Ahhh…January 24th. I remember the 2008 version of this day and I’m reminded of the excitement I felt in waking up in my own bed and with comfortable surroundings. The day before, I arrived back at Yokota Air Base after spending the previous 4 ½ months deployed to Iraq. To be honest, I hated that particular deployment experience. Even though I made a boat load of tax-free cash and dug myself out of a debt hole I put myself in, I hated that it took me away from civilization. The only good part about my deployment to Iraq was the last day: January 11, 2008. It was on my last day to Iraq that something amazing happened: it snowed.
How I first came across this moment? It’s pretty simple how I came across this moment. I was there…on the scene. It was the day in which I was scheduled to leave after having been deployed to Joint Base Balad since September 1, 2007. I was all packed and ready to roll but I had a few hours before my scheduled chalk time so I decided to go and grab breakfast from the dining facility across the street. As I walked out of the dormitory, I was shocked that anything was falling from the sky…much less snow.
What it meant to me then? It really didn’t mean too much to me then. It was the first time I had seen snow since my junior year of high school, back in February 2002. I recall just being amazed initially. In all of my time there, it had only rained once—the day after my 23rd birthday—so the fact that anything falling from the sky that didn’t require me taking cover was actually an unusual occurrence. The fact that the temperatures were polar opposites also intrigued me. Back when we arrived in the afternoon on September 1, 2007, it was 127°F when I got off the plane…easily the hottest temperature I’d ever seen with my two eyes. Fast forward to January 11 of the next year, it was 22°F when I recorded the video. I don’t know about you but a 105°F temperature change in the span of 4 months is pretty extreme to me.
What it means to me now? In the 6 years that have passed since, the moment still doesn’t mean a whole lot to me. I do take pride in the fact that I was there in Iraq for the first snow in 60 years, according to the locals.