May 26, 2007
Kuwait City, Kuwait – The only way that I could describe today was intense and real reality check for all of us. It was one helluva a day.
It was certainly more than just hoops today as we headed into to what could best be described as a simulated war zone. and serves as the staging and training base for troops bound for Iraq. It’s also a hub for the helicopters used in combat.
We were up at 6:30 a.m. and took a 50-minute helicopter ride to Camp Buehring that is located 15 miles from the Iraqi border and serves as the staging and training camp for troops bound for Iraq. It’s a really intense place. I felt the intensity as soon as we got there; the feeling was unlike anything that we had encountered before on our trip.
The unit commander who showed us around was Ben Lacy, a 2000 graduate of Notre Dame’s graduate school. He was wearing an ND hat when we got there and of course I felt very welcomed. Ben told me that he will be making it back to campus in November to attend the ND-Air Force football game.
The training that is done here is the final preparation for the soldiers before they enter combat. Inside these theaters, soldiers complete exercises that prepare them for what they will face in the war zone. Their commanders critique them.
We saw about 50 of these soldiers today who were between the ages of 18-20. It was an intense environment. They were in full gear and rifles and there was a guy coaching them during these simulations.
It was interesting to see the training, but more interesting to see their focus. While we did meet them, you could tell that there focus was more on the training; they were cordial, but they had other things on their mind. I could best describe their focus as that similar to how our players felt 15 minutes prior to our game against Georgetown at the BIG EAST Tournament — TOTAL INTENSITY. It’s like any game day because you could touch the tension with a knife.
After our tour, we headed to a full-service hospital where they transport injured solders. It’s an air-conditioned tent with surgical facilities. We then got into tanks for a our first tank ride. We did all of this before lunch and before lunch.
Unfortunately on the hoops side, our team lost to Skip Prosser’s team. We’re still not out of championship contention, but we’ve got a lot of work to do tomorrow. We play Fran Fraschilla’s team again with hopes of getting to the championship round. The fans will be behind these two teams and our cheering section won’t be as big because my guys come from a camp about 2 ½ hours away.
Tomorrow is my last day. We’ll play our games and then I’ll head back to the States. I’ve really lost my voice. I’m exhausted and tired because it seems like we are always on the go and the 120-degree heat is catching up to us. I’m running on fumes right now, but wouldn’t trade the experiences I have had over the past week.