9.23.2003

i sat at BIAP (baghdad international airport) for 13 hours for a 1 hour plane flight...the troop side of the airport is made up of giant tents...a small p.x. housed inside a big rig trailer...and a front gate with a sign that warns you in nice big red letters that "deadly force is authorized"...i slept on the floor...in the rocks...on my duffel bags...but not in the airport chairs which were provided...because they were the most uncomfortable hunks of dog crap i have ever been forced to sit in...the flight was delayed about 17 times...and once we finally palletized all of our bags we all sighed a sigh of sighing relief...we knew it was for real...i spent most of the day convinced that another military stoploss would come down and my company would send out a hmmv to collect me and my gear...i couldn't let myself believe that it was really happening...

but we boarded the C-5...a C-5 is the biggest plane in the airforce repertoire...it can house an abrahms tank and over 60 passengers...your house would fit inside of it...as i climbed up the entrance ladder...i turned a took my last look at iraq...and i thought of river...and salam...my last 7 months...and the road ahead...my life waiting for me not so patiently in the states...

i seated myself...in the back of the plane...the seating in one of those planes is actually above the main cargo hold...once you are inside you have to climb a second stairwell in the back of the plane...the seating up on the top floor faces backwards...and it's circa 1960...it's dim up there...the seats are three across...you can pull up the middle dividers and lay down...it's the only way to fly...if you're in the military at least...

once we were all cozy...they announced that some moron that manifested for the flight with us has not boarded the plane...and they can't find him...they aren't sure if his bags have been pallatized with us or not...so we have to download the pallets and claim our bags again...we aren't surprised...

back upstairs...in my seat...i wait...in the dim cabin...a master sergeant next to me...everyone kind of small talks...we're exhausted...the plane starts rolling...i can feel the disorientation...my guts moving the wrong way...the plane looks like it is stationary...but i can feel the movement...it feels weird...there's an exhilaration...and dramatic shift in inertia...a big angling...shaking...rattling...a thump...and it's smooth sailing...air born...home free...

oh...never fear...there is more...

9.21.2003

i'm home...more later...much more indeed...