Having said that, a landing at Balad led us to encounter what we like to call "Air Force luck". You see, when Air Force cargo planes are traveling across the world, they almost always seem to have a maintenance issue during a stop at a US base in Germany, where the beer is cold and the women are hot. They never break down in Iraq, where the weather is hot and the beer is, erm, non-existent.
Well, similarly, we wound up with a torque split--each of the Black Hawk's engines producing drastically different levels of power--at Balad. We stopped for repairs, which wound up being quite extensive: the troubleshooting process resulted in the maintenance crew replacing almost one entire engine and half of another engine bit-by-bit. This resulted in a delay which lasted for three days. Although I have to admit that there were far worse places to be stuck.
Unfortunately for us, it was winter, so we didn't feel like partaking in the two swimming pools that the base reportedly houses. We also heard that the base contained some palaces on the "Air Force side", but I have yet to confirm that. But above all, we had to take advantage of their dining facility. At the time, we were eating out of mermite containers in a hangar, so any facility which cooked its own food was a culinary thrill. Of particular note was the fact that, at Balad, the dining facilities are quite good (though they pale in comparison to the facilities in Tal'Afar).
Balad's dining facility also appears to be the only place in all of Iraq where we could actually find barbeque sauce.
This was such a novelty that, after looking around the room for a bit, we stuffed a bottle or two into our pockets before making a hasty, erm, exfiltration. I suppose someone is already keen to this little trick, because there was actually someone stationed at the exit to make sure we didn't steal food from the dining facility. Fortunately, the guard seemed to chuckle and smile as I casually waved my hand and said something about "not needing to see my identification", and we were home free, with our precious bounty of barbeque sauce, fit for consumption on hamburgers in slightly more austere areas of Iraq.
Focus: Admit it, you've all done something like this. 'Fess up...