Let's launch this Fokker!
It was proof of the operating assumption that Iraq will find a way to get you until you are clear of Iraqi airspace and safely out of the country. After a final day of reporting, we chose to start making our way to New York by making a stop in Amman, Jordan, before ending the week in New York tomorrow night.
So there we were sitting on squishy, vaguely sticky sofas in the dated, cavernous, sparse and dark confines of the main terminal at Baghdad International Airport. I was chatting with Gen. Wayne Downing, while I scrolled through some photos of the trip that cameraman Jeff Riggins had taken and downloaded onto his laptop. Suddenly there were five straight concussions. We all knew what they were -- rockets or mortars -- and we all know there's always the chance that they were controlled explosions. They were not. Cameraman Craig White and Producer Subrata De went to the window and saw the puffs of smoke rising from a patch of grass just off the taxiway in front of us. Amazed at the staying power of the insurgents (after all, these attacks are so common on or near the airport grounds -- three rockets landed there yesterday and we've been at this for four years), Riggins theorized that our outgoing flight would be delayed for hours. Au contraire.
No sooner had we watched the smoke fade, when we heard the boarding announcement. We got in line and were basically hustled out to the jet -- the very same Fokker jet named "Jessica" that we flew to Baghdad on. It was the same collection of people -- basically a flying bar scene from Star Wars. It was capped off by the sight of the airline security agent, sitting in the front row on the aisle, the butt of his handgun visible inside his blazer as he drifted briefly off to sleep after takeoff. As this posting should indicate, we are here in Amman where we will originate the broadcast before hopping on a seemingly endless series of flights and connections (but I bet no mortars) designed to have me in the chair in New York at this time tomorrow night.
I'm lucky to work with the best people in television, and I want to thank the superb, sharp and dangerous dismounted fire teams who literally protected my life this week when I was in some dangerous areas with the U.S. Army and Marines. I'm charging my iPod, BlackBerry and phone for a new lease on life (both the appliances and their owner) as we make the Atlantic crossing toward home. We have a great piece tonight on a little-known Saddam resort now being used by the U.S. Army -- and now it can be told: before leaving Baghdad, we conducted an exclusive interview with Gen. Dave Petraeus -- a portion of which we'll preview tonight -- but which will air in greater bulk tomorrow evening.
Please join us for tonight's broadcast from Amman. We'll see you tomorrow night from New York.
Read more from Brian Williams 2007, Brian Williams in Iraq
Early Nightly is up
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Posted on Mar 9, 2007 1:15:19 PM at: