With the Lazy Sunday SNL short having just gone viral, many of our jokes centered around that video. Thus, I decided to name my journal entries whilst forward at AQ The Al Qa’im Chronicles.
So, I just got to the Al Qa’im Forward Operating Base (AQ FOB) a couple hours ago. I am very tired and my back hurts, so I’ll write more later.
Day 1 – The flight from TQ to Camp Korean Village was on a CH-53. Both Marines to my right and left puked. Scenery looked like Aladdin/Arabian Nights’ rolling sand dunes. Flight DV to Camp AQ I looked out the back the whole way. Scenery more like Arizona mesas, but hard dirt instead of rock, and all brown instead of myriad of oragnes, reds, and browns. Arrived around 1400ish and enthusiastically greeted by Dave (Capt “Funky” Funkhouser). He gave me a quick tour and then I read for a bit and took a short nap. I am staying in a “hooch” (which is actually a plywood “house” that looks like the kind you drew in the first grade) with an office on the front end, a female Lt (the only other female on this whole base), a male SSgt, a male Major, (all three from MWSS), and then me at the “back door.” I am 10ft from work.
After my nap, we all went to dinner. AQ is definitely different and definitely has more of a “tip of the spear” feel. This place is still fine, but TQ is lush compared to it. I got stared at in the chow hall. I noticed many more Lt’s and officers, in general, here. We are in grunt land and grunts need Lt Platoon Commanders. After chow, I tagged along with Dave for the big cheese meeting. It was cool. I felt like I was in a scene from a war movie as they briefed the plans for the huge upcoming operation: STEEL CURTAIN. This is the largest operation this close to the Syrian border ever and AQI (Al Queda Iraq)’s last major stronghold. It is exciting to imagine my comrades catching bad guys and knowing my Marines and I will be their eyes in the sky and making a direct impact on operations.
Anyway, out of about 50 people (mostly Captains), I was one of two women. Out of the whole brief, she was the only one they teased when she stood up to speak. She handled it well, though. I felt like a lot of eyes were on me, though: the new kid and a female. Well, it does feel more like war out here. The only road on the “base” is also the runway (only helos), and LAV’s, tanks, and big trucks abound and the remaining space is populated with tents, little wooden “houses,” and Marines everywhere else. I am part of history here, for sure. I am excited and nervous. In a way, I don’t have a lot of responsibility – I’ll be more of a “floater” than anything else – but I will keep busy and the overall operation will be big. If we are successful it will be very big toward a free Iraq. I think Jamey Warner will be in harm’s way and I pray for him. Also, a Cobra was shot down in Ramadi today; I pray for the pilots’ families.
Enough for tonight…22:00 now and up at 0:600…