I was at the PX today when I heard an explosion, one that was quite obviously a mortar. After it impacted, some automated voice over speakers announced, "Incoming. Incoming." No shit. People scrambled and looked for the concrete bunkers that are few and far between. Meanwhile, I sat almost motionless, completely expressionless, on the bench waiting for the bus. People spazzing out in that self-preservation mode. Apparently they haven't learned this little bit of wisdom (and don't lecture me, I'm using the term loosely and with more than a hint of irony): If you hear the explosion, odds are you're just fine. If you feel it too, might want to think about relocating. The thing about explosions is there IS no before, during, and after. You go straight from ordinary boring what-the-hell-ever STRAIGHT to aftermath. There is no DURING.

And just so you don't get the idea that I'm some unshakable battle-tested war hero, while an explosion won't mean much to me, a powerline that suddenly bursts into sparks in the intersection in front of me will send me into Condition Red, check your pants later. The feeling of a bucket of icewater being splashed in your face, guts squirming, blood shooting through veins like mercury, all over nothing. Sounds pretty assbackwards if you ask me.

The moon outside is an ugly fucker. Scowling. He looks particularly displeased with the denizens of Iraq and that damn CCR song wedges its way into my thought process. I shrug it off though, we'll be done eventually.

A VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) Post sends me care packages now and then. In this one, I got a small handmade card with no name on it, just a drawing of flowers and a colorful sky, the colored pencil politely announcing the elementary school work.

Dear Soldier,
Thank you for protecting our country!
Hopefully I'll be able to do that to!
I'm am very proud of you!
Keep up the good work!

Go to college, kid.

Random assumed images of some classroom with kids' art taped along the walls and a sea of ten year olds with construction paper and scissors with colored plastic handles pop into this weird head of mine. The image people have back home is so different from what it really is here.

It's not like this is Vietnam. Watching Platoon or Black Hawk Down isn't going to give you an inkling of what it's like here. It's indescribable, but I'm going to nail it one of these days. When I'm fully awake and alert and motivated, when my muse grabs me by the balls and throws me facefirst into my keyboard. Remind me sometime.

My books are starting to trickle through the mail system, and perfect timing. This evening alone I've torn three quarters of the way through Hunter S Thompson's Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream.

(Audible THUMP outside) Hmm...incoming or outgoing? By the time you hear it, its over anyway.

We've taken care of business in the area we've been operating in most of this time. Grabbed it by the throat and wrestled it to the ground, spit in its face and rubbed it in the dirt, crushing it into submission. The normal locals, the decent, GOOD people seem to feel quite all right about the state of the area. Hell, apparently our scouts even got the sniper that killed our friend.

That's right, this is the REALITY of things. Forget the romantic idea of how things should have gone down. How I, vowing revenge, should have by stroke of idiot luck been clearing houses routinely, and upon walking up a set of stairs, caught sight of some asshole looking out a window with a Draganov rifle. How that alone should have been all the justification necessary to raise the ol' M4 and put a bullet in each kidney and then go to work on him with a KA-BAR and a Leatherman. And an assortment of wires that can be found in any Iraqi household could double as tourniquet material. Yeah, that would be the Hollywood way to go, wouldn't it? All that rage and all that hate, going nowhere with it, and the scouts brought the guy in. Hell, there probably won't even be enough evidence to prosecute the guy. Or maybe there will be. Where's he going to go, Abu Ghraib? With like-minded people? Probably won't even be sodomized.

Fucked up, I know.

All there is to do is the same song and dance I'm preaching with every post: to just do my job and do what little I can do, and let the days become the weeks and the months. I had an appointment with the combat stress people, when was it, today? Or yesterday? Either way, I didn't bother going. There isn't really much that they can do that I'm not doing anyway, except try to give me drugs.

The way out is through.


Horseshit Sandwich

I'm still being prostituted from vehicle to vehicle, and every time they put me on a new one, I keep finding all kinds of things wrong with it. I swear I see the maintenance guys more than I see my own platoon.

We pull back into the FOB after yet another mission (and yes, I hit things with the stryker, mainly barriers), and we stopped to eat chow. I'm pulling the truck in to the makeshift parking lot and as I take my final turn, the fucking steering wheel comes off in my hands. This shit only happens in cartoons. I bring the truck to a stop and I just stare at the black ring in my hands. I flip it over, astonished and pissed off, inspecting the back. Finally, I stuffed it back onto the column, the way it had probably been for god knows how long, and no one did anything about it.

After eating, I pulled into the maintenance motor pool, parked the truck, and stood up on top with the steering wheel held up in my hand, shaking it for the guys to see.

Oh, and here's an interesting note for you, a nice little nugget of simmered rage brought to you in full by good ol' Suspect here. You all know what the USO is, right? COURSE YA DO!

Dave Attell is making a stop here to entertain us trooply types. That's pretty cool if you ask me, and I'd love to see the show. I mean think about it, the guy is an unabashed alcoholic. He'd fit right in with this crowd.

Now I've seen plenty of USO videos, and there's always that serious moment when the performers look at everyone in the crowd and thank them for what they're doing, and how they risk their lives everyday. And that's probably what good ol' Dave is going to do. I'll have to find out from someone. Because those of us who are risking our lives everyday AREN'T GOING TO BE AT THE SHOW BECAUSE WE'RE GOING TO BE TOO BUSY RISKING OUR LIVES! But I hope the clerks clap loudly for us. Laugh hard. Feel loved.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not dogging on other military jobs, they're all important and I wouldn't try to downplay anyone (I try to avoid using the POG word because its kind of a prick thing to say), but it's pretty much the truth. Those of us that DO go out and get shot at, blown up, shit on, relieved two hours late, those of us that piss in bottles, we're not around for these fun little events. We're either on mission, eating/doing maintenance, or getting a little sleep before it's time to go do it all again. So these shows that are put on in order to raise our morale, lower our stress level, make us feel better, take the edge off, well looks like they're going to the soldiers who chill in the AC.

And you now what? I don't fuckin blame em. They chose the smart job. This kind of the thing just comes with the territory of being a grunt, so be it.

Fucking BUMMER huh?



No idea how long, but there I am in that driver's seat all over again. Same seat, different vehicle. For god's sake, they almost didn't let me dispatch it because I'm not even licensed to drive that variant. Like it matters. It's all the same once you're sitting there next to the engine, simmering the sweat out of your pores. Doesn't matter much at all.

Yes, there's optimism to be found here though. All I have to do is drive. And once we're set, all I have to do is sleep. I recline the seat, bury my feet underneath the pedals and stretch my legs, prop my head up against my assault pack. I monitor two different radio nets, and the voices overlap and hypnotize me and before I know it, I'm asleep. Conversations spoken from behind me, somewhere in the truck, voices in the headphones, plays into the weird half dreams I have in my weird half sleep.

Someone reports up that there are guys digging. It's after curfew. There is an AK. And a pistol. Someone gets permission to engage.

BOOM. A group of five guys gets their world rocked. The apocalypse descends on them and a 240bravo opens up with automatic 7.62mm fury. Some manage to run or limp away. One tries to climb under a fence. He's cut apart with machine gun fire.

One of my friends dismounts with a few other guys. They find blood trails. Scouring fields, night vision burning green migraine fury into their eyes, his eyes dart from one spatter to another. He keeps walking until he trips over something. That something is a fresh corpse.

My other friend, the one still with the dismount squad I was assigned to until recently, is charged to help with the dirty work. He searches the mottled lifeless bodies. Missing sandals. Blood. Broken bones. A result of the sheer carnage that anyone with an automatic weapon can unleash at any time.

"Suspect, move forward a bit. One of the other vehicles needs to get through to get some body bags from the MEV (medic stryker)."

This friend of mine from the squad I was yanked from ends up grabbing a wheelbarrow. Tossing pieces into the black rubber bags.

Our company has killed people before, but for some reason, this one just seemed so much darker. The cleanup. Hell, even from the first radio transmission when they were sited, there was this undertone of something sinister about the whole thing. I mean come on, no one is innocent here. Nothing is black and white. It's all just different shades and hues of What The Hell. "So it goes..."

It's the same drill, I drive, following our convoy wherever we have to go to do whatever we have to do. I usually keep the radio off when driving, so that I can only hear the internal communication, so I can hear any instructions I need to.

"Ah man..."


I flick the radio on just in time to hear, "No casualties, just blew some tires. Continuing movement."

The vehicle I had been riding in as a dismount was hit with an IED. I guess it was better hearing it after we already knew that everyone was fine. Close calls are better than bad news I guess. We continued on to our objective, I got the vehicle emplaced, and I went to sleep until it was time to leave. I can get used to this. My own little vacation, in a way.

Regarding the five or however many the final count was that were killed when they were caught trying to screw us, it's weird to think about. They wanted us dead, but they didn't know any of us. Probably didn't want to. To them, they were doing the right thing. And we did our right thing. Nothing is black and white. I'm not sympathizing. It's just the reality of it. Five more stories ended the other night. In the end, that's the only thing that's certain. Not who was in the right, not exactly why things happened, no, the only certainty is that the book closed on five people. "So it goes..."


The Honest Self Evaluation

Apparently this needs to be addressed. Some people don't read between the lines and take my cynicism and sarcasm for what it is. Some take things I write only for face value.

Here's the deal:

I am perfectly fine. I'm ok, I'm not going batshit crazy. I'll continue to purposefully over-exaggerate my aggressions. That's what I do. Sometimes shit here really catches up with me. Most of the time I'm fine. Sometimes I don't sleep well, other times I sleep just fine.

I almost never remember my dreams.

I've had to wake myself up from a couple of them. A few times I've noticed that in dreams, I don't have any body armor or anything like that on. Just the uniform. And also, at crucial moments, I can't get to my rifle, or get it up fast enough.

I don't like sudden loud noises. Go figure. I don't like crowded areas. I definitely don't like people fucking with my free time. I don't like stupid shit affecting my Get-My-Head-Straight time.

I'm compassionate and disillusioned at the same time. I'm aware that I can't help most things I see, but I still want to. I do the little things because that's all I CAN do.

Sometimes I'm on the verge of completely freaking out. When I spend an hour at the PX looking for ONE book worth reading amongst shelves of grocery store quality cliche tomes of dogshit, my blood boils. Because it should NOT be such an arduous task to find something to stimulate the brain.

Sometimes I have to get away from everyone. More so than I used to. Its not that I'm an asshole and don't want any part of them, its that I NEED time to myself.

I do and always WILL do my job to the best of my ability. And every step of the way, I will joke about it, I will shine a light on the bullshit I see. I will say what I want to get a raised eyebrow and a laugh out of a lieutenant.

And I'm doing everything I can to make sure that I'm perfectly fine once this is all over. I don't want to bring baggage home with me. I went to the combat stress people and had a talk with them. I have an appointment in a few days. I told them that I won't take sleeping pills or anything that will fuck with my ability to work. I may end up on some anti-anxiety medication. So be it.

One thing that won't change is that I'm going to use this site to vent and crack jokes and share what's going on. I'm going to say some fucked up things sometimes, things I probably don't even mean. That's what real people do.

I'm a survivor, it's what I do. I keep on trucking. I will drag myself through this deployment kicking and screaming. But if you're looking for someone who doesn't fume over shit he has to go through, you're reading the wrong prose, pal.

This isn't flag waving. It isn't beaming with pride for our leadership. It isn't HOOOOOOAAAHHHH army reading. This is someone who doesn't fit the ideal bill of SOLDIER, but is here doing it anyway.

And while we're cleaning the closet out, let me say something else. I am completely dissatisfied with my writing. I don't think it's up to par, I think I can do way better, but most of the time I'm too tired or too fucked up in general to do a good job. And that aggravates me. So maybe you, the reader, has improvements to look forward to.

That aside, a few more things.

I will endlessly joke about how I'm going to be OUTTA this bitch (the army) when my date is up. Its true, I'm not staying in. What's implied and not said aloud is that I'm fulfilling my commitment willingly. I'm still going to do what I swore I would do. But when it's over, I'm GONE. I put my life on hold.

I didn't enlist for myself. I did it because your sons were coming here anyway, regardless of what my opinions are.

So expect me to continue mission as always, with smartass commentary the entire way. It's who I am. Expect it to go on until the end. Until the day you reach that final post and say to yourself, "Aw man, what now?"

And you follow the link on the last line to TheUnlikelyFratboy.

Suspect built the wall.

A rickety temporary haven constructed of selected indifference, disinterest in socialization, and refusal to take part in the situation when not required to. Also used is a bunk bed, two wall lockers, and a camouflaged poncho hung up to segregate him from the rest of the world.

Suspect took a seat from within the comfort of The Wall and began fervently ordering books online, not slowing down as the subtotal climbed past the one hundred dollar mark. He blocked out the sounds of his comrades talking and playing video games and replaced them with noise courtesy of Nine Inch Nails.

Suspect brings The Wall with him when he steps outside to smoke. Leaving open a narrow window for basic communication, he can enjoy vacationing in his head while still being able to provide simple and altogether unsatisfactory answers.

Suspect has the majority of a day off and plans to maximize that. Suspect is behind his wall of comfort and indifference, sitting in a proverbial lounge chair with proverbial blinders and ear plugs. Piss off, world.


State of the Suspect Address 2.0

"Suspect, you look like a bag of ass today."

"Damn, you look really tired, man."

"You all right?"

"Heard your outburst in the tent. You all right man?"

Personally, in retrospect, I liked the outburst. I thought it was masterfully wordsmithed and profanely articulated. The scenario was thus:

I'd been informed that in the very near future, I would be taken from my current squad and put in the driver's seat of a different vehicle. Which is a bummer of course. Pile on sleep deprivation, endless mission cycles, the inability to use superhuman powers to cure the disease that is the state of this country, and a slew of other boo-hoos.

"Hey Suspect, Sgt Supply Dude needs you to go to the TOC and fill out a paper with all your uniform sizes."

This, my dear friends, is the straw that shattered the camel's back and forced its internal organs outward in fecal sprays of rage. Allow me to utilize my caps lock feature.


I ended up going down and filling the paper out anyway.

A couple hours ago, I was at the motor pool PMCSing the stryker I'll be driving. There's a rifle range not too far away, and the first shot I heard made me jump. I found it very ironic. I can be out in sector, somewhere in the city, and hear gunfire and not even blink, not really even care. But on the FOB, completely different story. It was driving me crazy, had me all sorts of uptight.

Before you finish reading, let me just warn you that yes, this will only be yet another mediocre post. I'm completely ok with that too.

I have come to a realization or two. For one, I have achieved my goal as far as rank goes. I made Specialist earlier this year. Cool. I'm not going to stay in, so there's no point in me trying to get promoted to Sergeant. So being that this is a temporary gig for me, why take the menial parts so seriously?

"As long as the repercussions of my actions don't negatively affect me after I Echo-Tango-Suitcase on out of here, then it's totally worth it." -Me.

For those unfortunate souls out there who don't know, it's very liberating to honestly be able to say, "Yeah, I really don't give a shit at all." Wait til we get back to the states. Just wait and see me then. God help the new soldiers that meet me. Pray they don't take after me.

Now, this all may sound like a pretty bogus enterprise, and altogether foolish, but honestly, that's ok with me. It's not that I intend to cause trouble or anything stupid like that, I just no longer agree to play along completely. I will give these guys stories.

Because when it's all said and done, that's really all that matters.


The Famished Mind

Today is an off day for me. Thank God.

I've been back into the fray again, the little toe owwie and the percocet naps are long gone and its the same old song and dance it was before. I've blown up walls with high explosives (and yep, kept the detonator as a souvenir), and had the joy of going on super-sneaky missions. I always like it more when they don't even know I'm there, watching them.

But no, today is an off day. And what is there to do on off days? I don't even know or care where the mythical swimming pool is, the PX has nothing to offer, the rec centers really aren't interesting, and the only reading to be found is in Maxim and horse-shit spy/detective or romance novels. The low mental standard remains unchanged.

So today, I'm hunting. Going from article to article online. Sucking wikipedia dry, because I'm starving for brain food.

Now, I normally don't like copy and paste blogging, it really gets on my nerves, but here's something I found very pertinent to what I think.


Copyright 2003 Deborah Lagarde. Comments? E-mail: "mailto:dlagarde@suite101.com"


The truth is this: Americans are brainwashed

It's not that Americans hate the truth--though too few bother to seek it, even though about two-thirds of Americans have Internet access, the primary (non-Bible) instrument for truth seeking. It's that most Americans, as they have not trained themselves to resist, to turn-off, to wear the proverbial "b-s detector", have been driven to a state of total apathy or complete cognitive dissonance, the forerunner to brainwashing. Combine that with the fact that most Americans see themselves as part of some collective (and have the "us" vs. "them" mentality leaders like Bush can exploit), and you have a nation where people aren't stupid, but for the most part are brainwashed.

"Americans are brainwashed," you say?

"Yes," I answer, and here's the proof: fully 70% of the American people believed, prior to Iraq War II, that Saddam was responsible for 9-11.

Now, Bush and company NEVER claimed that Saddam was responsible for 9-11. After 9-11, the US invaded Afghanistan with the precise mission of finding and capturing Osama bin Laden, whose al-Qaida WAS responsible for 9-11, and getting rid of the Taliban government which supported bin Laden. That alone proves Bush and Co. believed bin Laden caused 9-11.

Thus, the American people, aided and abetted by the lying media, must have come to believe that (once the Afghan adventure was "over"--yet it isn't over, in fact) Saddam had something to do with Sept. 11, 2001. Remember, Bush and Co. never claimed Iraq had anything to do with it. So, here's where the lying media comes in: insinuate, insinuate, insinuate.

The media is a culprit, but so is the collectivist mindset of Americans. I offer the following as proof:

1. Amercians are like everyone else, particlularly, everyone else who has ever lived in an empire: they want their "national greatness" to last, and, to prop it up, become jingoist or ultra nationalistic. Sometimes this merely leads to insularity and feeling everyone else is inferior (for instance, the Brits felt this way during the Victorian age, or the French during their empire, which crashed and burned in the likes of Algeria, 1962), but sometimes this leads to fascism/nazism/Stalinism. To the degree that dissent is allowed by the general public will show whether or not the US becomes more like Britain or more like Hitler's Germany. But the fact is this, that most Americans do not want to hear that their country has done wrong. America is, after all, the only thing many Americans still have in which to be proud. When you know your living standard is in decline; when you don't know if you'll have a job next month; when your town is dying; when the only hope many American youth have for a bright future is in joining the military, law enforcement, or becomein a faceless bureaucrat; and when you contantly live in one state of fear or another, who can blame folks for wanting an antiwar commencement speaker off the stage?

2. Americans simply won't travel abroad anymore. But, what with anti-Americanism so high abroad, who can blame them? What American really wants to go to a third-world country and be kidnapped for ransom, or go to Europe, with its self-righteousness--as if they never traveled the road the US travels now-- or even to Canada, which was called "America Junior" on The Simpsons, but could more rightfully be called "America wanna-be", which, if folks like Eric Margolis represent Canadian public opinion, makes Canada even more self-righteous than Europe, but without imperialist intentions (because Canada---good for them--doesn't have what it takes to be an empire).
3. Most Americans are tired of wanton legal and illegal immigration. This is always the case in nations that are empire but really deep down inside don't want to be empires OR are waning or has-been empires (there is some case to say that the US is already a waning empire, or in the last stages of empire). But, though most Americans want staunch curbs on immigration, their elected (and unelected) rulers simply don't listen. And is anyone really dumb enough to think the reason Dubya Bush is so hell-bent on illegal immigration from Latin America is because he really sees these folks voting Republican in the not too distant future?

4. Americans are not "stupider" than Europeans or Canadians or anyone else. Our technology proves it--even if you grant the fact that much of Americas technology now was created by non-natives, but even more so our entreprenuership, much of which is native. So why does it appear to outsiders that Americans are stupid?

First of all, though few Americans will admit it, most Americans believe what the media tells them (ie. Americans are brainwashed), and the media post-911 is not about to tell us the truth, which for now must be ferreted out over the Internet.

Second of all--and this is the case because most Americans are still educated in public schools--most Americans are either ignorant of or deliberately dumbed-down in the subjects that Americans must learn if they are to be bequeathed an empire, history and its sister, geography. This goes beyond the fact that geography bees tend to be won by homeschoolers. When less than 30% of public schooled students can't find Iraq on a map, and when so many fewer than that know that places like Iraq have never been totally conquered by imperialist powers, that can be put down to just how ignorant (not stupid) Americans are when it comes to history and geography.

Third of all, except for our Civil War/War between the States/War of Northern Agression or whatever you want to call it, Americans have never had war on their soil. We simply don't know what it's like, so who can blame us for being ignorant of the costs of war? Europeans can gloat all they want that they are too smart or too self-righteous that they want no part of US Imperialism--I'd rather never have had to live through the series of wars they'd had to put up with, starting with the Thirty Years War in the 1600s.
Finally, it just so happened that America is an empire precisely at that point in history that a media hell bent on brainwashing its people can do it so well. I have stated many times in various columns that the present-day ability to brainwash the public was not begun in Hitler's Germany but on the eve of World War One by President Wilson's propaganda department, aided and abetted by behavioral psychologists and good ol' American advertizing know-how. That is, the notion of brainwashing came from the US before the 1920s. So, I have been right all along in blaming the media for American "stupidity".


"All that I wanted are things I had before.
All that I needed, I never needed more.
All of my questions are answers to my sins.
All of my endings are waiting to begin."


Soma Vacation

I vaguely remember stubbing my toe in the middle of the night a couple days before the exploding house debacle. Over time, my third toe has taken it upon itself to become red and swollen, and infected. Doesn't seem to be broken. The medics have jabbed it with needles and cut it open a little and drained and flushed it and all kinds of nasty Hostel type shit. Probably looks like squeezing hot sauce and mustard out of a grape. I never bothered to watch because I was busy gritting my teeth and finding my happy place. It's insane how much one tiny little goddamn toe can hurt.

I've had quite a gimpy walk because of it. They kept me back from missions to rest, and by rest, they meant "do details". I'd wake up in the middle of the night in complete agony, and all I could get was Motrin. Gee, thanks. Motrin and antibiotics.

Finally, when I had it worked on yesterday morning, I was given percocets for it. I sure welcome those little white beauties. It isn't just the foot that they've been taking my mind off of.

Now, don't get me wrong, I wasn't abusing the stuff, but I most certainly was taking advantage of the fact that it was prescribed. Calm, mellow, slightly out of it, and altogether cheery. Vicodins don't do that. Hydrocodone always made me feel like shit, in several ways.

Like the Soma vacations from the book Brave New World. Something to take the edge off of this. I figured fuck it, if I was going to be sitting around inside the wire all day, with all this time to think, I might as well be sure to take my meds. Take that furious throbbing out of my foot and leave me feeling good for a change. I can see how people could fall into a habit, especially out here though. Well, those nice little white pills won't be coming with me when I go back to work. Because when I go back, it's with my gameface on.


Both Feet In The Pit of Hell

Its been ugly here recently. And welcome to the first massive understatement of this post. We, the supposed super-heroes of the world, have our hands full.

Yesterday started out the same way it always does. You get ready, get your gear on, and pile onto the vehicle. It starts moving, and for that time, the world consists only of that troops compartment. Then it finally stops and we make our final preparations. The ramp drops, and we're right there in the middle of it, not sure what to expect. Streets, houses all the same color, trash everywhere just like every other time I mention it, hundreds of wires crisscrossing in jumbled messes over the streets.

We took our building without any real event, and sat in place, waiting to be needed or something. After a while, we're told to get back on the truck, and we have no idea what's going on. While moving, we're told that we're escorting a casualty back. None of us had heard anything about any casualty. Was it someone from another unit?

We arrive outside the hospital and I find out that its someone from our company, head wound. Now we try to figure out who. And then the platoon leader fills us in.

Shot in the head. 50-50 chance.

Motherfuckers. I couldn't believe it. I couldn't sit still, couldn't calm down, just felt like I had to do SOMETHING, but I couldn't get away from any of it, it was all just stuck there. Some piece of shit rode by on a bike whistling and jiving, and he waved at me. I could have shot that asshole.

Having trouble recalling all of this, the reason for which I'll get to in a minute. In fact, I don't really remember what we did after that. I think we just sat in the stryker until it was time to leave. After the mission, we found out that our guy died.

Rage. Hate. The stages of grief, they told us that we cycle through them quickly, over and over. And its true. I cursed God with all my being, then I bargained with him to help this guy pull through.

"How fucking hard is it? 'No more, please' isn't that all I asked?"

It was one of my friends from my other platoon, my "home" platoon. I'm trying to describe this, and I honestly can't. I was just so furious and mixed up and totally fucked that I couldn't sit still, and there was nothing I could do, about anything. The guys from my current platoon were all really cool though. I have to give them that.

We were herded into some bullshit conference room for a combat-stress briefing. Waste of my time, what can they honestly do, especially at this point? Don't answer that. I ended up taking some antihistamine crap to knock me out for the night.

Can't even do him any justice with words. I'll talk about him more later when my head is right.

We went out today with a purpose, and we weren't taking any shit. Ramp drops, we pour out, vigilant and moving quick. We take our target building, and its abandoned. Some of the guys' Spidey-Senses start tingling. We go upstairs and onto the roof. There was a secondary roof as well. I followed F up the stairs to the higher roof to check it out real quick. The walls were way lower than usual, and we were exposed as hell. I didn't like it. I was standing by this huge pile and trash and shit and godknowswhat, and I definitely didn't like it. Spidey-Senses, a lot.

"This is good, let's head back down," I said. I went down the stairs, and apparently our squad leader went up, but I don't remember this. And I still can't remember exactly where I was when


The most apocalytpic, earth shattering noise AND sensation I'd ever experienced. Glass shattering everywhere, and this wall of dust and debris comes shooting at me, like the sand in the movie The Mummy. We're all screaming at each other and no one can hear anything.

Through the haze, I see my friend W in the stairway between the 1st floor and the 2nd floor roof. He's moving but barely. There's rubble all around him. I ran down there and grabbed him up, half helping, half pulling him up the stairs.

"ARE YOU OK???!"

We're stumbling and coughing. I don't what WHAT the hell is going on. The only thing I can think of doing is getting him into this room on the second floor, we're exposed in the open. I get him inside (thankfully he could still kind of walk, because I'm a big puss) and I set him down against the wall. I take his helmet off of him, and I'm screaming at him.




Its blurry after that too. The .50 cal on the stryker outside starts rocking. Over and over again, the thunder of the gods, the sound of complete destruction, pumping death into the air. They found the observers.

F was right on top of the damn bomb, right where I had been when I decided 'fuck this roof'. He had an AT-4 rocket launcher on his back (the one that I promised to switch out with the axe as soon as we got inside and settled), and he was on a knee when it exploded. The squad leader, Sgt B, was knocked on his ass by the blast, and he got up and started yelling for F. No answer. Yells again.


So he knows that he's alive. Now he can see F trying to crawl out of the rubble, top half is now out. For a second, Sgt B thinks that its that movie moment where the guy's whole bottom half is gone. Thank god that it isn't the case. He gets F off of the roof and into the room where I'm trying to talk to W. Then he gets on the radio. And there's your backstory flashback.

They get our two for-sure injured guys out to be medevaced. Then we start assessing ourselves. Headache? Uh, duh. Ears are ringing like holy chimes, louder than thunder, and everything sounds like its being screened through a tin can. Like blown speakers. Most of us noticed that our chests and or stomachs hurt. I felt like I had blue balls in my torso.

A little disoriented and feeling fucked up, and I've momentarily forgotten things, song lyrics, names of places or objects, but it comes to you. Sometimes just takes a minute. I'm pretty sure I'm fine though. Just jarred pretty good.

[EDIT: The AT-4 wasn't on F's back anymore. I had to go up onto the 3rd floor rooftop to look for it. I lowcrawled, screaming at my friends, "DON'T JUST SAY IT, FUCKING COVER ME!"

I couldn't see anything but debris. The walls had been blown off, and I did NOT want to be up there. I figured it had been thrown over the side. Turns out it was buried. EOD blew it up later.]

After that, we were set. We weren't playing today. I don't think anyone went back with the same amount of ammo they left with. Personally, I like warning shots a lot more, because no one's getting hurt, and they usually get the message. Still, people died today.

All day, gunfire, explosions. Without a doubt the most intense day I've had in the army.

When we finally got done out there, we went to the hospital to pick our two guys up, and they were even better off than we thought. See, W had been coming up the stairs when the explosion went off above him, raining down debris on him. We are some lucky sum-bitches, that's for sure. The whole squad had to be checked out afterwards, and at the very most, I've got a class 1 concussion, but I seriously doubt that. The doc said we were all fine to go to sleep and all that. They just wanted to document this stuff with our heads so that we're covered in the future if I ever become MTV-stupid.

This is all a lot to process, and I seriously can't write well enough to even TRY to paint it. Might have to try again later. Good night.