn't want to be flying around while sitting on 500 gals of gas in a land like that. Before you judge, look in the mirror first. Like Michael Jackson once said, Man in the mirror. Good for you Bert, enjoy the rest and maybe we will hookup somewhere down the road. Es Oppresso Liber, R

Posted by: g@sfo | August 3, 2006 02:54 PM

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