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What's it like, over there?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Editor's note:

As members of the National Guard from Brazil prepare to serve in Iraq, one of Brazil's own, Monte Porter, is already there. For security reasons, we will not reveal too much about his specific job or location.

Monte is also a Guardsman. He was born in Brazil but now lives in North Carolina. He is keeping a journal and has consented to share his e-mails to his family with our readers.

His father is Randy Porter of Brazil.. If you would like to contact Monte, please call Randy Porter, 448-8758.

Part 2: Monte arrives in Iraq

By MONTE PORTER

For The Times

We headed back to the passenger terminal, on time I might add, and waited for the 0400 flight call. Needless to say, the flights were published at 0530. Now, I've just passed my first 24 hours awake. At 0530, I find that there's a flight to Tallil at 0700 and my name's on it. Hot diggity dog, things are starting to fall into place!

When 0700 rolls around, I get on the manifest, struggle to lift my two duffel bags, a backpack, my weapon, ammunition, body armor, helmet and myself over to the bus 50 yards away.

You know, it's just not right for someone to have to sweat so much so early in the morning! Anyway, seven of us load on the bus and I find out that I'm the ranking person there, so I have to be the "flight commander" for all of these people I don't know. Oh well, nothing new here, so we head to the marshalling area.

We offload the bus with ourselves and the 80 tons of bags that are just mine alone and walk about 500 yards to stage our bags. Once there, I meet with the folks from KBR and find out that it's a "humanitarian" flight and no weapons or ammunition are allowed. This is where the Porter curse raised its ugly head again.

My spirits sank to rock bottom, I tucked my tail and began the duffle bag drag back to the bus for the ride back to the terminal to find the next flight.

Off the bus with all my stuff and into the terminal I go, eager to find the next flight time. Hmm. They tell me it will be 1900 before there is another flight to Tallil.

Have a seat, but you can't leave your bags unattended. I began to experience on of the longest days of my life. I compared myself to Tom Hanks in "Terminal". People moving all around, but no one really paid attention to the fact I was even there.

Twelve hours in a warehouse that was about 85 degrees and nothing to do.

I survived the day, got on the bus at 1900 for a 2100 flight. It's a good thing the U.S. Air Force doesn't fly commercial flights, they would lose some serious revenues!

We finally got airborne at 0230. I think I've finally lost track of how many hours I've been awake now! Into Tallil at 0330 and was meet by a friendly face from the Battalion operation center.

The young soldier helped me get my bags to the truck (about 20 yards) from the passenger terminal. I guess the sweat pouring off of me and the look of utter joy on my face inspired him to offer his assistance. I had just stepped off the plane with all my stuff and had wobbled the 500 yards to the building with no assistance. I was a REAL HAPPY CAMPER by this point!

The Specialist got me to a room and told me I had to be up and ready by 0900. Wonderful. 48 hours + with no sleep or shower and I'm thinking I will be a really fun person to be around in five more hours! Thus endeth the journey from America to Iraq.

I wonder to myself, "How many more times will this experience be repeated over the next year?"

By now, you've caught up on my first week in the Middle East. I will end the tale here so I can get some sleep tonight. I will begin the story of Sunny Beaches tomorrow.

To be continued next Thursday.



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