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war is real

unconcerned, uncompromised and unconvoluted letters from a soldier getting ready to face war for the second time. 

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

6:08 PM -

i haven't been to sleep in roughly 35 hours.

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Monday, April 04, 2005

4:19 PM - AW, YOU REALLY DO CARE.

new sleeping bags. night-vision scopes for our m4 carbines. complete m.o.l.l.e kits for every soldier. a gerber tool for every soldier. just when you start thinking that the army doesn't care whether or not you have the right tools to do your job, they go and ship you a complete assload of new stuff that makes you feel a little special.

we started getting our rfi (rapid fielding initiative) stuff today, and i'm pretty stoked. i think the coolest thing i saw all day, besides the scopes, was the assault ladders. small-ass ladders that automatically extend with the push of a button, allowing us to reach windows and roofs in record time. of course, there's also the new sleeping bags, which are lighter and infinitely more comfortable than the old ones, even though they were pretty nice already.

it feels like we're going to war. which we are. but i feel like i could leave tomorrow and be almost nearly equipped to do everything i have to do.

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Sunday, April 03, 2005

7:26 PM - OUT OF MY LANE

Sundays are just about the worst thing ever. I can think of a few that are worse, such as falling down the stairs while cradling a $2000 laptop in your arms or coming home from a long deployment to find no one waiting for you, or even looking around as all your friends come to the end of their time in the army and ETS, leaving you behind as the sole survivor of several years worth a pain and frustration. Sundays are almost as bad, simply because you've had all weekend to enjoy this elusive thing called "free time" and now you sit, merely eight hours away from having to go back to the job that you hate more than anything.

okay, before this thing gets too out of hand, i need to explain something about the army. i loved iraq. i loved the friendships, the jokes, and even the adrenaline rushes you get when someone is firing an rpg at you and you either take them out with a well-placed headshot or you sit back and hope they don't suddenly become expert marksmen with the rockets. iraq was simple, you went out on missions and you relaxed and had a good time. hell, even missions were a good time, because you were out there against god knows what and it was always interesting.

garrison is a different story. ever since i came home, i've discovered that 90% of what happens here is bullshit. the only reason a lot of stuff happens is because people above us want to look good and get promoted, and i think that's bullshit. why should i care if some fucking 2nd LT ever makes colonel? i don't. the only thing i care about is the safety of the guys around me and bringing them home safe from this upcoming deployment. if we have to work late in order to make that happen, then fine, but mostly we end up sitting around for HOURS after we're supposed to get off work because the people up in the office forgot to do some important stuff during the day and it has to be done before we can go home. i mean, why does the army look upon quality family time as such a crime? they talk about being family-centric and giving us the chances we need to spend time with our loved ones before we go away FOR A YEAR, but when it comes down to it, we're always sitting around while our families wait at home, dinner going cold on the table.

and it's always like that. if the army were like iraq all the time, a lot more people would enjoy it, and i think you'd find out that the re-enlistment rate and recruiting numbers would be a lot higher than they are right now. as it stands, people are jumping ship like drowning rats, and i'll be damned if i give any civilian i personally know ANY incentive to join the army.

i didn't want to go into this thing with everyone thinking i'm a malcontent, because i'm not. i enjoy the friendships and sometimes i enjoy the job, but i fucking hate the bullshit. cut out the bullshit, and i might even think about re-enlisting.

nah. that'll never happen.

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Saturday, April 02, 2005

9:59 AM - THEY'RE ONLY CHASING SAFETY

my second part to "how i stopped loving reality and learned to take the pill" will probably be posted next week. i'm still writing it; well, i say that, but i actually mean that i'm procrastinating until the last possible minute because i'm too lazy to do much of anything once we get off work. usually, a fun time for me involves sitting on the couch with a season of anything on dvd and drinking beer until i pass out and have to wake up at dark-thirty the next morning. good times.

yesterday was pretty slick, really. i figured they'd punish us for having time off since they like to do that so much, but it was really laid back and casual as far as the atmosphere goes yesterday. of course, the idiots of apache company had to go and be retarded as usual, so a lot of them got the dog shit smoked out of them. another term for you: smoked means that an nco made you do pushups or situps or various other pt excercises until you physically cannot move. so if i say that guy got smoked or this girl got smoked or a smoking was going on, it doesn't involve cigarettes or beauty. regardless of the smoking going on, we had final formation and had a our safety briefing, which is always my favorite part of the week because all they're do is playing ass coverage just in case one of us goes out and does the exact same things they're telling us not to every week. and of course, we do it anyway...i think i did three out of the five last night, actually.

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Friday, April 01, 2005

6:17 AM - HOW I LEARNED TO STOP LOVING REALITY AND TAKE THE PILL *PART ONE*

on january 13 of 2004, i was in iraq, sitting in my tent playing ps2 with the rest of the guys when mortars starting dropping out of the sky.

real-life mortar attacks are surprisingly just like the ones you see in the movies. there's a sudden whine that grows louder and louder, quickly followed by a dreadful feeling in your gut and an urgency that drives you to run anywhere and hide under the nearest thing you possibly can. you want to hide under tanks, but they tell you that's not safe even though it seems perfectly natural to have 100 tons of protective metal shielding you from explosions. you settle for second best, which is huddling beside a concrete barrier and holding your head between your legs, as if your thighs are going to offer any kind of serious protection for your head when it's already covered in a kevlar helmet.

this time around, i grabbed my vest and kevlar, and ran outside to the gathering point. i was the first out, and given that it was in the middle of the afternoon, it wasn't surprising that there were only a few of us running in. we had guys on missions, guys in the MWR tent watching movies, and guys down at the washrack taking care of vehicles. the washrack subject is something i'll get into another day, but needless to say that it doesn't make sense, to me at least, to wash vehicles one time and then get them all dirty again as you drive them to kuwait, where you'll spend another two days on the rack taking care of them AGAIN.

so the mortars fell from the sky, and by some fate or grace or what have you, one landed directly in the middle of the field next to us. i felt the shrapnel whizzing by, and had a few gashes cut out of my lower back by either shrapnel or flying rock. it didn't hurt, but it was hot as hell and bled like a motherfucker. no one was hit, at least not badly, so we continued to huddle together and pretend like we had the best form of protection possible from the best government in the world instead of just being left out there on our own to fend for ourselves.

everything settles down a bit, but only for about what seems like twenty seconds. then i hear an unintelligible scream coming from the tent next to mine, and even though it sounds like the worst form of arabic available combined with the guttural yell of a howard dean, i can recognize that it's a call for a medic. we run to the tent and there's a gigantic hole in the middle of the ceiling and the tent is just all torn to shreds. i get that feeling in the deep parts of my stomach, like i know what's going to happen next but i really think i can put it off by pretending that i'm back home enjoying time with my family.

we run into the tent. there's staff sergeant lister (not a real name obviously) laying on the floor with...well, nothing. his stomach has been torn open, his guts are hanging out and he's dead. even by looking at him from ten feet away, i know that the medics won't have to waste time on the procedures they normally do because this guy is dead. i immediately think back to the time when we went out to the lake and lister was there, drunk off his ass. it's always routine to say that this guy and that guy was the nicest person ever once they die, but in truth, lister was an asshole and always went out of his way to belittle and be beligerent. i hatet, hated the guy, but now he's laying here on the floor dead and i'm seeing guts and i'm seeing blood and i just turn my head and vomit, because no matter how many times i see it, i still wasn't prepared. i vomit until i have no mre's left in my stomach and can't even begin to think that there might still be some liquid left inside my gut.

the moment passes. yes, lister is in fact dead and there's nothing that can be done for him. sgt. smith is injured and may never walk again, but outside of that, there's really not much to be done or say. we got caught with our pants down and there was absolutely nothing we could do about it. besides, we were going home in thirty days, so what did it matter? we'd only lost three guys our entire time in iraq, and so another one really didn't faze us as much as it probably should have.

it fazed me, though. a few days after, i started waking up in the middle of the night after having dreams of seeing sgt. lister standing over my bed with his guts hanging out. yeah, nightmares you could call them, and they sucked. i put them off, figured it was normal, and came home with everyone else to a reception from our families and friends. well, most people, at least. i had no one there and that was fine with me, because all i could think about doing was walking straight to the px, buying about three cases of beer, and getting so fucking drunk that i couldn't walk straight and would actually sleep entirely through the night.

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2:07 AM - fuck boot shining

yeah, i know i don't write very much on here. truth be told, there isn't too much to write about right now and at the same time i've been too busy to sit down and write. i know that doesn't make sense to anyone, unless of course you're in the regular army. in that case, it'll make perfect sense.

if you're in stores, be sure to pick up the latest from my boy cbftw in the latest issue of esquire magazine. i couldn't have fucking said it any better myself, which is why colby is out of the army and i'm still sitting here wiping the damn dirt off my boots in a half-ass attempt to shine them and avoid a confrontation tomorrow morning. picking fights at five in the morning is about the most retarded thing a person can do and i'm already annoyed enough at that point in time as it is, so anything i can do to make people NOT talk to me that early is something i'll always look into, even if it means shining boots.

i'll tell you why shining boots is stupid. i can understand tradition and looking good and all that, but the only people who see us are OTHER SOLDIERS. it's not like we're walking around in a normal city or anything. 99 percent of the people i encounter every day are other soldiers, and all we're doing is wasting time trying to impress them. what is the fucking point? waste what little free time you're given in order to impress someone who is ALSO wasting what little free time he has trying to impress you. the fucking cycle never ends. actually, i take that back, because it'll end here in a few weeks when we stop wearing bdu's and switch to the new army combat uniform. they're snazzy and we get to wear desert boots, which means no more shining and thus no more bitching.

well, it's 1;30 in the morning and i'm drunk. i don't have to be at work until noon, which rocks the ever-loving fucking world, but if they thing that this three hours of compensation time is enough to make up for the 34 extra hours i've worked this week, they're fucking insane.

or they're in the army.

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