Last night in Iraq, for some

(from our correspondent in Iraq)

July 1 Happy Days: Our Combat Team unit of the National Guard is finally going home. It has been on active duty for 24 months, having been extended 4 months 30 days before they were supposed to be sent home in March. These young men and women have been vital to the operation of the hospital, providing dozens of medics, doctors and staffers to help us run the show. Also, because they are from the mid-West and we are from the East coast, it provided entertainment as we constantly teased each other about our respective states. We’ll miss them.

Tonight is the last night for them. Much like the last day of college, everyone is hanging out in front of their trailers, talking nostalgically, and acting silly. Despite the absence of alcohol people are still running around behaving like teenagers – in fact many of them were teenagers when they arrived – and acting out in ways that would have gotten them disciplined just a week ago. The common areas and dumpsters are like flea markets, filled with microwaves, plastic organizers, and ammunition – whah?

One of our soldiers, an intrepid dumpster diver found over 2000 rounds of ammunition, almost enough pieces of an M-16 to assemble a whole new one, and several other pieces of controlled equipment (body armor, rocket launcher, secret manuals) people have thrown out. Had they not been retrieved before someone set the dumpster on fire today, we would have had an ugly scene at the hospital 20 feet away, with bullets cooking off and shooting every direction.

As a parting shot, someone in the C Company of the unit, one which had suffered terrible morale, emailed out a vitriolic polemic against the Battalion Commander, his First Sergeant, and a number of other officers. I never thought I’d say this, but it is probably a good thing that there is no alcohol around tonight.

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