2 DEC 2007 Balad Sunday
I slept late today. Even though Sunday is a little different than other days, since we don’t have morning report and the OR starts a little later, it hasn’t been very different for me. For the last four Sundays, I have been on call, backup, or post call, so they have pretty much been the same schedule. Today, I am not on call or post call, so I have no duties, unless there is a mass casualty, (touch wood). I slept until I could sleep no more. I’m not sure what forced me off my mattress first, gas pains from too many baked beans last night, or obsessive compulsive nightmares about military outprocessing paperwork.
Last night, the hospital held a holiday party behind the CASF. It was a chilly night, but that didn’t stop just about every troop who wasn’t on duty from showing up. We had a barbecue in a half barrel with bratwurst from Germany and burgers from the DFAC. The party planning committee also ordered Pizzas from Pizza hut. The tables were decorated with sheets for table cloths, and lots of Christmas trinkets. We had set up speakers and the karaoke machine. There was cake and foosball in back.
The Chief called out numbers for the door prizes. The door prizes were stacked along the CASF. They had put together so many door prizes that there were more prizes than guests. We were shivering, but kept returning to the grill for more to eat while the music played. There was a “pimp my litter” contest. The ward had entered “Casino Balad” decorated with colored lights and a blackjack game while the OR had put in a stretcher decorated with a shiny Mercedes emblem and a sacked out rider. The prize went to the ER for their combat litter, complete with sniper netting and gun turret. One Airman hid in the pillbox for over an hour just to pop out at the right moment during the exhibition.
After dinner, carolers who had been practicing since November favored us with Silent Night and Gloria. Silent Night was particularly delightful when Chief punctuated the refrain with verse numbers in her strongest parade drill voice. Two singers performed a Balad version of “Santa Baby” including lines like “hurry down the flight line to me” and “put me on the chalk tonight.” Long after the cold had forced most back into the hospital, a few die-hards warmed the night with karaoke versions of “I’m like a bird” and “Lady Marmalade.”
The rains have finally come. Last night, in the wee hours the rain “beat like bullets on the roof” as it does in the Cadbury poem “Nature”. Soon the Balad dust will be whipped into ankle deep mud the thickness of peanut butter. As the morning lightens, I hear occasional far-off small arms fire in between the roar of F-16s leaping skyward. It’s time to wander into the hospital to see what’s on.