I like to read up on what our soldiers are doing in Iraq. There are an increasing number of soldiers blogging about their experiences. Lt. C is back in the states and hasn’t been updating his site.
I just discovered Howdy and Hurl, two Cobra pilots sharing a site called Spider Camel.
Canceled Casualty Evacuation
The bell rang. More like a garbage can lid being hit with a 2 by 4.
“Howdy, you got a mission!” yells the Battle Captain.
I sprint out the door and join the foot race of CH-46E pilots, crew chiefs, medical corpsmen, doctors and Cobra crews running to their helicopters.
Throw on your body armor, dive in, yell “CLEAR!” and crank it up. get to 100% rotor RPM, arm up the missiles, rockets and 20mm cannon….
There is an urgent CASEVAC in Ramadi. Time is crucial. The doctor and corpsman are on the CH-46, the cobra is there to protect them so they can do their job.
We launch and “floor it” heading towards Ramadi. we are going as fast as we can get the aircraft to go.
Eight miles out from Ramadi we get a call on the radio that our mission is canceled.
An urgent CASEVAC got canceled meaning the individual that was supposed to get picked up lost their fight for life.
Turn around, land, dearm, shut down, refuel, re-cock the aircraft, lay out your gear again just like a firefighter would and walk back to the ready room.
I don’t know you or your name, but may God bless you and keep you…..
This one is from Hurl. Warning: Hurl has some uncharitable views of homosexuals.
April 21, 2005
I few days ago I had the pleasant experience of flying over Baghdad. I say pleasant because I was in a position to observe from my cozy, winged chariot without having to wade through the streets. I had a great view of the layout – the neighborhoods, the slums, the roads, bridges, rivers, palaces, mosques etc.
One other interesting feature of this large city was the variety of enormous monuments spread thoughout. Giant Mosques, giant swords, giant clam shells. Giant…. pile of….. ancient dirt? Probably the remains of an enormous sun-dried mud-brick tower or something.
Some areas are terribly violent and dangerous, classified as “Black zones” on a scale of….. green to black. Lots of terrorists lurk in these areas, prepping for their next suicide-borne slaughter of innocent Iraqis trying to build a better society…..trying to provide for their families. Good people butchered by death-loving thugs and cowards who only live to destroy….
There is an uncany resemblance to Los Angeles – sprawling, palm trees everywhere, freeways cutting it into sections, a bit smoggy, kinda trashy…. What an interesting backdrop to all the giant “Fantasy” stuff scattered around – sort of like….. Disneyland in hell. As the mercury climbs above 100….110….120…. I’m guessing that description will become more accurate.
And then there are these interesting tidbits from I Should Have Stayed Home:
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Ziad is dead. I just heard. His boss, an Iraqi general mentioned it in passing. “Ziad was shot 2 days ago at his home.” So that’s another one then. Another good guy who might be living today if he hadn’t met me. I got him involved in some security operations out west. In the course of that stuff, which we’ve been working on together for about four months, he would attend meetings with me and with the locals. I guess some of the locals learnt enough about him to figure out where he lives. So that’s another colleague gone.
Anyway, I’ll try not to be all doom and gloom. You can’t be around here. You just have to keep moving on. And so it is I’ll now tell you the – until now – unknown history of the Gulf War.
I had another Arak session with General Ashraf last night (ugh – I still feel a bit nauseous) – and in the course of the evening he pulled out some old photos. They were of him – looking much younger – and the Iraqi Minister of Interior back in 1988. “In Kuwait,” he said, pointing a chubby finger at the flag behind them.
“You were in Kuwait in 1988?” I asked.
“Yes. Military Intelligence.”
I rifled through the photographs, finding one of him beside a sandberm.
He then continued – “The night after that photograph was taken there was a knock on my hotel room door. They said to me ‘we will give you seven million dollars if you never tell anyone what you saw today.'”
“What had you seen?”
“Oil drilling. Like this.” He slid his arm diagonally in front of his face.
“Wait a sec. Don’t tell me you’re the guy who found out that the Kuwaitis were drilling diagonally!” – That was, after all, Saddam’s causus belli back in 1990.
“Yes. And I write report to Saddam and say, ‘the Kuwaitis are drilling diagonally.’ But he went too far. I wrote that he should only invade five miles. But instead he took all the country.”
I was stunned. I said – as much to myself as to him – “Are you telling me that the war with Kuwait was your fault? That it’s because of you that I’m sitting here now?”
He laughed and poured some more Arak.
And later he said, “the American Ambassador come in 1990 and we tell her we are going to invade, and she say ok, so long as it is only five miles. I was there.”
(For recognized historical background on this whole series of events, click here.)
Well, some of what Ashraf says I take with a grain of salt. This story in particular – that it was his discovery and his report to Saddam that started the Gulf War – seems more than a bit fantastic.
But there was no denying the photographs.
I’d like to see those photos.