From a post I made to a friend's comment that the International Zone in Baghdad was still the "Emerald City" -- "I remember my first day in the IZ in early February 2008. Leaving the USAID Compound I walked everywhere. Wandered through the Palace, saw the Saddam Hussein monuments lying on the ground to the side of the Palace. The area between the ...Palace, the PX and Landing Zone Washington was the "center of the universe" to me. Lots of people, cars, helicopters coming and going. I remember thinking, "this is going to be fun." Made my first trip into the "red zone" a couple of days later. Finished up my newcomer briefings and taking care of paperwork at USAID, and on February 17th took a blackhawk at midnight out to Forward Operating Base Kalsu. Got there at 2 am in the morning and found someone that could give me keys to a CHU (containerized housing unit) and dragged my stuff there. Remember waking up mid-morning disoriented and then realized where I was and started trying to figure out how to get to my unit -- Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team (EPRT) North Babil.
The March 2008 attacks started on the IZ and I couldn't go back for a good while. Ironically, my EPRT with part of it's battle space in the "Triangle of Death" south of Baghdad was safer than the IZ with the rain of mortar and rocket fire coming down from Sadr City."
This site is also dedicated to Stan Sargent. Stan and I grew up in Grenada, Mississippi, and both of us left for college at about the same time. Stan served in Vietnam while I joined the Peace Corps. Stan won the Silver Star for heroism. Read Stan's story (1 MB download pdf).