Clear as mud

Mud up to your knees.

Mud up to your knees.

In Baghdad, the mud was becoming a problem.

Dirt churned into thick, sucking slop, tearing boots from feet after just a few seconds grip.

I stood in a sea of raw earth, looking out to the vehicles on the opposite end of the yard. I was in a consolidated receiving and shipping point (CRSP) – a sort of one-stop shop for cargo coming and going.

Containers stood stacked in rows along the outside edge. Most of the goods had been moved to alternate sites once the rain had settled in, as the mud kept most vehicles in the yard once they entered.

Feeling like Peter, walking over terrain that felt more like water than ground, I wound my way through to the end of the yard.

Vehicle graveyard.

Vehicle graveyard.

Here was the final resting place for the vehicles blown to smithereens on the streets.

They drug them out here, away from prying eyes and the normal day’s goings on, to let the last bits of blood and lingering spirit drip from the charred, twisted chassis.

“There were KIA in all of these,” said the master sergeant I was tagging along with. It was his job to inspect the vehicles and collect the required paperwork before sending them south.

There, shops would tear off the salvageable pieces; put them on new vehicles and send them back into the fight. On and on.

“So many dead,” he went on, looking down the row. “It just makes you think, ‘For what?’ you know?”

I didn’t know what to say. I just stood there in the muck, eyeing the gaping holes in the supposed “up-armored” humvees and tanks, while the master sergeant checked off the items on his list.

Clouds of scavenger birds from the neighboring landfill filled the sky, perching here and there, eyeing the vehicles. Could they sense something about these remains?

“They’re going to build walls around this area eventually,” explained the 2nd Lt. in charge of the yard. “You don’t need soldiers looking at this stuff, it keeps the morale down.”

I can see why, it would take just one trip through the mess to feel the force of what we deal with here, and seeing them in the yard everyday must be like working next to a morgue.


About salemonz

Born in San Diego, Calif. Raised as a Navy Brat, I jumped ship and crossed over to the Army. Served as an enlisted journalist for a bunch of years, then helped the DoD figure out what the hell to do with social media. After the Army, now I drift down the river of life, trying not to be a jerk.

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