So we finally got the word that we are on our way out of here. But we got it kind of like the way the cable company tells you that they’ll be there to fix your cable. Alright so we’ll be there sometime between 10 a.m. And Thursday! Well that’s a little vague, isn’t it?
Well, we are supposedly either leaving tomorrow or the next day. Which is good. But the scare tactics are already starting. Which makes me laugh. I don’t know if this sort of shit is common throughout the rest of the military, but it seems whenever we are going to a new place this command of ours decides to start hitting us with a whole bunch of information specifically geared to scare the shit out of our more jittery members.
-12 mortar rounds landed in the FOB we are headed to, killing one ANA soldier.
-One mortar round landed at Salerno.
-10 RPG rockets were fired at our new FOB, and immediately after an ANP soldier killed himself.
This is the sort of shit they have been spreading around. Probably just want to keep us salty for the last couple of months of this deployment. People are starting to think a little too much about home and that isn’t good for military discipline and mission accomplishment. Think about home and you can’t think about much else. That leads to mistakes, and mistakes will get someone killed. Can’t have that. We are about 60 days out. Not a good time for fuck ups!
So where does that leave me? Well for right now, everything is incredibly boring. Sitting around Sharana waiting on a plane. Then we’ve gotta go to Salerno and pick up some heavy vehicles. Which makes me happy and sad all at once.
Well heavy vehicles, the big MRAP’s and ASV’s are awesome because they are basically baby tanks and can take one helluva blast. Which makes all of us that much safer. Always a good thing. However, the reason we have to pick those vehicles up is that 1151’s or up-armored hummers are not authorized in the region of the country that I am headed to. Why are they unauthorized there? Because the fucking bombs that the Taliban is using up there are so god damned big that they vaporize humvees. So the only vehicles that we can take up there are the heavies because if we run into an IED we’d all be dead if we were driving a humvee. So that sucks. No way around it. IED’s are a motherfucker in the first place. Now they just got bigger. Oh, how much fun can a guy have in one deployment. Because we all know that for whatever reason this company has absolutely no problem finding IED’s.
How do we find them? We drive over them!
I can’t wait until we are training the unit that comes to replace us. Inevitably the question will be asked, “How do you guys find IED’s?” I hope I am there to answer that one. Or maybe I’ll get lucky and some kid will ask me, “How do you know if there are IED’s in the road?”
“Well Junior, if you are driving along and all of a sudden you hear a loud noise, your head hits the roof, and the compartment of your vehicle fills with smoke, and your truck will not move anymore, plus there will probably be a lot of screaming, which you won’t be able to hear because your ear drums are shot...then you have hit an IED! Any more questions?”
Maybe I should go a little easier on him than that. But I won’t.
Anyway, this place is enough to make a guy soft. I laugh every time I think about it, but I can’t help it, I don’t really know if I am laughing at how true what I am about to say is, or am I laughing at how boldly full of shit I can be sometimes. I keep remembering that scene in “Apocalypse Now” where Martin Sheen is laying in the hotel and he is saying to himself, “Everyday I spend here in comfort I get weaker, while Charlie is out in the bush getting stronger.” Or some such shit.
That is what Sharana is. My personal hotel. I hate it here. Its making me soft. Everyday we spend here, drinking chocolate smoothies, eating Pizza Hut pizza, sleeping half the day, not training, getting comfortable, starting to let our guard down...getting softer and softer.
At least Waza Khwah kept your guns up. Outside the wire almost everyday. Looking for the Taliban. Finding them sometimes. Them finding you most of the time. Hitting an IED every so often. Sleeping under the stars. Eating out a bag. Shitting in a hole. Drinking piss warm water. Constant vigilance, watching every move that everyone makes...So you don’t die.
I kind of miss that. I don’t really know why. I think I may be just a little sick. But whatever, I’ll run with it. I mean is it a little psychotic when you can actually feel yourself getting soft. It’s going to be even worse when I get home.
If I hate this place because it is making me soft how am I going to feel about home? I mean here, I gotta sleep in a crappy ass tent, and walk back and forth to chow and the shitters and all of that. I have to live out of a bag with 3 days worth of clothes stuffed into it. I have to sleep in a place that’s temperature is controlled, so long as you mean within 5 degrees plus or minus of the temperature outside. I’m not really complaining because after all that this place has thrown at me these are fairly posh living arrangements. But back home, I would be considered homeless. And I hate them because they are making me soft.
What the hell is going to happen inside my head when I’m home? I’ll tell you because I already know. I am going to feel guilty.
Guilty every time I don’t have to put on my boots to shit.
Guilty every time I flush the toilet.
Guilty every time I don’t have to carry a weapon just to go across the street.
Guilty every time I wake up and its raining outside and I am dry as a bone.
Guilty every time I sleep for 8 hours or more.
Guilty every time I have a day off.
Guilty every time I walk on carpeted floors.
Guilty every time I drink a beer.
Guilty every time I turn the heat up when I get cold.
Guilty every time I turn on the A/C when I am hot.
Guilty every time I eat a steak cooked to perfection.
Guilty every time I get something cold to drink out of the refrigerator.
And on, and on, and on...
Because the only thing that I’ll be able to think about is the fact that there is some kid out here doing exactly what I was doing, while I am doing all of that shit. I wish the military was like it was in WWII. Where you got in at the beginning, and you stayed until the shit was over. That would make it so much easier to deal with. Don’t worry, I’ll get over it.
But the worst part is, and I don’t even know why I am thinking about this now. Some day after this is all over. I will be sitting in my house, or a bar, or wherever, and a news story will come on about some kid who got croaked over here. They’ll tell you his name, they’ll tell you his rank, they’ll tell you where he was from. Then they’ll tell you where he got killed. And the thought will run through my head that I was there. I used to chew that exact same dirt when I was there. I been through that pass a hundred times. I drove through that village everyday. I lived at that FOB for 6 months. Or whatever the case may be.
And there’s no way around it. I’ll quietly ask myself, or God, or my dad, or whoever the hell it is I am talking to when I say all this shit in my head. “Why him and why not me?”
Alright, enough of that.
I love you Mom...