James Mackler

More about Kuwait

I am scheduled to have my first environmental training flight today. Everyone has to do a few of the desert flights before we move on to Iraq. Things here are still uneventful. I carry my M-4 rifle everywhere I go (but we havnt been issued ammo). Most of my time is spent waiting for our next meal and napping. I expect the pace to pick up a little now that we are doing some traiining.

My brother asked me who works in the taco bell, subway, etc. Its a good question. All of the facilities are staffed by foreign nationals. They are mostly pakistanis, indians, and neplalise. It seems that Kuwaitis do not do manual labor. I dont know who will be working at the facilities in Iraq.

I should be living in a CHU (containiner housing unit) in iraq within the next few weeks and have personal internet access. I just heard that we will have seven people per CHU. That is going to be very tight but pobably better than 50 to a tent.

Kuwait (ing)

All is stil well here in Kuwait. My address, as of October 15th, will be:

James Mackler
B/5-101st AVN RGT, 101 AVN BDE, 101 ABN DIV
APO AE09369

The post office has flat rate, priority mail cartons that can be sent for $7.70 and take about a week to arrive. Food, games, movies, books, pictures, and words of encouragement would all be great.

Everything is going well. I will write more when I have better internet access.

The attached pictures are from when we were wating in Germany for our plane to be serviced and when we were waiting outside of Kuwait City for our bus.

Im Here

I am sitting in an air-conditioned trailer filled with internet terminals. I arrived in Kuwait early this morning after a very long trip.

We reported to the Hanger at 1500 and departed for Germany a little after midnight. We then flew for 8 hours to Frankfurt where we waited for 2 hours as the plane was serviced. The saga then continued for a 5 hour flight to Kuwait city. From Kuwait city it was a 3 hour bus ride to Camp Buering.

I must say that I am pleasantly surprised with the accomodations so far. We will be here for about two weeks as we get qualified in desert flying. The area is incredibly hot and barren. The high today will be 102. There are, however, creature comforts. My company is living in a very large, air-conditioned tent complete with a wood floor, electric lights and power outlets. We are sleeping on cots and nearly everyone has hooked up their computers and MP3 players. Camp Buerring has trailers housing a taco bell, a chinese restaurant, a pizza place, an internet cafe, a coffee shop, and two dining facilities. It also has warm showers and flush toilets. Woo-hoo!

It is not perfect, of course. The sand is everywhere and the temperature and wind make it worse. There are about 30 of us sharing a bit tent so there is really no privacy. We have to be in uniform all the time and tote around our rifles everywhere. All in all, however, this is not a bad place to begin the year-long countdown.

Once I have access to a high speed internet connection I will begin to send pictures. I dont have an address to give you yet because, by the time anything would arrive here my company would, most likely have moved on to Iraq.

When are we going?

I have been given several departure dates and times over the past few days. I dont want to get specific (since it will change anyway) but I am certain that I will be on my way to the middle east within the next seven days. The constantly changing itinerrary is, as you can imagine, frustrating for me and my family. I still need to get used to surfing the unpredictable waves that are military plans.

In the meantime, I will continue to pack my gear, clean my apartment, hang out with friends and family, and take short trips to occupy my time. I went to the Harrah's casino in Illinois last week with some other pilots from work. It was a good day trip. I did not lose much money. I also went to the Jack Daniel's Distillery with Adam. If any of you find yourselves in Lynchburg, Tennessee I recommend the tour. I have an even greater appreciation of Tennessee Whiskey than I had before (some of you know that I already had quite an appreciation).

I am attaching a photo from the trip. You can see me in the back row, five from the left wearing a blue t-shirt and sunglasses. Adam is standing to my right. Our tourguide is kneeling in the front of the group. He pronounced the word "tour" as "chore" and "fire" as "far". As the following story illustrates, he also did not have much of a sense of humor.

The guide showed us Jack Daniel's original office. On the floor of the office was a large, old safe. Mr. Daniel kicked the safe one day after he had difficulty getting it open and broke his toe. The toe became infected and he eventually died. Needless to say, I dared Adam to kick the deadly safe. Once he accepted my dare I, not willing to be outdone, kicked it too (albeit gently). Adam then said to the guide, "I kicked the safe. Will I be OK?" "Were you hurt?" the guide replied deadpan. "Nope," Adam said. "I reckon you'll be alright." The guide said without cracking a smile. I guess some things should simply not joked about.

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

I guess I wont really know if the waiting truly is the hardest part until I get to Iraq. In any case, the waiting is not fun. I am probably less than two weeks from deploying. I go to PT most mornings, sometimes do a little work, and am usually home by noon. This schedule is pretty boring. There have been a few highpoints, however. For one thing, I handed-off the lance last week. Dave has it now. Fortunately for him, he rarely has to carry it because we are rarely at work. Another high point was the 9 mm range. I always enjoy getting to do some shooting (at least when no one is shooting back).

I have packed and repacked and packed again as more items are issued and as the packing requirements change. We are allowed to bring a rucksack, a duffel bag, and a carry-on bag. Everything on our required packing list must fit in these items. It is a challenge but not impossible. This is in additon to the "tough-box" that we were all allowed to send ahead on the ship with the helicopters. My tough box contains such essentials as a foam mattress pad, an x-box, speakers, a frisbee, lots of extra hygene items, some books, and a lot of writing paper.

Its funny to see how everyone's attitudes change as we approach deployment. The general feeling certainly is to live for today. The soldiers around me seem to be drinking more, eating out a lot, spending money, working out less, and generally doing the things they wont get to do much in Iraq. Everyone (myself included) figures there will be plenty of time to work out and eat right and lose weight and study and save money in the desert.

New look for RotorAvi8r Blog

A little late-night work resulted in a new look for the RotorAvi8r blog. If you're interested in contributing to Adding Understanding head over to user registration and sign up. Drop us a note and you'll be all set to go.

Another face-lift comes for the Sandy Valley section which now has its own look too. The casual observer will notice a strong similarity between these designs and the recent redesign of Adding Understanding. Finally getting around to doing some themes. Now to install Drupal HEAD on the test box and get to doing some more work.


Subscribe to James Mackler