Friday, November 20, 2009
“Country” Calls Iraq Home Since 2004
One stop on the same mission in the last post Camp Echo. When we landed, the crew told me there would be grilled steaks waiting for them after they got their paperwork and loading/unloading completed. I was skeptical, but when I came back from a visit to the Charlie MEDEVAC TOC (Tactical Operations Center) a smiling man with a big black cowboy hat, an enormous belt buckle and, according to the Alpha crew, an even bigger heart, was grilling steaks outside the blast wall.
That man was James “Country” Curtis, 46, of Olden, Texas. Curtis has been the passenger terminal manager in Diwaniya since June of 2008. Curtis controls the airfield and does what he can to help soldiers passing through Camp Echo “enjoy the time they spend here.” The Alpha crew definitely enjoyed Country’s cooking. It’s a skill he has had a long time to perfect. Except for R&R leaves home, Curtis has worked in Iraq since February 2004. “I was a truck driver at the base in Babylon,” he said. “When that closed we took over the former Spanish base here at Diwaniya. I drove trucks till last year when I started working at the airfield.” Curtis plans to return to Texas next year, maybe to work his farm, maybe to drive trucks, maybe both. “That’s next year. I’ll see what happens when I get back home.”
The fuel crew at Diwaniya is very good at their work according to the air crews. They roll out to fuel the birds as soon as they land. And they dress so brightly only one wears a PT Belt.