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 10, 2009

They're Here...

I can’t believe it, I shan’t believe it. But yes, it’s true. Ladies and Gentlemen hold onto your hats. Our replacements are here!

Somebody fucking pinch me. Its surreal, just about 10 months ago we were getting in to Waza Khwa to begin the ball of suck that has been this past year of my life.

I look around at these guys and can’t help but laugh. They’re so excited, so filled with anticipation, so ready for war that I can’t help but feel sorry for them.

I don’t know if I’m just getting old, or if this past year has made me look at them differently. But they all look so damn young. Even the guys that ARE old look young to me. Then there are the ones that really are young and they look like they were asking their mommies for cookies about 20 minutes ago!

I walked past at least 10 of them yesterday, and quietly whispered to myself, “Does your momma know you’re out playing army son?”

Its kinda like spending the day with your little brother, asking you 5 million questions about everything under the sun.

What’s an IED like?
Is it loud?
Does it get cold here?
Do you guys take a lot of small arms fire?
Do you take a lot of incoming?
Where’s the pool?
How’s the chow?
What’s it like down south?
I heard about this guy that got shot here, do you know him?
How do you do this?
Where’s this?
Who is that?

And on, and on, and on. Don’t worry, I patiently answered all their questions as well as I could. I was as nice as I could possibly be, which for me is saying a lot.

I couldn’t help but try to steer them away from that whole, “I’m gonna get out there and slay the huns and save the world.” Due to the fact that inevitably, the questions turned to, “Where are the fucking Taliban.”

Well pal, if I knew that for sure I wouldn’t be anywhere near there. Wait, check that, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near there. I mean how do you explain to an 18 year old kid who has watched entirely too many war movies that you aren’t going to go find them. They are going to come and find you! Unfortunately, around here I do know where they are. Everyone knows where they are. Its just like a neighborhood back home that the cops won’t go into because of the crime there.

First response from them. Oh we’ll go there. I guarantee it. Our lieutenant wants to get out there and get all up in the Taliban’s shit! He was genuinely excited about this prospect.

Alright kid, listen here. First things first, know this. We are already in the Taliban’s shit. Just by being here we’re pissing them off. And don’t worry, in a day or two or a week or whenever, but sometime, they are going to let you know just how much you’re pissing them off. They’re going to drop 5 or 10 mortars on your head. Launch a rocket through the side of your building, or send an AK round crashing into your vehicle. And then they’re going to watch you for a while, learn your patterns and movements, and then they are going to hit you. So let’s take it down a peg, shall we. Don’t go looking for it, it’ll find you.

That’s about the best advice I ever got here, and its about the only thing I could pass on to these guys. Don’t go looking for it, it’ll find you soon enough.

Hey, do you think we’ll hit any IED’s? Oh, don’t worry, sooner or later you’re going to hit one. Its a certainty.

And on and on they went. Smoking a cigarette became an hour long question and answer session.

I just can’t get over it, they’re all so damned young...

But, whatever. Just the fact that they are here makes my imminent departure all the more real. As I sit here typing and look at the date, its the 10th, I realize that I will be out of this country in less than 2 weeks (barring any unforeseen complications, so we’ll be here for three)

So tomorrow we take all of our unnecessary gear to Salerno to be packed up and loaded for the flight out of here. Which means I’ll be living out of a rucksack for the next two weeks or so. Suck for me, but not that big a deal. I’m used to it. Its amazing the shit you can get used to.

Well, now the end is upon me, and it hasn’t quite sunk in yet. I don’t think it will until I can look out of an airplane’s window and see this God forsaken country fading into the distance.

Today we taught them how to drive and care for all these trucks and tomorrow we are taking them outside the wire for their first real combat mission. Should be fun. Think about it like this, its gonna be like taking 40 fifth graders to play laser tag!

Anyway, I’m done...but they’re just beginning. And they’re all so damn young!


I love you Mom...


  1. Well, you dealt with lots of 5th graders questions really well so I have no doubt you'll be able to train the youngins who have come to replace you. As for feeling old - that'll happen to anyone after a year like you've had but now that you're over 30 you'll experience that a lot more. Welcome to the club! Can't wait to see you!

  2. Are you older than the new dudes? A year in the suck will make you older than Methuselah. Hey, he lived around there somewhere, didn’t he?

  3. Actually seeing your replacements, must have been a huge relief! This is it! You are now homeward bound!
    Allow me once again to thank you for serving our nation. You sacrificed a year of your life, the American good-life to spend in a country far from home. I appreciate you, your comrades and will never forget what each of you have done for me.
    Train these guys well, we need them there.
    We need you home!
    Stay Strong!
    Pray Hard!

  4. Ah Mud Puppy, ya big lug. You sound like a proud Uncle. Take good care of yer 5th Graders. Can't wait to read about their first trip outside the wire. Stay safe.