Editor's note: After serving a tour in the regular Army, where he did public affairs work with multi-national peace keepers in the Sinai, Aaron Thacker joined the Ahwatukee Foothills News as a staff writer. Last year he joined the Arizona National Guard's 123rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment and is now in Iraq, reporting on the British contingent in Basa. His blog will appear on the opinion pages on a semi-regular basis. This is his entry from Nov. 4.
It didn't take long for the days to blend. My routine is becoming the same everyday, which is my fault, I guess. It is a pain in the butt to put on body armor, or "kit" as the Brits call it, and go somewhere after you've made it to the hooch. I usually get my laundry in order, watch a movie or read magazines.
My quarters consist of a small conex-like box whose walls are like the inside of the of refrigerator truck. It feels like a refrigerator when the air conditioner gets cold enough.
Inside of these two-man boxes is what the Brits refer to as Stonehenges, but are more commonly known as coffins. Picture two twin size beds lining one wall, head to toe. Each bed is basically on the ground and surrounded by a three foot high cement-brick wall with a 3-by-3 foot hole on the side for getting in and out. Why from the side? Because the top has a quarter inch thick piece of sheet metal across the top covered by two layers of sandbags. Mind you, I am 6 feet 6 inches tall. Getting in and out of this is not my easiest task of the day. Not to mention, the remaining space for walking is about another 3 feet cross to the next wall.
The funny thing is there is a waiting list to get into this part of the camp known as Allenby. I guess it beats the bays of beds at the other camp, not to mention the conveniences we have here. I don't have to walk far, or in body armor, to drop off my laundry. We also have a decent gym up the path and two Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) clubs.
At the senior NCO club they have a barbecue on Saturday night. It is pretty good. They usually have an assortment of meats: burgers, chicken, ribs and brats. The torturous part is the beer. The Brits aren't as uptight as the Americans and they are allowed a couple of tall-boy cans at the barbecue. It is the most refreshing sight in Iraq and some Americans are tempted into drinking ... but that's a story for the end of the tour.
Staff Sergeant Aaron Thacker is a former staff writer with the Ahwatukee Foothills News. He deployed to Iraq in November with the Arizona National Guard's 123rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment and is stationed in Basa with the British Army. You can read more of his writing at ArmyofMine.wordpress.com.