Wednesday, February 28, 2007

What I miss about Iraq

In no particular order because I'm missing so many things:

Col. Garrett (top photo), a wonderful Brigade Commander who goes on foot patrol with his men.

I miss wacky American and Iraqi soldiers who are trying so hard to work together despite so many obvious cultural differences.

I miss the incredible LTC Andy Cornett (6th photo), and his Team Extreme, training the Iraqi National Police and waking them up in the middle of the night during surprise checks. He has the patience of a saint. Intelligence and understanding. He is my hero.

The Boys of Camp Gabe in Diyala (fifth photo), and their "mechanical" puppy.***

The wonderful Brigadier General Dana Pittard (fourth photo down) who is doing some of the most important work in Iraq. He's LISTENING TO THE IRAQIS and the American advisors who train them. And he hears them.

I miss his hilarious aide, Capt. Hastings, who nearly lost a thigh when I travelled with him by helo during very bad weather. I have a vice grip during turbulence and it lets go for no man. We lived, and Capt. Hastings and his boss gave me the most beautiful parting gift, a necklace that says "God keep Iraq". I will treasure it.

I miss Soldier, his thoughtfulness and his way of opening up my mind to new ideas and points of view. I miss our conversations at sunset. He is the most amazing man I have ever met in my life.

I miss our Iraqi guards who thought I was crazy, but liked me anyway.

I miss ZOOM TV, a 24-hour music channel that every Iraqi under the age of 30 keeps on all of the time. Think MTV 20 years ago.

I miss the sound of Mosques.

I miss helicopters.

I miss going days without a shower and feeling like a dirty kid.

I miss Chocolate Mint ice cream at chow halls.

I miss sweet Iraqi tea and Kabob.

I miss LTC George, a handsome commander near Baqouba, and a truly wonderful human being. He carried a teddy bear his young daughter sent him that said, when you pressed it's tummy, "Daddy, think of me when you hug this bear". He kept it in his humvee. They called it "Combat Teddy".

I miss the sound of my name from the lips of Iraqis, KAHHHHHH-mee.

I miss the lovely things Iraqi men say. "If your spirit is in your cooking, we our very lucky for our meal tonight."

I miss the dogs and their jumping for joy at the first sight of you.

I miss hearing "Habeetkee". And the Iraqis laughing when I respond to their "how are you?" with "Hamdalah Zena" (Thank God I'm fine).

I miss pop tarts. Stolichniya vodka. Near Beer. And corn dogs and barbeque sandwiches at chow halls.

I miss the howling winds on some nights. The huge moons on other nights. And the beautiful sunrises.

I miss war humour. "Nice try, Dude. Try shooting again and AIMING at me this time..."

I miss Iraqis attempting to cook Bubba Burgers in our kitchen.

Dust storms.

Iraqna phones.

I miss the surrealty of a beautiful day when there are bombs and gun battles happening around you.

Cheese toast because that's all there is to eat.

And I miss some of our British security men who watch me make my own way, and do my own thing, with a "well, good for her". But still they insist I watch for snipers. "Never stop moving".

I miss so much more. Iraq seems like hell on Earth at times but it also provides a fascinating glimpse in to what people are, what they can be, and how they survive adversity.

It brings out the best in some, the worst in others. I am lucky to witness something so layered, so complex, and yet heart-warming and tragic all at once. It's why I became a reporter.

Some people think I'm crazy for going to Iraq, but I think I have the best job on Earth.


***American soldiers aren't allowed to have real dogs on their bases, so they have "mechnical" dogs instead.

1 comment:

Alvis said...

Stumbled upon your blog.

Nice thoughts and very nice pictures. You made connections in Iraq, that's nice, too. :)