The title of this post is a paraphrase of my all time favorite comedian. The late Mr. George Carlin. But we’ll get to that later.
So here’s what’s been going on. You all have obviously noted that I have not written for a while. Since July 24 to be exact. And that sucks. For all of us.
My mom started to freak out because she hasn’t heard from me in so long. Which made me feel like kind of a shit given that my mom checks my blog to make sure I’m doing okay. (Note to self: Call home more!)
Why was I out of the loop for so long? Because we just had the longest, suckiest, most pointless mission I have ever been on. How long was it? Five days. Ugh, five days of no shower, no place to sleep, constant artillery, M-4‘s poking you in the ass, the worst food known to man, blazing hot water, cows, goats, haji’s and little Elvis has not been spanked in almost 10 days now!!!! If this isn’t hell, you sure as shit can see it from here.
What was the mission? Blocking position.
What’s a blocking position? Well its where you set up these humungous trucks all around an objective in the hope that when the infantry goes in to clear the objective the bad guys run out and right into your “blocking” position.
Picture a bunch of of guys trying to corner a chicken and you get the idea of what it was we were doing out there.
What’s the worst part of this whole mission? We have to take like 40 people with us, and we only have 7 trucks. So there’s like 6 guys in my truck. We don’t have an ASV this time, we’ve got an MRAP which supposedly can comfortably sit 7 people. Bullshit, there isn’t a vehicle in the US Army arsenal that can comfortably sit anyone. When I say sit, I really mean just that there are six seats and one gunner’s turret. So 7 people. The only way you could be comfortable in a military truck is if you are 4’10” and weigh 89 pounds. I am pretty sure that I don’t have any ass left after this trip.
So we get to Salerno which is the jumping off point for this mission, which is huge. This is a Task Force wide mission. Everyone is in on this one. Infantry, aviation, artillery, psyops, special forces, truckers, RCP, commo, Blackwater, even the ANP, ANA and ABP...everyone is in on this one. Even us, the MP’s with about 2 weeks left in country.
Now the first night we had to stay in Salerno because the mission was jumping off at 0700 the next day. First things first. Find us a bed so we can sleep tonight. Yeah, we know we aren’t going to get to bed until after midnight, but its still nice to know you have somewhere to sleep even if its only for a few hours. Oh yeah, mission jumps off at 0700 you’re going to be up at 0500 at the latest.
So we get our beds. Cots is all, but we’re used to it. At least we don’t have to sleep on the ground. I measure my entire life by my distance from the ground while I sleep. That and the amount of padding between me and said ground.
Good, we got the beds and we get to work on the trucks. We got some new ones because the ones we had were shit and wouldn’t have made it over the first bump. We were lucky they made it from Clark to Sal without falling apart. (Think of the scene from Blues Brothers where they pull up in front of city hall and jump out the car and as soon as they slam the doors the car literally falls to pieces. That’s the condition that our trucks are normally in.) So we had to go through them, make sure the weapons were up, get them fueled, lubricated and the radios up and chirping and blah, blah, blah.
Which took us a while. Then we come back to find out that we just got kicked out of our tent and off our cots. Why? Because the mother fucking Afghan National Police needed a place to sleep.
Digest that one. The US Army threw an entire squad of its own soldiers out of their tent and off their beds so that the Afghanis had a place to sleep! The worst part of it is they didn’t give us any where else to sleep.
So I learned what it means to be homeless. I wandered around half the night trying to find a place to sleep. I laid out on top of the truck for a while, but it was too damn metal. I sat in front of the commanders tent and fell asleep until an NCO came out and told me I couldn’t sleep there. I finally fell asleep for about 10 minutes in the post movie theater. Then they came in and threw on a movie and played it at about 500 decibels. Finally, I snuck into a transient building and found a bed in the corner and curled up and slept for about 3 hours before my squad leader woke me up, its time to go.
Here we go. Oh boy, let’s get ready. Now all the lower enlisted soldiers are ready. They got all their shit, its all in the trucks, the radios are up, the weapons are working, the trucks are running. All we need to do is hit the gear, hit the gas and we’re gone. But the senior NCO’s and officers are going to dick around for an hour, and then yell at us for not being in the trucks when they get there.
However, the fact that they were an hour late led to us missing that 0700 mission jump off. Oh, I forgot to mention we needed the RCP to move through this area of the country. Either that or we would have blown up 4 times. That’s how many IED’s they either found or hit themselves on the way up there. Hey, better them than me.
So we get rolling, an hour late, but at least we’re moving again. If there’s one thing I can’t stand its sitting still.
The funniest part of the whole thing is that our platoon daddy, and our platoon leader will still planning this thing on our way out the door. Figuring out where to set up, how to set up and all that shit. Then when we got to the gate and met up with the ANP who were there to go with us we found out that they didn’t have any gas.
Oh great, nothing like a well planned military operation to make you feel all warm and fuzzy.
Now I am just going to hit on the high points of the next five days. There were few, but nothing good happened. No gun fights, no explosions, no nothing. Just sitting and killing time. Suffice it to say that the following paragraphs cover 5 whole damn days of extreme, almost insanity inducing boredom. Had there not been a 110 outlet for me to charge my iPod I may very well have lost my mind.
On the way out the RCP found two high trip wire IED’s. The ones designed to either decapitate the gunner and the blow the truck over onto its side. I have a sick sense of humor now, because all I could think is that I would like to see one of those go off. I’ve seen pretty much every kind of IED over the last year, but never have I seen one of these. This is new, so I was curious. Oh, is there something wrong with me?
So we got out there, and set up. Now there’s basically a line that stretches for 10 km’s in either direction from our position. This is important for later when our blocking position became an island. Its us in the middle, with 2nd platoon to our right and 3rd platoon to our left. Remember that.
Now we go through the first day and it gets dark and I crawl up on top of the MRAP to write my notes for the day. I pull out the stretcher and lay it out across the top of the truck and lay down for my night’s rest. I don’t know if its really good karma to be sleeping on the thing that we use to carry our wounded, but whatever at least its not metal. Thinking back over my time here, I couldn’t help but get a little nervous about the wind, given the fact that the top of an MRAP is about 15 feet off the ground. (Kudos to those of you who remember what I’m talking about.)
And it was hot. The kind of hot that makes it so you can’t even lean up against the truck. Everyone is hot, tired, sweaty and pissed. Wow, this is surely going to be a fun trip.
The first night comes and goes, and its the next day.
I sit around most of the day either watching my sector or reading “Knockemstiff” by Donald Ray Pollack. Which is a pretty sick collection of short stories about degenerates, lunatics, drunks and criminals. And I got homesick.
I am pretty sure this is the first time in my life I have been homesick. I told you before I have wanderlust. I love my home and my family and my friends, but it doesn’t change the fact that leaving is just part of who I am and what I do. I don’t know if its a good thing or not, but its just what I do.
Still gotta wonder when a book like Knockemstiff makes me homesick. Ha Ha!
Then I crawled up to my perch, wrote, and the night came and went and its the next day.
This day was boring until we sent a few guys up to the top of a nearby mountain for an OP. (Observation Point). About 6 hours after they had gotten up there, torrential rains started coming down. We all just piled into the truck and waited it out. But they had to sit there, on top of a mountain during a rainstorm. I couldn’t help but laugh, because right before they had gone up there we were trying to figure out who was going up there and it came down to me and another guy.
How to choose who stays and who goes? The only way that’s fair. Rock-paper-scissors. Best 2 out of 3. 1-2-3, Paper (I win) 1-2-3 Scissors (I lose) 1-2-3 Paper (I win) Oh thank Christ. This mountain was a bitch. 1500 meters damn near straight up. It took some of them almost an hour to get up there. No thanks pal, I don’t want anything to do with that. If God wanted us up there he would’ve installed an escalator.
Then the artillery started coming, and coming, and coming. I don’t know if its a good thing or not but I am pretty much immune to big booms. All hours of the day and night you would hear it. Fun all around.
Then I crawled up to my perch, wrote, the night came and went and its the next day.
Resupply day. I don’t know why we’ve still got plenty of food and water, we even got plenty of fuel.
-Tell them we don’t need it Sarge, its just more shit we have to carry back.
-Nope, they want us resupplied we’re taking it.
-Alright, helicopter or air drop?
Motherfucker. That means some crazy fly boy is going to come by, buzz us and drop all this shit out the ass end of his plane.
-Alright, where’s the smoke so we can signal this prick.
So I grab the smoke. We wait. We hear it. The sound of a shitty ass little turbo prop plane buzzing around above. Then we see him. Circling around once, getting lower, twice, getting lower, thrice, getting lower. Next pass, how high is he? Probably about 100 feet. Where is he flying? He’s doing a “map of the world” with the mountain side and coming right down, right at us. Well I certainly hope this asshole turns a little bit. I would hate to have all that food and water dropped on my head.
Shit, he’s getting lower. Dude is about 50 feet off the ground and maybe 15 meters to the side of us when he jerks the nose of the plane up and four pallets of food and water come flying out the ass end of the plane. Is it wrong that the first thing that ran through my mind was, “That pilot just shit on us.”
Shortly thereafter, we got another jolt. We weren’t ready for it. I am lying on the ground under the truck taking refuge from that evil, glowing ball in the sky. When I hear a helicopter descending. After running around like crazy trying to find all of our shit so that it didn’t blow away, the helicopter landed and I became depressed.
They dropped off more fuel, and they brought us fresh fruit and gatorade. Now most people would think that this is the greatest war zone ever. I just got a delivery of fruit and gatorade. I wanted to give the guy some money and send him back for pizza but I was too depressed as to what this fruit and gatorade meant.
It means we are staying out here for a long damn time. The army won’t resupply you unless they absolutely have to, and they are actually bringing us stuff that they don’t have to bring us. Oh shit, are we going to be out here a while.
But then came the most monumental development of the entire mission. During the air drops I had to run around a lot. I didn’t want to, but I had to. Now I have to go back a bit. Earlier in the day when I woke up, I had sort of fallen off the truck and ripped a huge hole in the crotch of my pants. No big deal, I like the air conditioning. But I changed into my other pair of pants and got on with my life. During the air drop the crotch of my pants got stuck on a plant and tore a big ass hole in the crotch of those. So now I have two pairs of pants, with central air if you catch my meaning.
Well this will never do. Although I have to admit it was nice being able to piss without having to unbutton. Anyway, how do we fix this. You gotta sew it. I don’t know how to sew. Who does? This chick in the truck she knows how to do that shit. I beg. She won’t budge. Finally, I convince her, except she’ll do the first one and I can watch and do the second.
So she showed me how to thread the needle, how to get the first stitch in, how to loop this around that and yada, yada, yada. Then she showed me how to tie off the end so that it won’t come out.
I mean we don’t try to make it look pretty here, we just want the hole closed. So nothing elaborate or anything, but Jesus, Mary & Joseph and all the saints I now know how to sew.
So picture this if you will. Its hilarious.
My big ass, sitting in the back of a huge military vehicle, sweating like a whore in church, with no pants on, sewing up a hole in my crotch.
Let that one marinate for a minute.
Now moving on, then we went through another couple days of absolutely nothing. Just sitting, staring at each other, the mountain, or examining the inside of our eyelids.
Then we got some action. Not really, just something to do. The locals finally got curious about what the hell we were doing and some of the kids came out to see us. We gave them some food, water and candy and started playing with them.
They even taught us some Afghani games. First one they taught us was a game where you put your fist out in front of you, wrap your other arm around it and grab your head. Then you put your outstretched fist on the ground and spin around ten times. Kinda like putting your forehead on a bat. Then you jump up and try to pick up some object, in this case a hat, placed on the ground about 10 meters from you. Watching all these kids getting dizzy and falling down, and them laughing hysterically while we did the exact same thing was priceless. Its time like this that you can’t help thinking, if we can just get these kids away from all these adults there just might be hope for this country.
Next game they taught us. This was especially fun.
You stand facing your opponent. You grab one ankle with one hand, and pull your ankle up to your ass. Then you use your free hand, and your one legged hop to try and knock your opponent down, while staying upright yourself.
Yes, ladies and gents, Its an Afghani one legged ass kicking contest!
I almost felt normal for a few minutes. Sitting around, playing with these kids. Seemed like this could happen on any block in any city back in the states.
Later, I got a rather rude reminder of where I was.
So we spent a few hours playing games with these kids, and feeding them and throwing rocks with a slingshot and just screwing around. Then we asked if they could get us watermelon. They happily obliged because we gave them 5 American dollars. More money than any of these kids had ever seen or could hope to make.
Then a little while later a kid came back with the watermelon. But he stopped about 200 meters from our position and was looking at the mountain. We sent the interpreter over to see what was wrong.
The kid was terrified that the Taliban was watching him. So he laid the watermelon down and took off running.
Bringing us watermelon is enough to get you and your entire family decapitated here. So his worry was more than reasonable.
So from playing games with kids, to worrying that I may have inadvertently just got some kid killed. I truly hate this fucking place.
But there’s an upside. Its now August 3. We’re supposed to be leaving by the 16th.
No more war zone. No more death. No more booms. No more missions. No more sleeping under the stars. No more shitty ass MRE’s. No more IED’s. No more ambushes. No more, no more, no fucking more!
I’ll be back home before September. We hope.
So its almost over. Our replacements are here. Some of them anyway. The rest will be coming in soon. I wonder what its going to be like to be somewhere that I don’t have to worry about getting shot. What’s it going to be like when I don’t think everything in the road is a bomb. What’s it going to be like when I don’t think every fat guy is a suicide bomber. What’s it going to be like when I see an empty street and don’t have to brace for the explosion?
What’s it going to be like the first time I hear a car backfire, or a big book dropped, or any loud noise? Jesus, what’s the fourth of July gonna be like?
Who cares? All of that stuff happens at home. I don’t care if I jump out of my skin every damn time. At least I’ll be doing it at home. And that’s good enough for me.
Alright, now I’m done.
I love you Mom...
P.S. And the only difference between this war and masturbation is that when you’re done masturbating you are going to have something to show for it! R.I.P. George Carlin