Saturday, July 5, 2008
One Tick Closer
We spent yesterday at Camp Victory, a sprawling military outpost adjoining the Baghdad airport. The camp is one of the largest bases in Iraq and home to some thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and contractors. While our media team went off with the military to cover a massive re-enlistment ceremony, my partner and I retreated to what is known as the Green Bean; the local coffee spot.
I passed most of the day sitting in the makeshift, air conditioned coffee shop that is ever so popular with Victory’s inhabitants. The structure is comprised of twin trailers joined together, air conditioners mounted every five feet on the white metal walls, and leather couches and tables surrounding the massive coffee bar. Over the hours I watched hundreds of military personnel and civilian contractors come and go; the very lifeblood of the reconstruction effort in Iraq. This was how they were spending their 4th of July as well. It seemed like any other day on Camp Victory.
Men and women dressed in dust covered uniforms with weapons slung over their shoulders sat around drinking iced drinks as fast as the Green Bean staff could turn them out. Some were sporting black Army PT shorts but still wore leather shoulder holsters or drop-leg rigs carrying sand-covered handguns. Contractors lounged about in their ever standard 5.11 pants and t-shirts; well-tanned arms often adorned with tattoos.
It was just another day here, the same ebb and flow of people working at their jobs, biding their time in Iraq until they’re able to return home. Some came to this country out of a sense of duty, others for the money, most simply because this is where the military sent them. Nonetheless, there we were, in a makeshift coffee trailer celebrating the 4th of July all together; everyone with a sense of it was yet another day in Iraq, just one more tick closer to being home.