The cabin door shut behind me, and with it, all that mattered to me. The reality of the situation is solidifying, and my adventure has started for good or bad. The plane was hot and humid which precipitated thoughts of Hell in my mind. I guess an air conditioning unit was not available to pre-cool this MD-11. There were 252 people aboard, which included US Army soldiers, DOD employees, and civilian contractors. It was packed and the heat did not bring much comfort. We all were informed we will be traveling through Germany to our final destination of Kuwait. 8 hours and 27 minutes to Germany. Luckily, I was give ambien and my plan was to sleep the majority of this first leg. Eventually the plane was secured and we began taxing to the runway. In an effort to show support the CRC cadre (the military unit that prepared us for deployment), and active duty airport staff were standing at attention saluting us as we left the gate. I felt a strong sense of patriotism; it nearly brought me to tears. Ok, it’s time for ambien, I’ll talk to you when I wake up.
I woke up 30 minutes prior to arriving in Leipzig Germany. Ambien did its job and I was now awake. The captain informed us it was 55 degrees in Germany. This was more than welcome as the Georgian sun was baking us near 100 degrees at Fort Benning. Our layover was about 2 hours. I filled my time with a bratwurst followed by a non-happy ending chair massage. Priceless.
After this short period of time we were re-boarded and headed to Kuwait. Flight time was 4 hours and 28 minutes. A sign stating “Welcome to Hell, we’ve been expecting you” would have been appropriate once we got off the plane. 120 degrees; I miss German weather, brat’s and massages already.
Kuwait City is hot and landscaped by different shades of brown and tan; green is non-existent. It was 120 degrees, and not humid. But let’s be clear its 120 degrees! If you give me the “But Its dry heat” bullshit, you can fuck off. I’m in Hell and the devil is laughing. We were transported to a waiting area 10 minutes down the road to wait for a briefing, get water and use the latrines. There was no air conditioning and the few tents in the area were worse because there was no ventilation. After 2 hours standing in the sun and roasting like baked fish we finally had our briefing and were again loaded on buses. Our next stop was Camp Ali Al Salen AKA “Tent City”. The ride was miserable, limited air conditioning, hot as piss and 2 hours long. We arrived at nightfall with the temperature now 100 degrees. Does this place ever cool down?
Talking to fellow surgeons did help time go by somewhat faster. It’s nice to know my experience and feelings are mutual. I expect to become much closer with them in the coming months. We will be involved in a very unique experience and the only way to survive is team work. You will learn a lot about them in future blogs.
I just got my room; a tent with 20 other soldiers. I feel like i’m in day camp all over again. The best part is lights can’t be shut off for “safety” reasons. Whatever. I’m going to try to sleep. I suggest you do the same.