Iraq can get hot.

I’m not talking about just hot, but hot!

I’m talking about life-changing, turn a straight man gay, that tingling sensation is the unraveling of the space-time continuum, the dust is searing the flesh from my bones, sort of hot.

In many parts of the world, wind is welcome. “Ah! A breeze,” is usually a term of delight. Usually, but not in Iraq.

When the winds blow, always from the north west, the air actually feels warmer, like a big hair dryer blowing in your face. Your lips crack and the dryness works its way down your throat, dehydrating you before you notice you’re even sweating.

On my first few warm days, my body started to panic after breathing in the super-heated wind, like the reflex to lift one’s self out of a bath of too-hot water. Except, when you’re living in it, you can’t just step out of the tub, and it takes a few minutes to remind yourself that you’re not going to burst into flames.

Fabric from the scant flags crackle and snap in the wind — really, the only sound other than the wind itself. There is little life out, human or otherwise.

Reports of the temperatures vary, depending on how trumped up you want to make your story. Forecasts call for the 110s, while our on-site thermometers list 105-ish in the shade and 135 in the sun. We’re only into July, so the warm-up trend will continue for the next few weeks, at least. The only saving grace is that it’s gradual.

It was in this half-baked stroll, cursing dust and wind alike, that I had a wave of euphoria come over me. At first I thought it might be heat stroke, but realized it was a realization.

Here I was, halfway around the world, dirty, hot, shot-at, causes to gripe abound; but I remembered an old verse from the Bible that said “a man can do nothing but eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work.”

Find satisfaction. It’s not automatic, apparently. For me, much of life in the Army seems to have been one stop to the next, all in various stages of “suckage.” Was that all I was going to get out of this experience?

Sure I had a thousand stories on how people can do stupid things, and I get a laugh out of ’em, but is that all I want to get out of the military — reasons why it was stupid?

Even in war, amid the crap, people can grow. An emotional wound, news — good or bad, can lead to strength, if I would just take the time to get up and look around.

It’s a lot like exercise, I suppose. Either watch the thin people and bitch, or start running and stop eating crap all day. It takes time and a concerted effort.

There, God gave me a kick in the butt; now, the same to you! Move out, peeps!


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.

13 responses to “enthusiasm…bah!”

  1. finch says :

    ROCK – thanks bro…hey, my money is on august 7th to be the heat CAP as it were – my august7th out there was roughly 157 in the sun…mmmmm 157…drink water!

  2. Brad Warthen says :

    So you’re saying what Matthew Broderick’s character said in “Biloxi Blues:

    “It’s hot. It’s Africa hot. TARZAN couldn’t take this kind of hot.”

    More seriously: Thank you for taking the time to write this. Thanks for your whole site. It provides perspective for us civilian pukes who sit on our useless butts and complain about the heat in South Carolina.

    And most of all, thank you for your service.

    And was Dr. Thompson’s Hell’s Angels book a great read or what?

  3. salmons says :

    Brad: Ha! Definitely, it’s THAT hot!

    And thanks much for stopping by! I never think of civilians as “pukes” by any means, thinking of people back home living normal lives is what keeps me going. I’m glad there’s all that sitting on butts back home! I’m gunning for the time when me and the other cats here can do the same *wink*

    All of Thompson’s books are a wonder, and that one especially!

    Brogonzo of “Healthy Alternative to Work” is who turned me on to Thompson.

  4. kelly says :


    i know this is random, but i just found your profile and love some of the music and reading choices you have. very interesting blog to be sure! i noticed, too, that you have Rob Bell as one of the authors of a book. good stuff. and may i suggest, for further reading that is along those same lines, Rick McKinley’s Jesus in the Margins. blessings to you~

  5. Shannon says :

    Just stumbled upon your blog. I’ll definately be checking out your posts from now on. Being an American here on the bottom of the world (New Zealand), I feel I miss a lot with regard to what our troops are doing.
    Thanks for your perspective and honesty.
    My best to you and all the men and women who serve!

  6. Chris Bassett says :


    From a former US Army Chaplain, who proudly served in Baghdad, OIF II, and is now almost completely resigned, if the IRR will let me, to civilian life: Greetings. Keep up the good work. Just let them know the daily stuff, the creeping drudgery and the realizations that come, occasionally interrupted by the shock of a mortar or the solemn moments of reflection after the rumble of a nearby IED or car bomb. The mundane is far more extravagant than the media fare the average CNN viewer is getting. Good, eclectic reading – but if you’re going to read McLaren, Bell and Crossan, you must add a classic – Thomas a Kempis’ work, “The Imitation of Christ.” Oh, and go running – the mortars only hit open fields, anyhow, unless they’ve gotten better since I left…
    I’ll be praying for you.

  7. wilsonian says :

    Kicked my butt, indeed.
    Thanks 🙂

  8. finch says :

    HA -josh you’re famous now – the world is finally submitting! word…now all you need is a kung fu grip action mullet and you’ll be set!

  9. Radio Free Babylon says :

    Careful now, Sgt. Salmons – With all this increased traffic, the brass are gonna wise up to your blog and pull a Salsa Night on you. Might end up saying you are a “demoralizing factor.”

    To Brad: I had long wanted to read “Hell’s” and finally got it on Salmons’ recommendation – along with “Everything Belongs” and “Bible as it Was.” “Hell’s” is a little dated, but it’s a great glimpse into American History and the dawn of the 60s.

    Josh: It’s great that Americans can read this thing and find out what is happening in the Gulf from a guy who’s living there and seeing much – and who still has another year to pull. I expect by then you will be a minor celebrity among “the liberal media” and the progressive Christians – and a thorn in the side of Fox, Limbaugh and Rummy.

    Happy Fourth.

  10. Alicia P. says :

    Butt kicked here, then. I get it. Grateful, especially today, that you’ve shared the lesson. Stay safe, and thank you.

  11. Mary Lou says :

    I just found your blog linked from RAINY DAY THOUGHTS, and I will return. It is refreshing to find a young person who has the fortitude to actually THINK about what his lot in life should be, and draw strength from his thoughts! I am a retired civilian, but I worked 37 years for the Military, (Navy Exchange, various bases) and was married to two active duty sailors. (one died, one was a shit) And I was raised as a Navy Brat. So the past 3 years have been my only civilian life. Keep up the good work over there, and keep growing!!

    Good thoughts for your continued safety!!

  12. Beth* A. says :

    You constantly impress with your ability to make even the smallest of silk purses out of a raggedy sow’s ear. (that’s an oldie, but it’s a GOOD thing – really! I promise! Cross my heart! 😉

    Hope your July 4th wasn’t just another day, ho hum, for you there, Josh. Lots of good posts here on blogs today, but even the classics pale next to reminders from you and your brethren who are out there ‘keepin’ it real’ so those of us here mostly don’t have a clue what real’s like. Thanks, yet again!
    Now, when does that (new?) addy get posted?

  13. Fran aka Redondowriter says :

    Typepad featured you this week, so I decided to check you out even though the war thing scares me so. You are a very fine writer, indeed, and I appreciate your honesty about what you are experiencing there. Your description of the heat all by itself makes me near panic–do you really adjust. Though I am philosophically opposed to this war, I am proud to be an American–and i am grateful for those of you who serve on behalf of us all. Ron Kovic, Born on the 4th of July, is a neighbor and his stories curl my hair. Here’s hoping your superiors don’t curb your freedom to write so we can all be there without being embedded with a CNN reporter.

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