Tigris River Valley. Nearing Mosul, Iraq
In 2005 and 2006 I worked a 12 month contract in Northern Iraq building housing for Iraqi and coalition soldiers. I went not because I necessarily believed in what was being done there but mostly in support of the young men and women in uniform who had not asked to be there either. I was in Northern Iraq for 12 months and 1 week and am very happy I went but would not like to go again in war time.
There were many restrictions on where we could take photos so this blog of mostly aerial photos of the Tigris River, is not as complete as I would have liked for it to be due to these restrictions.
The restrictions were mostly on what could be photographed on the ground. We were not allowed to photograph any ground facilities or war related equipment such as aircraft or radar units. I understand there was some state of the art radar equipment there although that is not my area of expertise.
Tigris River Valley. This was taken from a Blackhawk helicopter just outside Mosul.
Getting to our work sites was literally “Really a Trip”! We flew commercial airlines from the US or whatever country we were located in to Dubai, UAE. Then we took a Russian charter plane to Baghdad. This leg of the trip was usually an older jet of some kind, many times an old Boeing 727. Once in Baghdad, the ones assigned to Northern Iraq, caught another smaller Russian charter plane, usually an Anotov AH24B, a twin engine workhorse transport plane. I was unable to take photos of the outside of this old aircraft from the 1950s because of the photo restrictions but you can see a photo of the outside on Google.
This old plane would fly to Mosul in Northern Iraq and from there we would take a Blackhawk helicopter or an armored vehicle in a convoy to our work camps. Sometimes it would take days to make the trip because the military had priority over all the flights and many times we would carry all our bags to the runway day after day and continue to get bumped. It was frustrating but “Hey, our time for pay had started once we left the US or wherever we came from so it was not something to get too upset about.
Tigris River Valley. This was taken from a Blackhawk helicopter just outside Mosul. This is a main highway going into Mosul.
We were allowed to go home every 4 months for a short stay and many of the men went to Thailand or Europe but I flew home to Honolulu, Hawaii every time to see my daughter. At that time she was in the 6th grade and her class happened to be studying Mesopotamia in geography class. On one of my trips home I went to her class and showed the photos in this blog and talked about the Tigris River.
It was fun for me and educational for the children.
Tigris River Valley. Nearing Mosul, Iraq
So a little about the Tigris River. It is 1862 km long, begins in the Taurus Mountains in Turkey just 30 km from the beginning of the Euphrates River. It then flows through Turkey for about 400 km then becomes the border between Syria and Iraq for about 40 km and continues thru Iraq to the Persian Gulf near Basra where it joins with the Euphrates River. This land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers has been know as Mesopotamia for thousands of years and has been called the "Cradle of Civilization".
This area today is still rich farm land even though it has been farmed for thousands of years and it seems that all that is necessary for good crop production is to just add water. The land can look like a vast wasteland but as soon as it is irrigated, good crops can grow.
Tigris River Valley. The circle is the pipe and wheel irrigation system.
The irrigation systems used vary from dug canals to modern rolling pipe and wheel systems the same as used in western countries. This type system shows a round green field from the air and is a very efficient system of irrigating farm crops.
I enjoyed my time there and learned that the Iraqi people are very nice people for the most part. I had a good time joking with the Iraqi soldiers from the lowest rank to even a general and did all I could for them including running electricity to some of their tents so they could add a big screen TV and a satellite dish. They liked to watch the Simpsons and other similar goofy programs but didn’t laugh a lot like we did. I always wondered what they were thinking!