Law On The Edge: Trip to Iraq Part I

September 6, 2011

We recently got to know Phil Wormdahl for his Small Law Lifestyle and how he spends his time as The Edge in a U2 cover band outside of his DUI and criminal defense practice  in Salt Lake City, Utah. During his interview, we uncovered other surprising details of his life and will be sharing those through a series of articles, called “Law on The Edge.” Here is the first…

Earlier this year, Phil was invited to spend two weeks in Iraq traveling with the U2 cover band, Rattle and Hum. The trip itself was through MWR, which stands for Morale, Welfare, and Recreation. This group within the military is responsible for making sure the troops overseas are taken care of in those three areas for a positive experience away from home.

Since U2 is an Irish band, the idea was to have the tour coincide with St. Patrick’s Day.  So in March, Phil and his band flew commercial to Kuwait, where they were picked up and transported by the military for the duration of the trip.

They first played at, “Ali Al Salem,” a base in Kuwait that serves as a staging area for anyone who is about to go on leave or coming back from leave to get re-acclimated. They would spend a few days there before going home or coming back.

Due to the nature of this base, the population can range from a couple hundred people to tens of thousands depending on the transitional timing. Phil admitted that “when we were there, it was kind of a ghost town, but it was really gratifying for us because the soldiers who are stationed there permanently don’t usually get to see shows like ours because of the unpredictable population fluctuations.”

From Kuwait, Phil experienced something he will never forget…a ride on a Blackhawk helicopter to a base called Echo in western Iraq.  Although riding in helicopters was one of the highlights of the trip, he also recognized it to be one of the most dangerous. They traveled with heavy bullet proof and shrapnel proof armor, and helmets while seated on benches, knee-to-knee.  Phil described, “You literally have to flex the muscles in your neck to hold up the heavy helmets…it is hot, loud, and claustrophobic, but very cool.”

Once in Echo, the plans changed slightly since the base had been shelled shortly before the band’s arrival. Rather than cancelling the show, they just moved the set from an outdoor stage to the indoor dining facility. Phil taught us that the dining hall is the safest place on base because it is completely hardened. If an alarm sounds for incoming shells, you’re just as safe in the dining hall as any of the bunkers.

Before going to the final destination of Baghdad, they did a show in northern Iraq at a base called “Camp Marez,” in Mosel, where one of the soldiers filmed almost the entire show. Not everybody in the audience was necessarily a U2 fan, but they were all hungry for entertainment and a taste of home.


More on the Baghdad stop next week in “Law on The Edge: Trip to Iraq Part II”

Be sure to follow Phil on Twitter @UtahDUIAdvocate and friend him on Facebook.