Iraq Blog - September 2008
Awake mid-morning well rested and Brodie drives us over to the base’s main office. We are ushered into a conference room to meet the MWR (Morale, Welfare & Recreation) representative sent on behalf of the commanders. He welcomes us with open arms, expresses his gratitude for us being there, and briefs us on the history of Arifjan and the area. We were given certificate and a coin commemorating our visit there…the first taste of the huge amount of deep appreciation that we will receive constantly throughout the tour.
The next quick stop is to receive our “gear” – kevlar helmet and flak jacket/vest. Heavy stuff in all aspects of the word. All air travel from now on will require wearing these items, and any emergency type situations as well, aka INCOMING!
At this point we’re hungry, might have just been the only time we were actually hungry the entire trip. The military definitely knows how to feed its people and we immediately see how gaining a few pounds might just happen. Three squares a day and midnight chow. Brodie quickly ushers us in the dining hall and we go through the aisles of choices which were pretty much standard for all the bases we visited – ‘Main Line’ for the specials of the day, ‘Short Line’ for the burgers, dogs, and fries, and then the extended salad bar, desert display, and drink machines.
After lunch we jump back in the Mitsubishi and take an hour and a half drive to Camp Virginia (still in Kuwait) where we would be performing our first show. Brodie has a great R&B station tuned in on the radio. Really soulful jams…don’t know where it was broadcast from. Every once in a while a small community of houses would appear, and the occasional mosque as well with their towering and often beautiful minarettes. Closer to the base we passed an old Kuwaiti military checkpoint and airbase, and noticed a large amount of burned out vehicles on both sides of the road – rusted and ghastly remnants of Saddam’s invasion in 1990.
Camp Virginia is a main transient center for troops heading home, as well as a loading point for cargo, supplies, and convoys heading north into Iraq. We say a quick hello with base the representatives, received a nicely framed plaque, took a few pictures, and then off to the stage we go for setup and soundcheck. It’s outdoors and thankfully covered, shielding the band and the production crew from the continued immense heat. Unfortunately for our soundguys, front of house had no cover from the 120 degree heat and blazing sun. The 80 SPF sunscreen came in handy for sure!
At the stage we meet three of the other fellows that will be part of the voyage. Louie from the Phillipines, and Karim and Arif from India. All of these fine gents live in Kuwait and worked for Coaxial, the production company supplying the sound system and backline. Don’t think we actually met any “native” Kuwaitis in Kuwait, seriously! These guys would be coming along to help with PA and backline setup, making 19 total for the group. The PA and all the gear would be brought with us from now on until the end of the trip.
The show was lightly attended, largely due to the small amount of folks that were on the base. Not to worry though, it was a good warm up gig and acclamation to the heat and humidity. The troops that were in the audience at least had a great time, and the majority of them hung around afterwards to meet and take pictures with the band.
We pack up the gear, jump in the Mitsubishi, and head out into the night. Back to Arifjan to sleep. The only thing we are told is that tomorrow we head north, into Iraq...
Special thanks to Griper for his contribution to this entry