Thanksgiving quickly became my last meal in Baghdad. A quick change in plans had me leaving a few days earlier than expected and only 12 hours to pack; I spent half the time sleeping.
So I spent most of Thursday packing, shipping, and turning over equipment but no big loss; it's not like I had much else to do here. At least I could spend the day with a few thousand family members I didn't know – my fellow soldiers.
The Dining Facilities have been preparing for the day for the past week. Decorations have been slowly going up for days and small indicators have been slowly revealing themselves. On the day itself, the decorations came up in force. They had carved and painted large sculptures from Styrofoam and had a large turkey made from what looked like napkins.
The meal was actually quite remarkable, at least for cafeteria style food. I have really been quite impressed with the quality and quantity of most of the food in the DFACs. On Turkey day they had roast pork, ham, turkey loaf and, of course, carved turkey. They had mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn meal stuffing that was too gooey, and stale roles. I took a small sampling of most and topped it all off with pumpkin pie a-la-mode.
Our exit from the DFAC was delayed a little when some Iraqis tried to add some of their traditions to ours. I had just picked up my pie and was headed for the ice-cream when the alarms sounded followed by the recorded, "incoming, incoming, incoming." Most dove for the floor, I wanted my ice-cream. The DFACs are some of the best protected facilities around with plenty of overhead cover and high concrete barriers all around. I got my ice-cream and sat back down. I wasn't about to leave until I heard the all clear. After all, we saw the burn marks from a mortar that landed just outside the protective barrier, little more than 50 feet from where I was sitting at the time, only a couple days before. I heard no impacts but finally the all clear so I left with my pie and ice-cream.
One night on a cot and I caught a flight out of Baghdad International. I expect to be home in the next day or two so don't expect to hear from me for a while.