By Mustafa Vojdani
It is April 2003 and B-52 bombers are flying above our heads in the sky.
We’re in the deserts of Iraq and I am in the ranks of the PMOI, fighting against the Iranian regime for my country’s freedom. The contrail of the jet suggests its altitude must be north of 30,000 feet.
My friends shout, “Get down! Get down!” But I do not react, and my mind automatically takes me 15 years back, before I came to Iraq and joined the PMOI. I went back to the time when after a very hard course of instructions in the U.S. Air force university in the Laughlin and Sheppard and Phoenix Air force bases I graduated as captain pilot of fighter jets.
My friends still shout, “Get down!”
I remembered my classmate Booker in the graduation party when the fighter designated for him was like the one presently above our head and when I asked him how many engines does this need to continue flying. He nodded and said, “This is classified information.”. I knew him well and we used to talk to each other during the course of instructions and he used to always help others. His conscience would not tolerate other people’s sufferings.
While going through my memories, I was thinking that the fighter jet above us is being piloted by Booker and he will never target. So I did not bother taking shelter.
The following days got worse and worse and despite the fact that we had declared our whereabouts to the multinational forces in Iraq and announced our impartiality in the Gulf War and were certain that our message was received and therefore there would be no threat and no shootings against us, but what happened on the ground proved otherwise and the bombings started.
I saw F-15 fighters, reminding me of yet another classmate, Thomas. He was very happy that he was chosen for the course. I silently reached out to him. I remembered the song he always used to whisper: “I touch the face of God.” He wanted to join the “Acrobatic Blue Angles” crew then.
At 2:30 PM another jet fighter entered our area. It was an A-10. It reminded me of Garcia and unwittingly I said, “Don’t do it! The model plane you gave me as a souvenir is still on the shelf in our house.”
I learned the news of casualties and it filled me with despair. I remember one night 120 flights took place in our vicinity. It was the most bitter memory of that period of time.
I was perplexed of how politics heartlessly overshadows everything and knows no human sentiments and love. I was there while deep inside I was not at war with the pilots who had taken on the mission to bomb us.
Iraq was occupied and we had surrendered our weapons and artillery to U.S. forces and in return they promised to protect us. We were screened many times and explained our status but the politics was paving its filthy path. Our security was handed over to the Iraqi government with its clear and substantial tendency towards Mullahs. Therefore a number of massacres took place against us. Every time I used to ask myself if I had not seen and experienced conscientious of people and again I used to remember my previous classmates and despite being from different nationalities we were friendly to each other .
In one of my last flights in Laughlin one of my engines caught fire but I landed sound and safe and was welcomed by my classmates who were most happy to see me sound but they hardly hear me now ….
UN and U.S. put pressure on us to move to Camp Liberty next to Baghdad International Airport in order to have their protection but even here we are subjected to repeated missile attacks and a number have already been killed so far and we again see that the politics and propaganda overshadows everything and that they never stood up to their promises.
I remember in the final graduation party we had invited one of the astronauts who had walked on the Moon, he gave me the first grade award of the course and said, ”Despite the fact that I have walked on the Moon but my granddad says these are all propaganda and you never have gone to the Moon.”
In the months that followed, 52 of my beloved colleagues were massacred in Camp Ashraf, the ones who had stayed their trusting the agreement between UN and U.S. to oversee the sale of our belongings, but never an investigation took place since the policy of appeasement covers the realities on the ground, our enemy wanted to pretend that no party had taken part in the massacre .
I now understand the mentality of that grandfather and give him every right not to believe everything so easily and that “this is the spectacles of false propaganda”
We live in the era of communication but our voices are stifled.
It is a few months lately that the fighter planes cap over the camp. Again, they take me back to the past. I keep telling myself if I would ever hear my classmates again? Will they also care for my safety as they used to then.
Mustafa Vojdani is a Captain Pilot graduate from U.S. Air Force who now resides in Camp Liberty, Iraq.