Iraq Blog - September 2008
We land around midnight at Al-Asad airbase in the Al-Anbar province west of Baghdad. Lt Wolfe and Sgt Douglas (another Douglas) greet the band and bring us to our quarters, which resembled truck trailers with beds and air conditioning. Most of us went to catch midnight chow and Douglas, a Harlem native who now lives in North Carolina, told stories of how the base was taken over by Marines (including himself) who had slept in humvees, ate C-rations, and showered with water bottles for days. It was now home to over 15,000 people and felt very secure. He had also been in Afghanistan.
Lt Wolfe was air force and grew up in Austin so Longhorn football, Dallas Cowboys, Lake Travis, Barton Springs, BBQ, and anything else Austin was of frequent discussion over the next day or so. Wolfe and his air force crony Freeman (another great guy) took a few of us on a morning tour of the base and it was enormous. The only remnant of the previous “tenants” was the mosque.
The gig was in a large conference type room that also doubled as a party spot. There were seats but also an open dance floor, and the stage was lined with camouflage. Setup took a very long time because of power issues and there was lots of confusion as to voltage and circuits which blew a few times, luckily only during soundcheck. Arif had to repair and partially construct a new breaker.
Definitely the strongest performance of the tour by far and the line of troops to meet the band afterwards was long and full of smiles. It felt good for sure.
A quick sandstorm blew through the base and delayed our load out. It was the first we had seen of one of these and thankfully it cleared quickly. Wolfe and Douglas mentioned that there have been sandstorms that last for days and no one can get in or out of the base. At least this gave us some extra time to get a great shot of the gang backstage and hang some more with the troops and our hosts.
Then to sleep and off to a new base in the morning…