A little something different. Caution: some strong language follows.
“Reading an article earlier and then watching a show I’m watching really has me in a state.
Need to write. Need to share.
I don’t “miss” war. I don’t “miss” the violence and fear. Yes, fear. I was afraid at times. The fear usually came after the action, but at times, lying under a bunk listening to rockets fall only 100 meters or less from me…having no trigger under my finger to fight back…that was immediate fear.
Not knowing when or where the last one would fall. Was that the last one? Was that? I still hear the whistles so they’re still incoming. The sickening “crunch” sound of the explosions that can only be understood by those who have heard them.
Then silence…briefly…followed by sirens warning us of an attack that we were clearly already aware of.
Is it safe to move? I have to get to the TOC and start making sure no one was hit, or if they were, how badly. That leaves a permanent mark. No matter how much you joke about it, it leaves a mark. But you have to joke about it. “Man those mothers can’t shoot for shit.”
Nervous laughter. Hyper-vigilant ears listening for any hint of more whistles. What was that? Did you hear that? Silence. No, it was nothing.
In the cockpit, it was a different world. Somehow convincing yourself that you’re untouchable as you fly over scores of people that you KNOW want nothing more than to kill you and drag your body down those nasty ass streets in front of television cameras and cell phone cameras.
Hours of boredom, flying around inspecting every hot spot in the street, every person “suspiciously” hanging out along the road. Hoping that you find someone f-ing around and that you can end them…but somehow, at the same time, hoping that you don’t. Tracers! Head that direction and see what the “F” is going on. Nothing. Rounds fired in the air by someone who is already safely inside a building. Level them all. Set fires. Watch them burn…but no. There are families and innocents down there.
And then More tracers.
Radios come to life, sending you hauling ass to some random corner of the battlefield where American Soldiers are being ambushed. Bringing up the assigned radio frequency, you are met with voices of panic barely audible through the gunfire being fired at targets they might not even see. Frantically searching for the owner of the voice once you get within visual range of the still invisible fight. It’s there! I hear it on the radio.
Where are they? Do you see them? Voice, give me your location and please don’t tell me you’re beside a brown building. They’re all fucking brown.
Jesus. Do you see them? There! Tracers! There! Got ‘em. I see them. Voice, I see you. Where are the bad guys? Rooftops…hiding behind unidentifiable boxes. Where are they? Do you see them? Tracers. Come right, come right! There! That guy! Is that a weapon? Is he holding a weapon? Jesus Christ, turn that other radio down. Where did he go?
I lost hm. Come back around. Sir, you HAVE to find them! I know that! Come left! There. That’s a weapon. Is he trying to hide? He is! Voice, I see your target! Confirm location of your other guys. Roger, I see them.
I count four trucks. Permission to engage? Roger. Initials Bravo Romeo. I am Alpha Romeo and we’ll be inbound hot.
Fear? None. Pure focus. Line me up. WASn’ gun. Lasing. Firing.
Time comes to a crawl as you wait for the rounds to impact your target. Please be accurate. Please land where I aimed. Please. Impact. Dust. Panic. Death. Another burst to be sure. Another.
Landing back at the house. Handshakes. Maybe hugs. Debrief. Video tape review. Questions. Chow time…gotta eat.
Just ended three lives but damn this spaghetti is awesome. Grab as many energy drinks as you can sneak out of the chow hall. Back to your room, boots off, laptop on. Skype. Facebook. Shower. Bed…but no sleep. Adrenaline…disbelief.
What the hell just happened? I did my job. That’s what just happened. That was awesome. Saved lives today. Why am I shaking? Why am I not tired? I have been up for 19 hours.
Addiction. Inexplicable feelings across the spectrum. An indescribable bond with…something. People. Feelings. Smells. Sounds. Adrenaline. And yes…fear. At times, I find myself craving what I sometimes couldn’t wait to get away from. I think about it daily and on occasion dream about it at night. It bonds with your DNA and there is no shaking it. None. It’s you. It defines who you are…or at least a portion of who you are. It makes you emotional, sometimes over the smallest things.
Impatience. Rage. Love. Appreciation of life’s little things. Lately, the stupidest thing will put a lump in my throat and I have no idea why. Would I change it? Not a thing. Taking lives, losing friends, sharing the fear and exhilaration, suffering through the heat and boredom, missing family and holidays. It makes me who I am and I love it.
All of it…on some level.”