June 1-7, 1991

Steven Dutch, Professor Emeritus, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay

Back to Turkey

Sat 1 Jun

Formation at 0730, then we were off most of the day. I read and relaxed in the morning. At 1330 I went on a shopping run to Silopi. I cashed a check at Finance for $100, then got a copper plate at the Turkish PX, visited the U.S. PX, then hit the street vendors. The south side of the road opposite the camp is lined with vendors mostly selling carpets; I nicknamed it the "Silopi Mall". I got a rug and a tapestry. I had just returned to camp when CPT Gerald Watson and SSG Wally Coyle said they were walking into town, so I decided to go with them.

I had a specific mission in mind. A few days ago the Fishers (MAJ Carl and CPT Lori) came back from Zakho with a Kurdish cradle. I thought Shawn would love one. We walked through downtown, out to the river to see the old stone bridge, then back via a different street. And there it was, outside a shop, price 30 dinars ($6). I put it on my shoulder and we started back the four miles to camp. It was a riot; every male Kurd waved, smiled, gave me the V sign as if to say "You sly fox, you've still got it"! One gave me a little brass amulet for "the baby"; I didn't have the heart, or the fluency in Kurdish, to tell him the cradle would likely end up a planter.

The vendors along the roadside are real pests, selling bayonets and Iraqi currency. Headquarters has issued orders forbidding dealing with them because of the safety hazard created by people crowding the road. For the same reason it is now forbidden to toss candy to the kids. These two regulations should have been posted the first day!

Sun 2 Jun

No formation today. I went to Chaplain Burr's service at 0830, then packed up my cradle for shipment. It was so big I had to piece together two boxes, to pack it. I dismantled it, using my mini tool kit, then wrapped my carpet around the three major pieces in an S-shape. I did technical inspection on my convoy vehicle, then went with Haney and Raby back up to the British Marine camp. He went up to get his evaluation, which the British had forwarded to Special Forces. I went to get some missed geology shots. It felt strange seeing some of these places that were by now so familiar, and knowing that it was really for the last time.

At the British camp, we heard that a car tried to run a British checkpoint the other night. They stopped after 11 shots and three flat tires.

Then we went in to Silopi. It took over an hour to mail the package, which was almost too big for SAM (Space Available Mail, the cheapest rate). The limit for SAM, length plus girth, is 100 inches. The box measured out at 100 inches exactly.

The carpet patterns at the Silopi Mall are interesting. In addition to the geometric patterns, they have unicorns, naked ladies, the Last Supper, Sacred Hearts, Confederate flags, Our Lady of Guadalupe (honest!) and other traditional Moslem artistic motifs.

We returned to camp. I ate and played volleyball, very badly tonight. The current speculation has us leaving Friday. The Kurds demonstrated twice, at 0900 and 1800, against the coalition pullout. It took me back to the Sixties. This was the first time I had ever seen anyone demonstrate to keep U.S. forces in a country, sort of a "hell, no, you can't go" demonstration.

Mon 3 Jun

Formation at 0830. We are released from the mission. 40 of us drove to Silopi with personal gear. The plan throughout the departure was to avoid Turkish border formalities by dribbling through a vehicle at a time. We carefully packed our vehicles so nothing excess showed from outside. We spent the morning tearing down tents. I drove out with PFC Dave Mabin about 1320. We unloaded, then drove back only to find out we weren't needed. We detoured south from Zakho a bit (I wanted to check out the geology) then went back to Silopi. Silopi, marvel of marvels, has a shower point which is utterly glorious.

We have not brought eternal peace to the Middle East. The Kurds marched on the police station in Dohuk today, and the Iraqis opened fire. The Kurds returned with weapons and a shoot-out ensued; two Iraqis and four Kurds died.

Tue 4 Jun

We returned to Zakho at 0730 and finished breaking down the camp. At 1130 Major General Garner came and gave the three Civil Affairs companies (ours, the 431st and the 418th) a farewell address. To our surprise, it was short and informal (he broke the formation and just had everyone gather around). It was also very complimentary. Our plan to "convoy" out at intervals degenerated into an Indy-500 start. My own departure was delayed a bit when the 418th's trash burn started a small grass fire. Considering the burn area was surrounded on all sides by bare earth, it still created quite a hubbub.

It gets very hot soon after sunup, reaches over 100 during the day, and cools off only at sunset. The camp at Silopi is bleak and shadeless. It gets huge dust devils; one took down two GP-Medium tents today.

I sent home most of my excess clothing to make room. (This would be the only box to suffer damage or loss; it broke open en route. I lost a few clothing items, but what hurt much more was losing a box of old music tapes). Mailing it used up most of the money I got from Finance the other day.

Funny remark of the day: on the way out of Iraq, I was talking with CPT Pressner about the designs on the "Turkish" rugs. He said he liked the naked ladies on the unicorns best. I said I didn't think my wife would approve. He said "My wife doesn't like unicorns either".

A formation was set for 1800, then cancelled. The word now is we may send our vehicles out on flatbeds instead of convoying them.

The tent next door is occupied by Marines who like loud music. I went out at 2300 to ask them to turn it down and bashed my toe on a tent stake. Then when I fell down I took of half the skin on my leg sliding down the rope. Ouch!

Wed 5 Jun

It was a dull day until 1600, then got very exciting indeed. There was a formation at 0830, then I washed my laundry. In the afternoon I visited the Silopi Mall. There were some spectacular dust devils, some forming perfect hollow tubes that went up hundreds of feet. Mostly it is too hot to do anything except try to avoid the heat.

There was enough shadow along the side of the tent for me to lie down about 1600. I had only been there a few minutes when MAJ Bob Johanson came by and told me to pack for a chopper flight at 1700. I threw my stuff together and loaded up in a truck for the helipad. The "terminal" was a garden gazebo.

Miraculously, it all came together. We were just on the point of giving up when a French Gazelle came in at 1700. It was a fantastic flight. We buzzed the fields about ten feet off the ground, then set down briefly in Zakho. We took off again, flew by the camps, then went on to Sirsenk. We landed and were rolling when the pilot lifted off and set us down about 50 feet away; the shortest flight I ever took. We got thoroughly sandblasted by the propwash. We made the MAC flight to Incirlik by 5 minutes. The flight, in a C-130, took two hours. Johanson called headquarters when we got in. By sheer luck LTC Bukowski was in (at 2000). He took us to the camp, then we went to the burger shop and the gym for showers.

We got four people on the morning bus run with just minutes to spare. We could have gotten a lot of others since there were only two other people on the bus. They beat us in by 20 minutes.

Thu 6 Jun

The camp is a tent city on the north side of the base just off the residential area. It's quite nice, very casual (no hat, no salutes in the area) and has a nice recreation tent and shower point. It looks a bit like Dodge City with its wood sidewalks. They used a lot of wood here!

In the morning we went to chow, then headquarters and the PX. I cashed another check for $100. In the afternoon I took a nap. It's warm here but not nearly as bad as Silopi. Later on most of our crew went to town, but I couldn't because all my civilian clothes were in the bag I left behind in Silopi. I hiked up to the MAC terminal to leave a message for COL Miller, who's flying in from Diyarbakir, then ate supper and revisited the PX. The mess hall and the PX are about half a mile from the tents, about a 10-minute walk. Most of our company arrived by bus about 1800. The last group got in about 2130. They were delayed by flat tires, and were annoyed to find that most everyone had gone off to party. They were not happy campers at this point. Much to my surprise, the 431st and 418th also arrived; I thought they would be a few days behind us.

Fri 7 Jun

A day off. In the morning I walked to the mess hall, then went to sign my evaluation report. I spent some time reading, then visited the Turkish Exchange on post. After lunch I bought 83,000 lira ($20) at Finance and went to town. My original plan was to go into Adana, but outside the main gate I ran into SSG Poh, COL Miller and LTC Christopherson and went with them to "rip-off alley", the strip of shops just outside the base. The press is more diplomatic and simply calls it "the Alley". The shops are actually very nice and within a few minutes I had spent $42, almost all my cash. I decided it wasn't safe to be off post.

The current word is we have a mission number and take-off time, Monday at 0750. The 431st and 418th will be going along with us. The chaplain is organizing a trip to the sea tomorrow. I signed up for it.

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