From the Soldier side: Coming home from Iraq took a heck of a lot longer than getting there did. So, to continue.... we left Shannon, Ireland. I had a pint of "G" and got back on the plane when it was re-fueled. I had a good seat where I was near an emergency exit (I always think of things like that, I can't help it) and also near a rest room. I got belted into my seat, plugged in my MP 3 player (Pre-Ipod) and began "rocking out" as I fell asleep for the 16 hour flight.
Every now and then I'd wake up and look around...a few of the soldiers were drinking out of bottles. There was one young lad who seemed to be in the rest room every time I woke up. There was always a sergeant there helping him....you could hear him "ralphing, blowing chunks, puking, spewing, barfing and throwing up." He did it all. It was kind of funny, but over 16 hours, it seemed like every time I woke up, he was in the can doing one of the above to clear his system.
What could you expect after a year of not drinking, going out almost every day on convoys in Iraq? Let the kid get drunk. He survived, he deserved it. I started my MP 3 player over again and went back to sleep.
We landed at some airport in Maine--- same one we landed at when we came home from Bosnia in 04'. Same nice folks from the local VFW there to great us as we got off the plane to hang out and wait for the next flight. As we walked off the plane, all these nice folks shook our hands and thanked us. I just thought: "we won't see anything like that at the San Francisco air port."
Now, I felt pretty good that these folks were there. They didn't have to be. They got up early in the morning to greet us. I liked them. Many may not agree with the Iraq war, I didn't, but we did our duty. We were called, we went, did our thing, and came home. I'll always be proud of what I did to help my fellow soldiers (and Marines many times) to stay alive. There were no weapons of mass destruction, we were lied to. But we did our duty. Some may not ever understand that-- soldiers join, but we don't get to pick and choose where we go.
So, on with the longass trip home. We got on the next flight to Fort Screwus, WA. We were put up in the same dilapidated WWII barracks we were in for the training a year before. The same crappy mess hall. After we settled in, we were told we would be there for a few weeks of out processing and to watch us to make sure we were "OK."
After about a day there... we were told that there was an "investigation" about the drinking on the plane home. Turns out it's against some kind of FAA rule to bring booze on a commercial flight and drink on the plane.
to be cont....