I have always used writing as an outlet during my life. The following is something I wrote on my first deployment in southern Baghdad. I was 20 years old.
Feb 2, 2006 1:42 PM
Its dusk. The smell of human stench fills the air but you have become used to it. All you can hear is the steady beat of your heart and footsteps hitting the broken cement under your feet. In your ears broken squelch of radio traffic comes through your headset and momentarily breaks the rhythm of your march. In the distance you can hear the mosque playing the music of foreign prayer but you have no idea what you are hearing or what it means. Your shoulders hurt from the load on your back and your sweat is giving you chills as the sun starts to fall from its perch in the sky. A brilliance of color erupts from the sky in hues of crimson red, orange and yellow. It’s truly the most beautiful sunset you have ever seen over a place you would never have wished to be. The streets are crowded with people, all stopping and starring as you walk by. They stand next to their homes built of brick and mud. The houses are built on top of each other and most are lopsided, looking as if a strong breeze could knock them over. The road is littered with trash that looks as if it has been there long enough to have decomposed. There is no grass, no trees, and no street signs. Only an occasional palm drooping sadly from lack of nutrition. Children laugh and wave as you walk by hoping that you have candy in your pockets to share. Their smiles remind you of your youth and of the innocence you have lost. Mothers shoo them inside carful to steer clear of you. They are covered from head to toe in black dresses and veils over their heads only exposing worried eyes. Men on the corner look at you and you can’t tell if it is curiosity or hate that you see in their eyes. You finger your weapons trigger wondering if you have what it takes to take one of these men’s lives if you have to. You’re not scared. You’re at peace with your job and you know you will function with composure under any circumstance. You’re a soldier after all and this is home.
This is my thoughts on a normal patrol on a normal day in Iraq. There will probably be more to follow. Spelling and punctuation suck, sorry.
(Guess some things haven’t changed.)