Fear and Loathing in Iraq: December 12, 2004

Army Soliders in Line

Hello everyone! Sorry for the long delay in writing, but things here have been very, very hectic and I didn’t have quality time to sit down and write. And even when I did have a spare few minutes, I actually didn’t feel like writing. Hope you can understand. I guess I was a little burned out.

Well now my batteries are recharged and in perfect timing: The new replacements arrived today!!!! Yesireebob, they arrived today on a C-130 and we sent out 10 ambulances to pick them and all their gear up and bring them here to the LSA. We practically greeted them with open arms and threw roses at their feet. Everyone was excited and laughing and just acting goofy. For the first time we actually felt like we were leaving here. It has really sunk in—we are leaving in 8 days and a wake up!

The new group is from Nebraska and although we ran around them with smiles they looked weary and nervous. Part of us was so excited to be relieved, but at the same time we felt bad because we know what is in store for them and we can see from the looks on their faces that they are not all that happy to be here. We have been supportive and nice and tonight we had a meeting with their top guys to give them a basic introduction and give them a chance to ask any questions they might have. We plan to give them a better welcoming than what we got when we arrived. When we arrived, as we drove onto the LSA the company we were replacing was lined up in their vehicles and drove past us waving — literally. It was awful. So we are making sure we hand the baton over to the cornhuskers with style and respect. I have been talking with a few of the newbie’s and have been as forward and full of information as I can be in the hopes of calming them down and trying to make them feel at ease.

The new guys have been walking around and checking out their C-huts they will be living in. They attacked the pile of furniture and goodies we had made and purchased over the year and they began to create their new homes just as we did when we first arrived. These guys have it so good they just don’t know. All the furniture we bought, and what we didn’t buy we scrounged the wood and made. They come here and there it is waiting for them. Many of them have satellite TV in their huts, and they freaked when they saw the pool and the coffee house we made. Their commander was shocked and had no idea it was going to be this nice. They expected to be living in tents surrounded by rats and spiders. No, that was us when we got there, they have it much better. Lucky bastards.

So with the new group here we will be showing them ropes on convoys, signing over equipment, paperwork, things like that, so we will be quite busy up until the day we leave. Our customs inspectors are coming on the 17th to check the containers and then they will be hauled away. The plan is for us to fly to Kuwait and then straight to Germany, and when we arrive we will have 7 days of briefings and meetings as part of our reintegration process. Even on Christmas day we have to have a half day to get briefings and crap, so we are not too happy about that, but, hey, we will be home. After the 7 days of briefings and shit we will officially be on block leave, for the people who choose to take it. The whole company will be able to take up to 30 days leave, if you have the leave days. I have the days but I am not going to take any leave. I don’t want to waste it, and here’s why.

During all of January, for those not on block leave, there will be half days, if any real days at all. We will show up for either PT or formation and then be released for the day. Four day weekends will be all the time and so there will be so much free time it is a waste to use precious leave days on a month that is almost all free anyways. So I plan to wait until Feb or March to begin taking leave. I will have accumulated more leave days and the weather will be better besides. I have many trips throughout Europe planned and, I am sorry to say, I will most likely not be coming to the States to visit until I leave the Army on 8 January ’06. I know it sounds selfish and all, but I have 90 days of vacation to spend in my last year in the Army, and I just cannot in good conscience pass up the opportunity to continue to discover Europe. This is the last leg in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of travel. I don’t want to go home to the States and then turn around and leave the Army 6 months later just to go back to the States.

I have discovered German Wings, a low cost airline similar to Ryan Air I used so much last year. German Wings flies to Istanbul, Budapest, Minsk, Kiev… How can I pass up seeing these places for about $20 a flight!? Plus I will be taking 2 weeks to do my bicycle tour of the Netherlands, which I am very excited about. So if you can hold on for just one more year, you will see me soon enough.

Christmas is going to be pretty sad: we will be alone, in empty rooms, having to go to work and briefings, and eating at the chow hall. But, again, we will be home. A few of you asked me what my address will be when I get home and it will be the same one I had last year in Germany:

Chris Sachs
557 Medical Company
CMR 467 Box 3394
APO AE 09096

But we did get good news that our personal goods we had crated up when we left will be delivered within a week of coming home, so we will not have to wait too long to feel normal again.

CONTINUED: 15 Dec 04

Sorry about the break, didn’t I mention I was busy as hell!?

Well I did a convoy (my last one!) with a new guy from the 313th and it went well. We left during the day and finished at night. It was a creepy drive, not being able to see anything, but the new guy did well and never freaked out. I think the new unit is going to be fine.

Well, I am going to bed. I am beat. Working 16hrs a day is killing me, but, hey, now only 6 days left!

I will email everyone when I make it home and let you know I am fine. Until then, take care and thanks for everything!!!

--Chris Sachs