Approaching the seventh anniversary of my “Freedom Day” (when I got out of the service), it seems fitting that I would take some time to reflect on a few more of my memories from that experience.
Almost anyone who has been in will tell you that they wouldn’t trade it for the world; whether they loved it or hated it.
I regret that I don’t keep in touch with my “Battles” as a more responsible Vet would, but that’s neither here nor there.
Upon seeing that photo with the ridiculously heavy radio on my back, I’m instantly reminded of the Battle who took that shot shortly after teaching me everything I knew about the radios.
I absolutely hated the responsibility of making sure my platoon's radios were all on the up and up. However, I will never forget how it essentially kept me wholly out of the guard towers during my time “Down Range.”
We didn’t see much action that tour, much to the dismay of most of my Battles.
One could almost count, on a single pair of hands, the number of fellas in my unit who weren’t bummed over the ante up to save your training for the next tour.
It was more or less understandable. Ya train for more than two years on how to “kick ass and take names,” so why wouldn’t you wanna “scuff [those] Nikes up” a bit?
Suffice it to say that I am not terribly distraught about my being “benched” for the one mission that my platoon was attacked on a routine convoy.
As a matter of fact, I was certain that my luck would’ve seen it play out much differently, for the worse.
Without giving too many details, even if ya switch up the vehicle order now and again, it’s a poor substitute for altering the proposed routes.
Armchair quarterbacking notwithstanding, I often wonder how the deployment might have turned out had I not thrown that despicably bad pass to my, then, squad leader during our warmups of the company’s game of flag football.
As if my hands were an instrument of destruction only, I all but foresaw the ball flying just over his reach, and him coming down wrong on his ankle.
I was certainly grateful to know that he harbored no ill will towards me after all was said and done.
Even when it seemed that I painted myself into a corner, long after his ankle healed; I can truly say that Sgt. C. might have had my back for anything shy of harming innocents.
That’s one sigh of relief that I will gladly breathe: I wasn’t with Charlie Rock when they accidentally opened up on that tribal leader’s son.
Just to jump around a bit more, I don’t think that I have ever been more simultaneously excited and afraid than the time that I was certain that they were going to send me out the wire with nothing more than a 9mil.
I had a couple dozen other guys in the convoy with me; all equipped with a “full combat load” of ammo, along with their rifles they’d been training with. Even still, I could not shake the thought of how dismal my aim had been the three or four times that I had had shot pistols at the ranges back in garrison.
All in all, I spent a decent chunk of my formative years memorizing weapons information and mastering the Art of “Hurry Up and Wait,” which I can gladly report did help shape much of my current framework for dealing with disappointment and delightful feelings.
As our greetings to officers in the unit often went, “To the limit!”