Monday, January 28, 2008

Photo Story Monday - The Reality Of War

Every Monday for a few months, I've been bringing you tales of battlefield excitement, from ducking machine gun fire to uncovering mass graves. While these stories are intense and need to be told, they really don't show for you the true realities one experiences in war: infinite, soul crushing boredom.

Behind every firefight, every raid, every huge clearing mission, lies hours and hours of downtime, plan changes, reconfiguration of plan changes, cancellations, earlier start times and later start times. After the intensity of knocking down gates and dragging away a boogeyman, we'd sit on couches - or in Strykers - for hours, waiting on 'the word,' the ubiquitous order from above, to pack up and head back. Exfiltration, a fine art it seemed, would take at least an hour if everything went perfectly.

If you've been a reader for awhile, you probably guessed that is never the case.






L-R: Dozer, Payday, Killa Kimes and The Dude With No Nickname



Gearing up for a move to our outpost in the Tahrir neighborhood of Baqubah. Notice only one man in a vest. If we were leaving at nine, we'd be out there at eight, and leave around 9:45 after getting radio problems taken care of. Most of us knew this all too well and waited for the last minute.





Payday and Matt in Mosul


A staple of mounted patrols at the beginning of our deployment: dropping down and having a nap. Standing all day in the hatch will get your head blown off, which is all the more reason to relax.





Hey kid, shouldn't you be at school?


Some moments were dull when action was happening only feet away. As members of my squad fired on an IED emplacer and a helicopter blew up his car with a missile, I was downstairs keeping an eye on the front door - and the kid who lived in the house. Along with Payday, we chuckled at the hijinks of Sylvester.





Ten seconds!.....I mean one minute. Sorry.


We spent untold hours waiting for explosive ordanance disposal teams to get to the IEDS we found. Not to take away from them, but there was a lot for them to do in Baqubah. This particular day, we waited so long that some guys took off their tops to get some relief from the heat.





From bottom to top: Bill, Cooter, and Brian Chevalier


The most common cure for boredom during a deployment: gambling! For hours we'd sit around, gathered around a cot and play Texas Hold 'Em. In Mosul we had our own poker table and played almost every night. Later on in the deployment we didn't play as much, but every gambler has fond memories of those times. My favorite: going all in with three-of-a-kind threes, only to lose my stack, and the game - to Dozer's three-of-a-kind fours.

These are among countless war stories we have but never get told. Like sitting on cots with sweat pouring down our faces, debating the war, evolution and if NASCAR really is a sport, or crowding around to see the newest Hollywood release on a bootleg DVD. Those are the moments soldiers revere the most; the stories you've never heard.

AH

11 comments:

Nolan said...

Hey Alex, in the picture where you're waiting for the team to show up and detonate the IED, where are you waiting? Is that someone's house?

And thank you for your service.

(great blog, btw. you really tell stories in a way that is never heard any where else)

TJ said...

Many of the stories told in war may seem mundane or too intense to want to recall right now. Someday those stories will become more important to recall and one will want to revisit even the most harsh of memories.
I have burned all of my photos, video and written recollections onto blank CDs. I labeled them with a disc labeling device called the Dymo DiscPainter. The labels had color photos along with text descriptions. My goal is to make "My Story" of the war. I hope others do the same and someday all Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, and Airmen can trade and share their personal discs of memories with each other.
It is important that we all preserve our experiences. These stories need to long survive us.

The Minstrel Boy said...

we had some legendary poker games at dong ap bai too dude. nothing like a constant threat of sudden violent death to promote a pretty vicious set of gambling chops. . .

our game was seven stud hi-lo. brutal.

David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 01/29/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

Anonymous said...

NASCAR is not a sport. It is driving really fast in circles.
In the Navy, we had acey duecy tournements.

Danny said...

Oh i have that dymo printer and i love it...its a great tool for makeing customized cd covers and its a easy to use....its a great to usefor alot of things like filing and this that yoru talking about as well

supergirlest said...

hey, dude... i saw a hit from your page on my statcounter and thought i'd come checkout your blog. i like it. a lot.

i'll be back.

peace.
kara

themorethingschange... said...

Bittersweet to see your friend Chevy there -- it must be hard for you to pull all this up again and share it with us. Thank you.

~P~

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Dunc said...

oh the orange citrus rip-it you are holding in the first picture...the best of all ripits.