Friday, May 20, 2005

The weirdest war

This war sometimes just floors me. I have buddies who go outside the wire every damn day risking their lives and when they get back on base they are just happy as a clam to have a hot meal, a shower, a gym, PX, etc. The damn Fobbits (Those who never leave the FOB) drive me nutty. They always want to complain about something and it is usually something trivial. Let me give you a couple of examples.

An E-5 (3 stripe Sergeant) that I know was out side for a night. His unit took on an IED, two drive by shoots, three foot patrols in Baghdad and then drove back on highway 1 which is without a doubt even more dangerous than the 405 in LA at rush hour. When he got back in it was between meal times so he sent a specialist to see me to find out if they could get something from the DFAC. That was the easiest thing in the world, all I did was make a phone call and order it. You would have thought I had given these guys $1000.00 each they were so greatful. That is what makes my sacrifices worth it, the smiles and the gratitude of those who are defending you.

On the flip side another NCO who wears pressed, starched DCUs (Where she gets this done is beyond me!) is all bent out of shape because this very same DFAC runs out of Baskin Robbins Ice Cream and lettuce on a frequent basis. Mind you, it always has lots and lots of food but we run out of perishable and popular items like this because of the convoy system which is wat beyond our control. No matter how many time I explain it she still thinks I am trying to pull a fast one.

What a weird war. The media thinks we are losing and we are not. The public thinks the soldiers don't have enough body armor and they do. The Iraqis think we are all rich and we are not. The soldiers think we should be out and in the public more and we are not. The contractors all think they are safer in the FOBs and sometime they are not. Its just a weird war. You can't read the local language as it is not in a Roman or even Cyrillic alpahbet. The people have no cultural similarities to us and we really don't understand them very well some times.

Its all just weird. I can get the new Star Wars movie on DVD 3 days after it premiers anywhere in the world and yet I can't get a beer. I can smoke a cuban cigar any day of the week but I can't own a Playboy magazine. I have to drive like a maniac when I go outside the fence but I will get fired if I exceed the speed limit on post.

This all makes it hard to readjust when I go home on R&R. I involuntarily flinch every time I hear a door slam or a "pop" of any kind. I can tell the type of round that has impacted by sound alone. I can tell if it is a 60mm or 82mm mortar. I can tell if it is a 122mm or 105mm rocket. I can tell if an IED is made from an old artillery shell or from harvested explosives.

I don't know what TV shows are popular. I have no idea what is in the Top 20 of new music. I don't know half the celebrities that are listed on the web. I try and fail at following baseball. I try and fail at keeping good line of commuincation open with my wife.

I can call home anytime I want and can email anytime I want but the company firewall will not let me use a video link. Even with all the technology I find us growing more and more distant and that just will not do. I didn't come over to this weird war to be alienated from my family. I will finish what I started but I will come home. I hope I do before I get too weird.


Blogger Russell Roberts said...

hey James: Well, you are right on about your take on your Iraqi reality. If it is any consolation, you'll lose your war tuned state of mind after 3 or 4 months of being home. No looking at every car for the guy with the AK, loud noises are just part of the back ground, and you'll stop thinking about mortars, rockets etc. This of course will be replaced by a sense that you should be back there in Iraq, looking after those who depended on you and vise-versa. Don't know what to do about that. Maybe the hardest part is realizing that most people here live their lives and never think about what is going on in the ME or the people that are over there in the shit every day. Pretty selfish group we Amis.

Perhaps a small consolation: Your experiences in Iraq will bring you a better perspective to the rest of your life. You'll bitch less and laugh more. You'll have a greater ability to understand that you don't need to sweat the little stuff. Beer will be tastier and, so far, they haven't run out here in Vegas. So hang in there, and don't go too native - in retrospect, your time will go fast.

Heh, Fritzi and I damn near ran over that same mortar round about a year ago. We told the Chief about it, but, you know, no one is going to get too worked up over a 60mike in an old Iraqi Army soccer field.


Russell Roberts

7:36 PM  

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