Thursday, February 01, 2007

Dear All,

Finally, after four days of waiting on a flight line (well it seemed like we spent most of the time on the flight line) I found myself walking the streets of Camp Ramadi this morning. Ramadi means "grey", but it means "grey" because Ramad is "ash"... therefore I found myself walking the streets of Camp Ashy this morning.:) It was like a scene from some movie set in Africa or Mexico. You know, the scene that happens in the morning with a talkative guide as the new people are ushered from one point of reference to another, where the dwellings seem to be mostly "dirt and junk" construction and where there's a general bustle of people going to and fro. Through the midst of the hub-bub, Mike and I walked alongside J-Rob listening as he talked of the day his group arrived and where to go to drop off laundry and where the dining facility was located and where the medical group worked. It was all a bit of a whirl after our late night arrival in the most interesting and most dilapidated living conditions with which I have ever been connected.

"Come on, form a chain! Get those bags on the truck! You're moving too slow!" The first sergeant in charge of our welcoming committee was obviously anxious that we get to where we were going because he had more people coming in behind us. We'd sat out on the flight line for a couple of hours before our chopper arrived in TQ... I had my duffle bag, two ruck sacks and my personal body armor stacked around me or on my person when the order came to get it all on and head to the chopper. I struggled with my packs (which were connected) and grabbed up my duffle. The football field long trot to the chopper just about did me in... I know for a fact that I had weighed close to 300 lbs when I left the States and that didn't include the duffle with which I was now lurching toward the helicopter. Finally I reached the bird and struggled inside... all of our baggage was piled in the center and we sat on either side of the aircraft for the short flight to Camp Ramadi. When I say short, I mean short. I thought for sure they would have completely closed the back end of the chopper before we took off for real, but I guess they liked the ventilation, the back hatch was never fully closed, and someone kept watch out the back the entire time. I dozed and then I noticed that we were wobbling in the air... "Hmm," I thought, perhaps we started taking fire and we were trying to do some sort of maneuver. Just as it was getting a little worrisome, however, I realized it had all been a precursor to touching down on Ramadi soil. "We waited four days for THAT?!" Well, for that and for the opportunity to have that first sergeant yell at us to move faster. I stuck it out as long as I could at the end of the chain loading bags up as high as my head, with 40 extra pounds of body armor slowing me down, then I turned it over to the next guy in line.

We finally arrived at our barracks and through the confusion of people running around and unloading bags and calling out names we heard our, "Harper, Prochazka!" It was such a welcome sight to see Sgt Stock! He led us down the walkway and up some nasty stairs to a dingy second story barracks room. The concrete was covered in mud, but it was hard to tell where the concrete was chipping and where the mud was drying and flaking off. Sand bags sat on wooden supports in front of windows and the long room was inhabited by all of my buddies from first platoon. It was so good to see them, even if most were sleeping. It was crowded, dirty, and pretty run down, but it definitely had character.

More later when I have time, I have just been told my time on the computer is up... I love you all, and I am doing so good. Thank you for your prayers!



WellPleased said...

Dear Son, you always have a way of putting us "there"....whether on the flight line or watching a dad with his little girl...thanks for using your gift to share. We love you bunches and heaps. May God continue to bless you with grace, peace and safety. Mom & Dad

Abby said...

Praying for you Andrew! Glad you arrived there safely! Love and blessings,
The Prescotts

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