some months longer than others

I remember something like day 10 at Taji, back in October…

We had spent a few weeks in Kuwait, attending classes, briefings and dabbling in rumors about the war “up north.”

Our command spread a few of them around as well, the sort that parents scare their children with to keep them behaved. For us they usually went along the lines of, “Pay attention! They’re using “X” and “Y” up there. If you don’t remember what this class is teaching you, you could cause your friend to die.”

Which is pretty severe, granted. But they use that line for everything from blousing your boots to Arabic cultural greetings, so after a while, you tune it out and it’s not so bad.

All that to say that those weeks, coupled with the transit days of getting to Taji from Kuwait–the endless series of moves, temporary housing, briefings, air lifts, and 0200 wake ups…took what seemed like months.

So on day 10, as I was at the camp exchange, waiting for the shuttle to take be south to headquarters, I watched the sun set–one of my first Iraqi dust sunsets, and wondered how in the hell I was going to make it 10 months, let alone another 10 days.

“Boy it’s sure good to see that patch,” one of the bus stop patrons piped my way. Unit patches came in waves as units…well, showed up. Seeing a “new” patch around meant someone was coming in, and that someone was leaving for home.

“Yeah, we just got here a few days ago,” I said, noticing his patch and not recognizing it. Patches like mine from a major command were easily recognizable. There were a myriad of other Reserve and National Guard unit patches that I had never seen. His could have been one of those.

“Seeing you means I’ll be seeing less of me around here,” he went on, looking to the sun, shifting into a recollecting sort of mood, like a grandfather telling a childhood story. “It’s not so bad, really, but I’ll be glad to get going.”

It was cool, much cooler than Kuwait, which managed to hold on to its 100-plus temperatures well into traditional autumn. Taji then was a more welcoming host.

Now we’re 10-months plus into our own ration of war. “Seems like yesterday” and all that crap. Soon it’ll be time for me to head down to the bus stop and wait for some new joker with a new patch to pass along the hows and wherefores of the camp.

God’s been good to make me numb enough not to remember the past year like I did the first few weeks. Whew! I would have gone bonkers.

People are starting to get restless. Tempers are flaring as troops realize they don’t have to be nice to each other for much longer. Go ahead and burn the bridges! A few more weeks and we’re out! Woohoo!

I’ll celebrate with them as long as I can, keeping in mind the upcoming year. Some cats are planning barbecues and all that romp for when we land back in the states. “You’re soooo coming,” our equal opportunity rep said to me yesterday. “We need to get you drunk so you can make us laugh.”

“Yeah, don’t plan on going anywhere. We’re going to get you f***ed up!” an admin sergeant added.

While the idea of vomiting and being hung over for my time back in the states is tempting, I think I’ll probably bow out of a couple of the get togethers for a little “me” time. After all, there’s a lot of getting ready for Iraq still to come when I hit the states.

Maybe someone will see me at the Taji exchange around October of this year with my new patch, and go on about how the camp works and where things are.

That’ll be a trip.

###

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.

7 responses to “some months longer than others”

  1. BWJones says :

    Well dude, just keep posting and we’ll keep commenting over the upcoming year. Hopefully that will help pass the time a bit more.

    P.S. If it does not step on OPSEC, post more pics!

  2. beka says :

    you’ll have your new patch and all those haggard guys will treat you like a newbie and say silly things to you like “yeah…i remember when i first got here…” cause they’ve been there for a whole two months or what not. you’ll just laugh to your self and shake your head and then you’ll have all sorts of good stuff to tell us!

  3. salmons says :

    Mos def 😉

    BW: I’ll get some crackin’. Check out my Flickr album off of my linkage. That has a lot of pictoral goodness

  4. Radio Free Babylon says :

    You gotta love the Army. It’s a microcosm for what we had hoped to achieve as a nation.

    Forced integration, with equal opportunity reps hoping to get you drunk. There is no white or black or yellow or brown in the Army – you’re all green. And you folks who have served “over there” know something much deeper than many us ever will. You can write about it, you can share it with us, but only your comrades in arms will ever really “get it.”

    Where else in the world, in what society, do you find this kind of cross-cultural getting-along? Not even in a church, I dare suggest. I really hope the bridges don’t get burned. Hold those friendships tight. You’re all brothers and sisters of your Uncle Sam.

    Peace, Salmons.

    – Dave

  5. salmons says :

    Dave: That is true to a point–there is a special brotherhood for those in uniform.

    However, there still is a lot of voluntary segregation, just like in churches. People pair off and deal with others like themselves.

    Sometimes it gets nasy. We’ve had a few people reassigned from certain shops because of the racial tensions going on.

    Even the military is no refuge from divisive attitudes.

  6. Radio Free Babylon says :

    Yeah, Josh. I hear ya. As an Army dependent in Germany, we kids did our own voluntary self-segregation, usually based on music, which always seems to divide along racial lines.

    Our little community of Giessen sent its kids to Frankfurt American High School – and there were enough of us to require two busses. One we dubbed “the rock bus.” The other was “the soul bus.” There were some wiggers who rode the soul bus, and maybe one brother on the rock bus. (And he played guitar better than any of us.)

    But by and large, the Army is the best example we can find when it comes to integration – because it’s forced. You don’t know if your next assignment is under a Black, Brown, Yellow or White commander. You don’t know what color your new neighbors in the next-door quarters are gonna be.

    All I’m saying is the United States Military is as close as we’re gonna get to harmony, outside of the Millenial Reign of Christ. It even beats the modern church. Babylon’s Tower has never been better exemplified. United as One. Not Black, Brown, Yellow or White – but Red, White and Blue. (Or green, or desert camo.)

  7. salmons says :

    The above comment was to a comment I made about how things aren’t all rosy in the military–that there is a certain bond with those in uniform, but how we do a lot of self-segregating, on all sides of the racial spectrum.

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