30 March, 2006

It’s the end of the world! Or the end of the fry-cooker…

Yesterday, I was minding my own business when there was a loud and close explosion. Not unheard of as there are frequent controlled detonations of unexploded ordnance by brave troops working to clear the place of such. Usually, there is an announcement but not always. We normally pause for a moment and listen for another. If yes, we begin to consider finding out more. None followed and so back to my keyboard. However another, louder boom went off minutes later and I began to smell smoke and hear alarms. Seconds after that the general attack warning went off.

Everyone began dashing for our helmets and armor. The Iraqi’s began to race about in their 4x4 sirens blaring (quick note: Iraqi’s in their 4x4’s pose a real and present danger as well but that is another story). To the unfamiliar eye their rushing about appears to have great urgency and purpose but I know better. I ran for our building looking at an ominous pillar of smoke reaching high into the sky at the adjacent joint US Army/Iraqi Army Special Force Camp. I could see flames shooting above the berm separating our camps.

I headed for my post which is running the ops control center (a phone on a desk in which I hide under) and began shouting for accountability info. That means I am supposed to know where all of our folks are and pass the information up to our leadership. In a few moments I knew where everybody was (they were hiding under the desk with me). A quick phone call to my overall boss (Colonel H___, a great American, USAF reservist pilot and possible future airline job reference) telling him all accounted for and “Sergeant, get your ass out of my face! I’m trying to talk to the Colonel!” Colonel H___ promised to call me back with updates.

About twenty tense minutes later Colonel H___ called back and told all personnel to stand down, operations back to normal. It appears the kitchen tent at the adjacent camp had caught fire and the explosions were from the propane tanks attached to the fry cooker detonating. No injuries but according to Col H___ the Army wasn’t going to be having French fries for a while.


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