Saturday, June 17, 2023

My Memory of the War in Iraq 20 years later: June 2023

 “From: Whitehead Col Michael

    Sent: Friday, June 20, 2003 10:22 AM

    Subject: Laundry Day

    Today is laundry day so I have to empty my pockets. Laundry day is signaled by the fact that my clean clothes bag is almost empty and my dirty clothes bag is REALLY full. I monitor my dirty clothes bag by using it as a pillow every night (my pillow was stolen in Arifjan back in March). This process takes about six to seven days. Laundry day is good because I put on a clean uniform. If you only have two uniforms, you get a lot of use between washes.

The officer sleeping quarters in one of Saddam Hussein's castles at Camp Babylon, Iraq in June 2003. The skinny guy in the picture is me. I had lost 20 pounds.

    To wash my uniform, however, I have to empty my pockets and there are a lot of pockets to empty. The shirt has four pockets and the pants have four. I keep them filled with things because: 1) I don't have a desk or office where I can leave things, 2) Anything I leave out in our work area is subject to walk away, because we have about 15 people working in a small room, and 3) If I find I need anything during the day, it is a LONG walk back up the hill to get it. I walk around with everything I need to work in my uniform pockets.”

    “In my bottom left shirt pocket I have a baggie filled with vitamins and Malaria pills. I take one of each after breakfast. In my bottom right shirt pocket I keep my sunglasses in a case. In my top right pocket I keep a flashlight (never can tell when you may need one) and my antibacterial hand wash. In my top left pocket I keep two pens and important pieces of paper that I may pick up or have thrust upon me during the day. On laundry day I discard or file the papers. In my right rear pants pocket I “keep my wallet. In my left rear pants pocket I keep my Red Man. In my left cargo pocket I keep a memo book to write down important, Secret, Army War info. I also keep there a brush I use to clean my pistol. I can't use my right cargo pocket because my pistol is hanging there.

    So you see, laundry day is a busy day of unloading and loading pockets. Then I lug my dirty clothes down the hill to the laundry point behind my office building. Things are a little better now because they installed a new laundry (and shower) point at the bottom of the hill. I put my clothes in the washer, go eat breakfast, and then go back to put them in the dryer. When I am done, I put my laundry bag of clean clothes near my desk and hope to remember to take it back up the hill with me at the end of the day. Once I put my clothes in the dryer and forgot about them until 4:30 that afternoon. When I went over to the laundry point, there they were, sitting all lonely on top of a dryer.”

Excerpt From

Messages from Babylon

Michael Whitehead

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