Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Frat House's Crown Jewel

I am happy to say that the guys in the Frat House, like many other soldiers, enjoyed the warm support of family, loved ones and friends who were all too happy to box up sun screen, girl scout cookies, Pringles, and you name it in the support of our American Fighting Men and Women.

Tim Love, who is pictured in the post below, was corresponding with a family member via email when the uncle(?) posed the question, what would you like? Tim jokingly replied that we would really enjoy a slushie machine as the daytime temperatures were routinely 125 degrees or higher. A nice Cherry Slurpee sure would hit the spot, wouldn't it?

Two days later, Tim received a request that none of us ever got from a family member. "Tim," he wrote, "I need a phone number at which I can reach you. I have a contact in Israel who has purchased a machine for me. He is hiring a guy from Syria to drive it to Baghdad. He needs to call and talk to someone as he doesn't know where you are."

Could this be true?

The battalion just happened to have a 1/2 dozen or so Iraqna (the AT&T equivalent) cell phones that we would use to stay in touch with the interpreters. Tim had a number and passed it along.

One early evening, not too long after, the phone rang. Tim answered to a man speaking Arabic. He leapt up shouting "Hold on!" as he ran out of the room and through the courtyard to where the interpreters stayed when on the camp. Apparently, the driver, the slushie machine and an undetermined number of syrup jugs were on the far western edge of Baghdad. Camp Cuervo, where we were, was on the far eastern edge. The interpreter did his best to figure out where the driver was and then give him directions toward our location; telling him to call us back when he was crossing the Tigris River.

Thirty minutes later, the phone rang again. Tim and I donned our body armor, kevlar helmets and commandeered the executive officer's Humvee and driver and headed toward the front gate.

As arrived at the gate it was getting dark. The floodlights from the gate were reflecting off of the passing traffic that came within feet of our parked Humvee. Locked and loaded, in full combat gear, we stood there. Sweating our butts off, we stood there, not knowing what to expect. I don't remember how long we stood out there, but it seemed like a long time.

And then he pulled in; with a box, probably 3 feet by 3 feet, strapped to the roof with twine. The driver hopped out, sweating profusely. Nerves? Heat? Both? He left the engine running. He had no intention of being there long. He took out a small knife and cut the box loose and slid it onto the ground. Next, he opened the hatch back and removed two large plastic tubs. He set them next to the box. I turned around to open the back of the Humvee. When I turned back, he was gone.

Tim and I scooped up the boxes as the XO's driver looked at us curiously. We hadn't told him why we were there.

Heading back in the base camp, we were giddy like it was Christmas morning. The rest of the frat brothers were waiting for us. We brought in the box and the tubs (holding the jugs of syrup) and related the story of the driver, the sweating and the disappearing.

It took us a couple of tries to figure out the ratio of syrup to water but we eventually got it. Ahhh, heavenly slushie machine. Part cold drink dispenser, part night light, part white noise machine, you were (and always will be) the crown jewel of the Frat House.

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