From Nick Druecke at Camp Taji, Iraq, roughly 6,339 miles from home in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.
The best time here would have to be when you get down time. It's always a happy day when you're told just to stay in your room and wait for further instructions, but the instructions never come. That's usually a pretty rare occurrence.
Since we don't get days off, and we're here all year long (minus two weeks of mid-tour leave), stress levels can get pretty high. People you see every day begin to wear on you, tempers get short, and things begin to get murky all around. So days off are awesome.
The worst for me was Kuwait. It's like going on a long vacation, driving all day, and getting a flat tire ten miles away from Disneyland. The flight from Ft. Hood to Kuwait took just under 22 hours of flying, and when you get off the jet after a day of traveling the stress starts to hit. People are cranky, sweaty, and smelly from the jet, and we still have to in-process, and find out where our cots are located. You will be sleeping here for the remainder of your stay, which for us was a month long. It's only supposed to take a week or so.
You're exposed to a whole other world of weather and germs, so everybody gets sick at the same time. The entire company stays in a large tent, and your'e literally sleeping a foot away from a buddy on both sides (which is great for spreading germs). You have a shower trailer outside, and some Porta-Johns, and let me tell you that sitting in a Porta-John when it's 130 degrees isn't a pleasant experience. The chow hall is about half a mile walk away, and its hotter than hell outside.
Oh and don't forget the dust storms, if you've never been in one consider yourself lucky. It's like hurricane force winds, but instead of rain getting blown around it's sand, and it goes everywhere. EVERYWHERE! You literally can't see three feet in front of you, and I think there were four or five of them in the time we were there. Iraq isn't nearly that bad, at least once you get settled into your rooms. We were in surge housing for a while, which is pretty much the same thing as the tent in Kuwait. But hey, they don't pay soldiers to stay in hotels, they pay us to fight, and that's what we're doing here.
Live from Iraq, Nick