War in Iraq, a Soldier's View
07-Jun-03 12:58 PM
A lot has happened in the last few days, I’ve been meaning to write but something always comes up.
I’ll start with the 3rd; I got to go on a tour to Babylon. The ruins are really close to where we are so the drive is only about 30 minutes. Me, Layton, Hansen, Warner, and E5 Anderson were the only ones from our unit that went, four other people from other units tagged along for the ride too.
We got to the ruins at 9:00 and a guide was already waiting to start taking people through, but just as we were about to go in a ton of Marines showed up so we had a few of them join our tour group so we ended up with about 30 people in our group. The tour guide spoke pretty good English, he had studied archeology at the University of Baghdad and then spent three years in the Iraqi army (which is required of people here), then he decided to stay a little longer and reached the US equivalent of Major. But then he left the military and went back to his chosen profession of Archeology. And had been doing that since 1975, with alot of that spent studying Babylon and other ruins in the area form the same period.
He was very knowledgeable of the history of Babylon and he really wanted to teach us all he could. He kept asking us if we understood what he said and if we had any questions. Then he told us that he was an expert in this area and it was his duty to pass his knowledge onto us so we could pass it on to others.
The ruins were mostly reproductions that were 25 years old. The original ruins had been stripped for bricks when the Turks took over the area so only about 1 meter of the foundations remained. The way Babylon formed was that in the first period the city grew but was flooded (it sits on the banks of the Euphrates) and most of the city was 10 meters deep in mud, so the King filled the area with sand and built the city on the ruins of the old city. After that period the city was destroyed once and rebuilt the third period of construction was built on top of that. Then the city was torn down to the 1 meter level. All of the relics were taken by Nazis in WW2 and now sit in the Berlin Museum. And 25 years ago Iraq rebuilt the city on top of the original ruins so now you can see the bottom meter is the original wall but up from that is all new brick.
Since all the tile was in Berlin there wasn’t much to see but just being in such a historic place was great. We walked along the old road into town and the Tour Guide told us about the parades that would come down for the yearly celebration every October when the city was in its heyday. We also went into the king’s chamber where king Nebuchadnezzar sent David to the prison of lions and later redeemed him and accepted his word. It was also the place Alexander the Great died after creating one of the largest empires in the world. And I stood in the same place where it all happened. We then went and saw the only relic left from the Germans, a half finished Lion conquering a man. And then we went through the Ishtar gate and went down to where the remains of the gate are still there from being buried and safe from looters. I got to touch one of the “Dragon” carvings in the brick that made up the covering of the gate when it was still above ground.
It was a great tour and the Tour Guide was really informative but it seemed that me Layton and Hansen were the only ones that thought so. As the Tour Guide was talking the marines wouldn’t be paying attention and they would crack jokes at their friends so loud that it was hard to hear what the guide was saying. Two of the guys that were with the group that we brought from Scandia brought sunflower seeds and were spitting them all over the place as we went through. The area was clean so that they really showed up everywhere they went. It made me sick that Americans could be so disrespectful of a place that is in a different country that them.
When we went to where the ice was stored from winter to spring it was
full of bats and made the room stink. The tour guide told us that the
bat poop was toxic and we couldn’t go in there, plus the smell was
so bad that nobody would want to anyway. One of the Marines whispered
under his breath, “Smells like Hagi’s to me.” Comments
like that about somebody who’s taking the time to do tours during
a war pisses me off; screw the Iraqi dissidents attacking soldiers they
have to wait their turn because a lot of these guys need to have their
asses beaten for being so inconsiderate.
After the tour we played around the amphitheater and then went to the market to pick up some souvenirs, I got a t-shirt with Saddam's face on it, some awards given to soldiers, an Iraq army beret, and a huge wad of Iraq, Iran, and Kuwaiti Cash. As we were waiting for others to get back from the market we talked about how nice it would be if we went back to Scandia and they were all packing to move back and go home.
Funny we would think that. As we were pulling into Scandia I noticed that two of the vehicles out front had “110 MT” written on the front. I started asking the guys at the tent if they had heard anything and they didn’t even know of the vehicles. When I went back out Rex was in front of me saying, “Saturday! Saturday!” with a big smile on his face and he couldn’t seem to say anything else then he ran off to tell others. I asked a few people that had been talking to him and they said that he just found out that the main group was coming Saturday.
Since then we’ve just been waiting and getting things ready to move. We still don’t really know much except that were leaving here Sunday morning (tomorrow) to Tallil where we’ll wait for official orders home from the Colonel which may be already done and we just have to pick them up or we may be waiting weeks to get orders out of here. Plus we have no idea when we’ll leave Doha or how long the out processing will take. But it’s still great that we’re finally starting the process the get out of here. Today we packed everything up except what we need to sleep for tonight, and then tomorrow we sign over all our tents and move out in the morning. I’m not sure how much time I’ll be able to write over the next few days but I’ll try to keep up the journal of what happens over the next few days.
A little off topic but we just got some radios today and have been listening to different stations and found one that speaks English. I thought it was interesting that they referred to the US forces as the “US/ British Occupation Force” We’re always being told that we’re a “Liberation Force” not an occupation force.
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