Monday, October 31, 2005

It’s Official Now

Large and boiling clouds obfuscate the horizon. Above me, clumps of cumulous clouds hover, like static battleships painted on azure. The sun sinks ever so gently in still and lazy leisure. It seems as if Summer will take its leave this day in a slow and silent saunter. Out walking under such a canopy, I stumble upon a unique gathering this Sunday.

Cursing my cameralessness, I try instead to soak in sights and sounds. Soldiers stand smartly at attention in numerous columns. To the right, the familiar camouflage kakis of the 116th Idahoans. To the left, the new ACU’s of the recently arrived 101st. A special delegation of Iraqi fighting forces observes the ceremony off to the side. A translator interprets the proceedings for them.

In front both American groups stand 6 solitary color guards, each with a bannered post. The colors of the 116th, unfurled and adorned with ribbons are presented by being dipped forward. Those of the 101st await restlessly in vertical storage sleeves. A sergeant hollers out gruff commands and the 116th ceremoniously lower, roll, and slide sleeves over their flags. Another officer barks out his instructions to the 101st and they remove and sharply post their colors.

It was a relatively brief occasion, as the playing of national anthems (both American and Iraqi national flags were arrayed side by side) and Battalion songs, as well and Invocation and Benedictions are omitted, much to my disappointment. But what I unwittingly came across was the official “changing of the guard” here on Camp Warrior, Kirkuk F.O.B (Forward Operating Base). Officially, the 116th has turned over command and the 101st is now in charge. May they be as magnanimous as their predecessors!

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