Baghdad Journals

Hitchhiking through Iraq

A September 2003 trip to Baghdad by C2WnDC

Bunker Jaber Photo, Baghdad, Iraq More Photos
Quote: In September 2003, another officer and I escorted two European contractor friends of ours from Al Jaber Air Base Kuwait to Balad, Iraq. Our flight was canceled, so we basically hitchhiked, with some interesting stops along the way at Tallil Air Base, An Naseriah, and Baghdad.

Hitchhiking through Iraq

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Overview

Oldest Known Arch Photo, Baghdad, Iraq
Quote:
In the fall of 2003, my friend and I (both army officers) escorted three Dutch business associates into Iraq. They were all expatriates running a business that served our war machine from its launch point in Kuwait. To better service this machine, we mutually agreed that they should open a branch at our logistical hub near Balad. When the Air Force canceled our flight, the adventure began.Quick Tips: Tour the ancient archeological sites of the Ziggurat and Abraham’s birthplace near An Naseriah. Bargain for souvenirs with long-time friends at the vendor stalls of Iraq’s newest entrepreneurs. Ride in a commercial semi-truck through downtown Baghdad traffic wearing a flak vest....Read More

Al Jaber Air Base

Story/Tip

Bunker Jaber Photo, Baghdad, Iraq
Quote:
Jaber, we were told, is where we would catch our C-130 to Balad, Iraq. Like good soldiers, we arrived early and signed in with the operations’ desk. Then we took advantage of the fabled mess hall on the base. It was great. These air-force guys even had Häagen-Dazs ice-cream bars. With our bellies full to bursting, we took a walk to the bombed-out fighter bunkers. Prior to the 1990 Iraqi invasion, the Kuwaitis had contracted with a French firm to construct these heavily reinforced concrete bunkers in, which they could park their fighter aircraft. When Iraq captured Jaber, they parked their own inside of them. At the onset of the U.S.-led liberation, our Air Force placed a single laser-gu...Read More

Temple of Ur - An Naseriah

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Story/Tip

Prophet Abraham's House Photo, Baghdad, Iraq
Quote:
This was not our destination, not even close, but Tallil is as far north as we could get on the Chinook. Besides, one of our sister units, whose operations’ officer was a good friend, was stationed there. We landed around noon, and I called my friend’s unit, unbelievably, from the terminal’s phone. As we waited on them to pick us up, we got ourselves put on the list for that evening’s flight north to Baghdad—still not Balad, but getting closer. En route to my friend’s compound, we drove past the Korean Army Engineer’s camp. The stench was horrible. They were burning the barrels full of human waste from their outhouse latrines, the smoke from which was black-grey and billowing over the road....Read More

Baghdad to Balad

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Story/Tip

Baghdad Photo, Baghdad, Iraq
Quote:
The loadmaster in the back of the C-130 in which we were flying came by and yelled over the engine’s roar, "Buckle up, we’re going to land." Then, the lights went out completely: no red no chem lights, only blackness. When beginning an approach on a commercial airliner, the pilot normally cuts back on the throttle and collects the plane for a gradual descent. Ours was a bit different. The engines revved and we banked sharply and continuously until a wing was pointed straight down. We seemed to increase in speed as we dropped in altitude. From our angle and speed, and due to the operational blackout requirements on the ground, there was no way for us to gauge our height. Completely disoriented ...Read More