Chris on Duty > Road To Iraq by Chris Alpine
Seattle comedian Chris Alpine is in Iraq entertaining
our troops with Comics on Duty.
Please visit ComicsOnDuty.com
for tour information.
Almost All Quiet On The Mideastern Front
As I help buckle in a couple of young soldiers into their seats on the C-130
taking us into Iraq, it hits me - I'm a grizzled veteran now and I'm not even in
the military. Me knowing more than our troops should scare the hell out of me
but I'm not even apprehensive this time. Maybe the college girl on the plane
over wasn't far off when she asked if I was going to Iraq "on
We landed in Mosul and the first thing that strikes me is how quiet it is. No
gunfire, bombs or even hip hop music blasting at Number 11 on your Spinal Tap
dial. If rock music was the soundtrack for Vietnam, then hip hop is the
soundtrack for Iraq. The quiet is a pleasant surprise because Iraq has always
been incredibly noisy both day and night. I don't like it. It's like the quiet
right before a tornado.
The living conditions here have improved dramatically in the last year. We're
billeted in small trailers with air conditioning, showers with plenty of hot
water, toilets that actually flush, a refrigerator stocked with water, juice and
soda; and , best of all, real beds with real mattresses and clean sheets! We
have nearly unlimited internet access 24 hours a day through out the country.
For the most part, the dining facilities, called De Facs, serve a huge variety
of quality food. I enjoyed excellent Mexican, Italian, Chinese and Indian food
all through Iraq. Each tries to out do the other to our benefit. Every base had
fresh fruit and vegetables and way too much ice cream. You know we're fighting
in comfort when you hear an officer whine that "we're out of Belgium
We're thankful for the good food and living conditions because our schedule is grueling;
28 shows in 12 days. This is accomplished by riding Black Hawk helicopters to as
many as four FOB's, Forward Operating Bases, a day. We cowboy up with 30 pound
flak jackets and kevlar helmets in the morning and zoom off to an FOB, do a
show, hop back on the chopper and repeat. We usually end our day around 10 PM so
don't really get a chance to enjoy the comforts but we're certainly glad they're
The troops definitely appreciate the shows, especially the small, isolated FOB's
that rarely get entertainment. Comics On Duty is extremely flexible and mobile.
We add shows as we go because we can't say no to the troops. That's why we're
here. I've noticed the vast majority of troops have only been here since
February and, while morale is high, they lack a certain urgency earned by
enduring the hardships and sheer terror of the actual war. It's more like a
video game come to life. This is not to say they aren't ready, they are but it's
more of an adventure than a mission. We're even allowed, hell encouraged, to
fire weapons. We fired everything we could get our hands on including the
.50-caliber machine guns. Of course, we're such idiots we managed to shoot
behind us setting the desert on fire. The instructors were doubled over laughing
until a round went zinging over their heads. I'm not into guns but after the exhilaration
on the range I would have enlisted on the spot if asked. Nobody asked.
We did go to the Green Zone in Baghdad for two days. We stayed at the Pool Side
Suites. It was Saddam's pool but not any more. It's now used by our embassy and
the military brass. It has the look and feel of a country club pool back home.
Hot, lazy days with picnic lunches and real beer available to non-military personnel
- that's us - with a sign stating "Drinking is not allowed when
armed." good advice anywhere. Watching girls in bikinis frolic in the pool
while medivac helicopters stream by overhead reminded me of the insanity of
Vietnam. What have we gotten ourselves into and how do we get out of it?
Some things never change in Iraq. It's still a dangerous place to be an
American, it's still covered with sand and it's still unbearably hot. In all the
time I've spent in Iraq it's never been under 100 degrees. I want to be the
weatherman in Iraq. How hard can that job be? "It's going to be hot, really
fucking hot. Back to you."
Since the insurgents now attack unarmed civilians nobody is shooting at me. That
can change in a second so you can never truly relax. The quiet is not
reassuring, it's spooky and I should know. After all, I'm a grizzled veteran