This is the first installment of a four part series which follows Charles Kimbrough before, during and after his arrest in Kuwait on false charges of dealing in illegal drugs, alcohol and guns. Some of the details have been left out along with some names due to impending legal action and litigation.



On April 8, 2007, Charles Kimbrough was at his home in a small subdivision outside Kuwait City, Kuwait when there were several loud raps on his front door.

Stepping out onto the balcony, Kimbrough was astounded to see 30 or more men, Kuwaiti police officers, crouching with guns drawn outside the courtyard wall. A cold chill ran down his spine as he slowly made his way down the stairs to open the door. Confusion flooded into his mind as to why these men were at his home. He kept telling himself, "It had to be a mistake of some kind! They have the wrong house! I've done nothing wrong!"

By opening the front door, Kimbrough effectively continued a chain of events that unbeknownst to him would land him in a foreign prison. The events that would follow could only be ripped from a nightmare. A living nightmare that Kimbrough would have to find a way in which to awake. He had to survive. He had to clear his name. And he had to be reunited with his young son and his family back home in Lauderdale County, Mississippi.

At the time, when scores of policemen flooded through his home, shouting and yelling at those inside, Kimbrough knew deep down something was terribly wrong but at the moment there was nothing he could do but comply with their orders. He and three others inside the home were taken into custody amid death threats and beatings.

Kimbrough would not step out of a prison cell except to be dragged to a courtroom for the next 11 months. Those 11 months of his life were taken away by the mere accusation from a co-worker that Kimbrough and his boss were trafficking in illegal guns, narcotics, and alcohol.

"I was guilty until proven innocent," said Kimbrough, now 36 years old. "The justice system and conditions in which I was thrown into were from the medieval era. It was horrible. I thought it was all a bad dream that I couldn't wake up from."

Kimbrough, who had worked as an over the road driver in 18-wheelers for four years hauling goods and materials all across the United States and Canada, took a chance on driving big rigs needed to transport food and military equipment soon after the Iraq War broke out in 2003. In January 2004 Kimbrough was in Kuwait as a convoy driver for Kellogg, Brown and Root, the controversial subsidiary for Halliburton.

"I was so mad when the attacks on the World Trade Center took place in New York City," Kimbrough said. "I wanted to join the military. I was 32 years old but they wouldn't have taken me because of the problems with my back. Instead I chose this route. I'm a good truck driver and I thought this was something I was more capable of doing while at the same time supporting the war effort in my own way."

Kimbrough found all the war he wanted.

As has been widely reported, convoys of trucks and men were a frequent target for insurgents. Improvised explosive devices (IED), ambushes and periodic attacks took their toll on men and materials being transported back and forth to the frontline areas such as forward operating bases (FOB). Kimbrough said he was in several convoys targeted by the insurgents. He lost a lot of friends. Burned out and bullet riddled hulks of transport trucks and big rigs became a common sight to the drivers in the bleak landscape of Iraq.

"There were many times I questioned my sanity in going over there," Kimbrough said. "When you see an 18-wheeler in front of you disappear in a ball of fire, smoke and dust, you can't but help wonder 'Why did I do this?'"

It was especially sobering whenever Kimbrough was joined inside the cab of his truck by an American soldier riding "shotgun." Truck drivers were normally told where to go and when — not what might be on the road in between. A sure sign there might be more trouble than normal was when soldiers, armed to the teeth, would join with the drivers inside the cab. Also, the addition of gun vehicles was another obvious clue something big was expected. Throw in the occasional Cobra or Apache attack helicopter to provide airborne reconnaissance and firepower, then it was time to say a little prayer.

The job got somewhat easier as the war drew on. KBR lost the contract to haul goods and materials after Kimbrough had worked for them for several months. Kimbrough, from March 2005 through September of that year then drove for a South Carolina company called IAP. Those days were much more quiet hauling mostly mail to and from the FOBs. Not much was experienced from the IEDs but there were periodic flare-ups in which insurgents wanted to get the message across they weren't totally beaten. When IAP lost their contract to a Kuwaiti transport company, Kimbrough effortlessly slid into the seat of one of their big rigs.

"I was working for the Kuwaiti company up until my arrest," said Kimbrough. "I was married then and had an infant son, Nelson. We were living in a subdivision of Kuwait City and were comfortable. I'd made some new friends and was actually entertaining several of them including my boss the night the police came."

Kimbrough thought he'd seen the worst in humanity with the visions of the war still very fresh in his mind. Little did he know he would come face-to-face with the brutality of mankind. Cultures and beliefs were on a collision course and there was nothing Kimbrough could do to stop it.

React to this story:

0
0
0
0
0