Kirk, I love your articles and posts, and will miss them until your return...
Be safe over there & give the troops our best. Just because you're wearing the same insignia, don't think you have to be Audey Murphy
Just a quick note to let you know that I am here in Kuwait, and all is well.
I left Fort Benning at 12:20pm on Sunday (missed New england's glorious win over Indy) and got into my basecamp here at 3:00pm on Monday.
We flew first class, so the flight was much better than I had anticipated. Watched three movies on our first leg from the USA to Shannon Ireland: Without a Paddle, Cellular and Taxi. Slept through Taxi, but liked the first two ok. On the second leg from the Emerald Isle (called home and got the report that the Pats were up 13-3 with 10 minutes to play in the 4th) to Kuwait City, three more movies: Spider-Man 2,, Collateral, and Mooseport. Slept through all three, as I had seen them before.
The terrain here is very flat and all sand. Have seen several camel heards while moving out to the training ranges. Have confirmed zero on my M16 rifle and had various required training classes including the IED (Improvised Explosive Device) threat and High-Risk Capture brief.
The camp is pretty bogus. There has been a lot of effort put into improving quality of life here, but with so many thousands of troops moving in and out on their way into theater, the lines are long, showers are cold and homesickness is tough. But, this is what I signed up for, so no whining at this end.
I will leave to go north into Iraq shortly as part of an advance party from my brigade
to observe the elections, as the majority of our force will still be in Kuwait when they go off. Looking forward to getting the show on the road...this place isn't good for morale.
Well- that's about it. Hope everyone is fine. I'll try to reestablish contact when I get to my FOB (Forward Operating Base), but don't know how long that will be. At this point, no news is good news.
For anyone who would like to write to me personally, you can send correspondence to:
Major Kirk Luedeke
HHC, 3 BCT/S3
APO AE 09397
Stay safe Kirk. You never know what will happen during an election.....especially in Iraq.
Ditto from me.
If there's any problems, think O'Reilly and go "TAZ", (this ain't meant to make light of the situation.....despite knowing Kirk only through these boards, no matter what one's ideaology may be, I have a ton of respect for him for heeding the call....my attempts at keeping a jocular sense of humour is actually a defense mechanism....I am apprehensive but hopeful for Kirk and all our troops over there).
Here's wishing you come home safe, sooner than later....
I got here safe and sound yesterday (election day here) at about 2:30 pm.
It was an ordeal to get here from Kuwait, but here's a quick recap:
We flew out of Ali Al Saleem Air Base at 2:00am on a C-130 Hercules, a Vietnam-era prop cargo plane that still carries the mail for the Air Force. It was about a 90-minute flight, one of the more uncomfortable trips I've been on simply because we were packed in tight like sardines and the red nylon troop seats were stiff as hell. Factor in about 50 pounds worth of gear on my person- Interceptor Body Armor, full basic load (210 rounds 5.56mm), kevlar MICH helmet and M16A2- and I couldn't wait for it to end.
We did a combat landing, announced when the pilot began banking like mad and then dropped the plane several hundred feet in the span of a few seconds. If you haven't ever experienced it (I hadn't) it wakes you up in a hurry.
We hit the tarmac at LSA Anaconda and unloaded at about 3:45 am and were bussed to a holding area where they swiped our ID cards for proof that we had officially entered a combat theater. After that, we had to wait around for about an hour because the truck carrying our A-bags and rucks had broken down, and they had to get another truck and forklift in there.
With election day going on, it wasn't expected that we would get the helicopter lift necessary to get us from Anaconda to FOB Warhorse until Monday or so. So, many of us figured we'd be able to catch up on the rest we didn't get during the night.
I had just finished a shower and shave when our Bde S3 came in and announced that we were "rucking up"- 2 UH-60 BlackHawks were available to transport the 49 personnel to Warhorse. I got the mission of splitting up the group into serials of 16 pax each (with all our bags, the helos would only take 8 instead of the 10 normally allowed). I was on the last group out.
The helo ride was smooth- we were bobbing over power lines and we flew close enough to the ground that I could see Iraqis waving to us in villages below. What a great ride- about 10-15 minutes over canals, date palm groves and green fields- totally unlike the barren desolate desert south of Baghdad and in Northern Kuwait.
Then, the walls, barbed wire and guard towers of Warhorse came into view and I caught a glimpse of what will be home for the next year-plus.
We have it pretty good here. I write with more details when I have time, but mortar rounds were landing nearby last night, and that was my wakeup call that I am in a war zone.
Elections went very well- the Iraqi people have spoken. Think of the millions who risked their lives for an election- terrific stuff. Forget Zarqawi and his crazed bunch of murderers- these people want a democracy.
Anyway- more to follow. But, only have a limited time here. Gotta go.
Great to hear from you, Kirk! I know we have some political differences, but I couldn't have been any happier for the way the elections took place. It affirmed that good can come from this effort, and it showed to the Iraqi people that we want them to progress as a nation. I hope this first step can ease tensions on both sides.
Hehe, that combat landing sounds pretty hairy. I bet you didn't think a trip to Iraq meant pulling Space Mountain-esque maneuvers.
Thanks for the update Kirk, we're all thinking about you back here. Stay safe while you're over there, it's a great thing that you're doing for not only the American people, but the people of Iraq as well.