Iraq War – Operation Iraqi Freedom – Part 5 – Redeployment

IRAQ WAR – REDEPLOYMENT (30 Apr 04 – 27 May 04)

Brian McKnight – Home
Thinking back when we first met
I remember what you said
You said you’d never leave me
I let go of your hand
Built my castle in the sand
But now I’m reachin’ out again
And I’m not letting go
Till you

Hold me
Mold me
Sometimes I feel so all alone
See, I gotta find me way back home
So why don’t you
Shape me
make me
Wash me whiter than the snow
I gotta find my way
Back home

Master upon my knees i pray
I just want to be the clay
Put your arms around me
Place my life in your hands
Lord, I know I’m just a man
I know you understand
This time I’m not letting go
Till you

Anoint me
Appoint me
Sometimes I feel so alone
See, I gotta find my way back home
So why don’t you
Chastise me
Baptize me
Wash me whiter than the snow
I gotta find my way

‘Cause I’m lost and alone
I’ve been wandering
Long enough to know
Humbly I search for you
And I’m not gonna rest
Till you

Choose me
Use me
Sometimes I feel so alone
I’m on my way back home

So why don’t you
Direct me
Bless me
Wash me whiter then the snow
I’m on my way
Back home

I don’t know what it was. Redeployment (so called for redeploying back to our home station in LA, California) meant going back home. But when we found out, I was one of few people that thought it came too soon. I hated being deployed, but damn it I wanted to stay a couple more weeks.

For one reason or another, I was in charge of most of the logistics during this final month. They had several Sergeants that were capable of doing the job, but I suppose they wanted some time off and trusted me to do a good job. I scavenged modes of transportation, at one point finding a random bus rider in Camp Wolverine (formerly known as Camp Wolf, but they combined two adjacent camps to create one Camp Wolverine) on his way back to Camp Arifjan to give us 15 members of 3rd Platoon and our 2000 lbs of load still in the palette to give us a ride back to our Headquarters element.

…Well, I decided to go and ask the most random person in the world, some MSG of S-6 riding along a Gator. I asked him if I can borrow it for 5 minutes. That turned into more like 30, and I was ever so sorry. I must have pissed off a lot of people, because while I was juggling my personal and professional tasks, I was also doing everyone else’s professional tasks, too, which should, again, been handled long ago. I managed to get all the equipment down there, got my weapon, my carry-on, and everything. I returned all the things I borrowed at the last minute, asked a few people to do me a favor after the fact that we had left, and assembled with the rest of the company that was waiting for me to board the plane.

…Now the wait is almost over. We have less than 36 hours left. I’m so anxious to get back home. A lot of my views about the military changed over time. But what home really means to me also changed, too. I wouldn’t look at it the same way again, not after this 15 month lesson.

That would be the last thing I would write during this deployment.

Iraq War Photo. This was one of the only times that we Army would get into a fight with the Marines. It was almost always about a woman.

This was one of the only times that we Army would get into a fight with the Marines. It was almost always about a woman.

Iraq War Photo. Some of us look especially happy, after finding out we're going back home soon. This would be the last time we would go out drinking as a platoon.

Some of us look especially happy, after finding out we’re going back home soon. This would be the last time we would go out drinking as a platoon.

Iraq War Photo. Club Hermes, still in Djibouti. Roberson didn't try anything this night because our Captain would restrict us on a midnight curfew, on the last night we would be in Djibouti.

Club Hermes, still in Djibouti. Roberson didn’t try anything this night because our Captain would restrict us on a midnight curfew, on the last night we would be in Djibouti.

Iraq War Photo. Perez and I had gotten fairly close during the trip down to Kenya. She was pregnant when we took this picture. (It wasn't me, I swear.)

Perez and I had gotten fairly close during the trip down to Kenya. She was pregnant when we took this picture. (It wasn’t me, I swear.)

Iraq War Photo. You probably won't recall his face, but he was pictured in the KENYA entry. He was riding on that boat with us to the island, with a cap on. Camp Lemonier was small, but it was big enough that you never saw anyone you recognized unless you really tried. Here, on our last night in Djibouti, I randomly ran into him again. His next assignment would be Ethiopia.

You probably won’t recall his face, but he was pictured in the KENYA entry. He was riding on that boat with us to the island, with a cap on. Camp Lemonier was small, but it was big enough that you never saw anyone you recognized unless you really tried. Here, on our last night in Djibouti, I randomly ran into him again. His next assignment would be Ethiopia.

Iraq War Photo. Contreras. Porcayo. Roberson. Foster.

Contreras. Porcayo. Roberson. Foster.

Iraq War Photo. Fitz and Foster, having a joke about Fitz's black eye. Foster was one of the smartest people I've ever met, including those from academia like Harvard and professional corporate offices like IBM. He was bit of a playboy, but always got the job done and had a knack for staying calm under pressure.

Fitz and Foster, having a joke about Fitz’s black eye. Foster was one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, including those from academia like Harvard and professional corporate offices like IBM. He was bit of a playboy, but always got the job done and had a knack for staying calm under pressure.

Iraq War Photo. Fitz was a good enough sport to go out with us. He actually had a pretty decent time. Contrary to our times in Ft. McCoy, WI, where he would talk on the phone all night and would never join us outside the wires, he would almost always try and bring us together for a trip outside Camp Lemonier. I learned a lot from this man.

Fitz was a good enough sport to go out with us. He actually had a pretty decent time. Contrary to our times in Ft. McCoy, WI, where he would talk on the phone all night and would never join us outside the wires, he would almost always try and bring us together for a trip outside Camp Lemonier. I learned a lot from this man.

Iraq War Photo. Back in Camp Lemonier. Sanchez started experimenting with black and white pictures. This is one of my favorites.

Back in Camp Lemonier. Sanchez started experimenting with black and white pictures. This is one of my favorites.

Iraq War Photo. The long exposure shots return. To your right is the incoming logistics sergeant who would take over our operations.

The long exposure shots return. To your right is the incoming logistics sergeant who would take over our operations.

Iraq War Photo. No Comment.

No Comment.

Iraq War Photo. I don't think any of us drank that night to get drunk. We simply needed a place to sit down and relax as a platoon, with soldiers, Marines, sailors and Airmen who knew of our departure and who we had earlier become very attached to. Camp Lemonier was great because the leadership trusted in us, and we got the job done efficiently. The cause for all that success can not be further from the military men and women you see in the picture above.

I don’t think any of us drank that night to get drunk. We simply needed a place to sit down and relax as a platoon, with soldiers, Marines, sailors and Airmen who knew of our departure and who we had earlier become very attached to. Camp Lemonier was great because the leadership trusted in us, and we got the job done efficiently. The cause for all that success can not be further from the military men and women you see in the picture above.

Iraq War Photo. He's messing around with my BCGs. He had been in Camp Lemonier for a year and a half, longer than even the Base Commander.

He’s messing around with my BCGs. He had been in Camp Lemonier for a year and a half, longer than even the Base Commander.

Iraq War Photo. This is our bus ride to the airport in Camp Lemonier. By the way, the only airport that Djibouti has belongs to us, as in we created an entire base around it.

This is our bus ride to the airport in Camp Lemonier. By the way, the only airport that Djibouti has belongs to us, as in we created an entire base around it.

Iraq War Photo. Contreras and his A (assistant) Gunner. Fitz is in the back. I'm not sure if there's another Sergeant I would rather be an A-Gunner for. He was so efficient on the range that he ammo box was still full and returned to base early while everyone else in other units struggled to qualify. But that's not why I was attached to his hip: he was also a great man, a family man.

Contreras and his A (assistant) Gunner. Fitz is in the back. I’m not sure if there’s another Sergeant I would rather be an A-Gunner for. He was so efficient on the range that he ammo box was still full and returned to base early while everyone else in other units struggled to qualify. But that’s not why I was attached to his hip: he was also a great man, a family man.

Iraq War Photo. We joke about it now, but this is all true. It all happened to one man, SGT Fitzgibbon, during the deployment. His story isn't the only one on the board, because things like this happened to everyone.  I hope that picture above illustrates the true cost of a second or third deployments that the military is so nonchalant about these days. The few of us suffer so that the rest of us may live in peace. The greatest distress back home would come when we realized that turmoil continued back home. We would then question why we had to go through all that trouble when conflict back home remained unresolved. That is frustration.

We joke about it now, but this is all true. It all happened to one man, SGT Fitzgibbon, during the deployment. His story isn’t the only one on the board, because things like this happened to everyone.
I hope that picture above illustrates the true cost of a second or third deployments that the military is so nonchalant about these days. The few of us suffer so that the rest of us may live in peace. The greatest distress back home would come when we realized that turmoil continued back home. We would then question why we had to go through all that trouble when conflict back home remained unresolved. That is frustration.

Iraq War Photo. C-130, flying back to Kuwait to regroup with our headquarters element. I didn't know it at that time, but this would be the last military flight I would ever take. The flight out of Kuwait would be in a 747.

C-130, flying back to Kuwait to regroup with our headquarters element. I didn’t know it at that time, but this would be the last military flight I would ever take. The flight out of Kuwait would be in a 747.

Iraq War Photo. We're now in Kuwait. Fitz found a picture on SGT Lopez's wall of playboy daily calendar playmates that resembled the tattoo on his stomach. He was so excited, we went back to get our camera so we can take this picture for him.

We’re now in Kuwait. Fitz found a picture on SGT Lopez’s wall of playboy daily calendar playmates that resembled the tattoo on his stomach. He was so excited, we went back to get our camera so we can take this picture for him.

Iraq War Photo. We lived in the concentration camp for another month while we waited for our orders to fly back home. Here is the living quarters I set up for myself, a poncho liner for a bed sheet with the green only sleeping bag, and a plastic trash bag that I set up on my bedposts for the company to use as a trash can. The big difference this time with the warehouse experience was that they had finally set up the air conditioner and electricity stopped short circuiting every hour.

We lived in the concentration camp for another month while we waited for our orders to fly back home. Here is the living quarters I set up for myself, a poncho liner for a bed sheet with the green only sleeping bag, and a plastic trash bag that I set up on my bedposts for the company to use as a trash can. The big difference this time with the warehouse experience was that they had finally set up the air conditioner and electricity stopped short circuiting every hour.

Iraq War Photo. Roberson and Porcayo await orders.

Roberson and Porcayo await orders.

Iraq War Photo. We're riding in the back of the humvee, on our way to take a picture that our commander ordered.

We’re riding in the back of the humvee, on our way to take a picture that our commander ordered.

Iraq War Photo. Which I suppose wasn't that bad of an idea. This is one of my favorite pictures that we took as a platoon.

Which I suppose wasn’t that bad of an idea. This is one of my favorite pictures that we took as a platoon.

Iraq War Photo. Porcayo. Contreras. Fitz. Urmanita. Sanchez. Lodevico and Roberson.

Porcayo. Contreras. Fitz. Urmanita. Sanchez. Lodevico and Roberson.

Iraq War Photo. Me and Sanchez. I think this day was at a comfortable 95 degrees.

Me and Sanchez. I think this day was at a comfortable 95 degrees.

Iraq War Photo. Here we are, playing water basketball. It required no dribbling skills, so that meant I could play. No matter how hard we tried,though, all of us would walk out of the water with scratch marks.

Here we are, playing water basketball. It required no dribbling skills, so that meant I could play. No matter how hard we tried,though, all of us would walk out of the water with scratch marks.

Iraq War Photo. Me and Roberson, walking out at closing time.

Me and Roberson, walking out at closing time.

Iraq War Photo. Roberson. Sanchez. Lodevico.

Roberson. Sanchez. Lodevico.

Iraq War Photo. This would be the final shot I took coming out of Kuwait. For some reason, I was tasked to work out the logistics once again for our flight back to Wisconsin, and here I was the last one on board the bus because I had to make sure all our equipment and personnel were accounted for.

This would be the final shot I took coming out of Kuwait. For some reason, I was tasked to work out the logistics once again for our flight back to Wisconsin, and here I was the last one on board the bus because I had to make sure all our equipment and personnel were accounted for.

Iraq War Photo. We're in Ireland. Because of their 18+ drinking policy in the airport, command allowed us to have one drink of Guinness draft. I was 20. But that doesn't mean they didn't give me a hard time about it. A lot of people ask me, how hot was it in Kuwait and Djibouti? Well, we flew commercial airline with cushioned seats but we still had to load our own equipment into the belly of the plane. I had a few moments where I had to stand directly behind the jet exhaust in the back of the plane. I would say that would come very close to how hot it is out there, but just all day, everyday.

We’re in Ireland. Because of their 18+ drinking policy in the airport, command allowed us to have one drink of Guinness draft. I was 20. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t give me a hard time about it. A lot of people ask me, how hot was it in Kuwait and Djibouti? Well, we flew commercial airline with cushioned seats but we still had to load our own equipment into the belly of the plane. I had a few moments where I had to stand directly behind the jet exhaust in the back of the plane. I would say that would come very close to how hot it is out there, but just all day, everyday.

Iraq War Photo. Lodevico. We're back in Camp McCoy, WI. We were worn out from traveling so damn long. In the previous 36 hours, we had 2-4 hours of sleep depending on the level of anxiety one had in the plane. Other than that, we were constantly on the move or awaiting to be moved, packing all our gear and moving through several checkpoints, flying from Kuwait to Germany, Baltimore, staying at a local church in Baltimore for a few hours, then flying out again that night to Wisconsin, then busing back to our barracks. We were tired. Command authorized us to sleep for 8 hours this day. We would be in McCoy for another 5 days.

Lodevico. We’re back in Camp McCoy, WI. We were worn out from traveling so damn long. In the previous 36 hours, we had 2-4 hours of sleep depending on the level of anxiety one had in the plane. Other than that, we were constantly on the move or awaiting to be moved, packing all our gear and moving through several checkpoints, flying from Kuwait to Germany, Baltimore, staying at a local church in Baltimore for a few hours, then flying out again that night to Wisconsin, then busing back to our barracks. We were tired. Command authorized us to sleep for 8 hours this day. We would be in McCoy for another 5 days.

Iraq War Photo. Roberson.

Roberson.

Iraq War Photo. Porcayo is still tired.

Porcayo is still tired.

Iraq War Photo. Can you tell that we're excited to be leaving?

Can you tell that we’re excited to be leaving?

Iraq War Photo. The above 4 pictures were taken in Minneapolis, MN airport, my favorite airport of all time (even better than Korea, Hawaii, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Baltimore, NYC, LAX, OAK, SFO, Frankfurt, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Djibouti, Kenya, Long Beach, Seattle, Chicago, Colorado Springs, Montreal, Vancouver... connecting flights have been omitted, but London would be a close second if it wasn't.)

The above 4 pictures were taken in Minneapolis, MN airport, my favorite airport of all time (even better than Korea, Hawaii, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Baltimore, NYC, LAX, OAK, SFO, Frankfurt, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Djibouti, Kenya, Long Beach, Seattle, Chicago, Colorado Springs, Montreal, Vancouver… connecting flights have been omitted, but London would be a close second if it wasn’t.)

Iraq War Photo. We've landed. It is 27 May 04. The two metal crates you see to your left contain our weapons. It was the weirdest sight. They demanded we open the crates for inspection, fully knowing that we have guns after guns stacked in there for the flight. I have no idea what they else they could possibly look for, but after a few minutes, they closed it back up after leaving a 'inspected' sign inside.

We’ve landed. It is 27 May 04. The two metal crates you see to your left contain our weapons. It was the weirdest sight. They demanded we open the crates for inspection, fully knowing that we have guns after guns stacked in there for the flight. I have no idea what they else they could possibly look for, but after a few minutes, they closed it back up after leaving a ‘inspected’ sign inside.

Iraq War Photo. As with any military operation, there's a lot of waiting. Here, we are waiting outside of LAX, awaiting our bus.

As with any military operation, there’s a lot of waiting. Here, we are waiting outside of LAX, awaiting our bus.

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