After the sand storm (of which I never really saw any evidence) there were more flight problems. I never really got the whole story, but it was something to the effect of, "they forgot to schedule flights for this air base so now they are playing catch-up."
Not cool. Not cool at all.
Anyway...after a few days of purgatory the plane finally arrived and we all made our first step in the journey towards that heavenly place called home.
Into the belly of freedom
This particular step just got us from Iraq to Kuwait, but at least we were one step closer. We arrived in Kuwait early on Tuesday morning and we were all hoping that we would fly out that evening (all Freedom flights depart Kuwait in the evening). Ahhhh...but that was not to be.
We spent about another 36 hours in Kuwaut and then departed for Shannon, Ireland on Wednesday evening. After approximately 8 hours of flight time I woke to the dizzying greenery of Ireland below. I never thought the site of vegetation could be so beautiful, but after 7 months in the desert it was a symphony to the eyes. We stopped just long enough for a cup of coffee in the airport and then we were off again.
I was travelling with our unit's Physician's Assitant, CPT Felkins (aka Doc Felkins) who helped me pass the travel time (and coincidentally helped me get my sleep schedule switched over) by giving me a happy little pill that knocked me out cold. By the time I awoke we were somewhere over the Great Lakes and I knew we only had a few hours left.
At last we found ourselves over Texas air space, and I could not stop smiling with anticipation. Once we landed and taxied towards the the gate we recieved a salute from the airport by way of two fire engines spraying the plane as we rolled through.
There was also a parade of people as we came off the plane that were there for no other reason than to cheer us on, shake our hands, and offer a snack as a show of support and appreciation. A small boy stopped me, gave me some home made cookies and said, "Thank you, sir." I thanked him back and then quickly moved through the crowd for fear that if I stopped for too long I would break down emotionally. I only wish that somehow I could let all of those people know how much I appreciate their support.
We arrived in DFW earlier than expected so I made a mad dash to the ticket counter in order to get bumped to an earlier flight, which to my elation was successful. I called Amy and let her know that I would be in a few hours earlier than expected. Her response was a mixture of joy and panic as she realized that she now had much less time to get ready.
At last, the moment arrived. The moment I have dreamed about for the past 7 months. I got off the plane and dashed through the airport trying not to be rude as I made my way through the sea of travellers. I finally saw them and as we all made eye contact the tears started to flow and we all wrapped our arms around each other and hugged a hug of joy and relief. I will remember that hug and that moment for the rest of my days.
The Uppermans together again
Me and my best friend
Like I said before, blogging will be light over the next couple of weeks. Thank you all for your continued comments and emails of support.