Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Truth and The Field

This is an email that was forwarded to me by one of my relatives. Personally, I like it quite a bit. Granted, on one side, this frame of thinking isn't going to close the gap between us and our "enemies", who I consider to be (most likely) irreversably misguided. It still effectively carries a good point across.

"One Great Letter

The lady that wrote this letter is Pam Foster of Pamela Foster and Associates in Atlanta. She's been in business since 1980 doing interior design and home planning. She recently wrote a letter to a family member serving in Iraq. Read it!

WHAT'S ALL THE FUSS?

'Are we fighting a war on terror or aren't we? Was it or was it not started by Islamic people who brought it to our shores on September 11, 2001? Were people from all over the world, mostly Americans, not brutally murdered that day, in downtown Manhattan, across the Potomac from our nation's capitol and in a field in Pennsylvania? Did nearly three thousand men, women and children die a horrible, burning or crushing death that day, or didn't they?

And I'm supposed to care that a copy of the Koran was "desecrated" when an overworked American soldier kicked it or got it wet? Well, I don't. I don't care at all.

I'll start caring when Osama bin Laden turns himself in and repents for incinerating all those innocent people on 9/11.

I'll care about the Koran when the fanatics in the Middle East start caring about the Holy Bible, the mere possession of which is a crime in Saudi Arabia.

I'll care when Abu Musab al-Zarqawi tells the world he is sorry for hacking off Nick Berg's head while Berg screamed through his gurgling, slashed throat.

I'll care when the cowardly so-called "insurgents" in Iraq come out and fight like men instead of disrespecting their own religion by hiding in mosques.

I'll care when the mindless zealots who blow themselves up in search of nirvana care about the innocent children within range of their suicide bombs.

I'll care when the American media stops pretending that their First Amendment liberties are somehow derived from international law instead of the United States Constitution's Bill of Rights.

In the meantime, when I hear a story about a brave marine roughing up an Iraqi terrorist to obtain information, know this: I don't care.

When I see a fuzzy photo of a pile of naked Iraqi prisoners who have been humiliated in what amounts to a college hazing incident, rest assured that I don't care.

When I see a wounded terrorist get shot in the head when he is told not to move because he might be booby-trapped, you can take it to the bank that I don't care.

When I hear that a prisoner, who was issued a Koran and a prayer mat, and fed "special" food that is paid for by my tax dollars, is complaining that his holy book is being mishandled," you can absolutely believe in your heart of hearts that I don't care.

And oh, by the way, I've noticed that sometimes it's spelled "Koran" and other times "Quran." Well, Jimmy Crack Corn and -- you guessed>it.....!!!' "

Ahh yeah, getcha some. That email got me a little pumped. I figure, if we can't all come to our senses and figure this whole life adventure thing out together in peace and all that happy goodness, and if we're still going to fight these people, we might as well win. At times, I question whether or not there really is good and evil, or just drastically different viewpoints. Honestly, I don't know, I'm only human. But I'll stick with my viewpoint, because it doesn't involve me strapping TNT to my chest and turning myself and a group of other people into tomato paste.

Now that another slice of harsh reality has been delivered, lets lighten things up a bit and talk about my newest adventure "Under God's Blanket", as a friend of mine once said.

We woke up, did PT, big shock there. Drew our weapons and mortar systems from the arms room, and spent a few hours preparing for our grand adventure. Then, we strapped mortar components to our already heavy rucksacks and roadmarched out to the same range we went to last time. Our platoon sergeant was already on the range, assisting the mortarmen from a different company. Only us kids were marching out there, and it was a small adventure.

By now, I'm pretty used to roadmarches, and I just like to get them over with, so I'll ruck as hard as I can, but still at a wise pace. Plus the smuggled iPod helps a lot. Sorry for the product advertisement, but maybe they'll sponsor me. Not. Back on track, we had one guy who had a pretty pissy attitude at the moment, and was lagging all of us behind all the while maintaining a healthy "fuck you all" attitude. I just wanted to get there, because my legs were fine, what hurt was my shoulders and back, because I was blessed with the base plate, which weighs enough to leave me with metaphorical diaper rash. At one point, we had to stop and wait for him, and once he caught up, we stepped off again, at which point he spazzed out, complaining that we got a break and he didn't. Yeah. He kept going on about how his ruck was so much heavier than mine, and the other gunner weighs 50 pounds more, so he could handle it better. At this point, I dropped my ruck and told him to switch with me, but of course he wouldn't, because that would be the logical thing to do.

And yes, I'm aware of how childish all of this was. But to be honest, I was looking forward to getting into a good old fashioned bloody nose and black eye scrap with this dude. Didn't happen, and I was a little sad. This guy is one of those people that will piss you off to no end, but at the same time, you can't stay mad at him for long, because he's also pretty cool. So on that note, maybe after a healthy fistfight, I can take him out for ice cream or buy him a Happy Meal.

Now that you have a fresh dose of middle school drama, at this point, our narrative takes us to the mortar range, where we moved up the hill by the observation point and set up hooches (ponchos draped overhead about a foot and a half off the ground at an angle and held up by 550 cord or bungee cord and nearby trees. A regular Days Inn. Then we attached our NODs (those fancy nightvision goggles I told you about) to our kevlar helmets and watched the other mortarmen fire off infrared illumination rounds, which I couldn't have cared less about because they didn't seem to do much.

Funny story: Right after I had attached my NODs, I was heading back up the hill to the OP (observation point), and they fell right off of my kevlar and hit the ground with the sound of the shattering of glass. I stood there for a minute, looking down at the ground, where the fallen optics lie. At that moment, I recalled signing for the the goddamn thing, and recalled hearing that they cost a couple thousand each. Out-freaking-standing. Hadn't even turned the damn things on yet, and gravity had made a victim of them, and a mockery of me. It was then that my platoon sergeant drove up, and I walked to his truck with a self loathing that rivals the feeling one gets when swiftly kicked in the groin. I told him what happened, and he laughed and said, "Oh well, sucks to be you." Not the pissed off response I expected. I wasn't even referred to as a dickweed.

So I walked to my hooch, completely satisfied that I had destroyed brand new equipment, hoping God was having a good gut laugh right then, and I borrowed a light from a friend to take a look at the shattered lens. It was intact.

Eh? So what's the deal? I shook them, listening for glass shards, because it must be something in the middle. Nope. I shook them harder, and heard the sound again. After a few more shakes and experimentations, I realized that the metal clips that attach to the front and back of the kevlar, connected by a band, were hitting each other, making that sound. Once again, I have proven that I am an idiot. So I stuffed a battery in, expecting the NODs to remain inoperable just because that would be my luck. I flicked the switch, and my left eye was filled with dim green light. Sweet. Too bad everything was blurry and REALLY dim. I asked a buddy how to adjust the brightness, and he told me that you can't. Great, so they ARE broken.

I fidgeted with them, and found a dial that, guess what....adjusts the brightness. But I still couldn't clearly make anything out through these damnable optics. Further experimentation revealed two more dials to adjust focus. So my NODs were fine, and I'm a big panicky baby. Problem with NODs though, is that they suck a lot, and not much comes into focus, and for further sight, they are pretty much worthless. Atleast mine had that issue. They also give you a headache after a while, and weigh your kevlar down a lot. They're flat out awkward, and I pretty much hate them, but they're pretty damn cool.

It was when I was standing in the woods with my roommate, BSing, that I looked at him and myself, wearing full combat gear, M4 slung, wearing nightvision, that we looked like the actual soldiers you see on TV. Then I thought that this was going to be us for an entire year if we get deployed. Pretty crazy thought. As I've said before, the same realization dawns on you periodically.

We spent the next two hours walking with our mortar equipment, and setting up whenever our platoon sergeant would announce a fire mission. No firing, we had no rounds. Just set up, take down, walk, set up, take down, walk, repeat. Operating mortars in the dark, especially with NODs, is like trying to get a cat into a bathtub. Someone's getting hurt. Of course, nothing special happened, but it was yet another flavor of suck, but to be honestly, we really didn't mind.

As we "slept", two of us at a time had to pull guard, which always sucks. During one of my shifts, I kept hearing a sound, and seeing what I swore was the tail end of someone running, always JUST out of sight of my NODs. Always on the left. Freaked me the hell out, as I figured our platoon sergeant or someone was messing with us and trying to steal the mortars. Turns out, a cord connected to the lens cap of the nods would scrape against my helmet as I turned my head to the left, and it sounded like rustling. In the corner of my left eye where my NODs were, was a little piece of the optic or something, I don't remember, but it was black. As you turned your head, it looked like a shadow. I'm such a dork, and I want you all to know that right now.

We roadmarched back and cleaned equipment, and we're all tired and dozing off. I ended up taking a Stacker or whatever those pills are, hence my longer than usual post. But since I'm hungry, I hope you've had your fill, or else too bad. I have tomorrow off because our platoon sergeant re-enlisted, so there probably won't be any news for a few days.

Happy trails til next time, kiddies.

3 comments:

Nastyboy said...

On Sunday three Canadian soldiers were wounded by a sucide bomber in Afganistan. They were evaced by US Blackhawk helicopters to a US field hospital which probably saved their lives. They are now in a US hospital in Germany.

As a Canadian and former soldier I would like to thank the US for helping our troops.

Ta'Nish said...

That letter rocks.

BigD said...

Hell yeah to the "Jimmy Crack Corn" lady. It is eerie how everything she describes is basically still going on two years later. Still hate those damn NOD's and now you have had your fill of being a "real" soldier. If you only knew then what you know now, you might of sat down in your Days Inn and cried! Your the best Suspect, soon you will be home!