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

Jun 30, 2009

If It Isn't One Thing, Its Another...

Alright, so you already know that about 2 months ago we left Waza Khwa down in southeastern Afghanistan and we moved from there to Kushamond, and from there we went to Sharana, stayed in Sharana for about a month, then we managed to move all the way up to Salerno in Khost province. And we have sat here for another few weeks, damn near a month.

During that time we have run into the biggest obstacle that the military faces in this country.

Moving large amounts of men and material over long distances in this shithole!

I mean we have probably moved about, oh I don’t know, maybe between 100 and 200 miles in 2 fucking months.

Now we have a mission that we are supposed to be accomplishing. We have several district centers that we have to get ready for the upcoming elections.

Rockets, mortars and death from the sky have become daily occurrences here. Not to mention the place we are going to has taken so much indirect fire that it made front page news in the Stars & Stripes.

Now, like I said, we are in Salerno, which is about 18 clicks from Camp Clark which is where our mission is. 18 clicks is 11.25 miles.

WE HAVEN’T BEEN ABLE TO MOVE 11.25 MILES IN A FUCKING MONTH!!!

So let’s run down the laundry list of shit that the Army has come up with to delay us getting out there and actually doing something.

We got here and needed vehicles for our missions. So we went to draw the vehicles from the motorpool. They didn’t seem to have the vehicles that we needed.

Remember that I told you that you can’t drive humvees in this province because the damn bombs here are so big that they will vaporize a humvee. So we need MRAP’s. Can’t have anything less than the big dogs. Well, for whatever reason they don’t seem to have them. Why would they? Why would our command send us somewhere and actually have the things that we need to accomplish the mission that they throw at us.

The funniest part of this whole thing is that there are a million and one MRAP’s laying around this FOB, not to mention the sea of trucks I saw, sitting idly by in a motor pool up in Bagram. These trucks did nothing, went no where, and weren’t even being well maintained. Now you already know what I think of Bagram. They have all the equipment, but none of the needs. Damnit, there is a war going on down here and we need those fucking trucks. Get off your asses and get them things down here where we can use them!

On top of that, we actually hitched a ride with another unit that was going out to Camp Clark, just so we could see what we were getting into. They drove us out there. But understand this, up here, as opposed to down south, there are paved roads. So that 11.25 miles took us about an hour to negotiate. And that was stopping 3 times along the route.

So the battalion decided that they were going to find us some trucks. They then proceeded to put it out to all the companies in the battalion that ours needed trucks and they wanted some given up so that we could get moving with our mission.

Think about that. They put it out to the companies in the battalion that they wanted them to basically donate some trucks so that we could get on with our mission.

Well, every commander in the battalion did exactly what I would’ve done if I was in his shoes. They found their worst vehicles and gave us those.

We got these damn trucks and they were missing so much shit that it took me two pages just to write it all down. The radios didn’t work. The computer systems were missing little shit, like hard drives. The tires looked like they had just been run over a gigantic cheese grater. The doors wouldn’t lock. And on and on.

There were so many faults that made these trucks unserviceable that we couldn’t have cannibalized them to make one good one out of the whole bunch. And this is what they want us to drive out into the land of 200 pound IED’s with! Well, thank you so much for your obvious concern for our safety. We really appreciate it.

So we went to work on these trucks, and we went to work hard. We were begging, borrowing and stealing from all over post trying to get these things fixed. A platoon of soldiers, 30 some guys, all working on 4 trucks.

And we finally started to make some headway. Finally started to get it to the point where you could drive these pieces of shit. Were maybe a day or two from actually being ready.

Then what do they do?

They take the damn things from us and give them to another platoon. Thanks again, let us do all the work and then pass them off to someone else. Dickbags.

So now we have no trucks. How are we going to do this little mission that they have for us? Well in between rocket and mortar attacks they decide that we are just going to hot seat trucks when we get over to Clark. Which means that the trucks that are already there are going to be run twice as hard. They are going to break twice as much, and they are going to be beaten to death every single day. One thing you have to bear in mind, is that any time you put a vehicle into Afghanistan just going one mile is like going 100 anywhere else. Not to mention the propensity that these vehicles have for being in close proximity to rather large explosions. So we tend to go through vehicles quickly, yet we can’t really do anything without them.

Well, okay, whatever. We’ll figure all this shit out when we get there. So we start the never ending process of trying to fly around this country. Here’s how it goes.

You’re leaving tomorrow at 1300.
Check that, the birds are in for maintenance. You’re now leaving at 2100.
Nope, pilot is sick, you’re leaving in two days at 1400.
(you wait two days)
Flight got cancelled, air just went red.
Next one leaves out, tomorrow at 0900.
(You come back at 0900)
Didn’t you hear, that bird got taken away for medevac. No flights for another 2 days.
(You come back in two days)
No movement, 100% accountability theater wide.

Oh shit. Now this is bad. 100% accountability means only one thing. Someone is missing. Someone, somewhere in this country is missing. Which means that there is some poor sap out there, nobody knows whether he is alive or dead, and all we can hope for is that he is either dead already or that one of ours gets to him before the Taliban does.

Fuck. Nothing like that thought running through a soldier’s mind to really get him wrapped around the axle.

Well, so here I sit. I won’t be going anywhere for a few days at least. At least until this guy shows up. One way or the other. So all I can say is go easy brother, whatever it is, and for whatever its worth my prayers are with you.

I’m done.

Later,

I love you Mom...

Jun 28, 2009

Fucking NY Times...

Well, I had to go private all over again. I got told by my commander that blogs are not allowed and that some of the stuff I was writing could get me into a lot of trouble.

So here I am, 5 minutes after I went public again, going private because I am not going to deal with the trouble that this thing could cause.

What caused this? The fucking NY Times.

I got contacted by a reporter from the NY Times saying that he wanted to talk to me about military bloggers at war. I mean this guy was coming to Afghanistan in July to talk to myself and I assume a bunch of other bloggers to get our take on this little war we’ve got here.

I did what I was supposed to do. I notified my command and what happened?

Nothing. They wanted the information on how to get to my blog and who this reporter is and what he wanted and contact information and all that. Why? So that they could notify the Public Affairs office and inform the higher ups of what was going on.

Magic words. Higher ups. That’s enough right there for me to see the writing on the wall. Some asshole with too much rank and a fascist streak is going to hear that a reporter wants to talk to some lowly peon soldier like me and he is going to wonder why. Then he is going to go to my blog and dissect every word that I have ever written and find every single violation of military policy that I have ever perpetrated and he is going to proceed to nail me to the wall. Which is something like 220 violations that I know of for certain.

You see, every blog post is supposed to be submitted to the chain of command so that they can vet the writing and edit out any information that should not be released. Well, I have never once fucking done that. I shoot from the hip, and I write from the heart. And I’ll be damned if anyone is ever going to tell me what I can and cannot write. Unfortunately, that means that I only get to write for a very limited audience. But I can deal with that.

Fuck, if I was just a few years younger I would be totally game for all the trouble they could muster.

But I’m older now. I’ve got a real job. One that I would probably lose if I got into trouble here. I can’t let my anger get in the way of my judgement. So this thing is going to stay private until I can figure out when I can release everything. Actually, its going to stay private until I am home and this is all over.

Some day this is all going to come out. Every word I ever wrote will be laid bare for everyone to read. Just not now. I can’t help it, I’ve gotta watch my ass.

God, this sucks.

The very principles I fight for they take from me.

But then it got worse. Right after I talked to the commander. Which was about 20 minutes after the last rocket attack. I went to use the internet and it was fucked. It didn’t work. I tried and tried to get online so that I could take the blog back to being private. But I couldn’t get on the internet.

Well there’s only one reason that the higher ups would shut off the internet...

Fuck!

I’m done for now.

Later,

I love you Mom...

Really? I'm Walking Here...

So there I was, no shit, sitting in my tent listening to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper. And I heard it!

The tell tale whistle of some random explosive projectile that the Taliban have decided to throw at us.

I sit and listen intently, not so much because I actually care, but more so because I want to hear how close it is so I can go outside and watch the show before the sirens go off and I have to get in a bunker.

Sure enough...BOOM!!! Oh holy hell, that one was close. Yep, it rattled my balls. That’s when the first funny thing happened.

I jumped from my chair, burst through the front door of our tent and looked left, and looked right trying to ascertain where the hell these damn things are landing.

Shit no smoke. Where the fuck is it?

I see people running around the corner trying desperately to get under cover. What the hell are you all running for? These guys can’t shoot for shit! Then one of our very own. One of the dip shit fobbits that they stuck us with for the last two months of this shit, comes running down the way toward our tent to get his armor and helmet. The look of abject terror on his face was priceless. (Yes, I am that big of a dick.)

So here’s me, looking around for the next one to go off. I mean, explosions are fun. So long as they aren’t under you. Besides, I figure when its time to go, its time to go. Bunker, armor, helmet and all the rest of this shit is not going to save you when one of these rounds drops right on your head. So may as well enjoy the show.

So this guy comes running right up to the doorway. Me, fearing for my safety, not from the bombs, but from this lunatic running into me, pushes up against the door jam to get the hell out of his way. Soon as he gets up right next to me and is half way through the door...BOOM...second one of these mother fuckers goes off.

I’m pretty sure he shit his pants. But I can’t be sure. You know how you jump and your body convulses when you are watching a scary movie and something jumps out at you? Well that’s exactly what he did right in the doorway.

Normally, I would find this very funny. Unfortunately something bad happened when he convulsed. His arm jerked out from his side and sent his clenched fist right into my coin purse! (For those of you unversed in military slang, coin purse=ball bag.)

So here I am right in the middle of this attack, doubled over in front of my tent, screaming like a little girl with a voice that is about 7 octaves higher than its supposed to be, wondering if my balls will drop again before I get home. (I mean c’mon I’m gonna need those!)

Not to mention due to the fact that I got hit in the holiest of holies, I didn’t get to see the bomb that dropped just around the corner from where I was sitting.

So everyone is running around this way, and that. Getting their gear on and making a b-line for the bunkers. I manage to force myself off the ground, and into the tent and I put my vest on. I walk outside still breathing heavily trying to force my boys out of their new residence in my stomach down to where they belong. My squad leader takes one look at me. Smiles and gently taps the side of his head.

Subtle hint for me to turn my ass around and go put on my helmet. Shit, I hate it when I forget stuff. So I turn around, go back in and grab my brain bucket, and pull it onto my dome.

I walk back outside and realize that there’s no room for my big ass in the bunker so I am going to have to wait this one out, smoking cigarettes and watching the skies for more fun.

Now this is when I notice another aspect of the hilarity that is a mortar attack in Afghanistan. How people are dressed...

When one of these things starts, its pretty much a drop your cocks and grab your socks situation. I mean, get your ass in gear pal, exploding pineapples are falling from the sky! So no one pays much attention to what they are wearing. About the only requirement is that you have your vest and your skid lid on.

So you have wild combos. Especially from the guys that are in the shower. You know, something like this. Flip flops, green socks pulled up to the knee, black PT shorts, brown t-shirt, vest and brain bucket.

Then there was me, oh wait that was me, but I had been out of the shower for about 45 minutes, I was just too damn lazy to put my uniform back on.

Now the rocket attack is over, all the booms had finally stopped, the sirens stopped going off and that voice came over the loud speakers, “All Clear”

Well, thank merciful God for that. Not so much that I was okay, I want to get back inside where there is air conditioning!

Then I started talking to one of my guys that had been out for a walk when this whole thing started. Luckily for him, he didn’t catch one of these things in the head, but he did catch a little bit of dirt in the face. Explosions tend to throw a little bit of shit around!

He said something that made me laugh. He said and I quote, “I was walking down the road over there and the first one came in, went off probably 100 meters from me, but behind a bunch of trees and shit. So I didn’t want to start running back yet, I mean the sirens weren’t even going off yet. Then I got peppered with a whole bunch of shit, dirt and rocks from the blast. Then I remembered that I forgot to sign out and I better get out or the platoon daddy is going to rip my ass! But I distinctly remember looking at the first explosion and saying...‘really I’m walking here!, you motherfuckers”

I think we may be getting just a tad bit too used to this whole rocket thing. I mean when a bomb lands that close to you and you are more pissed about the fact that they are interrupting your walk than the attack and you are not even the slightest bit concerned with the possibility of death, but are concerned that your platoon daddy is going to have your ass for not signing out, you may very well have lost your damn mind.

So now I’m back in the tent, I got my air conditioner, listening now to Smokey Robinson singing, “Shop Around” and I’m content. And I’m done for now.

Later,

I love you Mom...

Jun 20, 2009

Would You Like Cheese On Your Balls Sir...

Gotta love these big FOB’s. Why? Because they have places like Subway. Where you will hear the funniest things from the weird ass people they hire from all over the world to work there.

Well, that was as far as I got. Why? Because Mr. Taliban Man decided that he was going to throw a few mortars or rockets or whatever the fuck at me. That was fun.

So we had to do the whole, put your gear on, get in the bunker and sit there while the artillery fires away. And the helicopters fly around looking for whatever helicopters look for.

We passed the time in the bunker by singing, “I will survive!” I guess it just seemed fitting at the time. I was a little pissed off by the whole thing because this is one of the few, wait its the only mortar or rocket attack I have been in where the damn things actually landed close. And by close I mean like at least 200 meters. Enough to rattle my balls, but not enough to pucker the butt. So it was at least a little bit interesting.

I almost caught an ass chewing though. When it first started, we all did the usual and pretended that it was outgoing so we could stay horizontal in our bunks. Then a couple of them got close enough to rattle the tent walls and we had to go outside. Granted, we didn’t go to the bunkers...yet!

We all figured that if these things were landing close enough to rattle the tent then this is probably quite a show. We went outside and crawled up on the cement barriers that are in front of our tents to get a better look.

So, imagine if you will, an entire platoon of dipshits milling around looking for the highest point they can find, so that they can watch the incoming mortar attack! Oh, fuck yeah, we’ve got some real brain children around here.

Then a Master Sergeant came out and saw me and promptly pointed at the ground, and then the bunker. I got the hint. And moved my ass. Then we sat there and sang songs and smoked cigarettes until the ‘all clear’ came. And now back to our regularly scheduled....


Program. So I went over to Subway for lunch today. And like I said, they don’t hire the usual slacker, stoner kid from high school who just works enough to buy his quarter ounce for the weekend. They have to hire foreign nationals from a million different countries. I have no idea what country this particular guy is from but its definitely something Oriental.

Now the rest of this story I will tell in the following manner. Any text written in the standard typeface is what was actually said and happened. Any italicized text is what I was thinking.

So here we go...

I step up to the window and say, “I’d like a foot long meatball sub on white bread please.”

The guy says, “Okay sir, footlong sub with balls.”

My brain starts to spin. “Did he or did he not just say a foot long sub with balls.”

Well, he pulls out a foot of white bread and starts to microwave some meatballs, so I just figure my ears are clogged with suck and I forget about it.

Now he gets done microwaving my balls and puts them on the bread.

He says, “Okay sir, would you like double balls?”

Alright, now I know he just asked me if I would like twice as many balls. Well, hell no there cochese. I would rather not have double balls. The two I already have are working just fine!

I reply, “No thanks.”

He asks, “Okay sir, no double balls, would you like some extra sauce on your balls?”

Oh fuck yeah I do. What red blooded American male wouldn’t want a little extra sauce on his balls. I mean if you are gonna eat balls they may as well be saucy.

I reply, “Yes please.”

He continues, “Okay sir, no double balls, extra sauce on your balls, okay!”

By now I am having a particularly hard time maintaining my composure because apparently I have now ordered a sandwich full of balls from a strange little Oriental man. And there is just no way that my juvenile sense of humor will allow me to not laugh at this. So I am sitting there pressing my lips together trying to stifle the laughter that slips out every 4 to 5 seconds as this guy is making my sandwich. He notices my dilemma and...

Says, “Oh sir. You have dirty mind. Oh yes you do. Okay sir, on your balls what kind of vegetables would you like on your balls?”

Now this is a great question. I have never once considered exactly what kind of vegetables I would put on my balls if given the chance. Now here, the opportunity has presented itself and I have no idea as to what kind of vegetables I would put on my balls. So I say...

“Whatever kind of vegetables she likes there pal.”

He freezes for a moment, then looks up at me and says, “Oh dirty mind, dirty mind. Okay, so sir what kind of cheese would you like on your balls?”

And with that I lose all sense of propriety and military bearing and I double over at the waist laughing. This guy just asked me what kind of cheese I want on my balls. I cannot believe this is happening. This is the funniest sandwich EVER!!!

Then the strangest thing crossed my mind. “Hey, this is Afghanistan in the summertime. Its 105 degrees, 1200 hours, and I have been working since 0800. I’ve got more cheese on my balls than any human male should ever have to deal with.” Oh wait, he’s not talking about that kind of cheese. Okay...


“Yeah, how about you throw a little American cheese on there pal!”

“Okay sir, American cheese on your balls.” (Muffled laughter.) “Will that be all on your balls sir?”

I reply between bouts of uncontrollable laughter, “Yeah, that’s all for my balls.”

“Okay sir, that’s one foot long ball sandwich. That’ll be 6 dollars for your balls sir.”

Hey fucko, my balls are worth a lot more than 6 bucks!

“Alright, here you go.”

“Thank you sir, enjoy your balls!”

I always have, and I always will!

And with that I walked away to enjoy my ball sandwich.

And with that I am also done.

Later,

I love you Mom...

P.S.

Definition of a Veteran:

A Veteran - whether active duty, retired, national guard, or reserve - is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to “The United States of America,” for an amount of “up to and including my life.”

That is true honor and courage, and there are way too many people in this country who don’t understand that anymore.

Jun 19, 2009

Ammo, We Don't Need No Stinking Ammo...

Here we go folks, fasten your seatbelts. This is going to be a wild ride.

Not really...

Well our date of departure just got pushed back another 4 or 5 days. Really, why wouldn’t it? I hate this place, so that means we definitely need to stay here longer.

Whatever sucks the most!

So here’s a funny one. Just another case of the military’s, wait check that, this company’s complete inability to get anything done right. But they’ll probably fight you to the death saying that it was someone else’s fault.

We all know that every company in the Army is alloted ammunition. Makes sense right. War zone, Taliban wackos, and exploding roads. This is a country that requires ammunition to function.

So we loaded up all our ammunition for the trip to this other camp that we are headed to. Put it all on pallets and in boxes so that it could be loaded onto trucks and driven over there. So far so good.

Then the pallets and the boxes get loaded on the trucks. Alright, this is going well.

Then the trucks drive over to the place where we are going to spend the rest of this deployment...I think.

Holy jumping, fucking shit balls! We managed to get our ammunition from point A, to point B without any fuck ups and/or catastrophic incidents. (Someone call the newspaper.)

All that’s left is to unload the trucks and put the ammunition into a proper storage area and the operation will be a complete success!

So that happened. One problem.

We weren’t the ones who unloaded the ammunition!

Well, I don’t know if I ever told you this one before but I probably did. There is an old cliche in the military about theft. Or as I personally like to call it, “Redistribution of government resources.”

THERE IS ONLY ONE THIEF IN THE ARMY, EVERYONE ELSE IS JUST TRYING TO GET THEIR SHIT BACK!

So someone else decided to unload our ammunition. Some dick actually thought to himself, “Hey look, bullets! We need those. I think I’ll just grab an entire company’s worth of ammo and stick it in my armsroom.”

This is the kind of stuff that really makes me laugh! So I’m sitting there and the platoon daddy walks up and you can tell by his face he has been spun into a level of pissed off that is rarely seen this side of hell. (This is before I knew what the hell was going on.)

So he tells me this story, and the first thought that ran through my head was, “Was I supposed to be watching ammo when I was on guard the other day?”

Well given the fact that he hadn’t ripped my balls out through my mouth, I figured I was in the clear. So he lays this whole situation out for me, I listen and as soon as he leaves...I fall on the ground and roll around laughing for a good 2 to 3 minutes.

So here we are, smack dab in the middle of Afghanistan, with no fucking ammunition. I mean I got the stuff I carried here with me, but I think it would be nice to have some extra. You know, for emergencies.

Well, whatever. Nothing I can do about it. This is way above my pay grade. Have fun with all of that.

So what else has been pissing me off lately? Oh, I got one. I don’t know how much you all know about military uniforms. But there’s this thing called a combat patch. When you have been with a unit in a combat zone for 30 days or more you get to wear the combat patch. Basically its your unit patch, but on the other shoulder to show everyone that you have been to a combat zone. They don’t really mean a whole helluva lot, I mean the fobbits up in Bagram get them, so who gives a shit right.

I wear them sometimes, and I sometimes don’t. Usually, I wear them if I had to put them on for some formation and I never took them off. I mean ours has two separate parts so they are a huge pain in the ass to put on. But like I said, who gives a shit?

Well I found out who gave a shit. Some Colonel! Of course, who else would think of this shit. Some guy who got here a week ago and has been riding a desk in some air conditioned, carpeted office is going to get all butt hurt over what patch is on your arm.

Why? Because the one we were wearing was from a unit that he isn’t in. We got here a long time ago, and at the time the unit in charge of our section of this country was the 101st Airborne. This guy is from the electric strawberries from Alaska, or the 25th Infantry Division.

Now all I can really say, and this is a totally personal opinion, one patch is gay, and the other is not. I’ll let you judge...




So that was the patches, and here is what the sir did. He told our leadership that when they come to his meetings that they have to wear the electric strawberry and not the 101 patch. Really? You’re a Colonel. Don’t you have like plans and shit to make. Tell me that there is something much more pressing that you have to deal with! I mean really, please tell me that you don’t have time to worry about this.

But I digress, I still got the 101 patch on, and now that I know it aggravates the Colonel I think I am going to make sure that I wear it all the time.

Alright, so now I’m done. Life should be pretty boring for the next few days, then again they may throw me for a loop. Either way...be good.

Later,

I love you Mom...

P.S. What's the worst thing a soldier in a combat zone can ever say? Don't worry guys, I saw this on a movie one time!

Jun 18, 2009

Whatcha Got...

We had another one lose it today. Not a big deal, just a little breakdown. Nothing to write home about, and certainly nothing to write in a blog about, definitely not such a widely read blog as this. But I still felt the need to share a few things.

Guy cracked today. This sort of shit happens from time to time around here. Sooner or later everyone reaches their breaking point and they go a little loopy. Some of us yell and scream, some of us feign suicidal tendencies, some of us pout, some of us start fights, and still others reach out for help.

Unfortunately, this guy reached out for help. Who did he reach out to? Me. Why did he reach out to me? Fuck if I know, I guess its because I am such a wonderfully well adjusted person. (Sarcasm intended.)

So I had to talk this guy down. Gave him the standard line of shit. “This ain’t that bad, you’ll be alright, just keep your eyes on the prize, we’re almost gone.” All that kind of crap.

But I said something to him that I didn’t know I was thinking until the words actually left my lips. “Shit man, what the hell is going to faze you after this?”

Now this mutt is naturally high strung, which is definitely not a trait that lends itself to being in a line platoon in this war. So he had that stacked against him. Now did he hear anything I said? I don’t know. If I can say this without sounding callous, I don’t really give a shit. All I know is that at least for tonight he’s not going to dine on a bullet and that’s good enough for me. We’ll deal with what come tomorrow, tomorrow.

But I started to think about that statement. And then I started to read. I read some stuff from LT. Nixon, I read some stuff from GI Kate, I read some other shit that I came across while poking around the internet. There was a common thread throughout what I was reading. Oh, and it was all written by GI’s who were either deployed when they wrote it, or were recalling their time in the suck.

There was a lot of bitterness and animosity toward America, Americans, and the war. Which I suppose is justified. There is no way around the fact that unless you are directly affected by the war then you probably don’t really give a shit. There are exceptions but for the most part, that is the rule. Which explains the animosity toward America and Americans.

The part that didn’t sit quite right with me was the animosity toward the war. Now maybe my brain doesn’t work correctly, and if it is in good working order then it sure as hell doesn’t work anything like most of these guys and gals does.

Personally, I am thankful for the war. Why? There isn’t a thing in the world that can faze me anymore. Not a damn thing! Try getting under my skin. You better bring a lunch pal, cuz you are going to be working at it for a long, long time.

Forgive me, because some of this might sound like the delusions of a narcissistic personality, but whatever.

-I have been pushed to the absolute brink of human endurance. And that was before lunch on a Tuesday!

-I have been bombed while I was taking a dump.

-I have seen human beings with their limbs blown off.

-I have been paid a pittance for taking my very life and throwing it to chance for a piece of shit country (Afghanistan).

-I have watched civilian contractors make 4 times what I do for a quarter of the work and a tenth of the danger.

-I have seen little girls after the acid dried.

-Death has smiled at me. I smiled back and fired at him with a belt fed weapon!

I could do this all day!

But I won’t. Because I haven’t got a thing to prove. If I ever had something to prove, its been proven a hundred times over.

I can’t wait to get home. I can’t wait to attack the world that everyone back home seems to think is so damn tough.

One thing I love to read now is whining. Whining from job seekers because they can’t get work. Well pal, there are plenty of jobs in the US Army just waiting to get filled! If you don’t want to do that well then take on a few menial jobs. Work enough of them and you’ll make ends meet. My days are typically about 19-20 hours long with no overtime. Sometimes my work days last a week.

Whining from people about relationships and how hard they are. Try keeping a relationship going when you go away for a year at a time and come back a completely different person than when you left.

Whining about how your retirement is drying up. Tough shit. So you have to work. Quit crying and get moving. Don’t worry, a few more decades and I’ll be right there with you. Working!

Whining from the punk ass kids that are generation Y or the fucking millennials. Whining that they aren’t fulfilled by their jobs. Well, its a job it isn’t supposed to fulfill you. Its supposed to pay you! That’s it and that’s all. Job=Labor traded for money. Get it?

I’m probably being a little harsh, but you know what? The world is harsh. In the immortal words of Denis Leary, “Life’s tough, get a fucking helmet.”

So here I am. Currently serving as meat in the grinder. I can tell you for certain that unless someone is trying to kill you on a daily basis, unless you work in excess of 20 hours per day, unless you are confronted with a mountain of bureaucratic bullshit regularly, unless you are commanded by sadists with Napoleon complexes, unless you are tasked with doing with 10 what should be done 100, unless you are asked to work in a place where everyone wants you either dead or gone, and unless you can say yes to all of those conditions. Please...SHUT THE FUCK UP!

I take that back. Don’t shut the fuck up, keep talking. You’re entertaining me. I’ll listen. I’ll listen intently.

Why? Because I’ll be able to look at you and quietly laugh to myself. I don’t want to laugh at you, I really don’t. But until you’ve tried this shit for a while you just won’t understand.

But I have this war to thank for making me that much stronger. There isn’t a thing in the world that’s going to faze me now. It may sound sick, but for that I am thankful. So whatever it is, let's go. I'm sick of all the bitching, let's work. Whatcha got?

I’m done now.

Later,

I love you Mom...

Jun 17, 2009

Insert Random Title Here...

So I went and did it. I took the blog public again.

Now let’s be clear. I didn’t make this blog private because I had to. I did it because I buckled. I did it because I was scared. I did it because I was chicken shit. I don’t want to be chicken shit anymore.

How many voices from the front lines are out there. Fuck, where are the front lines? Oh yeah this is one of those creepily weird wars where there are no front lines. There are no uniforms on our enemies. There is nothing to tell friend from foe. There is no line in the sand.

I figured I would write this as a sort of reintroduction to me, and what I am, where I am, and what I am doing.

I’m a soldier.

I’m in Afghanistan.

I’m fighting the Taliban or al Qaeda, or whoever the hell is shooting at me at the moment.

When I started writing this it was simple. Tell stories about this place so that my family knows what the hell it is I am doing. Kind of like writing one letter for all of them as opposed to writing letters or emails to all of them. In short, it was a solution to my own laziness problem. And it worked out famously...for a while.

Then things went a little haywire.

People started reading my words and liking them. Sharing them. Forwarding them. Following them. Pretty soon I had a bunch of followers, and over 10,000 hits. Which was a little overwhelming to say the least.

Well, Uncle Sam didn’t really approve of the things that I wrote.

Suffice it to say, I called some people some things that I was fully justified in calling them, but some rule says that I can’t say that.

I was given a talking to from a senior ranking NCO, and I buckled.

I took it private so I could keep writing and keep talking the way that I wanted to. Because believe it or not the military has a rule against using profanity! I’m not kidding.

The most profane organization on earth, wants me to watch my mouth.

So I have been in Afghanistan now for a little over 7 months and I’ve got about 3 to go. I’ve seen pretty much all there is to see.

The mountains.
The valleys.
The sunsets.
The sunrises.
The shooting stars.
The machine gun blasts.
The IED strikes.
The flaming footballs that they throw at us. (RPG’s)

This whole thing is winding down for me now, and I just wanted to share the final days of this little adventure with the world. Mostly because I couldn’t stand the idea of having given in to their shit.

So what, if anything, do I think of this war? First of all, lets make one thing abundantly clear. I believe down to my very bones in defending my nation. Its my job, and I will do it. I have done it for over a decade, and I will be doing it for years to come. I look on being a soldier as so much more than politics. Politics don’t even enter the equation for me, when it comes to whether or not I will serve. I go where I am told, when I am told to go. That’s it.

You can call me a simpleton if you like, but I assure you I am not. My nation, is my nation regardless of who is running it. I have made a choice to stand up and defend her, and I will not apologize for that.

That being said, I do reserve the right to say whatever I like about how the military conducts its business, and I do reserve the right to criticize whatever I like about this war. If its fucked up. I am going to tell you its fucked up. Simple as that.

So here I sit, listening as the 155’s blast the living shit out of some far off place. Wondering if I was actually trying to go somewhere with this.

Oh yeah, what do I think of this war? Hell if I know. I’ll tell you what. I’ve written 435 typewritten, single spaced pages and 208,696 words about this shit so far and I still can’t make sense of it all. But we’ll get to that. Right now my mind has wandered home.

Stop thinking like that. We have too much shit to do before we leave. Not the time to lose focus. We’ve made it this far and everyone is still breathing. Don’t let your mind wander now and fuck that up.

Tomorrow is another day. One day closer to the door. One day closer to home. One more day where someone will try to kill me. One more day where we might go boom. One more day off the calendar. One more day...

Right now I am at one of the biggest FOB’s in country. I am pretty safe here. Relatively speaking of course. We are moving soon. Of course, why wouldn’t we be.

Its our final mission. Its going to be tough. It always is. The military could make a grilled cheese sandwich a tough mission. We’ve got about 2 months to go. Hopefully, I’ll have some time to process all of this and sort it out in my head.

But then there will come the day, when I get to say, “This is the day, its over.” But that’s not today. Today we found out about some fun new bombs the bad guys are using. I’ll let you know how that works out for us.

Later,

I love you Mom...

P.S. Somebody do me a favor. Find out how to write, “Embrace the suck.” in latin. That’ll be fun.

We Can't Stop Here, This Is Bat Country...

And with that I pay homage to my favorite author. The first person to tell me who he is gets...well nothing, but the satisfaction of a job well done. How’s that for a prize?

Either way, since I have nothing to write about here, I’ll let you know what has been running through my ridiculously unoccupied brain. So here’s what I came up with.

I had a guard shift tonight. The Army’s eternal answer to what a soldier should be doing. Guarding something. What was I guarding? Hell if I know, I wasn’t paying attention, I was reading Time magazine and listening to my iPod. (Seriously, how did you old farts kill time in a war before these things?)

Anyway, so I saw something while I was on this guard shift that kind of threw me for a loop. I looked up in the air because there was a very strange sound coming from about 20 feet above me. So I looked and what did I see? Fucking bats. Hundreds of them. Flying this way and that, dive bombing all over the place and basically turning the night sky into a symphony of motion that I don’t think I have ever seen before.

I took to throwing little stones up in the air and watching how these creatures reacted to them. Each time I launched a pebble up into bat country, they would swoop and dive at it. Apparently, little rocks look like lunch to a bat.

What do these bats have to do with anything? Nothing really, but they got me thinking. Oh, boy here he goes thinking again.

What was I thinking about? Wanderlust. Concurrently, my best and my worst trait. Its one of the things that drove me to join the Army. That and a lack of anything better to do. And it is definitely part of what drove me to volunteer for this big bag o’ suck.

Its my best trait because it has got me out of the house. Got me to get the hell out of my comfort zone and go and see the rest of the world. Ripped me out of destructive times in my past. And given me a much richer and fuller life.

Conversely, it has torn me away from my family for years at a time. Showed me some of the worst places on earth. Thrown me into even more destructive times in my past. And has even gone so far as to almost end my life on several different occasions. (Not all of them in Afghanistan.)

Where in the hell did that come from? Came from the fact that I can’t think of ever having seen a few hundred bats doing what bats do, 20 feet from my head at home.

That’s why I wonder about some people. I don’t think ill of them, I just wonder how one can live a life that is spent close to home. I know guys back home that were born, grew up and live, all within a 20 square mile radius.

This, to me, is utterly depressing. I mean a few trips to the Dells and maybe one or two to Las Vegas is enough for them. Don’t get me wrong, I love Las Vegas, but it certainly isn’t Vladivostok, Russia!

So I sat there staring at the these bats flying around, and I started to think of all the things I have seen and done in my life that most people never get to do.

And I was thankful. To whatever God may be...

Then that line from a book, that became the title of this post floated through my head. “We can’t stop here.” Being the most important part.

Not dead yet. Still got places I haven’t seen yet, and this my well traveled friends, is not acceptable.

Not dead yet. Still got shit to do.

Not dead yet. Still got things to accomplish.

Maybe that will be the best thing that came out of this deployment. Maybe this is just what I needed to remind me of what life was, and can be. You see I lost that wanderlust for a few years. I got out of the Army and I came home, went to college and got a job. Well, those things do not lend themselves to moving around.

Then again, maybe I’m nuts. Which is probable.

But it doesn’t change the fact that I’m not dead yet...and we sure as shit can’t stop here!

Later,

I love you Mom...

Jun 16, 2009

Gotta Love a Patriotic Chick!



Just a little reminder of what I fight for!

Where Do We Find These Oxygen Thieves...

That is a question that I have asked myself on more than one occasion during this deployment.

However, it has come to a bit of a head as of late.

Why? Well, I told you a few days ago how we all got awarded our Combat Action Badges. And now people are starting to brag. Some brag to their families some talk to other soldiers, some brag on the internet. Blah, blah, blah.

I just don't get it. What the hell are you bragging about?

Who the hell really cares? Especially when you are here surrounded by nothing but Combat vets.

Am I a combat vet? Fucking A Right I am. Do I care that I am? I guess to a point I do, but do I think it makes me better than anyone else? Hell no.

You had guys who got these C.A.B.'s and literally 5 minutes later they were on the internet telling their family and friends what badasses they are.

You have got to be kidding me?

Let me tell you what you did, you went where the army told you to go, when they told you to go there. And you got shot at, or blown up or whatever happened to you. The operative words being "happened to you".

If you think you should brag about this sort of shit then you really need to evaluate your life's accomplishments. Graduate from college, start a family. Help someone out. These are all things that you could brag about. Getting shot at in a war zone is not amongst them. Not even in the same league, shit not even the same sport.

Some people just have nothing going on. And I feel sorry for them.

The worst its been is the douche bag who was in the truck with me the last two times the Taliban decided to try to kill me.

As soon as all the combat ended, and the bullets stopped flying. This motherfucker said to me, "Hey, you think we'll get our C.A.B.'s for this?" He was more worried about some little piece of plastic that he has to stick on his uniform than whether or not everyone was okay. That was the first time.

Second time, it was the same prick driving for me. As soon as all the shit was over he said, "Hey, if we don't get our C.A.B.'s for the first one, we'll definitely get it for this one!" Once again, are you fucking kidding me?

I've said this before and I'll say it again. Combat Action Badges are just another thing on my uniform that I have to center over the pocket and it has to be 1/4 inch from this, and 1/2 inch from that. Its just another pain in the ass thing that I have to pin on my uniform.

Its not necessarily that I don't like or want the thing. I just wish that people wouldn't put so much damn stock in it. Its just another ornament. But at least I don't have to wear it. I know what I did and where I've been. I don't need to show anyone.

I'm done now.

Later,

I love you Mom...

Even The Afghani's Hate The Cubs...



Today in a far away place, known as Chicago.

A game will be played.

It will be an epic struggle between good and evil.

It will be a struggle between north and south.

And let us all pray that the Sox emerge victorious...

Because we all know that Hay Zeus hates the Cubs.

So join me in my prayers and let's hope that all is right in the world tonight.

Go Sox!!!


Later,

I love you Mom...

P.S. As you can obviously see I have nothing to write about. There isn't a thing in the world going on worth writing about. Boredom is rampant. But we are supposed to be leaving in a day or two. So then things should start to pick up again.

But at least no one is trying to shoot me!

Jun 12, 2009

Remember The 100 Ways...

Do you? Remember that I was working on a list of 100 ways that you know you are in AssCrackIstan.

Well, I am only about half way through the list and we are almost out of here. I think I may have to cut it down to 50 just because I am flippin lazy.

But I figured I would share with you what I've got so far.

So here goes...

100 Ways To Know You Are In Afghanistan

-You smoke to improve the quality of your dust.
-Your hummer’s heat works in the summertime and the air conditioner works in the winter. But never the other way around.
-You put 25 miles on your humvee within 1 kilometer of the FOB
-You have had an 8-year-old bum a cigarette.
-Roads on your maps are really wadis.
-If you have ever had a donkey bring your vehicle to a screeching halt.
-You ever met a kid who wanted your pens more than he wanted your candy.
-You have ever seen a man with no pants chasing a donkey with a leash on.
-You have ever seen a grown man punch a goat.
-If a child has ever showed you his "equipment" when you didn't give him candy.
-You know what "WADAREGA" means.
-You know what "man love" Thursday is.
-You know how to tell if someone is "available" for "man love" Thursday.
-If you have ever been driving along, the front end of your truck is blown off by an IED and you check for your balls FIRST!
-You keep high explosives next to your jelly in the refrigerator.
-You know an officer, rank notwithstanding, who could not tell you which way was north unless he was looking at his BFT.
-You ever chased a “cock” around the FOB because the ANP’s managed to let their dinner loose.
-You know why one side of the rock is painted white, and the other is painted red.
-Piles of rocks make you nervous.
-You have ever wondered who thought it would be a good idea to walk around carrying weapons, but no bullets.
-You have ever wondered why the air is not flyable when there is like three drops of rain, but is perfectly flyable when there is a sandstorm.
-You keep track of how much longer you have to be in this God forsaken country by the number of paychecks, or steak and lobster or shrimp dinners you have left.
-You know why Combat Action Badges are bullshit.
-You know more than three alternate definitions of the acronym, ISAF. (I Saw America Fight, I Slaughter Afghani Families, I Sat Around The FOB)
-You have ever seen a child with no arms due to the fact that he was playing with an IED.
-You have ever seen an AK-47 with “Hello Kitty” stickers on it.
-You can say that you have slung some baby batter in a tower while you were supposed to be guarding the FOB.
-You have ever watched an ANA soldier jump out of a truck, run up, and kick over something that five minutes ago you thought was an IED.
-You have masturbated so many times that your penis has a headache!
-The December issue of Maxim is more common reading material than the Bible.
-You’ve been bored enough on a mission to wonder what a MK-19 round would do to a herd of goats.
-During a MK-19 test fire you have hoped that there is no village behind that mountain you inadvertently just shot over.
-You know which weapon is best lubricated with motor oil.
-You know which weapon you use transmission fluid on.
-You have ever almost been in a fist fight for making a 21 minute phone call.
-You have ever had a conversation that consisted entirely of profanity except for the occasional “it” and “the”.
-You have played the game, “Gay Chicken” while completely sober.
-You have ever duct taped a girl into the fetal position and dropped her off at your platoon daddy’s door like a bag of burning shit.
-You know what RCP stands for.
-You have downloaded and/or copied enough movies from your friends hard drives to land you in Federal Prison for over 500 years.
-You have ever showed up for a space-A flight over 18 and a half hours in advance.
-You began your time in Afghanistan with 15 gigabytes of music, you now have over 100.
-You understand why it is necessary to have over 50 gigabytes of pornography in MP4 format.
-You know why there is a bridge in BAF called, “Tuna Bridge”
-People are so bored that if you spend more than 5 minutes with any one female, she becomes your own personal “desert rose”
-You know what a “desert rose” is.
-You know what “deployment goggles” are.
-A rocket attack won't even get you out of bed.
-During a mortar attack on the FOB, you take an Arizona Ice Tea and a Maxim magazine to the bunker, but you leave all your body armor.

-You have been bored enough in a war zone to sit down and come up with 100 Ways to Know You Are In Afghanistan, lists.

Any questions?

Later,

I love you Mom...

Jun 11, 2009

Really? Rockets? I’m Trying To Fucking Sleep...

So I felt the need to share the following with you.

Try to imagine how you would react if you heard a rocket fly over your house. Try to imagine what you would do if you knew that there was someone actively trying to kill you at the moment.

Think about that for a few seconds...

Because this is what we do.

We are lying there on our cots.
We hear the tell tale, zipping sound of a rocket flying over our heads.
We look around, barely lifting our heads from our pillows.
Hoping that no one else heard it.
A few of us lock eyes, knowing that we heard it, but not wanting to admit it.
We take another look around just to make sure that no one is getting out of control.
We lay our heads back down on our pillows and wait for the boom!

Then we hear it!
The fucking loud speakers.
The wailing horns.
The cop sirens going off all over post indicating an attack.
The stupid recorded voice repeating over and over, “Incoming, proceed to the nearest bunker.”
“Well shit, now I have to get up. I was almost asleep.”

So we all get up.
Hey, LT do we have to put on our armor.
No, we’ll be in a bunker.
Okay, cool.
Do we need to carry our weapons?
Yeah, at least bring a pistol.
No problem, you got it boss.

Alright, now we have to go to this bunker.
What am I going to bring with me.
Do I take my helmet?
Do I take my weapons?
Do I take my armor?
Or do I take my Arizona Green Tea.
And my Maxim Hot 100 magazine!

Well, I take the tea and the magazine.
Walk leisurely across the street.
Calmly sit down in the bunker.
Light up a smoke.
And ogle Megan Fox for a half an hour.

Ladies, and Gents, this is a rocket attack in central Afghanistan.

Alright, I’m done now.

Later,

I love you Mom...

Jun 10, 2009

Sergeant Majors, ASV's, and Burning Bibles...

So I guess that I need to describe the events of the past couple of days. Not only to let you guys know what sort of shit we have been doing, but also to help me sort them out in my own head. Which in my eyes is more important. Don’t need anymore psychos in country.

So the other day we got up to Salerno. Its like Sharana on steroids. Just take everything that I hated about Sharana and multiply it by 5 and you have Salerno. I mean they have wireless internet here in the tents. Now don’t get me wrong. I got it. And I use it. But it doesn’t change the fact that I am conflicted about it because I know that right now as I sit here in the relative comfort and luxury of Salerno there is some young GI out there who is ankle deep in water and hating ever having enlisted as he sits in the cold Afghani night on top of some mountain somewhere waiting for the inevitable. I been there, I’ve done that. It still doesn’t change the fact that I don’t like being here when he’s there!

We then proceeded to link up with the guys that we are replacing. They had a mission planned for us. The one that I wrote the ‘news’ post about. We went out to familiarize ourselves with our area of operations. We went out to see what these district centers are all about, so that we know what we have to get accomplished before we leave here.

And holy shit, do we have a lot of work to do in a very short period of time. Elections are coming, and we have to get these centers to the point where they can provide the people with an infrastructure that can support a massive election.

So we got out to the district center that my squad will be dealing with. Of course ours is the furthest one out. Takes about an hour and a half to drive to from where we are sleeping. Fun for us. The good part is the whole drive is on hardball roads, which I haven’t seen in a long damn time. I cannot even begin to explain the wonder that is pavement. You’ll never understand until you’ve had it taken from you for a few hundred days.

Anyway, we get out there and where the police station and district center are supposed to be...they aren’t. They are set off the road about 250-300 meters.

Why are they set that far back off the road?

Well, the Taliban got pissed about these things being right there. So they parked a really big car bomb right in front of the fucking thing, and blew it right off the face of the earth.

So, thinking quickly, the police rebuilt the center as far off the road as is humanly possible. Thank the good Lord that there are at least a few rational thinking humans in this country.

It is kind of weird now though, we are in a city. Not a city like Americans are used to, but a city by Afghani standards nonetheless. I mean there are buildings here that exceed 3 stories.

Anyway, we visited this place just to get acquainted with the Afghans we are going to be working with. Nothing really to tell, except for the fact that our center only has six cops. You would think that with a war going on, and nation building occurring they would pop the dough for a few extra cops. But I digress.

The part that bugged the shit out of me was what happened before we went out on this mission. Now we all know what my opinion of the majority of the military leadership is so there is no need to rehash all of that. But what happened simply served to reinforce my attitudes.

There is a vehicle called an ASV. Armored Security Vehicle. Or a baby tank! Basically, it is a big, rolling machine of death. Fun for me. This thing is totally sealed when you roll out. There are no openings in this thing anywhere. Just a big block of armor. The turret is like a tank’s. No way for anyone to shoot into the vehicle. No way for anything to get in from the outside unless the troops inside decide to let that thing in.

That being said, in other vehicles, that have openings, you have to wear all your personal armor. Your vest, your helmet, your eye protection and all the other shit that the Army gives you that make your life absolutely miserable, but will in fact save your life. Down south, where we came from, you don’t have to wear that shit inside of an ASV. Why? Because there is no way for anything to get in. And besides, anything that can penetrate an ASV will also penetrate your personal armor, making wearing your shit inside this thing a moot point.

Not up here.

So here we are getting ready to go out on this mission, and I am in charge of an ASV crew. I am loving life. This is the best vehicle to get. You don’t have to jump out every time we stop. You are in charge of providing security for all the other vehicles while they do all that shit. You just have to monitor the radio, check all the computers, and keep your gunner watching what’s going on. Basically, you just have to sit and watch. And you don’t have to wear the 80 pounds of shit that everyone else has to wear. Which makes your life that much better. Just sit, watch, and enjoy the air conditioning!

Another thing about an ASV. They are huge vehicles. But they are huge because of how thick the armor is and how big the engine has to be to move this heavy ass truck. I mean, I have seen an ASV have an IED go off right under the rear tire. The tire blew right off the axle, and flew 300 meters (by the way, ASV tires weigh around 300 pounds so think of the force required to propel a 300 pound object 300 meters.) When we grabbed the tire there was no damage to it whatsoever. The only thing that was wrong was the lug nuts were destroyed and the mounts were stripped. The tire was fine, perfectly usable, not even fucking flat! These are tough, tough trucks. But like I said, due to the size of the engine and the armor, the interior passenger compartment is a little tight to say the least.

And if you’ll all remember, I’m a big boy! So I am not particularly comfortable in this damn thing anyway.

Now we are sitting there just waiting for the trucks to roll out so we can get on with our day. Then this old fart walks out of the building in front of us. There are very few ranks that old farts hold in the military. None of them are good.

This particular old fart turned out to be a Sergeant Major. The worst of all. The biggest pain in the ass the military has ever manufactured. The enforcer of standards, the ender of private’s lives, the chewer of ass, the hander outer of push ups, the biggest dick on the FOB.

So anyway, our other ASV crew was climbing into their vehicles. The sergeant major saw them, and lost his mind. Ran over and started interrogating the crew chief of this vehicle.

What is this? What the fuck is his problem?

Well, he doesn’t like the fact that we were about to roll out without our armor on.

Hey, its an ASV, you don’t have to wear your body armor in the thing. You’re totally protected. Besides, have you ever tried to get into one of these damn things. Its hard enough when you’re naked, and covered in baby oil, much less when you have all that shit on.

Besides that, you’re a sergeant major, don’t you have anything better to do than worry about what the fuck we are doing. This is the way we have been doing this shit for months. Now you come along and tell us we’re wrong. Who the fuck are you?

Oh, you’re our new sergeant major. You are in charge of all this shit, and you decide whether or not our lives suck for the next few months.

Of course you are, why wouldn’t you be!

Now we have successfully pissed you off without even knowing who you are. Now we have successfully turned our lives into shit without even knowing who we were talking to. Fun for us.

Well Sergeant Major what are you going to do now?

Oh, take a microscope and shove it up our asses. Find every little thing you can that we do wrong and magnify it until you make it seem like the fact that we put something other than our rank on our vests that we are going to lose the war. So that’s what you are going to do?

I have a question, were you abused as a child?

Okay, so now that he is done with that. And its the day after our little mission out to the district centers. We now move on to the awards ceremony.

What is everyone getting? Combat Action Badges.

The one thing that I would have loved to leave here without. But I still can’t help but love the fact that I got it. Back to that whole conflicting ideas in the same head thing again. I am getting a headache.

So we all got hauled in front of a sergeant major. And a Lieutenant Colonel. At least it wasn’t the sergeant major that just got done ripping us a new asshole.

And he gets up there and tells us what a fabulous award the CAB is, and that we should all be proud, and blah, blah, blah. All of which I suppose, is true. However, its the same shit at every awards ceremony. You have brought great credit to yourself, the unit, and the United States Army yada yada yada.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m obnoxious, and an attention whore, so I enjoyed the whole formation and hearing my name and getting the award. Yet I couldn’t help but hear the words of my buddy J from way back before we got deployed. “If you try to kill people in mass quantities and blow a lot of shit up in the civilian world, you would be arrested and either imprisoned or committed. You do the same thing in the military and you are given a medal!”

I don’t care what you think of war and/or the military that is some ironic shit.

So here I sit the morning after the awards ceremony writing this. Listening to that song, “Get an ugly girl to marry you!” Or whatever its called. I was thinking about how to close this out and get on with my life when something happened. Something that is going to make this post just a tad longer.

If there is one thing I hate about the military, its the stereotype that military guys are stupid. I’m not stupid, most of the guys aren’t stupid. I mean there are a few who are dumber than a box of shit, but they are in the minority, a large minority, but a minority all the same. But the problem is there are too many stupid guys, and these stupid guys have really big mouths.

So here is what they are spreading around this morning. Making the rounds through the PNN (Private News Network or more accurately the ‘rumor mill’) is the story of President Barack Obama burning soldier’s bibles.

They ran around telling anyone that would listen that Obama was a muslim, and was declaring islam the official religion of the states, and that the military was seizing soldier’s bibles and burning them.

Okay, a little extreme. So I sort of looked at them like the retards that they are. And I figured I would practice a little intellectual superiority and make them feel like dip shits. I mean if you are going to run around spreading a fantastical story then you better make sure its true.

Well, I ran and checked Snopes.com and Factcheck.org, and got the real story of what they are talking about.

The US military did seize and destroy some bibles printed in the Pashtu and Dari languages. They were seized from some military men and women, Chaplains included who were using the bibles to proselytize to the Afghani population in their area of operations. They were seized because the soldiers were violating a slew of general orders that the military gives us when we get here.

Religion is a big deal here. And if we were to start trying to convert all these hajis to Christianity we really would have a holy war on our hands. So the military specifically tells us not to talk about religion with them and certainly do not evangelize with these people in any way, shape or form.

That violation of orders is what got these bibles confiscated by the military.

And when did this happen? Under President George W. Bush (Definitely not my favorite person)

Now whatever you think of the president, I don’t give a shit, he’s the president and you’re going to deal with it. But the military makes me laugh in that you have people who are actually susceptible to this sort of shit. They could actually hear that, process it, and believe it! How the fuck has natural selection not weeded these dumb mother fuckers out? And why do they all seem to gravitate toward military service?

And that is why I hate the stereotype, because I get lumped in with these piles of shit. But I guess I can see where it comes from.

And now I am done.

Later,

I love you Mom...

P.S. They didn’t believe me when I told them what the actual story behind their little crusade was.

Welcome To Embrace The Suck News...

This...is Afghanistan.

I'm your host, Mud Puppy, and let's get right to the headlines.

First, in Khowst Province, Afghanistan just outside of Khowst City an entire platoon of Military Police soldiers went on a mission. These soldiers were tasked with assessing the situation in several district centers throughout the area.

They were doing this in order to facilitate the upcoming provincial elections due to occur in Afghanistan around January of next year. They were to identify any possible deficiencies in the district centers so that they could be addressed before the election.

In addition they were to ascertain the security situation in Khowst and obtain intelligence about Taliban activities in the area.

These exceptional soldiers accomplished all their tasks in an efficient military manner and returned to base without a single casualty.

In addition,

They did not shoot any innocent civilians.
They did not rape any women.
They did not destroy any property.
They did not commit any mass murder.
They did not abuse any prisoners.

However, they did...

Pull an Afghani car out of a ditch, for no reason other than to lend a hand.
Give out hundreds of bottles of water. (The water they had brought with them to sustain them for the duration of the mission.)
Gave out several boxes of food. (Once again, their own and not food that was designated for the Afghani's)
Gave the Afghani children every pen they could find.
Gave them all the candy that they had.
Shared a few cigarettes with the men.
Played a few games with the children.
Taught the children how to say different things in English, and were taught by the children how to say those things in Pashtu.
Won a few hearts and minds.

And that's the headlines ladies and gentlemen.

This is Mud Puppy for Embrace the Suck news. Good Night And Good Luck.


This happened hundreds, if not thousands of times just within the last week throughout Iraq and Afghanistan. So I wonder how come nobody ever hears that on the news?

Later,

I love you Mom...

Jun 8, 2009

Involuntary Personal Protein Spill...

Involuntary Personal Protein Spill, On A Plane...

I don’t know about you guys, but I am a huge George Carlin fan. I love all his stuff, all the way back to his radio days, right up until he died a few months ago. So I have a bunch of his bits memorized and have even used a few of them (credited of course) throughout my writings. Now another one of his jokes came to apply to my life and it made me laugh so I am going to share it with you.

One of his jokes is about how Americans sanitize their language. You know, make it less intense. Some examples...

Toilet paper became bathroom tissue.
Shell shock became post traumatic stress disorder.
Stupid became learning disabled.
Ugly became an attractiveness deficit.

and finally, he said that "I am not going to be surprised if I hear 'puking' referred to as an involuntary personal protein spill. Now that you know that, here's the story.

So we actually managed to get the hell out of Sharana. We left the other day on a plane, a military plane. A C-130 no less. Now we all know that military aircraft are built by the lowest bidder and as a result are notorious for the uncomfortable rides they provide.

Think about that, 60 or so GI’s, 10,000 feet in the air in a bird built by the cheapest motherfucker the military could find. Well, I feel a lot better.

Anyway, we get up in this bird, jam about 60 people plus all their shit into the plane and we take off.

Now just the fact that we are flying made me laugh. Its about a 20 minute flight from Sharana to Salerno. So as soon as you get up, you are already coming down. Its kind of like flying from Chicago to Milwaukee. Its stupid. But I don’t mind because nothing explodes in the air.

So now we are up there, and apparently one of our more useless soldiers had done something a little unintelligent.

Before we had left Sharana, in a last effort to absorb as much of the good shit that they had there, he ate an entire pizza and had a few cans of pop on top of that. Right before we left! (Anyone see where this is going?)

Now the Air Force is notorious for their complete and utter lack of consideration for those riding in the back. If you get a pilot who has a sense of humor you are going to be in for one hell of a ride. Which, given the fact that I, and every other GI on the plane, either has a cast iron stomach or didn’t eat an entire pizza and 4 cans of pop before the flight, made the ride a lot of fun. All of us, except for one!

So we are about 10 minutes from landing and the pilot decides that we need to see Salerno out the windows before we land there. So he basically turns the bird on its side. You know that little queasy feeling you get when you are driving a little too fast over a hump and you drive up and then start coming down and it feels like your stomach jumped into your throat? Well multiply that by 10 and you know what it feels like in these birds when Captain Shithead starts playing with the controls.

Well, I got a kick out of it. So I was looking out the window and bouncing in my seat like a two year old. “Do it again, do it again!” You know that sort of shit. I can’t help it, I stopped maturing at about 9 years of age. Unfortunately, I did not stop growing!

Now this other guy, Pizza boy, he is not having the same experience that I am. His stomach has decided to vacate all its contents.

Any rational and reasonably mature person would probably try to calm him down, maybe get him some water, or a barf bag or something like that. You know, try to help.

What did I do? I started watching with rapt attention and anticipation.

I watched as pizza boy puked up his lunch into his mouth four times, yet each time he managed to choke it back down and keep from splattering a large pepperoni lovers all over the cargo deck of this plane.

This took about 4 or 5 minutes. And given my A.D.D. And complete lack of patience for anything at all, the time this was taking started to piss me off.

So I started to cheer him on. “Come on, puke motherfucker. Let’s see it! I want to see what you had for lunch! Let’s see it! Turn it out! C’mon, C’mon! Do it! Do it now!”

You know, real adult of me isn’t it. Well, apparently that didn’t work. Oh, and don’t think I was the only one cheering him on. Everyone in the plane was calling for his guts on the floor.

Now the quickest way to get a guy to yak when his body wants to is to have other people make the puking sound and motions so that he can hear them...so that’s what we did.

A chorus of ‘blech, blach” And everyone opening their mouths like their going to puke. So now you have a plane full of 59 GI’s trying to induce vomiting on one poor soul. Well, he should’ve known better. Like the mom says, “Its nobody’s fault but your own.”

Finally at long last, he pulled off his helmet, cradled it in his hands like it was a baby...AND YAKED RIGHT INTO IT!

As soon as the first wave hit, if you didn’t know better you would’ve thought we were at US Cellular field and Scotty Pods had just knocked one out the park.

Cheering, cheering from every corner of the plane. Then the second wave hit him and the cheering just grew louder.

It was beautiful. I know its sick. I know its twisted. But hey, its a warzone and this is what we do. Don’t judge.

By the time the elation of that moment wore off we were hitting the ground. Which in and of itself was funny because I paid so much attention to pizza boy that I wasn’t paying attention to what the plane was doing. So when we hit the ground, it startled me, and I actually turned to the guy next to me and screamed, “We better be landing or I am going to be pissed!”

He smiled, and nodded.

Now they taxi us to where we need to go, and they shut down the plane. We started offloading our gear. Then one of the crew members came out of the front of the plane.

I jumped up and grabbed his hand and shook it vigorously. “Thanks man, tell the pilot that was beautiful. He got this douche bag over here to launch his lunch!”

“Really, and that wasn’t even a good one!”

“Well, call me when you got a good one, because I want to see that! Please pass my compliments on to the pilot for a wonderful flight.”

Yes, I thanked the pilot for making one of my brothers in arms puke up his lunch.

This made my whole day. I spent the rest of the afternoon with a little more bounce in my step. Its funny how its the little things that can make you so damn happy.

And that was the highlight of the day. The rest was filled with carrying around heavy shit for long distances. You know, regular soldier shit. Then I went to sleep.

And my story is now over.

Later,

I love you Mom...

Jun 7, 2009

Finally, We Are Getting The Hell Out Of Sharana...

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.

Why?

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’m done.

Later,

I love you Mom...

Jun 2, 2009

The Mystical Art Of Finding My Hat...

So here’s the situation. I got in trouble the other day.

What did I get into trouble for?

Not having my hat!

Yes you read that right, I got into a little bit of hot water because I didn’t have the correct hat. Ladies and Gentlemen these are the things that senior NCO’s care about in a combat zone. Hats!

So here’s how this one went down. And if this ain’t the weirdest chain of events that led to me getting yelled at for not having the right hat, I don’t know what is.

A helicopter took off from Sharana. Apparently, this helicopter went down. I don’t know if it was shot down, or crashed. Either way, it went down. Shortly after the helicopter going down the Taliban started lighting up the radios with chatter about having taken an American prisoner. Which turned out to be nothing more than enemy bullshit.

At the time, there was a soldier from my unit who was supposed to be in transit to another FOB. But no one knew exactly where he was, or whether he had gotten onto a helicopter and left. See where this is going?

So the First Sergeant called an accountability formation. In order to make sure that everyone was accounted for. Makes sense, if one of our guys got taken hostage I would want to know about it.

Well, formations are time for uniforms. Everyone has to look the same. Same uniform, same patches, same weapons, same everything...same hats! Now this is where I screwed the proverbial pooch.

We have two different hats that we can wear around here. One is a boonie cap. You know the one that your grandfather wore fishing and had all his lures on it. Except ours is digital camouflage and has our name and rank on it. Then there is the other one. A patrol cap, or PC. Basically its an Army baseball cap, with, once again, our name and rank on it. This is the one that I don’t have.

Why don’t I have it? Well first of all because it is dirty as hell. Secondly, because it is about as hot as the floor above hell here right now, and the sun is shining...oppressively all damn day. So I wanted to wear the boonie cap. It gives you more shade and protects your ears from sunburn. And given the fact that I have about the fairest skin known to man and have been known to burn to a crisp in under 4 minutes I figured the extra protection would be good. Having said all of that, I decided to put my PC in another box to go to the next place we are going to live. I packed it away to be trucked up there, so that I didn’t have to carry the damn thing around.

Oh hells bells, the sky is falling. Why? Because the First Sergeant wants the uniform for this accountability formation to be in PC’s. Well now isn’t this a bitch.

So I go to the formation. Shortly after getting there, my platoon sergeant asks me where my hat is. I say its in a box in the conex that is getting trucked to Salerno (our next FOB). Why is it there? He inquires. I lay it out for him.

He tells me that I have to get that hat out of the conex so that if there are any more formations I will have it and be in uniform. Right after he gets done yelling at me for some blah, blah, blah. (Sorry I stopped listening right after he asked where my hat was.)

Okay, do you remember what conex’s are? They are semi-trailers that are detached and set on the ground so that we can load them up, then a big truck comes over with a crane, picks them up and sets them on the back of another truck.

So we had loaded this thing with all our gear to go to Salerno. Its about 12 feet tall, 15 feet across, and 40 feet or so long. We packed this thing with kicker boxes, which are just palletized boxes that we throw miscellaneous bullshit into, we packed this thing full of tuff boxes, which are the boxes we use to pack all our personal shit into (and where I put my hat.) Not to mention we packed this thing with guitars, refrigerators, televisions, tool boxes and a myriad of other really heavy shit. We packed this thing to the brim. Top to bottom, left to right, and front to back this thing is chock full of shit, and heavy shit at that.

Take a wild guess where my tuff box is! If you guessed all the way in the back, all the way at the bottom and all the way in the corner of this fucking thing, get yourself a cookie.

First, we had to get past all the miscellaneous stuff. Which took about 20 minutes for 6 guys to offload.

Now the fun began. Getting past the kicker boxes. Now these things are probably like 5 feet squared and just as tall, full of crap, so they weigh a ton. To make matters worse they are double stacked, one right on top of the other.

Normally, this is a job for a forklift. “Hey, can we get the forklift?”

“Its broken”

“Of course it is, why wouldn’t it be?”

So that idea got shot down pretty quick. So now we are going to put six guys on each of these kicker boxes and move them. Except for the fact that they are jammed up against the wall of the conex and we can only lift from two sides.

Great idea guys. Take something that probably weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of 800 pounds and lift it up unevenly. There isn’t anything that could go wrong here, is there?

Luckily no one got crushed to death.

So we finally managed to move three kicker boxes out of our way. We took the top layer of kickers off so that we could get back to where the tuff boxes are. First things first, we have to move the top three tuff boxes off of mine. Which was fairly easy, the first two came off with no problem. Then the third one was a pain in the ass. It was wedged between the wall of the conex, the kicker box in front of it, and the tuff boxes next to it. So we had to shove one of our skinnier guys in there to pull this thing out. Him in back, and me in front. Moving his end two inches, then I moved mine 2 inches. Moving this thing up, 2 inches at a time, for the three feet it took to finally yank this bitch out. By the by, this tuff box weighs about 80 pounds. Try that with just your fingers!

Now comes the fun part. My tuff box is up against the conex wall. The side of the box with the locks on it is pressed right up against the wall. Which bear in mind is metal and is nice and hot from the searing summer sun. So anyway, the skinny guy (aka “The Prince” I’ll explain that later.) Pushes and prods, and burns himself until he manages to get the first lock off. I couldn’t imagine how this would’ve went if I would’ve put combination locks on this damn box. Then he goes after the second one. Getting it off fairly easily, but dropping his sunglasses down the side of the conex next to the kicker box in the process. Wonderful, now we have to figure out a way to dig that shit out of there without moving anything else. Luckily, all our mechanics are ex-car thieves who are quite handy with a wire hanger.

So here’s me, lying on top of the kicker box, bent over the side at the waist, with all the blood rushing directly to my face, digging through this tuff box looking for a mother fucking hat! So I pulled out a few other things that I remembered that I wanted and shouldn’t have shoved in there and I kept digging...and digging...and digging.

Really, am I going to go through all of this to come to find that the damn hat isn’t even in there?

Probably!

Finally, after I had dug out every damn thing in the box, I found my hat.

By this time, all of us are dripping sweat, and dirtier than Amsterdam. Fun all around.

And all of this...for a hat!

This is the Army Mr. Jones.

Later,

I love you Mom...

P.S. The guy’s name is the “Prince” because he has a “Prince Albert” or more commonly known as a bolt through the cock. Don’t worry, I have never seen it, but I have heard it!