Wednesday, December 06, 2006

251 AR

8pm December 5, 2006
Washington Helizone

In the world of E tickets, you get a piece of paper with a computer code that somehow makes sense to the person behind an airline counter. Flying with the military here you get an “S Ticket”. That is a sharpie is handed to you and on the back of your hand you write your flight number and destination.

We are scheduled to fly on marine bird 251 destination Ar Ramadi, boarding the chopper in the noise where conversation is impossible the loadmaster simply grabs your wrist and checks you are going to where they are flying.

Other small points to factor in you MUST be wearing a flak jacket and Kevlar helmet; earplugs are not for fun but again a mandatory safety requirement. Guns must be unloaded and clear. Protective eyewear again required. As you arrive at the heli zone a sign clearly states that Deadly Force is authorized, now hopefully you understand what is meant by deadly force.

You carry your own bags on and then we sit in the pitch black on webbing and alone in your thoughts you fly further into Iraq and right to the front line that is to be home for us. It is hard to think in the noise and amongst the vibrations of Marine Airlines. But most of all you think and pray that all will be safe.

There is nothing glamorous or exciting at times like these, it is a combination of fear and adrenaline that supports you, that and the feeling of being alone in your thoughts in the blackness 200ft above the ground flying to what is one of the most dangerous places in the world, AR Ramadi flight 251 will be departing in an hour.


FOXFan said...

Mal, Just recently found your blog. I really enjoy reading about your adventures going where most of us would never consider going. Your comment that the world seems to care less and less about what's going on in Iraq and more and more about someone to blame prompted me to write.

Not everyone has lost interest. The stories that you guys have already sent back are heartening to those of us who support the troops and want to see decisive victory in Iraq and throughout the War on Terror.

Reading about all that you take with you into the warzone is heartening. You really are putting your butt on the line for the story...and some of us, rest assured, do care about what you're doing.

Stay safe and I look forward to reading your updates.

NewsJunkie said...

Stay safe over there Mal, and thanks as always for your great work!