In Iraq for 365

About my experiences in Iraq... the frustrations, the missions and this country... and the journey home

Sunday, January 16, 2005

In Kuwait, waiting on bird number two

I know better. I don’t know why I did it. I mean, I’ve been on a dozen or so C-130 flights, some of which lasted eight hours. And every time, I made sure I was the last to get on so I’d have the comfortable roomy seat in the back, conveniently closer to the potty bucket. But for some reason, I was the first to place my desert boots on the bird that took me from Iraq to Kuwait. See, surviving a packed C-130 flight requires patience, durable ear drums and a very strong bladder. I have all except for the latter, which is why I always relieve myself 30, 15 and 10 minutes before every flight and get the nearest seat to the potty.

If you’re in the front and you gotta go, you must walk down a long aisle of knees and shoulders, and the soldiers are normally sleeping. Nobody likes to be awakened by the guy who didn’t take care of business beforehand, so I just sat there waiting and waiting and waiting. I actually contemplated going and got up to march to the pot, and then I saw everybody’s gear crammed in between the knees and elbows. Unless I scaled the cargo-net walls, I’d be better off taking a terrorist head on than walking down the row of sleep-deprived soldiers.

Your mind plays some funny tricks on you when the bladder is exceeding capacity. Did you forget your weapon? No it’s right here. Did you do a head count of all your soldiers; I think one or two are missing. Of course I did, didn’t I? Simply put, I didn’t enjoy the flight leaving Iraq because I thought I was going to implode. And when we finally landed, I was the happiest man alive. “Sergeant, I know we’re going home, but you’re a little too excited.” You have no idea, sir. I went to the port-a-potty and didn’t leave for two minutes. While there, I enjoyed good old fashioned army graffiti. Of course, it was all too vulgar to share, but know there are some pretty good artists roaming about who appreciate the female body.

Other than enjoying graffiti, I’ve been taking it easy. But even here, there are things to stress about. “Get your hands out of your pockets, sergeant.” “Who said you could wear a black fleece with DCUs?” It’s been so long since I’ve been a part of the normal army environment where people gripe about uniform standards rather than worrying about getting killed that I almost wanted to tell the senior ranking person… Yeah, taking my hands out of my pockets is really going to save my life. I’ve been in Iraq for a year while you’ve been worrying about wrinkles in your uniform. So, you can kiss my arse. But it is the army standard and as an NCO, I am supposed to be the standard, so I adapted to the environment and just drove on.

But the soldiers in Kuwait are in a completely different environment than Iraq. They don’t have to worry about mortars, roadside bombs or car bombs. They have movie theaters, Burger King, Subway, Baskin Robbins, Starbucks and a PX that puts Wal-Mart to shame. They don’t have to wear body armor, ammo or a weapon every where they go. They have swimming pools, bowling alleys and drive SUVs rather than uparmored hummers. This place is more like a resort in Tennessee, and the soldiers stationed here receive the same combat and hazardous duty pay as soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan. I’m sure they’re doing a great job and I certainly appreciate their service, but come on, do they deserve combat pay? That’s reserved for people who are… what should I say … in a combat zone, not for soldiers who wear civilian clothes on their off time. Many of the soldiers in Kuwait have already served in Iraq or Afghanistan and most of them agree that they don’t deserve the extra pay, but they’re not complaining. I probably wouldn’t either. I guess, you could say it’s a little frustrating when your life has been in jeopardy every day for the past year and soldiers living the good life receive the same exact pay as you. They also receive a combat patch, which is a highly coveted honor bestowed upon soldiers for serving in a combat zone. To me, that’s just a kick in the crotch when you’re on a C-130 and gotta go pee.

With that being said, they are still separated from their families and the potential threat is always there. The insurgency could move into Kuwait or Qatar, and start causing trouble, and U.S. personnel are always a target anywhere in the Middle East. So, now that I think about it, maybe it’s OK that they receive extra compensation. The soldiers in real combat zones should just get more.

Either way, any deployed soldier looks forward to the day he or she can return to American soil. The next jet plane I hop on will take me there. This time, I’ll make sure I get a seat closer to the potty.


At 4:17 AM, Blogger JJ said...

I feel for son sent a picture of the inside of the C130 on his first deployment...I couldn't figure out anyone could move anywhere with all the "stuff" piled in betweent the two rows of soldiers. Your next plane should be better equiped with "facilities".

Glad you made it out of the AO. Hope you get to spend a few days decompressing in Kuwait.

Keep posting...

At 7:41 AM, Blogger JUST A MOM said...

Well nice to hear from ya! On your next flight take along one of those nice big Starbucks cups, ya never know.Welcome 1/2 way home there Smink. Enjoy your down time, when you get home I am sure it'll be a whirl wind, only a good one! Have fun!!

At 7:56 AM, Blogger JUST A MOM said...

By the way,, what was the first thing you ate after you landed? Just wondering.

At 8:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yo! Sminkie!! just breezed be to see and, lo and behold, here you are. So sorry to hear about yer latter bladder... it probly requires intensive and repeated alchohol flushes.... ah.. for medicinal purposes. Yeh! that's the ticket! "Pool" Q sed it

At 9:49 AM, Blogger Bigs said...

Good to here from you. Are you going to be in Kuwait for a while?

At 10:56 AM, Blogger Brian H said...

Have you or has the army ever/never heard of the "busman's friend"? Or a pop bottle with a tight screw-on cap?

Anyway, for some real-life amazing toilet technology, have a look at where Germans make their deposits. No wonder they're so obsessive-compulsive.

At 12:32 PM, Blogger Caroline said...

Re: combat pay

Exactly what I was thinking. My dad (4 tours in Vietnam) was wondering when they started paying combat pay to those not in real combat zones. Anybody?

At 2:17 PM, Blogger Kayla said...

I am so glad that you are getting to come home!! Take care of yourself and enjoy not being shot at all the time!! :-) Relax for a little while! Thanks for keeping us posted!!

At 3:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You will post again, you will post again, you will post again, you will post again, you will post again, you will post again. Next time you need to " hold it" repeat to your will post again.
Welcome Home ;)

At 6:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad you're getting closer, Casanova. Be glad when you place your desert boots on American soil......


At 6:46 PM, Blogger FbL said...

Great post, as usual (funny and serious, and everything in between). I missed your writing, Smink! Yes, it was only 3 days, but I'm addicted.

What a relief to know you are safely out of Iraq...and soon you will be on American soil. :)

At 10:20 PM, Blogger Rosemary said...

Welcome to Kuwait. I hope it won't be too long be4 you are welcomed to the USA! Please do yourself a favor...when you get home, do NOT watch the news. It is propoganda for the terrorists. Then again, you already know that. How dare they not publish your pictures! Yes, I am still upset about that. You really must write that book. Hey, all you have to do is print out your blog! I'm glad you're safe, so to speak. Godspeed home.

At 12:01 AM, Blogger strykeraunt said...

Big sigh of always feels good to me knowing when a soldier coming home has landed in Kuwait. Like others who posted above, I only came by thinking that there may be more in the comment section, and was quite surprised to see a new post. I hope your homecoming is absolutely wonderful.

I have heard some of the stories you are sharing about the conditions in Kuwait but didn't know they are receiving combat pay. I'm not going to say anything negative because their life is probably more deprived than mine. Perhaps they need to have different scales of combat pay, one for Iraq, and one for other. Not that the "other" should be paid less but the soldiers in Iraq could be paid more...just a thought.

As far as the standard dress issue, I think the Army is paying someone to be stationed in Kuwait for the sole purpose of clarifying standard of dress to those coming out of Iraq :D In addition to SUVs, word has it that they also have Mustangs and sleep in queen size beds (that may be an exageration but who knows:D

At 7:04 AM, Blogger ~kimberly~ said...

I dont think ive read a post with so many references to the bathroom before in my life, and lemme tell ya, Ive seen some that mention it, ALOT! Aside from that, keep blogging, and..get your hands outta your pants soldier!!

At 11:14 AM, Blogger Molicious said...

So glad to hear from you. I hope you're already on your way home. :o)

At 7:29 AM, Blogger Kim said...

You're almost there!

At 6:42 AM, Anonymous Kayla said...

As a soldier who served in Iraq and received a Purple Heart, I agree with you that Soldiers in Kuwait don't deserve a Combat Patch. It is a kick in the ass, but they have no exciting stories to tell! They'll feel like a moron when someone asks them what it was like to be in combat and to earn that patch. And me, well, I wear it proudly... because I earned every damn stitch of it.

At 4:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looking at the situation, very soon the insurgency will spill over the whole Middle East. Therefore the additional combat pay is needed since Kuwait will become part of the battle scene in a matter of months.

At 2:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a soldier with 13 years of duty, and he gets his chance to go to "War" and Lo and Behold! he gets sent to Kuwait1 he is heartbroken, but knows it is his duty to go. Not his fault, just where the unit went/ was sent by DA. Of course he wants duty in Iraq or STAN, cuz other soldiers will give him crap about duty in Kuwait. Again, its not his fault. So he goes, and gets the crap of being in Kuwait during the SURGE, but wow! A IED makes its way within 500M of the camp! But yea, u r right, he should not ge a combat patch, and or pay, because he is a REMF and again though it is not his fault, he is stationed in KUWAIT for 14 months.
Wake up.
Sure all want "real" combat duty, but we are all all soldiers and wil do what we are told to do.
BTW, it takes permission from the Kuwati Governemnt to cross the border, otherwise an excursion into iraq would have happened! (so the soldier thinks...)
Grow up solders who are bitching about the Kuwait soldiers, its not their fault, and though they are not "under fire" as you are supposedly every day, they are doing duty in a county 3KM from the county you are in and they dont deserve the patch? Tell me what kind of missile knows he can only hit a real combat solder, but not the Kuwait stationed soldier? How is that a kick in the nuts?

At 6:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Starbucks does not support soldiers or the war on teror so therefore there is no starbucks in kuwait camps, (or not in Buehring, Navistar, or Virginia) so stop with the BS. kuwiat stationed soldiers are soldiers who went some where when told to do so. Stop the BS. BTW; where was the first place you went when you got back to Kuwait? The line at BK shows your answer...

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