Editor's Note: Mal ,Ollie and Andy have left Iraq safe and sound, and they would like to thank everyone who has written to them and passed on kind words and comments.
First and foremost, a big thank you to each and every one of you that have taken the time to read my words. I hope you have enjoyed some of the background scenes of the events I cover in Iraq. I have my opinions as to what is right and wrong in this world. That is just the point — it is my opinion — the purpose of my blog and journal is not to spout forth my views on the world and the events that I cover. Rather, I like to take you behind the scenes and try to give you a sense of what happens away from the politicians and to make you think.
I have been out of Iraq for a few days now and I still wake in the darkness and think I am back there. But, it's not the type of dreams that you see portrayed in Hollywood movies — sitting bolt upright in a cold sweat. I’m often confused and worried that something has happened, is going to happen, or that we have missed a live shot in the middle of the night.
Over in Iraq, wherever you sleep or live, there are no windows. If there was a window, it has been sandbagged up — thus, you never know whether it is day or night when you are inside. To come home and have a window is strange and takes some getting used to again. I am one of those travelers on a plane that insists on having the window shades up at all times. I still cannot get over the mentality of some people who insist that traveling in a plane is the same as being in their private bedroom.
My flight back from Frankfurt to Tel Aviv took off at 10:30 am and arrived in Tel Aviv at 3:20 in the afternoon. Honestly, you would not have believed the way people carried on, as if it were the middle of the night and they were going to bed. That’s just a quick insight into one of the things in this world that bugs me. So, if we ever travel together, and you want to annoy me, pull the shades down.
Decompressing from a trip to Iraq takes time. If you look back at tapes, you’ll see that there were two shots fired at us from a sniper outside the Govt. Centre, not one as I originally remember. When I was under attack from the RPG’s, you can see the flash of the explosion in the eyes of the Marine if you freeze the tape. It feels different not to have to wear body armor anytime you go outside, not to have to fill sandbags to eat. I can determine what I want to eat — these are all positives, to a degree.
But what you miss the most at the end of any long trip is being around friends 24/7, especially in an intense, close experience like Iraq. We went, and we came back, safe and alive. In a war zone, that is the most important thing. What is next? Well that depends … in the world of news, things happen, and then I find myself again in another conflict zone.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, Mal Herzliyya Pituach Israel
• Mal's Previous Blog, 7.714, A Number To Remember
• Check out Mal's photos from Iraq
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.