Pro Deo Et Patria- An Army Chaplain

I am a chaplain in the US Army, serving in Iraq. I'm keeping a blog to share my thoughts and experiences while deployed. They are my thoughts and they don't necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Army! :)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Sights, Sounds and Smells

It was a busy day today. In the evening I flew over to Rustamiyah- my old stomping grounds- for a memorial. I flew with one of our generals and represented the Division Chaplain Staff. I love being up in the air in a helicopter, and as I observed everything as we flew, it occured to me that being here in Iraq entails many different sights, sounds and smells.

Visually, there are the ever present helicopters and jets overhead; Soldiers carrying their weapons everywhere; crisp salutes rendered as I boarded the helicopter; the glare and heat of the anti-missile flares going off from our choppper as we floated over Baghdad; the street lights and homes below us as we clipped along at about 120 mph; the humvees, tanks and Bradleys, and so much more.

The sounds are so varied. Once in a while there is boom of a rocket or mortar, or a controlled detonation; there is the chopped air and rumbling from helicopters above, or the high pitched whirring and whining while inside the helicopter. The sound of volleys and the playing of taps was interspersed for me over the last couple of days. The pop-pop-pop comes from both the firing ranges, and gun battles in the distance.

The smells... the smell of Rustamiyah tonight was the most distinct. Getting off the chopper, I smelled again the strange mix of both sewage and sulfur, with a hint of gunpowder, that is so unique there. It is unpleasant- mainly- but also strangely familiar and not so bad in that respect. Or, it is the smell of the DFAC on steak and lobster night... as they "cook" the steaks in the most depressing manner possible, ensuring that the presentation of steak here will not spoil me, but only make me hunger all that much more for a "good" steak. (I should point out that I love our DFAC... as long as it isn't steak!). Then there is the ever present smell of dusty sand. Does sand smell? I don't know... but there is a dust smell that is worse as it dries out and blows.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Chris:

Your description of the sights, sounds and smells is so intense that one can visualize the scene. I am sure that it is something that you will always remember because of your vivid description. You are certainly conveying a sense of the place to everyone following your blog site.

Love, Dad

12:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you for the descriptive visual. You know I just commented the other day, when it was "shock and awe" time there were journalists everywhere giving us footage, and now there is none! Where have they gone? I got my latest real reports from Iraq from Bill Engvall, and Ron White from Germany. They certainly told it like it is there and at Walter Reed. They just praised the staff to no end.

10:02 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home