Saturday, May 31, 2003

A Day of Discovery in Iraqi Army Facilities

May 31, 2003 2300 South East Baghdad, old officers academy

Today has been unforgettable. It was a day when fact seemed stranger than fiction, and the mystery of this compound we are on became both clearer and cloudier. I feel like I have been in some Hollywood movie.
This morning I awoke to a cool and cloudy Iraq. I had to crap, so I walked around to find a place in the bushes to dig a hole. On the way there, I found some buildings and explored them a bit. One was a cafeteria, with loaves of bread all over the place, grain, rice, trays. It was ransacked. This was only the beginning though. I drove to our new HQs , an abandoned reception station and lecture hall, winding around bomb craters in the road. There were bombed building all over. Then, I explored the theater and found old Bundeswehr (German army) training films, Disney films, old pictures, all kinds of things. Every building yields a new discovery. We started occupying an Iraqi barracks for us to live in, it being dusty and looked bare to the bone. The officers are hiring the locals to clean though. They even set up a store with snacks. SGT Rob and I were talking in the theater when SGT Miller told us about a find. “Finds” are becoming important here, because we can get furniture that we need for our bed space and offices. It became more than a find though, as we drove to a medical building that had been trashed, looted, and abandoned. I will never forget what I saw, and because of time limits, I can only make this brief. There were vials, needles, ID cards, showers, books about biological and chemical weapons, medicines, pills, blood, rifle parts, stench, bloody plastic, a hook in the ceiling, IV bags, medical records, gas masks, and more. It was the most macabre thing I have seen in my life, I thought I would vomit after seeing it. We are still trying to determine what it is, what the hook with a stain underneath would be used for. It was like being in the experimentation rooms at Dachau. You cannot imagine how strange it is to see all of this, where Iraqis were only a few weeks ago. Despite the blood, the chemicals, and the lumps and bags of bloody things, the commander went to hire some peasants to clean it so that we can move there. See, there is another battalion trying to live here too, so we are fighting each other for living space. I can write more on the medical center later. We then went to some warehouse, and like in a movie, found mountains of brand new military gear still in boxes. Thousand of boxes, untouched in each warehouse. It was unreal how much equipment and uniforms where there. Boots to the roof, jackets, uniforms, canteens, tanker vests, helmets, sleeping bags, cups, kakis, metal lockers, brief cases. All wall to wall, floor to ceiling. SGT Rob and I were in shock at what we found, and took some things that we could use. The value of everything had to be near a million, at least. I know this sounds unreal, so I am going to videotape this tomorrow. It’s so amazing to see all of this, to see this world, to be on a base where it seems like everyone just disappeared and left everything. Every door opens, anything you want to see in a building you can see. The loss is horrible though, all the looting and destruction. So much has been lost or stolen, so much work undone. Today, as we came around a checkpoint, the little kids were cheering for us, and the mother was smiling widely and tossing olive branches at us. So strange, the things here. They seemed to be OK before the war.


Post a Comment

<< Home