Don't Turn Around

E-mail Mal and the War Stories Team

You have to have a sense of humor on the road, that at times may seem to others to be totally silly. As I look back at the time in Iraq with Ollie North and Producer Andy Stenner, perhaps nothing summed this up more than a day when we were scheduled to leave the final air base in TQ.

TQ is a massive airbase that handles logistics and just moves lots of stuff; it is like a parking lot for planes and other things — like the remnants of Saddam Hussein's Air Force, old relics from the '60s that may have last seen action in the Iran-Iraq war in the early 1980s.

These old planes had been virtually buried in the sand. After the U.S. forces found them, they dug them up and put them on display. According to local legend, a high level Iraqi military staffer with pips on his shoulders demanded to be shown the planes, to assess whether they could be put back into service.

Well, if the Iraqi Catering Battle Combat Forces ever needs drainers and colanders for cooking, then these relics will serve a purpose.

Andy, in the role of being the team's "turp" (interpreter), tried to explain in flowing language to Ollie that these were in fact fine combat machines, that would surely interest any super military power.

This small story has no bearing to the title of this entry, because the title's relevance occurred when we came back from inspecting these old relics of the sky.

Ollie was walking through a narrow walkway to the car park next to his room, when I noticed that strung above us was a string of washing lines with pegs on them.

"Ollie, don't turn around, but for a dollar, how many clothes pegs are on the lines you just walked under? For a dollar?

He paused, and with deep thought, responsed, "67, how many do you think there are?"

Without a blink, I guessed 32.

Ollie counted them and believe it or not, there were exactly 32 and no, I had not counted them. He paid the dollar on the spot, claiming that he was set up, and I had previously counted them.

On a stack of Bibles, I swear I had not counted them, it was just a lucky guess.

These are some of the moments that make trips memorable, when we relax and just enjoy the time together, as a team on location.

And I was a dollar richer.

Mal James is a combat cameraman for the FOX News Channel. He was recently in Iraq with Lt. Col. Oliver North and the "War Stories" team. You can read his daily blog from that trip here. Mal writes a regular blog on life on the road covering the Middle East and Worldwide trouble spots for FOX News. You can read it here.