Friday, August 22, 2008

Field Trip!

Mom Alert!!! – Mom and Marilyn will probably want to skip this blog entry. Click here instead to revisit a nice post from the past.

This week I got to benefit from one of the perks of working in the front office. One of Ambassador Crocker’s Special Advisors had an open seat in a helicopter he was taking to visit a port of entry on the Iraqi border with Iran. He asked if I would be interested in tagging along. Um, yeah.

So I donned my PPE (personal protective equipment) and we headed out to catch our ride on a Blackhawk helicopter. There were 2 Blackhawks, the first one carried the “important” principals, the second one carried me and another traveler. Flying above Iraq in a Blackhawk surrounded by 5 well-formed, well-armed soldiers… at the risk of sounding like Paris Hilton, that’s hot!

In the background is the Blackhawk, right behind me is the Hummer-tank vehicle.

From the landing zone, we traveled to the border crossing in a vehicle that I can only describe as a cross between a Hummer and a tank. Once we reached the port of entry, we were allowed to take off our PPE and we took a tour of the facility. There’s a lot of activity there. Some 200-300 people cross every day, mostly Iranian religious pilgrims visiting holy sites in Iraq. There are also dozens of trucks and oil tankers that pass through every day. The American and Iraqi soldiers do a great job managing so much in-processing and out-processing of people and vehicles.

At one point, we were standing at the small gate that divides Iraq and Iran. I never imagined myself standing at a border crossing into Iran. The atmosphere wasn’t as tense as you would think. The soldiers tell us that their relationship with the Iranian soldiers is cordial. We didn’t have any interactions with the Iranian soldiers, though.

The covered areas are the pedestrian in and out-processing lines;

the oil tankers are waiting to go through; beyond is the Iraqi desert.

It was an interesting trip and quite an adventure.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm. I ignored the disclaimer at the beginning.

In contrast to your day I spent the day in Santa Barbara with your sister and with Marilyn shopping and celebrating birthdays. In common with you, my day was also interesting and quite an adventure (Marilyn was driving with little idea of an actual destination).

Thanks for the picture of you in your "flap" jacket and protective helmet (both of which I assume you wear to bed). I will use it in our Christmas Newsletter.

Your frazzled mother.

Anonymous said...

If your wanting helicopter rides, why don't you wait until you get home and we can go to Van Nuys airport.
Also, in your reference to 'Hot' I assume you are referring to the weather.

Take care,

Anonymous said...


Your mom shared this blog site with me. Fascinating stuff. How hot is it over there? Is it stressful - just the daily life? What exactly is your mission their - processing visa applications?

Kim Kovacs (formerly Savage)