Sunday, October 3, 2010

War again...

As I stepped off the plane and my boots hit the ground in Kuwait once more, my brain was in turmoil. My leave had felt long, and relaxing. I spent many a night around the fire pit in the backyard among friends, family, and loved ones. I enjoyed my favorite pastimes, going fishing and shooting, and I even learned to ride a quad. I was a hero to my cousin’s Cub Scout den, and the guest speaker at a college writing course, where I made some new friends. It was almost too good-I didn’t want to be here anymore.

Whatever my original reasons for volunteering to come to Iraq, they had become mired down in the frustrating Army bureaucracy and lost. So many petty rules and regs that seem like a good idea up the chain are often in practice a major annoyance to boots on the ground. Along with the “Ether Bunny”, the “Good-Idea Fairy” can be one of the most dangerous mythical beasts of the military.

A good example is the Army Combat Shirt-it’s a tight, but breathable, moisture-wicking, long sleeved shirt designed to be worn underneath body armor. It’s also quite comfortable without armor, and keeps the temperature feeling much cooler than a standard ACU blouse. But the Combat Shirt may only be worn just prior to, during, or just after a mission. Leave it to the Army to take 7 years to come up with a practical, comfortable uniform well suited to desert warfare-and promptly come up with all sorts of rules stating why it *can’t* be worn!

In any case, when my boots hit the ground, I hated it, but I resigned myself to my fate, shuffling from plane to bus, from bus to tent, to other tent. Each step brought me closer to Iraq again, but also closer to going home again. The thought of stepping off the plane for good several months down the road is a surprisingly good motivator, but I had to be careful not to dwell on just how many months it would be.

Once the in-processing was completed, late in the evening around 1800, we were released for the night. Despite traveling for 20 hours, through several different time zones, I wasn’t tired. I’d slept some on the plane, and my brain was still swirling with thoughts of my life back home, and my future. My college application was in and I was almost sure to get in. I was going to have my own place for the first time, and no more insane 70 hour work weeks-excepting maybe “Finals week”. I was thinking about failed romance, both fresh and stale. I tried to think that the time that I had left would be quick, and there were so many good things happening in the states, I couldn’t wait. I felt like a child when somebody tells him Christmas is just a week away-a week is a short time but it feels like an eternity when you’re excited about the end.

I found a buddy and we grabbed a coffee and traded stories for a good hour. While we sat, a wind began to blow, bringing thick, wet air with it from the Gulf. A fog formed in the darkness, so thick that it was a stretch to see fifty feet in front of me. It cooled the earth around me, the first time that I’d ever thought to consider the temperatures in Kuwait as pleasant. I started to laugh a little to myself at this unexpected turn of events. I’d always loved cool, foggy weather. My buddy from Georgia looked at me funny when I chuckled.
“What the hell’s wrong with you?” He asked me. I turned to him and offered a big grin.
“I’m back” I told him simply. Then I shrugged and walked off into the mist.


  1. The echoes of your time at home are still reverberating. I'm still making too much coffee for one. I half-expect to see your smiling face come through the door,no doubt with something smelly in your hands and those big boots that scuff my floor on your feet. But the time will pass, and you will be home, and that will be wonderful!!

  2. Hopefully, you will soon be in the swing of things and the time will move quickly, much in the way your time on leave did. I don't envy your location, but your work is important. Thank you.

  3. not that where I am at compares to yours but the monotony and feelings I feel are mutual bureaucracy runs rampant but Ive found Ive come to act and think more decisively now than I had before. Any weakness in decisions allows others to take something from you whether it be power credit or just a bit of your spirit. The Daily grind takes its toll but small goals will get you through whether it is qualifications or just stepping up and proving yourself.

    Find your sanity (or insanity) amongst your friends and fellow soldiers through that you will become stronger. The common phrase its about the man next to you even in my situation has come to a new meaning and value within my life. If I could I would be there with you. I know your character to be of high standards and wouldn't think twice serving with you. I hope this incoherent rambling at least shows you you aren't alone and you will make it home soon.

    MA2(EXW)Daniel Huppert USN

  4. PopPop and Nana signing in:
    Thanks for sharing these thoughts Jimmy. We agree it was a great 2 weeks. Hopefully you carried our love and support back to Iraq with you. All of the good times were just a taste of what life will be when you return again. For now you need to know how proud of you we all are. As a combat medic, you have chosen to help your fellow soldiers when they need you. There is truly no greater love. Stay strong and feel your family's love.