Thursday, October 29, 2009

Flying to Camp Garry Owen

Today I had a fast round trip to one of the bases near the Iranian border. We have fuelers and a MEDEVAC unit at Camp Garry Owen so I went to shoot pictures for an end-of-tour video. I'll try to post some tomorrow after I download them. Camp Garry Owen is small and crammed with soldiers. The facilities are crude--they have dry porta-potties they call poop ovens. Without the blue water, those things smell really bad. The one I saw they had some problem with the toilet seat for which the answer was to screw the toilet seat down. Luckily it was the kind that has a separate urinal, but anyone sitting in this plastic chamber has the head of a self-tapping screw in each cheek of their butt.

Sgt. Matt Kauffman gave me the Garry Owen tour in a Gator with a nearly flat front tire. He showed me the PX--a semitrailer, the new coffee bar--which had an excellent latte, the local market--no one was around but the tea service was out, the gym--newly expanded, the chow hall--a plywood shack that used to be open air. We drove on gravel so deep it was soupy. Matt runs six-minute miles, but not at GO. It's too hard to run on gravel so he runs on the treadmill in the gym.

The flight was exciting. I shot pictures on the way up. We passed over a palm grove, a river and a canal. When we landed we touched down for a moment, went up then settled back down. On the way back the weather was clear when we left but from five minutes away we were in a brown cloud at 1000 feet of altitude in every direction except straight up. What a mess. My eyes still hurt now. And I was sitting where the wind hit so I was rattled all the way back. In fact, I would stil1 be at Garry Owen enjoying the local cuisine if I were not on a pair of birds with a full bird colonel inside. He needed to get back so we went. Tonight they predicted Thunder storms but the sky just cleared.

I was thinking today I am actually leaving this country relatively soon and for the very first time I thought I might miss living here. Don't worry, I'm getting out of here as soon as I can. But at 1000 feet and 125 mph watching the brown cloud and shaking like a kite in a crosswind, I started thinking of things I liked about being here. More on that another time.

Family Black Sheep Flies a MEDEVAC Blackhawk

Brooklyn-born Amira Talifi, (not her real name) is a helicopter pilot I served with in the Army National Guard. She is one of seven ch...