Today started off with a few hour wait in the airport to catch our flight out of Balad and to Mosul. Although most people dread sitting in the airport, we made the most out of our wait by mingling with some of the troops who were also waiting and then giving and receiving some dance lessons from the soldiers! Once they were ready to board, we walked out to the C130 and were excited to see the same flight crew that had originally brought us over from Kuwait! Kalani and I climbed up to the cockpit and were able to sit with the pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer and navigator, wear the headsets and listen to all the action that takes place in order to make these flights possible.
We landed in Mosul only for a quick lunch and then headed out for our exciting ride on the black hawks with Bravo Company War Eagles. This was by far one of the most exhilarating experiences to being able to ride with the doors open and experience what the aircraft is capable of doing! Also it was a great perspective of what the landscape is like here in Iraq. With a birds eye view, we were able to see the desolate landscape, brown and vast with small villages scattered by miles. We saw sheep herders and camels roaming the land and random ditches that are used to collect water to irrigate the fields. Once we landed at FOB Sykes we made a few stops into some of the solider offices, visited the "Wolf Pack" mechanics who fix and service all the vehicles and then wrapped up the visit with a meet and greet at the MWR building. Being at this FOB was a much different experience than the others because it was so remote and the number of occupants was so small. You could feel the appreciation when you walked in the door, these men and woman were glad to have a change of pace and a little relief from their daily routine. It was a touching and extremely rewarding to talk to these people, shake their hands and say thank you!
It was time to leave but a sand storm swept in bringing a beautiful thunder and lightening show but leaving us to stay overnight on this base with nothing but the clothes on our back. We tried to wait it out, hoping it would let up so the War Eagles gave us a tour of their Black Hawks showing us the engines and cock pit, look through the night vision goggles and even letting us hang out on top of the aircraft for awhile. It was a really cool experience to say the least!
We wrapped up our night by heading to the CHU (lodging area). After a few hours of sleep, Heather and I were woken by a dangerously loud bang, a flash of light and the sound of aggressively running water!! My heart was racing to the thoughts of what it could be...our water heater blew up and water was flooding our room! We ended up taking our mattresses over to Amy and Kalani's room and camped out with them for the night. And that was the end of another fabulous day in Iraq, experiencing some of the best and some of the not so good parts of their daily lives!