Now it’s time for the massively delayed birthday post! This was my second birthday in uniform, and probably the most surreal. The day before, 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division completed its second Thunder Run through southern Baghdad and had moved into the palace complex, soon to be known as the Green Zone and later to be known as the International Zone. The day after, Marines pulled down Saddam’s statue in one of the famous images of the war. And me? I was at the airport.
Highlights I didn’t include were the brigade commander, Col. Potts, giving me a cigar in the morning as we watched an Air Force A-10 rain hell on some Iraqis in our vicinity and Phil Ittner letting me make a couple calls home from the CBS satellite phone. I won’t lie: I’ve had better birthdays, but I’ve also had worse.
8 April 03
Today I’m 25, and life is surreal. We’re at the airport, and we shouldn’t be leaving any time soon. I found a place to sleep, up on the 4th floor of an office building on the back of one of the hangars here.* Got moved in, got a balcony, got music playing. Surreal, but much better than it’s been.
Woke up to the sound of an A-10 shooting at an AA [anti-aircraft] position this morning. It sounds like a really loud fart when the 30 mm cannon lets go. Went and hung out with Tom and MSG Krouser for a while, had a couple meals and then ran to find SGT Clarke and the DMAIN [Division Headquarters-Main] crew. … Finally got all my pics centralized on my computer.** Searched through the office building for some souvenirs with Phil. It was pretty fun. Went back to BDE HQ [brigade headquarters] and set up some workspace. … Overall, it wasn’t a bad birthday for being at war and all. Even though I forgot it was most of the day. Just the way it goes, I guess.
To Be Continued …
* Side note: It was the Iraqi Airways building, the tallest thing on the airport. One of the majors liked to call it Khobar Towers, because he was convinced it would be a missile magnet like the buildings in Saudi Arabia. We dubbed it the Hotel California and hung a sign saying such over the large metal sign with Saddam’s face on the front of the building. When I went back to Iraq three years later, Iraqi Airways had its building again, but there was still an area called the Hotel California on part of the Victory Base Complex, which all but surrounded the airport.
** Looking back, I’m kind of glad I did that, because this would just be a bunch of text otherwise. I wish I’d had the space on my computer to keep more.