Athens, GA (Feb 16, 2009) - Marc Lanciaux is a freelance audio engineer from Providence, Rhode Island whose career path took an unexpected turn about ten years ago. He became a sort of audio 'perma-lancer' with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
Before that turn, he had done pretty much everything imaginable in television - from the Olympics and X Games to competition darts and bowling; NASCAR to Indian pow-wows, and everything in between. He knows that rule number one as a freelancer is 'never say NO', and that rule even applies to perma-lancers.
Late in 2008, the WWE packed up the ring and a bunch of gear, loaded it on a C-17 and flew over to Baghdad for the sixth annual Tribute to the Troops show, a show which, for the past six years, he had not been able to say NO to.
Marc graciously gave us permission to reprint his three-part blog on his experience, and we are very pleased to offer part I today. The original post is also available on Marc's blog.
Iraq IV - Back to Baghdad - Part One
by Marc Lanciaux
The final announcement of the night rings through the Verizon Center, "Good night everyone! Thank you, and please drive home safely." Most people will be going home after the show, but a select few volunteers, WWE Superstars and technical crew alike, won't be. Hard to believe, but it's time once again for World Wrestling Entertainment's Sixth Sandbox Invitational - otherwise known as the Tribute to the Troops show.
Another Tribute to the Troops show means another year has flown by; it seems just weeks ago we were gearing up for the Fifth Annual Tribute show. The thought of going to Iraq used to be a source of weeks of trepidation, nervousness and worry, at least for family and friends that think we're crazy for going. The first time, I shared that trepidation, nervousness and worry over traveling to a war zone, but now, six years later, more than anything I'm excited to see how Baghdad has changed. Seems funny to think that now even Baghdad is 'just another place we go.' Not funny like a monkey playing an oboe would be, but funny just the same.
Once the show ends, we are issued official Department of Defense ID cards (this is new), get on the bus (this is not new) and travel to an Air Force Base. The C-17 cargo jet that will be carrying us is loaded, fueled, checked out, and idling on the runway, ready to go (this is also new.)
Past trips have been fraught with delays, but this year's corporate retreat starts off relatively smoothly. The cast and crew trickle onboard, and everyone takes the same seats they had the previous year.
For the technicians, this means right side bench seats. Being veterans of this show, we know by now that the sides are where the power outlets are. Extension cords string along the sides, ensuring everyone has power for iPhones, iPods and laptops.
Those that weren't paying attention, hiding or sleeping fell prey to Mr. McMahon's idle prankster hands. Veterans know that nobody sleeps until the boss does.
The pilot was staring out the window, while the co-pilot wrote out her Christmas cards. Occasionally, one would reach over and adjust something, but mostly they just sat. Who knew flying was so easy? I pestered them with my hundreds of questions, and I think they actually enjoyed the distraction. I learned so many top-secret things about the C-17 that I'd surely be shot if I divulged them. That is, if I could explain or even understand anything the pilots told me.
The story continues here in part two...