We left Iraq yesterday at 2016hrs local time. We are heading home.
These are the long days. The long days of waiting for our turn to fly to the United States. These are the days that test our patience and challenge us to fill our hours with whatever we can.
We left our base just after sunrise on Wednesday. I took a last look around the compound and made sure that I was the last one to get on the trucks that would take us to the airport. Most of the base hadn't woken yet and slipped out with no fanfare or notice whatsoever.
Looking at Iraq for the last time in a long time - maybe, probably, forever - I had no desire to absorb any more in and fell asleep in the seat. I was awoken to a machine gunner in the turret with an anger management issue because he was yelling at all of the traffic. Really? On the last day? I guess there are still some who didn't get the message that Iraqis are now in charge and can drive along side of us. Sigh.
We unloaded at BIAP and stacked all of the gear in one place upon learning that our flight wasn't for another thirty-six hours. I hate waiting but this was one reservation that I could not rush or "push to the left."
There isn't much to do when you have limited ability to do anything. I worked out. One hour there. I logged on in the internet cafe, another hour there. I took a nap for forty minutes and ate. And there was still a whole day to go!
Of course, we did leave. A cheer went up throughout the plane as the wheels left the runway. And we did arrive in Kuwait. We arrived for more waiting (where I am waiting now). I finally go the opportunity to call Lisa and let her know that I was okay. So far I have repeated everything I did in BIAP with the exception of finding a washer and dryer for my dirty clothes. And there is stil a whole day to go!
I discovered that some of my Soldiers could apply for a position of mattress tester or professional sleeper because given the opportunity they can rack out for hours. I am not so lucky and stare at the bottom of the bunk above me. I remind myself that these long days are just the required steps to get home and that the trick is to set the example.
Of course, all is well. I have been reunited with my brother in arms and there is a family reunion atmosphere in the air as people are connecting in person for the first time since October.
We still need to go through Customs and of course there is the twelve hour flight to the United States, but the fact is that we are on our way.