We had a formation at 0700, then some of us went over to headquarters to try to get a chopper ride. The plan, which never got off the ground, was to ferry groups on short flights around the camps. While we were waiting, Don Langel, Joe Bechlem and I tagged along on a resupply flight to a British post, then buzzed over Dohuk and returned. There is nothing on God's green earth as much fun as a low-level chopper flight with the doors open; it's the most fun you can have with your clothes on. Unfortunately, we didn't get to fly over the camps; the choppers kept getting bumped for other missions. I went over to Camp 2 for a second try about noon, spent some time chatting with the Italian MP's before this flight, too was scrubbed. So I hiked out to the wadi to take a few pictures, then spent much of the afternoon relaxing. We played volleyball later on.
Breakfast was our last cooked meal. Our mess crew has packed all its gear and nobody else is taking up the slack.
Formation at 0730, then we were off most of the day. I read and relaxed in the morning. At 1330 I went on a shopping run to Silopi. I cashed a check at Finance for $100, then got a copper plate at the Turkish PX, visited the U.S. PX, then hit the street vendors. The south side of the road opposite the camp is lined with vendors mostly selling carpets; I nicknamed it the "Silopi Mall". I got a rug and a tapestry. I had just returned to camp when CPT Gerald Watson and SSG Wally Coyle said they were walking into town, so I decided to go with them.
I had a specific mission in mind. A few days ago the Fishers (MAJ Carl and CPT Lori) came back from Zakho with a Kurdish cradle. I thought Shawn would love one. We walked through downtown, out to the river to see the old stone bridge, then back via a different street. And there it was, outside a shop, price 30 dinars ($6). I put it on my shoulder and we started back the four miles to camp. It was a riot; every male Kurd waved, smiled, gave me the V sign as if to say "You sly fox, you've still got it"! One gave me a little brass amulet for "the baby"; I didn't have the heart, or the fluency in Kurdish, to tell him the cradle would likely end up a planter.
The vendors along the roadside are real pests, selling bayonets and Iraqi currency. Headquarters has issued orders forbidding dealing with them because of the safety hazard created by people crowding the road. For the same reason it is now forbidden to toss candy to the kids. These two regulations should have been posted the first day!
No formation today. I went to Chaplain Burr's service at 0830, then packed up my cradle for shipment. It was so big I had to piece together two boxes, to pack it. I dismantled it, using my mini tool kit, then wrapped my carpet around the three major pieces in an S-shape. I did technical inspection on my convoy vehicle, then went with Haney and Raby back up to the British Marine camp. He went up to get his evaluation, which the British had forwarded to Special Forces. I went to get some missed geology shots. It felt strange seeing some of these places that were by now so familiar, and knowing that it was really for the last time.
At the British camp, we heard that a car tried to run a British checkpoint the other night. They stopped after 11 shots and three flat tires.
Then we went in to Silopi. It took over an hour to mail the package, which was almost too big for SAM (Space Available Mail, the cheapest rate). The limit for SAM, length plus girth, is 100 inches. The box measured out at 100 inches exactly.
The carpet patterns at the Silopi Mall are interesting. In addition to the geometric patterns, they have unicorns, naked ladies, the Last Supper, Sacred Hearts, Confederate flags, Our Lady of Guadalupe (honest!) and other traditional Moslem artistic motifs.
We returned to camp. I ate and played volleyball, very badly tonight. The current speculation has us leaving Friday. The Kurds demonstrated twice, at 0900 and 1800, against the coalition pullout. It took me back to the Sixties. This was the first time I had ever seen anyone demonstrate to keep U.S. forces in a country, sort of a "hell, no, you can't go" demonstration.
The latrine gets filled in!
Created January 10, 2000; Last Update 14 December 2009
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