Archive: Departure

Leave Rotations End

Most in the unit have returned to Iraq after their two-week leave, a hiatus granted to each soldier, spread out over the year to maximize productivity. Some chose to go home to family, while others vacationed in foreign countries. All agreed that the leave provided a needed break from the conditions here in Iraq. Most also thought they were the shortest two weeks of this deployment -- they wished their lives away in anticipation of leave, and prayed time would stop during it....

By Bert Stover | December 8, 2006; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (7)

Arrival Camp Victory, Kuwait

After leaving the airport, we traversed roads that all looked the same, lined with lights and mostly empty except for our convoy of buses. We arrived at Camp Victory after what seemed to be a short ride, mostly due to my falling in and out of sleep from being awake for most of the preceding 24 hours. We were herded off of the buses, assembled into a welcome brief and issued our live ammunition. We downloaded our baggage, found our tents and then the chow hall for a midnight meal, called midrats. After chow, most of us took advantage of the Internet cafe to try to notify home that we had all made it this far. I tried several times to call my parents using the free Internet telephony service Skype. Unable to let them hear my voice, I opted to email them and call it a night just after...

By Bert Stover | February 15, 2006; 01:13 PM ET | Comments (34)

Arrival Kuwait 18:30 7FEB06

My first orders overseas, issued over the intercom on our plane as we parked at the gate after landing in Kuwait: "You will depart the plane and proceed directly to the buses, nothing else. No smoke break, no pictures, no nothing, just get on the buses; Its nighttime here so ..." We got off the plane and proceeded to the buses. Small, with curtains drawn over the windows, the buses were the first sign we were 'not in Kansas anymore'. Before boarding the buses, the air was fresh and much more humid than in Yuma. Inside the buses, it was musty, dank, stale. The seats were only big enough to seat soldiers under 5'10", so those of us a little taller had to jam our knees between our seatbacks and those in front of us. We drove around a bit, then stopped long enough for a couple of soldiers to...

By Bert Stover | February 15, 2006; 09:58 AM ET | Comments (4)

Traveling to Iraq

After a week of partying and relaxed dinners in Yuma, we assembled the morning of Feb. 6 in our hanger to board the plane that would take us overseas. It was three hours late. We were told to surrender our knives and lighters before boarding, but not our M-9 pistols and M-16 machine guns -- which got a good laugh. At our first stop, in Bangor, Maine, we were greeted by several veterans, who shook our hands and offered free use of cell phones to make last calls home. I passed on the free calls as I had already said my 500th good-bye to my family and friends. We re-boarded the plane after it had taken on a new crew and fresh bag of gas. As we pushed back from the gate, I worked on a crossword puzzle to divert my attention from the fact I was leaving the U.S....

By Bert Stover | February 8, 2006; 09:46 AM ET | Comments (26)

Farewell Fatigue: CW4 Dave Higginbotham

Because he had to fly another aircraft back to Yuma after our Christmas break, Bert asked that I post an entry describing my thoughts on our departure ceremony. I think I speak for many of us when I say we're beginning to experience Farewell Fatigue. It seems we've been saying goodbye for months, and many of us simply want to get down to business. The sooner we start, the sooner we're working on being finished....

By Bert Stover | January 12, 2006; 09:32 AM ET | Comments (17)


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