Continuing our USO/NCS cartoonist adventures in Kuwait, my pals and I had a few more moist moments at Camp Arifjan during our first full day in that arid country. As guests of the base, we were fortunate to be able to run through the 120s heat from one air conditioned situation to another. Despite having that luxury, we were often wet with our own sweat. It gave us a real appreciation of the working conditions of many of the soldiers we met who are stationed there for nine months to a year before they are assigned a new location.
Whenever we had drawing sessions, we would just sit and talk with these folks like a good friend from home. Sometimes it was just heart wrenching to hear the stories of what they have had to deal with while in the service. At Camp Arifjan, I remember meeting a young woman who was very smiley and perky and was so excited to meet us. I commented that she looked quite young, and she readily told me she was only 19. (I ended up meeting many teenagers over there serving our country.) When I asked her what she did there in Kuwait, her face sunk and her voice dropped as she quietly said that she worked in Mortuary Services, the one job that was allowed only a 6 month run. I could tell by her demeanor that I should not ask any more about her job, but tried to encourage her and give her more reasons to smile. Later, her supervisor sat for me, and he opened up about what their work entailed. Basically, they process the bodies of our fallen, and prepare them for transport back to the States. It is a morbid duty, and it made my heart break even more for the young people who have to face that reality in their work over there.
Many folks would ask for caricatures of themselves or for sketches of characters we have been known for drawing. I drew many of the Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh gangs for our troops, having worked on television shows featuring both. Often a soldier would ask for a sketch of themselves with a Disney character, and it was always fun to see their faces light up at the end when the finished drawing was revealed.
You never know who you will bump into while in Kuwait. Our hotel was home to two other American groups in town, like we were, to do special things for the local U.S. soldiers. One was a group of Ultimate Fighting Championship athletes with whom we actually caravanned to Camp Buehring on our second day. I had the chance to meet in conversation nine time UFC Welterweight Champion Matt Hughes, which was far better than meeting the receiving end of his profession. There was also a troupe of actors staying in our hotel that included Natasha Lyonne, Jay O. Sanders, Joanne Tucker, and her husband who will be playing Kylo Ren in the upcoming Star Wars movie, Adam Driver.
That evening we had a big drawing session for the soldiers on base. The line was so large and I was so busy drawing that I forgot to take pictures except for just this one below.
Tomorrow is a new dawn in the African country of Djibouti.