Friday, April 24, 2009

Into Iraq: Leaving Baghdad

The buses roll early from the "hotel" headed for the Baghdad airport.

Because of the checkpoints and security designs, it takes almost 45 minutes to go 5 miles.

The airport and this road were also paid for by the bravery of men who battled to take it away and make it safe for US aircraft.

The terminal building is the size of one at a small US airport. Think Macon, Georgia. There are still symbols and art from Saddam's reign. It is incredibly well fortified.

Just outside the terminal building is a CIWS (pronounce sea wizz) gun. What a machine. It is most often found on US naval ships to protect them from missiles.

It looks like R2D2. It has a radar system that tracks any incoming hostile fire and shoots the crap out of the sky with a 20MM Galting gun that shoots 3000-4000 rounds per minute. Literally filling the air with lead to destroy missiles or mortars before they can do harm.

Many of us were sitting outside and the thing starting bobbing around. It was pointed directly over our heads. Luckily, it was just undergoing some testing. It never fired, but I would sure like to see it go.

We have learned the meaning of hurry up and wait. We sit around the airport for a couple of hours for our C17. It is one busy place. Lots of people coming and going.

To help while away the time, there is a recreational tent outside on the tarmac with TVs and a ping pong table. Zac wiped me out and never lost a game to the challengers that came along. I really hate that about him.

Suddenly, our plane was on the ground and hurry up time was here. Get on our body armor, helmets and board.

Whoosh, we are on our way to Kuwait City.

Our time in Iraq has ended. It was a relief mixed with sadness. We are leaving 150,000 military men and women behind.

It is unlikely any of us will ever be here again. But if asked, everyone on that plane would come back. We have been inspired by what we have seen. We want to support, help, and not leave our military alone in this. They need all of us behind them with our hearts and our minds helping them finish the job as best they can.

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