Editor's note: FOX News Anchor Bill Hemmer is traveling to Iraq. His broadcasts begin Monday, March 20 from Camp Fallujah at 12 p.m. ET, 9 a.m. PT
AMMAN, JORDAN: In the blackness of the pre-dawn morning, we are shuffling in a long, anxious line of passengers toward the tarmac and a Royal Jordanian jetliner.
Commercial flights into Baghdad leave Amman six times a day on two different airlines. Today it's considered one of the safer ways to arrive alive.
"It's better than flying Iraqi Airlines," suggests our fixer, Fadi, from Amman. "You can't trust the security with them."
He sure said something there.
Driving was once the preferred method of transportation into Baghdad. It's eight hours on a wide-open, asphalt-covered highway. But not many Westerners are willing to risk the exposure to hungry insurgents ready to prey on anyone who is not considered one of them. So we, like so many others, fly.
Back at the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Amman, life could not be further from a war zone. Life appears normal, but one senses an uneasy feeling beneath this buzzing capital, given the violence in its neighbor to the east.
It's difficult to travel overseas and get a decent night's rest. It's even more difficult when your final destination is the most violent place on Earth. Sleep is a premium, and I have always found it difficult to reset my body despite a dose of Ambien.
Last night wasn't a night to remember.
The mind tends to wander when you consider the reality of life just across the flat, empty border in Iraq. Our destination is Fallujah, by Monday, when the war will turn an unremarkable three years old. Insomnia and a wandering mind keep me from sleeping more than an hour on the eve of our adventure into Iraq.
The Hyatt was hit by a suicide bomber several months ago, and today the hotel is still finishing its lobby reconstruction. Outside the main entrance, a small maze of security lines and metal detectors now scan each arriving guest.
Upstairs in room 416, a hotel satellite system is airing live coverage of the NCAA basketball tournament. It's 2 a.m. The flight to the Iraqi capital departs in four hours.
There are 132,000 American men and women serving in the desert and dust of Iraq. Their sacrifice, state of mind, and progress is our mission to discover and report.
Meanwhile, at the Queen Alia International Airport, the jet engines on a 65 passenger airline start to whirl. My mind is on a different kind of March Madness. The door closes on Flight #812 to Baghdad.
Bill Hemmer currently serves as co-anchor of FOX News Channel's (FNC) America's Newsroom (weekdays 9-11AM/ET) and America's News HQ (weekdays 1-2PM/ET). Hemmer joined the network in 2005 and is based in New York. Click here for more information on Bill Hemmer.