• Grilled scallops in leek broth
• Bow tie pasta with salmon
• Grilled shrimp with vegetables
• Baked chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream
"Those are Mambas," Grant said, pointing to a strange looking armored vehicle ahead of us on the road to the Baghdad airport. "They are all private firms now. South African made. You see how high up the wheels are? And the bottom comes down into an angle. That's to distribute the charge."
I thought the chassis were high up to go through rivers in Africa, but they were high up to protect you from running over a bomb. The floor came down into a V-shape to protect you if something blew up beneath you by spreading out the explosive force. Now companies were renting Mambas or anything else to get them down the five miles from the airport to the center of Baghdad without getting blown up. The trade-off was now you looked like a monster truck, bright yellow, with a gunner on top and a big red sign on the back that warned in Arabic and English, "Danger - Stay Back." Now you were a target. Could they take an RPG? How about five RPG's? How about a suicide car bomber?
Some people talk in the car ride to the airport. I don't say anything.
A sandstorm kept me back one day in Baghdad. Nothing was flying. That meant there were two days of people trying to fly out. The five-mile ride took two hours. I lined up with my cases and stood for four hours. A policeman kept opening up a rope to let people from the side in front of the line. The guy ahead of me started yelling. The guard came over to him, stared and checked over his passport.
The same thing happened at ticketing. A maze of a line and then some rich guys standing off to the left. They again cut in line. Now, the guy ahead of me didn't say anything. I had two big bags and a gear case, courtesy of Fumbles, who always sticks you with something. The case had wheels so I was able to kick it along. The guy in front of me turned around and spoke English. He was sweating and used the "F" word a lot. He said it would never be a country until people waited in line. I nodded, but I wasn't worked up. I was getting out. I didn't care if it took two days. I stayed right behind him, keeping the case up on his heels so no one could cut in. At the third line, they lined us up in front of a rail and tried to make us into a single file. The ticket counter guy looked at my ticket, which was first class from Baghdad to Amman.
"No first class on this flight," he smiled. They had given the first class seats away.
"OK," I said, smiling, "just give me a seat."
My exit visa expired the day before, in the sandstorm. A boss came up and told the customs guy to let me go. I looked with eyes that hugged him.
I stuck next to the guy who yelled. He bought a knock-off Pepsi and chugged it. He bought me a water with no label whose top was not properly sealed. I drank it out of hospitality.
The first bus to the plane was full but I got on. There was no seating so you had to get to the plane as early as possible. The bus door didn't close. One guy got on while it was still moving. Both of us hung on and it felt good to dangle.
They sat themselves orderly from front to back. I walked back to an exit row window, belted in and fell asleep, waking up in time to snare a roll with a piece of liverwurst and a second roll with a piece of cheese. I put it all on one half roll and returned the knock-off Pepsi.
I didn't see any other Westerners on the flight. When I stood up at the end, I could look over all the heads. When it was time to get into the aisle a man put his arm on my shoulder and invited me to step out in front of him. This took the edge off.
I let two old men, who were helping each other walk, step in front of me. One of them had obviously never seen an escalator and approached it with some trepidation, making the mistake of getting one leg about two steps from the other. I saw it coming, his collapse back on to me, but I was ready for it and caught him, repeating over and over "I got ya, I got ya." I don't think anyone around understood me. He was a lot heavier than I thought and was not able to right himself. Two young women were behind me in covered dress and along with several other people stuck their arms forward to support me. One hand wound up on my backside which after it was removed, produced a long series of giggling from the covered lasses, somewhat diminishing the heroic nature of the save.
Good to be going home.
• E-mail Harrigan
Air Force Mom
Can’t believe I can actually let you know directly, even though just through email, how much my husband and I enjoy your reporting. We have watched you over the years wherever you’ve been, and you are definitely our favorite! Sometimes I have feared for your safety, and found myself talking, and yes, sometimes yelling at you to be careful. I know wherever the action is you’ll be there. Thank you for doing such a great job. You remain in our prayers.
Glad you made out safely. I always like your reports, no matter where you are. Keep up the excellent reporting for FOX News.
Your reporting is excellent. I feel as if I am there with you. I love the way you report the facts, and connect the reader with a sense of home/normalcy.
Corpus Christi, TX
The Woodlands, TX
I saw your piece on jogging and running to a wall for cover! You are the one person I expect to find when there's trouble in the world. You are fearless in your attempts to let us know what's really going on.
Boy, you make me nervous. I get butterflies in my stomach reading your blogs. Glad you're coming home safe. Please write a book!
Jane from Colorado
I have really enjoyed your entries during your stay in Iraq. It has been fascinating to get a totally different perspective than the one that you report on television. I know you cannot wait to set your feet on American soil! I hope you have a very safe and uneventful trip home. Welcome back!
I have watched your reports everywhere you have been, from Iraq to New Orleans. You bring a whole new slant on the news. You show real emotions, often not shown in other reporters. I appreciate you, and sometimes fear for you. Take care keep your head down in Iraq. We need you Steve!
You're the best. Stay safe.
You must be the biggest adrenaline junkie at FOX News. Love the blog. Keep up the good work and come home safe.
I’m a veteran of Vietnam, Central America, and Iraq (last year). I’m with you on the “Oh, S***” meter. It’s sometimes tough to explain how one can (more or less) become accustomed to events like those to someone who hasn’t gone through them. Sometimes, laughter even rears its head in the face of it as if to offer reassurance that all is well – in spite of how close a call it was. I don’t miss any of it, and yet I do. But not enough to ever return voluntarily. I’ll just read YOUR accounts and wish you safe travels.
I am still awed everytime I read your first-hand accounts. Simple style all substance. Keep your head down.
Dave and Patti
Love your writing, please stay safe. I'll buy you a beer anytime you come to Baltimore. Semper Fi
Steve: Stay safe. I respect you and what you do. My prayers are with you and each in harms way. One day, in the not so distant future, perhaps Iraq will be a peaceful country and all the images and memories of horror will fade. Everyone should have the freedoms we take for granted in the US.
I can't stop reading your blog, It really bring's to life what is going on over their in Iraq. Dude stay safe and keep reporting those holy s*** times.
• E-mail Harrigan