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Baghdad Diaries, Part 3 of 3

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Baghdad Diaries, Part 3 of 3

Soldiers at Camp Anaconda watch a USO tour performance.

It's December 30th when we leave Q-West, the military equivalent of small town America, for the big city life in Camp Anaconda, a sprawling base in the center of Iraq with a population of 25,000. We fly in around lunchtime on a flight that is suspiciously empty. Passengers are usually the surplus cargo, packed into the empty spaces left over after pallets of food, water and equipment have been stacked in the hold. But this time, my partner Lucille and I have room to stretch out.

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Baghdad Diaries, Part 2 of 3

Officers serve Christmas dinner in the dining hall at Q-West military base.

Stacey Masters looks like she's got the holiday spirit. She's swapped her Army issued fleece hat for a furry Santa cap and she's spent the afternoon grilling hamburgers and hot dogs with her buddies from the 423, a transportation company that specializes in escorting truck convoys on some of the most dangerous roads in Iraq. But the outfit is a game face.

"It doesn't feel like Christmas. It just feels like another day." Masters tells me, her cheeks pink from hours of grilling. "I guess we're just doing the best we can, especially us NCOs [non-commissioned officers] just trying to keep everyone's spirits up."

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