I have arrived friends! It was stop and go there for a while but I’m finally at my final destination. They cancelled/delayed our flights twice before we finally left the US. The first day they just sent us a message that the flight had been delayed for the next day. The next day we arrived at the airport only to be told that the flight had been cancelled. In the real world a flight cancellation would have meant that they would try and put you on the next flight or they will provide you accommodations for the night. A cancelled flight in the military means none of the above. Our bags were being carried in a different truck and where classified as A, B or C, in case of the plane became overweight, our “C” bags would be left behind. I was very nervous about that, somehow my travel “savyness” went out the window once I packed my bags. I was given a packing list that I knew a man that does not travel often helped put together. According to the packing list my running shoes were in one bag while the rest of my shorts and t-shirts were in another. The packing list only had one personal hygiene bag...didn’t they know I had 3? After all, I was going to God knows where and needed my endless supply of lotions and soap, not any soap will do, I need the Dove bar in the deep red box along with a bottle of liquid Dove for sensitive skin. Towards the end of my packing process I had jammed every bag with everything I could and what didn’t fit I had to throw away.
Why you need to know this? you may ask, well, after the flight got cancelled they told us the next available flight was going to be in 26 hours!!! I turned around and asked about our lodging for the night and bags. We had been staying in barracks and they had been cleaned, inspected and turned-in, along with the linen, if we slept there we would have to go through the whole process again the next day not to mention that the linen had a turn around time of 3 days! To make a long story short, we had to improvise, we slept on plain mattresses, I had a travel pillow and blanket my future mother in law gave me before this trip so I at least had that but I had to run to the nearest store to get toiletries since everything was packed. Not to mention that we had weapons and they couldn’t go in the bedrooms with us.
After the flight cancellation drama we finally left the next day on a Wednesday night and arrived in Kuwait on a Friday at 2am. From there we had bags to load/unload and reload and buses to catch before we finally arrived to our destination. Once we got there, about 6 am, we kept going straight through, there was no rest for the weary. My unit had an express lane to arrive in Iraq so rumors started flying that we were not staying long (actually just a few hours). All of the sudden 3 soldiers and myself were called in front of the formation along with our leaders, we were informed that we had been re-missioned and would now be leaving the unit and be headed to Baghdad. Wohooo!!! I was leaving those crazy people behind!
Two days later I ended up at the US Embassy in Iraq, a slice of heaven in the midst of chaos. Mr. E knew when I would be arriving but since I had no phone or Internet with me I spent all day getting settled in before I could call him to let them know I was there just a few yards away from his building. That night as I walked back from dinner I saw that very familiar silhouette walking towards me, my heart dropped, it was Mr E.!!!!!! I wanted to run up to him and hug him. Instead he greeted me by my rank and last name and I did the same, we shook hands and we smiled at each other. The place was crowded and we were both in uniform which prohibited us from displaying any type of PDA (personal displays of affection). We walked away to a dark spot where we could at least hug each other. I can’t believe how much I’d missed my best friend, I hugged him so hard I didn’t want to let go! I am so fortunate to be so close to him and I don’t take that for granted at all. (To be continued...)