as part of the New Year's festivities I didn't think they actually meant camel racing. New Year's eve was mandatory fun, meaning that everyone had to go out and participate. Fun, when directed by the boss usually goes two ways, really fun, or really dull. Last night I found out there was a third option; really silly.
The night had the ususual for New Year's, including a ball made of plywood and stuck with 2009 chem-lites. The fact that someone had 2009 chem-lite available and counted them was only the beginning. Once we had a formation of a thousand or so troops, we broke out into gladiator games. And thus the silliness began. In addition to the camel races (thank God no one actually rode the beasts but instead led them over the course), there was a gator pull.
Fortunately, that didn't involve a real alligator although if they could have found one they might have used it. The gator, an all terrain vehicle, was pulled by Soldiers while others rode in it while jousting with their opponents. Someone muttered, "someone's gonna get hurt," and they were right. The bubble wrap sumo wrestling, and dummy toss were much safer. At the end of the games someone was declared the "gladiator warrior for 2009" with great fanfare. Ugh.
As 2008 drew to a close, old man 2008 was tossed onto the bon fire pile and the baby New Year was seen running in diaper, bonnet and combat boots with a torch bearer to light the way to 2009. This is what I stayed up for because they had been putting gasoline on the pile of wood and old furniture since 1:30 in the afternoon. I was expecting a small mushroom cloud to usher in the New Year.
The bon fire didn't disappoint with flames reaching 40' in the air. The temperature was down in the thirties but the fire gave off enough heat to drive out the cold within minutes. Most of my guys had gotten smart hours before an went back to the reality of the compound. I stayed with my First Sergeant, Operations NCO, and one Team Chief who was only hanging around to use the office phone to call his family.
Finally, as 2009 rolled in, fireworks were passed around to hundreds of Soldiers. It was the apex of silliness, a large crowd with small explosives set off by anyone who had a lighter. It was time to go.
The Iraqis are now "in charge", whatever that means. 2009 brings us closer to home. Closer to what matters most, family and friends. HAPPY NEW YEAR!