Saturday, February 9, 2008

08 February 2008: Camp Ramadi

Camp Ramadi is a dump. My NCOIC and I both agreed that it reminded us of Tallil Air Base back in 2003. Anyone who saw Tallil in 2003 knows exactly what I'm talking about. Ramadi was that bad. The "barracks" for the Marines were old cinderblock buildings fortified with sandbags and portable AC units. Every street was dirt. Evidence of vast fields of mud was everywhere. Vehicles of every type bore witness to the catastrophe of a rainy day in Camp Ramadi. If there had not been the presence of CHU's and a modern DFAC it would have been easy to convince someone that it actually was 2003.

Regardless of the state of the place, we set about our task. I got up around 0630. Walking to the shower trailer I realized that our CHU's may have been new but the neighborhood was low-rent. We had been housed with the contracted Ugandan guards. As could be expected, the facilities were sparse. Only one shower trailer was provided for almost 100 CHU's. There were probably twenty or more people in the shower trailer. There was no hot water. The trailer only had two sinks. I had to wait for one. It was comical to listen to the folks taking showers. They were braving the ice cold water. The noises they made were hilarious.

After breakfast came the training. We taught our classes in the chapel. There were around 70 attendees. Our biggest concern was the weather. It was threatening rain. The thought of getting stranded in Camp Ramadi was crossing our minds. However, it didn't affect the quality of our work. It was another good day for the team. We could chalk up another Brigade on our successfully trained list. It was all the more satisfying knowing that it almost didn't happen.

This was a "quick strike" mission. Our return flight was the same day as the training. About 1900 we reported to the Ramadi pax terminal. Although the weather gave us cause to worry, everything was flying. We were on the manifest so there were no space-A concerns. We found ourselves hoping for Ospreys. Then we were told we'd fly on CH47's. Chinooks are a welcome upgrade from the Sea Knights. Our flight would take us to FOB Kalsu, then to Washington LZ (Green Zone), and then on to Liberty Pad. That's a long flight. About 2000 we lined up. Much to our dismay, two CH46's came in to land. Sure enough, this was our flight. As we walked on the helicopter we immediately started jockeying for seats. There was no way in hell any of us were getting stuck with the hurricane seat. I planted my ass in a seat near the rear of the aircraft. We were airborne by 2020. The long trip commenced.

I think the Marine pilots were joyriding. We flew out over the lake that separates Camp Ramadi and Al Taqaddum. The helicopters started banking hard and criss-crossing each other. We would gain altitude, then drop back to the deck. It was crazy. I kept watching the man to my left and right to make certain no vomit would be flying in my direction. When someone vomits in a helicopter it flies around inside in a turbulent swirl of splatter in every direction. It isn't pretty. Fortunately, everyone on this flight had an iron stomach. We landed at FOB Kalsu about 2100. After disgorging and taking on new passengers, we were on our way again about 2130. Our next stop was Washington LZ. The pilots flew in an even crazier fashion - despite the fact we were now flying over urban areas. Our stop in the Green Zone was less than ten minutes. By 2215 we were touching down at Liberty Pad. Mission complete. Take that weather holds! We still won.

I was back in my hooch by 2245. Our total mission time from start to finish was just over 26 hours. I think we set a new record.


Erik said...

Ramadi wasn't all that bad. The mayor decided to gravel most of it just before 1st BCT 3ID left in March...


The best was those rainy days mixed with a dust storm. Mud madness.

TTman said...

Man you should be thankful for the rain.
If you ever come to Ramadi these days, you would be welcomed by the almost daily routine of duststorms (not sand storms).
Roads are getting better though.