Saturday, January 19, 2008
Welcome to HQ
We pulled into the base, high walls, narrow streets – and were stopped by the IMP – International Military Police. We got out of the truck, they searched the truck, and we unloaded our weapons. We didn’t drive far – or fast – and we were unloading our gear, and being greeted by the other folks from our unit – folks happy to see us – as we were them. We stopped in billeting and got keys, signed some papers, and got our temporary ID’s.
We got our bags and began moving into our rooms. The NATO buildings were indeed temporary – but hardened. Each building was surrounded by walls of concrete – they were obviously doubling as bunkers. That was somewhat ominous and daunting. The buildings were basically single units – each about the size of ½ a semi truck trailer – connected together with a hallway down the center – like a college dorm. As I entered the – very cold – room, I noticed 4 beds, some lockers and a couple wooden’ish units. Wow. Tiny was the first thought. It’ll work – we are not in tents, so I wanted to make the best of it. I began to stack my – multiple at this point – bags, under the bed, unpacking what I could into one of the wall units. There was barely enough room to walk between the bed & the wall unit. I got out my sleeping bag, some uniforms, essentials, and left the rest in bags under my bed. We left and got ready to go to chow – as we hadn’t had a mean since the day before. It was dinner, so we headed off to the chow hall with our guys, and signed in and ate a hearty meal.
Since NATO has lots of European countries, the food was mostly European in nature. The meats were typically a bit more fatty – the vegetables were good, and the fruits plenty. There was also a curry dish, with rice, and a selection of 2 cold meats, and 2 cheeses, right next to the smallish salad bar. The best find of the night – the coffee/cappuccino/espresso machines down the center of the chow hall – 4 of them. Plenty. This was indeed good news.
That first night was probably the worst night. It was wet – we were in cold small buildings – and we had just left what seemed like a very comfortable place in Qatar. My feelings would change, but I was not initially looking forward to this long deployment.