Duck and Cover!
Office meeting, Iraq:
Colleague 1: You know Trav, we just received a cable from the State Department warning against traveling to India. Maybe you should reconsider going there for your R&R.
Pregnant Pause – Trav looks aghast at the thought of canceling her R&R.
Colleague 2: Excuse me, Colleague 1, have you noticed that she is in BAGHDAD?! Laughter all around.
Colleague 3: Yeah, Trav, hah! You might want to stay in the war zone instead of going to India! More laughter . . . I was to depart the green zone the next evening, New Year’s Eve, scheduled on the 8 pm Rhino (personnel armored vehicle).
Some of us gathered for barbecue and champagne to celebrate the holiday – it was close to the Rhino pick up point, so I dragged my suitcase there to party while I waited. Delicious ribs were smoking on the grill and we just began pouring the champagne when
Holiday interrupted: DUCK and COVER!, DUCK and COVER! – the big voice announces, you listen – and RUN! We ran to the nearest concrete bunker – not one second too soon – BOOM! It was fairly close by – Boom, Boom – a little too close for comfort. We huddled in the bunker – Happy New Year! Looks like we’re getting some fireworks for the holiday. . .
Fifteen minutes later: ALL CLEAR, ALL CLEAR, ALL CLEAR!
Back to the party . . . but only for another fifteen minutes . . . then the big voice again: DUCK and COVER! Sirens . . . run back to the bunker –
“Somebody grab the champagne!”
“Somebody grab the cigars!”
“Somebody grab the ribs!”
RUN! Boom! The ground shakes.
Somebody wants to celebrate with us. A memorable New Year’s indeed.
Of course I am in the bunker wondering, will I get out of here tonight? Will the Rhino come? Will they bomb us all night?
ALL CLEAR, ALL CLEAR, ALL CLEAR!
No Rhino at 8. No Rhino at 8:30. No Rhino at 9. Will I miss my R&R?!!! Damn insurgents!
But wait! What is that I see lumbering down the road? Yes! My Rhino! I don the helmet and kevlar, load up my bags and we are off to drive down “Route Irish” to the Baghdad International Airport. Seven rockets and one VBIED later, we actually make it to the airport. Looks like I might actually get out . . . and none too soon! Just one more night and I get to escape from Baghdad.
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