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Arriving in hot, beautiful Kuwait

We arrived in Kuwait late at night on May 11. For those in our flight lucky, or unlucky, enough to be stationed here, the temperature was a balmy 92 degrees on the tarmac at 10 p.m. My team and I will only be staying here long enough to be recertified to go forward into Iraq and pick up some additional training that was not available to us back in Ft. Riley.

After drawing our new, improved body armor, we went straight to work. The most important part is acclimating to the weather. It is extremely hot and dry, and by the way, we are in green uniforms with long sleeves and about 30 to 40 pounds of body armor. I am glad we arrived when we did. The temperature here tops out around 118 degrees and the wind is always blowing. That is nothing compared to the dog days of late July and August. The good thing about heat this hot is that it is easy to describe to people and, believe it or not, it actually helps keep you cool. If you want to know what it feels like, just turn your hair dryer on and let it blow on your face. Wearing all the gear makes you sweat imaginably. Your uniform is always soaked, but with the wind blowing through, it feels really cool.

Kuwait is a beautiful country, but it truly is desert.

One of the most beautiful things I saw while we were staying there was a sunrise over the sand dunes. The other was a large herd of camel that was blurred by the heat in the distance. It was like watching a movie or looking at a picture.

After a week and a half, we finally arrived at the Phoenix Academy in Taji, Iraq.

Here we received a few more class room/hands on skills to add to our kit bag before we move to take over from the unit we are replacing. Camp Taji is a small outpost in the middle of an Iraqi Army compound. There is not much to do when you’re not in class. Almost every evening there was a soccer game to join or a cricket game to watch.

We left for Contingency Operating Base (COB) Speicher in Tikrit during the middle of the night. The flight was uneventful, which is a good thing.

There is much to do during the next two weeks.

We have to get settled in, meet all the key players on the COB, and most importantly, we have to get out into Tikrit and meet our Iraqi counterparts.

Cpt. Joshua Whiddon, 27, is a native of Greenville and the son of Joreka and Allen Pitts. He attended Greenville Academy until 1997, and then moved to Niceville, Fla., graduating high school in 2000.