All you Facebook friends out there, Twitter devotees and the like, forgive Jessica, Tom and Jennifer for their relative silence during a passage that actually warranted status updates. Look for them to fill in the blanks as soon as they power up.
We crossed the globe, passed security checks on three continents and bunked in military tents as a rosy desert dawn lit this gateway camp outside Kuwait City. The name goes unmentioned in accordance with military rules governing our embedding.
All the way the professor squashed student passions for updating their every move. Call me paranoid, but it struck me that our group, being unusual in its Alaska student involvement, invited problems from those looking for ways to embarrass the U.S.
My nerves began fraying when a recent article by the Chronicle of Higher Education unleashed a wave of national publicity about our embedding project. I really worried after our commercial media partners announced our departure Thursday, ignoring or perhaps misinterpreting my request to fudge on the travel dates. “Leaving this weekend,” would have covered our tracks nicely. The reporter is a friend. I was likely unclear. And I’ll never fault journalists for printing the truth.
Jessica’s dad gets ultimate credit for Friday’s sleepless night en route from Europe. It was his suggestion I prepare for this venture by watching the movie “Taken.” I kept putting it off this summer. It seemed fortuitous when I came across the flick on the list of free videos offered on our final-leg KLM flight.
The plot certainly resonated: A beautiful young woman flies off to Paris-- over her doting daddy’s objections—gets kidnapped, virtually from the airport, and soon lands in white slavery.
Stand down, retired Master Sgt. Hoffman, the entire base has her back now.
By the time we huddled in Kuwait City’s airport lobby, every stranger seemed a threat and I summoned the A-Team in the form of Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kelli Roesch, a Navy reservist, and her cohorts from the camp’s Media Transit unit.
We’re being issued flak jackets at noon.
None too soon.
None too soon.