Q&A " Howie Nave’s combat tour
October 30, 2008
Editor’s Note: Improv host and morning KRLT radio disc jockey Howie Nave recently recently returned from Kuwait and Iraq, where he and fellow comics Scott Kennedy and Graham Elwood entertained the troops. Today we begin a multipart Q&A with Nave about his trip:
We landed in Kuwait on United Airlines after a 13-hour flight from Washington, D.C. From there we stayed at Camp Arifjad and then Ali Al Salem airbase (where we did a show the following night). From there we were transported on this huge prop job, a C-130 aircraft that first took us to Mosul and then to Baghdad. From that point on, it was helicopters to all of the bases (because they were too small to have landing strips for aircraft) the first being an Osprey, which takes off like a conventional helicopter, and after an altitude of a 1,000 feet or so the two huge props go into “horizontal mode,” and becomes this jet aircraft which is pretty awesome. Reminded me of “Transformers,” actually. It’s loud as hell, too, especially when the props go from vertical to horizontal. The other helicopter we flew was a Black Hawk that pretty much took us everywhere throughout Iraq. When we left Iraq back to Kuwait we flew on this huge C-17 transport jet that holds hundreds of soldiers and gear.
Yes, because when it goes from being a helicopter into a fixed-wing aircraft it’s a little vulnerable, so they keep the tail end of the aircraft open like a ramp, and stationed there is a soldier with a .35- to .40-caliber machine gun, who sprayed a few rounds just as a reminder not to mess with him.
No, we didn’t get shot at, but one time while flying in a Black Hawk to a remote forward operating base at sunset ,they fired these red flares or rockets about 10 minutes before we landed. When we landed “outside the wire,” there were six snipers positioned around the aircraft as we exited, pointed at several structures that were nearby. All I remember was the soldiers telling us to double-time it into the base. Later, I found out that the reason the Black Hawk fired those red flares was that someone had a lock on the aircraft, and that the flares and rockets were deployed as a defensive measure.