15 February 2008
Why did they send us here, Boss?
From the Soldier side: After my teams job was over at FOB Kalsu, HQ sent a message saying that we were needed at a place called Al Asad. The USMC had requested us again. Good, I liked working for the Marines...they were very professional.
So, we were sent orders and told to go to the Kalsu air ops office and they would get us on a flight to Al Asad. Since we were working for the Marines, they sent their helicopters to pick us up.
What landed looked like something that had been pulled out of a junk yard-- a CH 46.
The CH 46 has two egg beaters, one in the front and one in the back...it's smaller than the Army's CH47, and the metal plate on the one we got on said it was built in 1968, I think. (look at one of the stories below about Kalsu, the CH46 is flying just above the Blackhawks.)
Anyway, we loaded our gear on board and I looked around. There was a .50 cal machine gun on each side...as it took off, it had a shake and rattle that reminded me of a WWII movie with the bomber crews flying over Germany. This thing sounded like a broken washing machine as it fought gravity to stay in the air.
The flight took us north and then way out west... Al Asad was the Marines main air base where most of their folks flew in and out of for the Iraq war. It was the biggest base I had seen so far..with 24 hout a day air operations. It was a former Iraqi Air Force base and the "customer service" area we were going to work in was set up in old MIG hangers. There were all kinds of blown up aircraft and vehicles all over the place....a great photo op.
We were picked up at the air field by the Marines and they took us to our new home. I got to set up my sleeping area in the corner of the hanger...and I never felt so safe...there was nothing the Hajjis could fire at us that would go through this steel reinforced cement hanger. I'm sure the Iraqis didn't build it because there was lots of former Eastern Bloc equipment around that had been used in the construction.
Anything the Iraqis built would have fallen apart in a few weeks...these hangers would last a million years.
When we arrived, I went into the "customer service" bosses office and introduced my team and myself...
to be cont.