As nightfall came, everyone was getting together to prep for the convoy and we STILL didnt have seats. The convoy commander told us he may be able to squeeze us in but it wasn't looking good. Bill turns to me to tell me what I already knew, if we didn't make this convoy we would have to fly back to our base because our timeline was blown all to hell. Just then, in the darkness drove in our answer. 3 more vehicles showed up and a senior sergeant tells the convoy commander that me and Bill were top priority. After a few minutes of discussing this, we got bumped to the top of the list which meant we had seats. Lucky me, I got to ride in the FIRST vehicle in the convoy. Statistically, the first vehicle never gets hit by roadside bombs. It's usually the third vehicle or somewhere in the middle. Still, that didn't sit too easy with me. Oh well, I know Im a soldier suck it up. It had rained pretty heavy a couple days before and the roads were disastrous. Somewhere underneath all the mud and water actually lied pavement and concrete but I rarely saw it. I felt like we were going bajaing down the road and the driver of my vehicle was lovin it. He had to be a country boy although I didn't mind it neither. We got to the base around midnight and I was exhausted. We got up around 6 in the morning and started working.
Nothing too exciting happened while we were here. Their is no pavement at this base so the place looked like a mudslide had gone through there. My boots and the back of my pant legs were covered in mud. Their was 3 different kinds of mud. You had your normal mud, your water mud, and then the mud that wouldn't give you your foot back after you stepped down and your boot was engulfed into the Earth. It is quite interesting trying to get around this base, luckily the only time I had to go anywhere was to get to the chow hall and the diesel latrines. The bathrooms here are only used for "number 1". They are hole in the ground looking toilets, kinda like what you find in China. To do "number 2" you had to go outside to homemade outhouses and 2-3 times a week soldiers have to burn the stuff in these barrels. Quite interesting and the next time I go there I will be sure to get pics. We stayed a couple of days and we had to hitch a ride back with some soldiers coming down from the next base we had to get to.
When the day came to go to the next base, me and Bill were waiting with all of our gear outside the headquarters in the mud. Up rolls 4 humvees and who steps out? Our brigade commander, the "full bird" colonel. He explains that we will be leaving shortly and asks why we were down there. We informed him that we got 12 soldiers to re-enlist and he began to smile from ear to ear. You gotta love senior commanders and the little things that brighten their day. After the "bird" walks away Bill looks at me with alittle bewilderment in his eyes. Then it dawns on me too. We were about to travel down a route that some units try to avoid with Bradley's and we were going to travel down it with just 4 humvees. Oh boy, this could get interesting. We meet up alittle later and we load up our gear on the vehicles and we strike up a conversation with the guys waiting on the "bird". I simply ask how things have been lately and one driver, with a bit of disgust in his voice replies " It's fucking boring, haven't had an IED go off or any haji take a pop shot at us." I always thought that was a good day but not to these loonies. We get all loaded up and leave right around dusk. I got my first look at Ramadi and it is worse than any slums in the USA. There are burnt out buildings, half blown up buildings, trash everywhere, just slumy looking. The trip was only about 20 minutes and luckily nothing happened.
We got to our last stop and got settled in. Bill had been itching to get out on a mission or a patrol for God knows how long. All he could talk about was how he was going out when we got to this base. I was not allowed. Before we left on this adventure, I was given strict orders not to leave base unless I had to. It was actually aimed at both of us but since they didn't say Bill's name, he was going to go anyways. The next day we got to work there and Bill kept hounding the commander if he could go out. They had a little something going on and he was more than welcomed to go. He was like a kid on Christmas the rest of the day. We went to bed early that night because Bill had to be up at Oh Dark Thirty for this mission. He was so excited he couldn't sleep. Then one of the sergeant's come in and tell Bill mission is cancelled. It took everything I had not to bust out laughing because that was his only chance to get out on a mission during our adventure. We wound up leaving the next night, by helicopter. We found out that we could fly out of this base by helicopter so we headed up to their flight line to get on the Space A list. I didn't bother unpacking any of my cold weather gear because I am an idiot. We wound up flying on a Chinook and they have a machine gun port which meant it was friggin cold flying really fast through the air. By the time we landed on our base, about a half hour flight, I was a frozen popsicle. When I finally got back to my room, I took the hottest shower possible to warm up and get any mud I still had clinging to me.
It's a good thing Bill didn't get to go out on a mission because his ass would have been in deep shit. Our boss about tore him a new one saying you both were not allowed. Oh well, I told him their is always next month.....