Journal Entry: 1st Days in Iraq

April 1st-2nd, 2009 - Iraq

After a cramped ride in a C-17 from Kuwait, we arrived in TQ at about 2100. We unloaded our bags and piled into the briefing room for our base orientation a complete combat load of ammo. Then after waiting around for the word on our ride out, we retired to temporary housing for a few minutes of shut-eye and found the rest of our engineers from the previous stick already there. The word came down that our convoy was delayed an hour and a half, so we went to the chow hall for Mid-Rats. The Best D*** Hooters Show was on the television there and needless to say, there were a lot of open-mouthed stares for the next 45 minutes, admittedly, my own person was included in this pathetic group of women-starved Marines. The desert is the breeding ground for desperation and all but the very strongest find themselves staring at the occasional WM as they walk by and wondering what they would look like in civilian clothes.
We unpacked and repacked a whole conex box so as to be able to fit all of our gear as well as the rest of H&S Co.'s into it. We formed a chain and knocked it out quickly and with no room to spare in the box we spent the next ten minutes trying to latch the door completely, finally realizing that it was a problem with the door and contented ourselves with latching only half way. Our Armadillos and MRAPs arrived soon after and we suited up. 1st Sergeant [L.] called us around him and said to us, "This is it, gents. This is the real deal. A rocket landed in Ramadi yesterday and the last convoy out just got hit with an IED. Keep your heads on a swivel and stay alert."
Instantly I felt the tension rise. We loaded up and began our ride in silence. Every sway and every bump was felt acutely. Between the IED threat and this being the first seven-ton ride since the accident, it was a very nervous beginning. Then we all heard a sort of rhythmic "swish, swish, swish" like a washer machine as something became lodged in our passenger-side middle tire. The sound gradually turned into thumping and the truck began to shudder as the tire became more and more flat. We had to stop for a moment when we saw debris in the road and a sign next to the road, as well as lights in a house began to flick on and off. The whole ride I was praying fervently for myself, my comrades[...] But we arrived safe and sound in Camp Ar Ramadai after a tense 45 minute ride through the town it was named after.
Briefs kept us awake for a couple more hours and everyone was walking around in a zombie-like state as we settled into our temporary quarters, an old Iranian [Baathist] School building. Unpacking and setting up kept us awake until about 0500, so most of us stayed awake to go to morning chow at 0530. The chow was overwhelming in quality, variety, and selection. Although completely exhausted we ate with relish and when we finished we headed back to our barracks and fell promptly asleep. We were awakened at 1000 to have classes to update us on IEDs and the CREW systems and then to go BZO our weapons. Finished up by evening chow, we relaxed in the barracks for a few hours and then went to a class at 2030 which ran until 2200. After we finished up, we all headed back to the barracks and slept like the dead.

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