On December 29th, 2004 (after I got back), I started copying notes from the journal I kept while in Iraq, putting them in Word-files, with pictures I took. The initial entry which I have for you here, below, was written then with recollections to set the stage for the rest of the journal. I’ve decided to share it here in the Blog. I may consider some edits upon reviewing the entries, but for the most part I’d like to keep them as written. Even if some of it is hard to understand, or politically incorrect. It is what it is. War sucks. So, the warts in my writing back then, hopefully stay. The original idea of even keeping a journal was to have a historical document. I wanted to record events. Not my feelings. But war is a powerful thing. Feelings did creep into my writing in some cases.
These experiences have certainly shaped the person that this artist is, my world view, and the art I create and the songs I produce. An artist friend also has encouraged me to share some of this stuff. He thinks people might be interested. He likes the story of wandering around Saddam’s Al Faw Palace. But it's not a harrowing war story, a lot of it is pretty mundane. If your looking for a Rambo story, sorry to disappoint. So without further ado-
"Notes on my 2004 rotation at Baghdad International Airport. Dec 29,2004
January 22nd 2004, I reported to Channel Islands Air National Guard Station for a one-year mobilization to support Operation Enduring Freedom. Altogether there were 24 people from the 146th Aerial Port Squadron who were activated for this deployment. We were sent to Travis Air Force Base and attached to the 60th APS. We trained with the 60th from February thru May and then deployed to Baghdad International Airport, Iraq with a group which was half National Guard and half Regular Air Force, folks from the 146th and the 60th.
I arrived in Baghdad on the afternoon of June 9th 2004. We had stopped at Al Udied Air Base in Qatar where we changed into our desert uniforms and got on the C-130 which flew us into Iraq. I noticed on the flight in, that about 30 minutes out of Baghdad, the Loadmasters on the plane’s aircrew put on their flak vests. The ride into Baghdad was sort of a roller coaster ride. When we got to BIAP (Baghdad International Airport) our team chief Ray greeted us on the flight line-He was part of the group which had got there the week before. It was hot. Not as hot as it was in Al Udied, but hot.
On the first day we experienced an attack. We were eating lunch at the Army’s chow hall at Camp Striker when a rocket hit close by outside. Close enough that a lot of the Army guys ran to the windows to see what was up. I asked an Army SFC what happened and he told me that it sounded like a rocket.
The chow hall was staffed by TCN’s (third country nationals). We’d just call them Haji’s. There was a hand washing area outside the chow hall and the thing which really struck me as odd about it is there were paper towels-which were the consistency of toilet paper. Most of the food seemed to be boiled. There was plenty of it. Some of the products-like sodas-were the Haji version with Arabic writing on the side. All the Army troops were carrying weapons. We had to wear flak vests and carry our helmets with us.
The BIAP area consisted of the Air Force Camp Sather, 1st Armor Division’s Camp Striker, 1st Cavalry Division’s Camp Victory, Log Base Seitz, Camp Slayer (which consisted of a bunch of civilian agency’s), and a few Special Forces camps-one called Magic Mountain and a fort next to our camp which was called Task Force 626 or something like that. We heard that Saddam Hussein was being held on BIAP and I suspected that Task Force 626 was holding him. That fort was very heavily fortified. In the center of BIAP is (was) the old ‘Saddam International’ Terminal. There was an Army Logistics camp on that side of the airport when we first arrived. They had a chow hall called the ‘Bob Hope Chow Hall’. A Burger King too. Also, a PX and Bazaar, run by AFFEE’s and the Haji’s.
Everyday we’d hear distant explosions. Something was always burning and there were palls of smoke rising into the air. At night we’d see flares and see flashes on the horizon. There were frequent controlled detonations by EOD. There was also a range in the vicinity of Camp Striker which made a lot of racket. Sometimes I’d wonder if the gunfire we heard was the range, or something else.
While I was in Iraq I kept a journal..."
Now, lets go back to 2019.
So, 12-29-04, that's how I set the stage for the rest of the journal, after I got home. In the photo below is the first actual journal entry I made 3-1-04, while I was at Travis AFB in the run-up to the actual deployment.
In the next Blog entry, I will have the first journal entry that was written in-country.
Please check back for the next journal entry "June 10th, 2004".
Thank you for reading and please feel free to comment or share-