Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Road Trip Iraq 2006 - Day Two

Rain hitting the yellow canvas of the massive tent woke me up at about 11 a.m. the next morning. I took a shower, packed my things and then Powell and I went to Taco Bell, the only one I’ve seen in Iraq. A soft taco and burrito hit the spot.

After lunch, we stopped by a maintenance company to do a story on their recovery missions. When a vehicle breaks down or is hit by an IED, a recovery team will respond within an hour to get the vehicle and any people left behind. They’re also experts at getting vehicles out of mud.

Sgt. Powell simply mentioned that she’d like some footage of them doing their jobs and they immediately offered to do a demonstration. For the next two hours, the recovery guys stuck different vehicles in the deep mud behind their unit building. They even got their Gator, a four-wheel drive golf cart, stuck. That’s just how bored they were.

I don’t know how they could be bored when one of the most novel pieces of war memorabilia was sitting right in front of their company area, a WWII, Italian made, mini-tank. It’s a two-seater vehicle that answers the age-old question: What do Shriners drive when they go to war?

When Powell and I finished laughing at the little tank, we caught a convoy and headed up to the Q-West Base complex. This trip wasn’t anything like the last one, a third country national (what the Army calls someone not from Iraq or the U.S.) rolled his semi truck right in front of us.

He broke his leg, but he was OK otherwise and was even able to sit and wait for a medical evacuation. The truck would have to wait for a recovery team, maybe even the one from Speicher. Rolling semi trucks is a rare site on an American highway, but in Iraq, it’s a regular occurrence. Most of the guys who run the convoys with third country nationals say there is a rampant drinking problem. This rollover was most like alcohol related. But don’t be too quick to judge. If you had to drive an un-armored truck on the Iraqi highways all day, you might hit the sauce a bit too.

With the driver evacuated and the truck recovered, we made it up to Q-West with no problems. Instead of sleeping in a circus tent, like the night before, we were lucky enough to get our own trailers. I felt like a movie star.


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