After spending my tour of duty up 'til now in small Forward Operating Bases (FOBs), I happily volunteered to take a piece of electronic equipment up to our unit headquarters in Baghdad for repair. It was a great opportunity to see my friends from our reserve unit, and do a little sightseeing. I wasn't prepared for the amount of traffic, pavement, and huge buildings that cover the gigantic Victory Base Complex, and felt kind of like a "country bumpkin" while staring goggle-eyed at everything around me. The centerpiece is the renowned Al Faw Palace, which is opulent in a cheesy, Las Vegas sort of way. No visit to Al Faw Palace is complete until tourists have been photographed while seated on Saddam Hussein's throne. The Leprechaun couldn't resist the lure of planting his posterior for posterity...some pretty famous rear ends have occupied this surprisingly comfy piece of furniture.
Another pleasant surprise awaited me during dinner in one of the Mega Mess Halls. The USO put together a cartoonist tour to visit bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, and so I got to meet and chat with "Doonesbury" creator Garry Trudeau. Mr. Trudeau is a truly gracious fellow who has used his strip as a "bully pulpit" to increase Americans' awareness of the struggles our Wounded Warriors encounter. He drew a nice little sketch of "BD", personalized it, and presented me with a "Doonesbury in the Sandbox" commemorative coin. I'll try to post a photo of both mementos soon.
More photos from Baghdad will follow, but after a pretty sporty helo ride on the return trip, I'm worn out and gonna hit the sack!