13 January 2008

13 JAN 2008 On the surface of the moon, again

13 JAN 2008 On the surface of the moon, again

Hi Friends, 

I hope that this letter from the road finds you well. Well, what can I say, my long awaited journey home has finally started! now I will be anticipating the long-awaited end of my journey home! I made it as far as (redacted) in the wee hours this morning. The plane ride was cramped, frigid, and noisy. (And I loved it!!) We tacked on an additional three hours on our trip because we had to pick up Distinguished Visitor (redacted) in (redacted) and waited on the runway for quite a while waiting for their motorcade to show up. But no complaints today!

This is the Middle East I remember from my first visit three years ago! It is rainy, cold, barren, and there are ankle deep puddles everywhere. It is so odd to see everyone walking around in either DCU's (desert camouflage uniform) or PTU's (physical training uniform.) It is like we are two mutually exclusive teams on a big muddy playing field.

My last few hours at Balad were typical to the very end. I finished a case about three hours before my assembly time for departure. Yesterday morning I took a nice shower, and put on clean undergarments because I knew I would be steaming in them for quite a while before I had a cozy place to change. Then, of course, a fresh pediatric trauma arrives and I head into the OR to sweat for three hours while we clean and dress wounds. I walked out of that case soaked through. Good thing they don't have any freshness requirement to get on a military transport.

After the operation I said goodbye to some of the staff, and patient families with whom I had become close. It was very sad to part with these friends whose lives I'd shared for a good long while. But there was no hesitation as I began my journey. The sweetest person of all is waiting for me at the end!

We rounded up the available surgeons for family dinner. The Czar Car was loaded especially full since we had more personnel around than usual with replacements. For my last meal in Balad, I tried the fried pork chops, with a side of brown stuff and rice. A little of the new, a little of the old. The pork chops were a nauseating slap to the taste buds and ensured that my stomach would carry no lingering longing for the high cuisine of DFAC 3. I had failed to follow the sage advice of the departing troop: try nothing new in the last month of deployment. Stay with your routine, it got you that far. 

I loaded up my massive rolling contractor's trunk, otherwise know as the coffin (since I could fit in it if I ever needed to return as cargo, not passenger.) We cruised to the PAX terminal, and after an extensive luggage and body cavity search courtesy of the fine sailors of Navy customs, we were on our way! The only thing consfiscated from me was my wood. I was bringing home a 2x4 from the destroyed old hospital because personnel back home wanted a piece to construct a legacy plaque. Unfortunately, the USDA forbids it because some pests can piggy back on wood. Fortunately, they only arrest you for smuggling porn, firearms, and alcohol, so I was allowed to continue with my chalk.

So I've been up 24 hours, but I'm on new turf. The biscuits and gravy taste just as good here as they did back at Balad. In fact, they taste a wee bit better because they are a wee bit closer to home! Time for a shower and a nap, and then it's back to the classic military pastime: hurry up and wait.

Be well, Friends!



lainy said...

I'm so happy for you! Soon you'll be with your M. and sons.

Will you keep the blog?

Let us know how you are.

Jen said...

Have a safe (and quick!) trip home! And thanks so much for all of your posts on your Iraq experience...they have really been an eye-opener, and give a sense of perspective to some of us.

rlbates said...

Safe trip home!

Anonymous said...

thankyou for all your blogs - do keep blogging happy landings!

Anonymous said...

p.s. maybe colorectal/vascular/cardio/any still in (redacted) hospital can be persuaded to start blog - will be wondering what is happening now to those children/military/insurgents etc.

HollyB said...

Safe trip home, hug those kiddos extra tight. Scritch the dawgs ears for me.

make mine trauma said...

Safe journey and welcome home! Keep in touch.

Bag Blog said...

It makes me smile to know you are almost home. Yeha!

laurel - booksforsoldiers.com said...

Glad you're on your way home, Chris. Thanks for all the interesting pictures and blogs, as well as for your outstanding service to mankind. You will be sorely missed, that's for sure. But, it warms the cockles of our hearts to know you're returning to your loving family.

Mary Ann said...

Chris, Thank-you for all your posts and pictures. I hope you will publish a second book. Please keep writing. We will be waiting. Thank-you for serving. Love, Mary Ann

Anonymous said...

YEEEEEHAWWWWWW! You're going home! I bet you are overwhelmed with emotion! My best regards to you and THANKS for being over there! I know ya gotta be thrilled right now and hope you fly high and land safe.

Truly enjoyed reading your blog!

Angel in KY

emergencyem said...

Prayers towards a safe trip!

Anonymous said...

Hooray, welcome (almost) home! I would say you should come to Annual, but all things considered, you'll probably want to spend time with the family. *grins*

Be safe!

ChefSara said...

It makes me so happy to know you're almost back home safe and sound. I can only imagine how ready M and the boys are to have you home and how ready you are to be there! Thanks for all you do, and I'll keep my fingers crossed this this is your last tour in Iraq!!!