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Postcards from Tradocia

butler dustoff


The crew chief looked like a beetle-headed man in a tan flightsuit, what with his weird-shaped crewmember helmet and oversized smoked visor that covered most of his face. He gestured for me to get on the bird, and helped me strap into the four-point harness. He closed the door, took up the M60D machinegun at the window, and the thrum of the rotor accelerated to a steady howl. The Black Hawk sprang into the air, confidently, and tore away from Camp Liberty.

Destination: Butler Range.

I was on a one-man mission to deliver new crypto keys to The Pontiff at the range, his place of baleful exile under the very shadow of the Enemy, B Company’s Osgiliath to Iraq’s Mordor.

Contrary to my experience on the C-130 flights to and from Kuwait, riding in a Black Hawk was pleasant and exciting (as opposed to gut-wrenching and miserable). Unlike the ponderous take-off roll of a fixed wing aircraft, a Black Hawk surges into the sky with no preface, its rotor blades threshing the air violently; yet once cruising, the ride is no more bumpy than that of a Humvee on a dirt road.

The pair of Black Hawks cruised over Baghdad, banking hard at times, giving me an incredible view of the city. It was all tan buildings, some new and some old, six lane blacktops running amidst Third World warrens of garbage and debris-strewn streets, empty playgrounds next to bomb-shattered structures, burnt out husks of old cars on roads where shiny new ones passed. From the air, much of it looked like any other city – with billboards, traffic, clothes lines, people walking, birds flying below. And a realization, borne of my first trip outside the wire since coming to Liberty: most Iraqis just want to live, as the rest of us.

Further out, the city gave way to scattered date farms and arid scrubland, where shepherds marshaled their herds, searching for green among the gray-brown dirt and scrub. Some of them waved at us as we passed; I wondered what they thought of us, roaring overhead in our olive-black birds, no insignia visible but none necessary.

I arrived at the Range at about 0950, which was supposed to be my return time to Liberty. I didn’t know when the next flight would arrive, and as it turned out, I was re-manifested on a flight at 1500. Little did I know what peril awaited me…

(to be continued)


  1. Let me tell the story from the view of the Pontiff…
    I ran out to the helipad (merely 100 meters from building 107, my area of operations at BRC) at 0900. As I watched with dismay, only two individuals exited the impressive rotary winged aircraft, neither of which was the coming of the hero I awaited. So back I returned to my fortress, hoping against hope that he was yet to arrive. As I awaited Gandalf’s arrival, Osgiliath fell under attack by the dark (electromagnetic) cloud of Sauron. As I prepared my defense against the enemy, a bright, blinding light emanated from the roar of a chopper…He had arrived. With the sweep of his 249 and a few consoling phrases, Delobi took his place upon the battlefield. The troops immediately took confidence that the shot could be repaired with the presense of Mithrandir at their side. And lo, it wasn’t long before we established communications with Gondor over the palantir ( Iridium Satellite Phone, borrowed from the force protection element of Butler) and repelled Sauron’s dark curse. But I feared that it would not be long before the Dark Lord re-doubled his efforts, and as the White Robed (machine gun equipped) wizard left us on his beautiful gray steed Shadowfax (UH-60 Blackhawk), the master of Barad-dur indeed assaulted us again, this time forcing us to abandon the palantir (internet connection). The battle still rages, but it does not look good for the company of Men who still hold Osgiliath…

  2. Wow! We can’t wait for the rest of the story.
    Love G&G

  3. Yee haw!

    Your Mom’s asleep right now but I’ll show her this when she wakes up.

    Love, Dad

  4. The Enemy has us surround Delobi! We can no longer hold 107, we must fall back to the 500 series buildings! The palantir is lost…

    (They decided today to kick us out, and they are putting us all the way on the other side of the Range. Also, they are consolidating the internet lines into building 114, so no more access in the room. Plus, no more AFN!! I think I could cry right now.)

  5. F*ck it dude, let’s go bowling.

  6. Nice Bear, good call. This situation definately calls for Lebowski quoting.

  7. Granted, it’s hard to keep certain details straight while typing in the midst of an epic battle, but wasn’t it the *pelanor* not the *palantir*?

  8. Nope, the Pontiff is infallible.

    Pelennor refers to the fields and townlands of Minas Tirith and the location of the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.


  9. Oh man…she busts out the accented “i” and everything! Bravo, dear, bravo. :D

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