Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Soldier's Letters

October 24th, 2004 2:02 PM

"It was like a roller coaster ride from hell."

From: [e-mail address omitted]
Sent: Wednesday, June 30, 2004 8:52 PM
Subject: Story from Iraq

Mr. Moore,

I found myself going to Kuwait (Operation Iraqi Freedom) after spending 5 months for Enduring Freedom. I spent about 3 months at Al Jaber, Kuwait. Then I was forward deployed to Balad, Iraq. Since my job in the military is an ----------- I get to sit in the cockpit of the aircraft, use the Night Vision goggles and talk to the pilots. We took a flight from Kuwait International into Baghdad, from there, we would convoy into Balad. Once we entered Iraqi Airspace, the pilots made us sit down in the cockpit as we took heavy small arms fire. They were using tracers, surface to air missals, etc. Anything they could to try to shoot us down. We flew in at 18,000 ft, but as the aircraft commander was trying to avoid getting hit, our altitude was jumping from 18k to 16k, back to 18k to 15k. It was like a roller coaster ride from hell. Our aircraft took small arms fire in the front cockpit, but no harm was done.

We landed at Baghdad International Airport (BIAP) and it was like alien nation there. You could see the faces of everyone, scared out of their minds. Made me feel so comfortable! We had our M16's, 60 bullets, a flack vest and a helmet (not to mention all of our military/personal bags). Since we hadn't eat in a few hours, we went to the chow hall (military restaurant on base). They had Iraqis serving us food! After talking to some of the people there, they said that Iraqis do all the slave work and make $3.00 a day each. As they served our food, they were all pissed off by doing the Americans a favor. They actually cooked our food. That was insane. These people not only hate us, but they are cooking our food. The only thing that the American GIs do is make sure that the temperature is right for the food. So, having said that, my troops and I stuck to MREs.

We spent 2 days at BIAP, then went on our convoy into Balad. Balad is located about 50-60 clicks north of BIAP. It was a living hell there. No running water, no hot food, no toilets, nothing. It was the pits. Now, I'm in the Air Force and being at BIAP was bad enough. The Army solders at Balad were complaining. My team of four were the first Air Force to step foot in Balad. A culture shock. This place -- can't even describe it. We had no phones, nothing. It was what we called a "bare-base." We took mortars about 20 times a day. You couldn't get any sleep, bombs going off everywhere. After about 45-50 days of being here, my wife sent me my first "care package." She sent me a DVD, Bowling for Columbine, and a book called Dude, Where's My Country.

As soon as I saw your face on the cover, I remembered your speech at the Oscars! I was laughing. All I can remember was the shock on everyone's face about that speech. I wasn't laughing cause I thought it was funny, I was laughing cause I couldn't believe someone in "Hollywood" would actually say it. After watching the movie and reading the book, I thought this might want to stay here in Iraq, for others to read when they arrive here. Open their eyes a little bit more. I left Iraq and returned home after 3 months there. It was a living hell, but I hoped by leaving something that was mine there it might change someone's view.

Jose

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