Sunday, June 10, 2007

IRAQI 500


Since this job is my first non-flying job in the military, it has been somewhat a rough one. Not to mention I'm performing the job in the middle of Iraq! In some regards the travel is a welcome event...I get to fly in a helicopter most times. Sometimes, I travel in a vehicle. Not to worry, that vehicle is a well armored, "Mad-Max" type vehicle...so relatively safe. I've always loved flying, especially when I'm at the controls of the aircraft. Here, I'm just a passenger...but it still brings me joy, none the less. On one of my recent trips, I spent some time talking with one of the helicopter pilots and a couple of the enlisted crewmen. What a great bunch of guys. Aviation "types" are pretty much the same...no matter what branch of service. We talked for about an hour and it was nice to have familiarity in a world that is completely "upside down". The best part is they made me an offer that I could not refuse: Come to their facility anytime I wished and they would let me jump on board with them and fly around all day if I wanted. Talk about a great deal! I haven't been able to take them up on the offer yet, but I plan to do so...very soon.

So, the Iraqi 500...the drivers here are crazy. They don't follow any general rules of the road. Speed limit: Yeah right! Lane courtesy: Not even close! Patience: Not a recommended quality! The Iraqi drivers drive very aggressively...to their own demise. When an American convoy is travelling on the roads, the convoy "owns" the road. The armored and heavily gunned vehicles of an American convoy use all the road...and I mean all the road. If the convoy is headed north, they will sometimes use the southbound lanes(opposite flow). If there is a "traffic jam" ahead, the convoy will either proceed into the oncoming lanes or with horns blaring, fire warning shots to ensure the Iraqis move out of the way. Now before anyone says, "See that's just driving like a jerk." Realize, in Iraq, you don't want to get stuck behind a traffic jam or get boxed in...ever. If you do...you are just a sitting duck waiting to get attacked. So all these measures are for safety and security of our American forces.


Now sometimes the Iraqi drivers aren't too keen on our driving standards. So, randomly you'll find an Iraqi driver that decides he wants to play "chicken" or be stubborn about letting a heavily armed and armored vehicle pass by. This is where things get sticky...for the Iraqi. When this happens our guys don't know if this guy is just being a hot-head or if he intends on blowing himself and his vehicle up in an attempt to kill American forces. Trust me, it happens here more than I'd like to admit. In these cases our guys start by shooting warning shots. If no compliance, the gunners start shooting the vehicle. Drastic measures for drastic times.

The normal Iraqi hot-head usually "sobers" quickly at the first warning shots. So those aren't the folks that endure "step two" from above. The people that endure "step two" are usually the folks that a have a car packed with explosives and intend on using them. So the measures of protection work. As draconian as they may seem...they have saved numerous American lives. Everyone just remember...this is a war.

Some of my posts recently may have become somewhat "dark" in nature. I don't consciously post this way...but I think it is just the nature of the experiences. I also think that it would be completely wrong of me to not write how things actually "are". It would not be fair to NOT portray things at face value. Don't be fooled...this place is not fun or cool. With that being said...my promise to everyone is that I will write from my mind and heart and not skew things negatively or positively. Now, don't worry...I still find humor and fun in everyday life here! So you will be able to experience those situations also.

The picture above is the typical IRAQI 500 road course. The road is a major thoroughfare in Baghdad. As you can see, they all end up being a big parking lot. Not the safest place for an American convoy to be stuck. Hey at least I was flying that day; enjoying myself with a smile on my face.

R, K and G...I miss you and will demonstrate my Iraq driving techniques when I get home...we'll rent a car first.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Barbie,

Loved the discription of driving in Iraq. When my husband returned from his time in Baghdad, driving with him was an experience! He'd drive at the top speed possible, and swerve to avoid all the manhole covers. It took a while for him to "re-orient." Until he did, I'd just climb behind the wheel with a smile. Thanks for the great blog from a 23-yr AF vet!

Safety1 said...

Summer is here and the temps are up.

I managed to slip into a C-130 turn school. I have a new respect for you pilot types.... I have never had to study so hard for a grad cert.....

They just had the truck and indy cars here at TMS. Good race Danica Patrick took third. Nice speed way there.

AM1

Anonymous said...

Hope all is well out there chump. We're holding down the fort here in NOLA. Just got back from 3 weeks in Fallon for an SFARP. Few more weeks until Guam if you wanna come back and do some flyin'...

Wedge says you're back on for 204, can't wait to see ya... ;)

Stay Safe brotha,
Pipes

Reign of Reason said...

Yo... riding around is the whirly-birds is fun... at night. Not sure about the day tho. Yeah, you can see more stuff, but the gomers running around can see you too!

Stay safe.

Spy

celticmystyc said...

Hey Barbie,
AM1's wife here....some of my friends are involved with operationquietcomfort.com and anysoldier.com I've been asked if I know anyone who could use some cards from home to write in and mail back to the states...I thought of you. Email me if you'd be interested.. celticmystyc@hotmail.com

SonarMan said...

Where you at? I hope your OK. It somewhat worrisome to those of us back home for a guy in the sandbox who been blogging pretty regular to suddenly stop.