They Said It Better Than I Ever Could...

These words that I write, they keep me from total insanity. -Charles Bukowski

Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived, or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed? -Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Aug 5, 2009

As Long As I Can See The Light...

The title is taken from a CCR song. The lyrics go...

As long as I can see the light, I'll be coming home soon.

The war almost ended for me and no one even bothered to tell me. I’m serious, they almost sent me out of this place early. I didn’t travel half way around the world, get shot at, blown up, rocketed, mortared, and generally fucked up just to leave early. To hell with that. And yes, I do understand that those are the words of a truly sick man.

Anyway, here’s what happened. So we have to make room in the barracks for our replacements. So about 29 of us have to get the flock out of dodge. And I turned up on the first list of those to leave. Can you believe it?

They want to send me from here, to Salerno, and then on to Bagram, and Manas, and Ireland, then back to the states. And they want me to start this epic journey tomorrow. While about 12 guys get to stay back and train the new unit. Take them outside the wire and show them what it is we have been doing for the last couple weeks. Show them how to find the IED’s (drive over them, wait for boom.), tell them how to tell the Taliban from the regular haji’s (you can’t), teach them how to respond to an ambush (locate loud ratatatat noise, point weapon, pull trigger.), and all of that shit.

Bullshit, I don’t want to leave early. I can’t explain it. I want to be here for every minute of every day. In the immortal words of Aerosmith, “I don’t want to miss a thing.”

So I begged, and I pleaded, and I finally got my way.

So I’m staying. Gonna help train the new unit.

So here I sit, looking at my boxing gloves with IRELAND tattooed across them and listening to Peter Gabriel’s “Shock the monkey.” And a strange sense of calm has washed over me. At least things are going to be normal for a few more weeks. Now I don’t have to leave until the 15th.

Now, I can’t believe I just used to word normal to describe what goes on and happens to, and around me in the fucking country. (Pause break, for quiet contemplation.)

Okay, maybe I have gone nuts. But let’s think about this.

Average day here. Get up early in the morning, get all your shit, get in the truck, drive out into Taliban land, spend the whole day either looking for the Taliban or training the police to do the same, then drive back, get some chow, workout, write, and go to bed then get up and do it all over again.

Sometimes somebody tries to kill you with bullets. Sometimes there are exploding presents left in the road. Sometimes a few flaming footballs (rockets) are thrown your way. Sometimes a few mortar rounds fall on your head. Then other times not a damn thing happens.

Needless to say my days are a bit more eventful here than the ones back home. I am wondering if boredom might get the better of me. Get up, eat, go to work, take a good shit, and go back to bed. Repeat for 40 years then die.

Ugh, that sounds fun!
Actually, no it sounds just a bit depressing.

Well, what are you going to do? Its not like I can stay here. If this place didn’t kill me, my mom would. So I guess that’s out.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, just keeping it bottled up in that place you put things you don’t want to admit you’re thinking about.

I like it here. I like the excitement. I like the chance of it all. Things don’t always happen. Some if not most of my days are fairly routine. But it doesn’t change the fact that at least here it COULD happen. And when it does...oh what a day!

Now I know that I am really losing it. I don’t want to glorify combat or any of the results of it. Most of them are truly shitty. Its just like at home. Two gangs are fighting (US Army & Taliban.) and who ends up getting shot? Some innocent bystander sitting by the road.

So where does that leave me? With a brain that doesn’t quite work the way its supposed to? I think we already knew that. But will this affect my life at home.

Oh hell yes. This experience will probably color every aspect of my life. If for no other reason than I will spend my days wondering what everyone is bitching about. You’re in the States, you’re not in Afghanistan, shut the fuck up!

In any case, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We’re almost there. Tomorrow, for the most part all of my boys are going to be safe and sound and bouncing from mega-FOB to mega-FOB. And that is a source of relief. I won’t jinx it by saying any more.

The next 11 days will probably be the fastest ever. Then the two weeks after that will be the slowest ever.

Then I have to go home and see people who have known me all my life. See people who changed my diapers. See people I went to grade school with. See people I have known and loved for years.

They will all be the same.

The question is...will I?


I love you Mom...


  1. "The question is...will I?" Of course not. You are living out the final days that will end the one of the defining moments of your life. Nothing will ever compare. And you know it. Otherwise you'd be on that helicopter tomorrow. This was one of the best posts you've written while in Afghanistan.

    Thanks for going that extra few weeks of service. Thanks for writing. Stay as safe as you can in Afghanistan.

  2. Of course you will be different just as they will be different. Your family and friends have grown in one direction and you in another. You have experienced life and death in ways they will never understand. Just be patient with them. You are the bigger man for it. But be assured, along with your mom, Airman Mom will be upset you did leave. They'll try to understand, but will be upset. Just keep on keeping on and you'll be home soon.

  3. We need you to come back and BE different. We need you to keep writing. We need you to get in the face of the politicians that are making decisions that trickle down to our military men like you and their families. Thank you for writing. Thank you for being honest. Your work is not done. I can't wait to hear what you think of the good old USA once you have been back. Just don't waste your time on the unteachable. But, put our politicians on notice---you know exactly what our guys need over there in the way of equipment, supplies, tools, weapons, and support. Please remind the new president to pick his wars carefully. We need you to keep observing, keep sqwaking, and vote. Vote with your voice, your pen, your computer, your dollars, and at the ballot box. We need you to speak for those still in the fight.

  4. MudPuppy...You are where you are meant to be, my VirtuaSon.
    As much as it would be a (selfish) relief to know you are on your way home...I have grown to know you are the man to stay behind. You have my full love, respect and support for this decision. It is who you are, and it is my hope you always remain true to yourself.
    You are different. It's just the way it rolls. You are so very fortunate to know the love and support of so many.
    Boy, oh boy...I'm glad I logged on between Detroit and Toronto to read your blog!!!!!
    Your boys are in my prayers, may they know a safe journey home. And you...always in my prayers.
    Stay Strong!
    Pray Hard!

  5. Hi MudPuppy,
    Can't wait to hear that you are home! In the meanwhile, "let's take it easy out there!"
    Bring your wandering war torn pants home with you in them ASAP!

  6. Everyone has said what I feel and it is the truth. Mudpuppy, come home and continue to write. The war torn pants........are you going to put them on Ebay? I might like to bid on them! hahha just kidding!

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