God Bless The Real Leaders
I thought I had better get a blog post out today as one of my readers and good friend from the UK sent Priscilla a note to check on me to see if I had returned from Iraq alive and well since I had not posted for awhile.
Acutally I am more alive because of this visit than I was before I went. This link is an article on my visit: Victory Times Online Lee Cockerell Visit to Iraq
I did not post from Iraq because there is a lot of security around computer use on the Army base where I was most of the time in Baghad.
I had a once in a lifetime trip. I flew to Kuwait and was met by army officers and escorted over to the military section of the airport. After a short wait we boarded a small 8 seat jet and took off for Baghdad. It was about a 90 minute flight.
When I arrived I met my escort Colonel Greg Solomon and security officer Major Gailey and Sargent Edwards. They traveled with me for the whole week. The only medical attention I required was chap stick. It is really dry there. I felt safer in Iraq with these men around me than I do in many American cities.
Baghdad is a gigantic city. As we flew over by helicopter it looked totally normal with traffic moving and everyone out and about.
As we flew around Iraq I saw miles and miles of dessert punctuated by large green round fields from circular irrigation for growing wheat for the livestock and thousands of green houses growing food for human consumption.
The first night I had dinner with General Austin, the Commanding General for US forces in Iraq and members of his team.
For the rest of the week I was flown by Blackhawk helicopter or by the small jet to bases in the north and the south. I delivered 13 leadership and management workshops to military personnel across Iraq. Participants were from the army, airforce, navy and some from the state department.
I spent time in the IZ ( International Zone) which was formely called the Greenzone and was the area formely for Bath Party members loyal to Saddam. The new US Embassy is in this area and is really spectacular and well fortified. The US Ambassador James Jeffrey and and his wife Gudrun hosted a wonderful dinner for me.
I accompanied General Austin and his team to Bosrah to review an Iraqi live fire training exercise which was very interesting.
I toured many of Saddam’s palaces which had a visit from Amercian missiles during the Shock and Awe campaign at the beginning of the war. You do not want a visit from one of these.
The bottom line of my visit was visiting with the officers and front line soldiers. These are the real leaders in the world. I did not meet one single soldier or officer that was not proud to be serving. They are the most professional people I have ever been around and I have been influenced for the better because of this experience.
Before I left for Iraq I visited a soldier at Walter Reed Hospital in DC. He had lost both legs seven weeks before. He and his wife were more upbeat than half the people I know. He was from Oklahoma like I am. I went to inspire him and I am the one that walked out of that room inspired.
If it were not for our military we the USA and many countries around the world would not be free today….Just think about that for a minute. Take care, enjoy your freedom and have a good day….Lee
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