29 April 2010

Small things can be so important....


From the Soldier side: For those who’ve read my Blog for awhile, you know there were a few “exciting” moments on my year tour in Iraq from Dec 2004 to 2005. Yep, good times had by some. Like the time we went into the big mess hall in Baghdad and they were out of tomatoes at the salad bar. Wow that was rough. Or the time I got to the mess hall and they had run out of the Baskin Robins Rocky Road ice cream. Wow, that was rough. You wouldn’t believe how some of the REMFs were complaining. “How can you have a salad without tomatoes?” “What, no Rocky Road! This is an outrage!”

Or the one night I went to take shower after returning from a mission and all the water had been used up. Man I had to go to bed all stinky.

But what really got exciting was the dozen or so times I was on a camp or FOB that got hit with mortars or rockets (we couldn’t tell the difference until some bomb tech went and looked at the blast site—and to be honest, at the time the shit was hitting, we didn’t even stop to think “oh, that sounds like an 82 MM mortar” because the explosions all sounded about the same.)

When the bombs hit, and you were not in a fortified building or bunker, I often thought about the stories I read from past wars where the soldier said they tried to crawl inside their helmet. Yep! I had the same thought a few times. But I was too big and my new Kevelar Helmet was too small for me to get my entire body underneath it.

Other silly thoughts. When my team went to FOB Kalsu and help out for a few weeks. That crappy little FOB was getting hit everyday after lunch. Since we were “visitors” my team and I got to stay in a big tent. When we first moved into the tent, my Corporal looked at the roof and said: “Man, look at all those holes. I wonder what caused those.”

We found out. When the “shit” hit the camp, the fragments flew up in the air, over the blast barriers and landed on the tents…tearing lots of holes in the tents. We were lucky they never hit us at night, but it did rain at night when we were there….and we got wet.

Yep, war sucks. But I loved my helmet and I kept “her”. My dog thinks it smells funny. ...and when I think back to some of the times we got hit with mortars, we'd here two rounds hit "BOOM BOOM!!!" and I actually got to where I thought:"Wow, they mised again," then walk to the bunker and hang out for awhile.

Note: When I told the complaining REMFs the reason there were no tomatoes or Rocky Road ice cream was because a supply convoy had gotten hit with IEDs and some drivers were killed…they calmed down a bit.

F.O.B= Forward Operting Base
R.E.M.F.= Ask a Vet what that means.



Coffeypot said...

Kanani posted once about the mail truck on the way to David’s location being hit and having some wounded guys and the mail stolen. All the packages sent from home went to the black market (probably).

I have heard WWII vets talk about being upset because the couldn’t get closer to the ground because of the buttons on their shirts. Combat humor - dark but funny.

I bet that helmet could tell some stories - unprintable here.

Momma Fargo said...

Love the helmet and dog! Great service. Thanks for that!

CI-Roller Dude said...

CP, and I remember my dad when he was in "Nam"...writing home and telling us how a load of mail got shot up etc. That's why I tried to tell the nice folks back home to not send anything delicate.

MF, I'm sure if the helet was outside, my dog would pee on it.

powdergirl said...

I don;t know any vet to ask, but I'm guessing that whatever R.E.M.F stands for, it ain't a compliment?

Anonymous said...

1. Know the feeling very well.
2. Once was caught in the open with mortars coming in.
3. Was raining, 50 degrees, lying in mud and scared out my mind.
4. Willie's comment to Joe about buttons being in the way was so true.
5. Was staring at another troop whose eyes looked like they were going to pop out of his head.
6. Probably looked just like me.
7. Later was watching 'Sands of Iwo Jima' on the late late.
8. They showed the mortar attack where SGT Stryker gets it right enough that I went back to #2, scared S-less all over again.
9. Probably saw that movie 10 or 20 times growing up -but never again. Don't need to relive being frightened.
10. BTW SGT Stryker, played by John Wayne, was modeled on SGT John Basilone.
11. Basilone won the MOH on Gaudalcanal, volunteered to go back in combat, was KIA on Iwo Jima.
12. Since Basilone had about a million grieving Italian relatives in New Jersey and had spent a year on the war bond tour, the associated publicity was ugly.
13. After that, the authorities tried to keep MOH recipients out of furthur combat.
14. Policy no longer applicable, since MOHs seem to only be awarded posthumously. The few that the authorities have seen fit to parcel out.
15. Basilone and I were both former Army and like(d) blondes.
Further similarities do not exist.
V/R JWest

Kanani said...

Great story!
Yup, I remember David telling me about the mail convoy that got blown up. I had to tell John and Hope and felt so bad. Everyone had put in so much work. Fortunately, a week later, he received John and Hope's packages for and his unit. Those packages made everyone so happy. I have to tell you this ...prior to his coming, the unit was getting zilch. John, Hope and others stepped in and really made a difference.

Hey, CI... I wanted to let you know about this. Restrepo the documentary about Battle Company 2/503 wil be showing this Sunday in Berkeley. May 2
Pacific Film Archive Theater
2575 Bancroft Way (at Bowditch)
Berkeley CA
Buy tix here http://www.trilogyticketing.com/sffs/?SFIFF53

Yup, Code Pink will probably be there too. Should be FUN!

powdergirl said...

A salad without tomatoes? War really is hell.

Saker said...

Awww, such a cute dog...

I don't really like 'REMF'- I prefer being called 'TOCroach.' I think it's catchier. :D

CI-Roller Dude said...

PG & others...My goal before going to Iraq was to be a REMF. As things truned out, I didn't get that chance until the Marine Amtrak I was riding in tried to break my back..then I got my chance to be in a nice office with AC...well, it had AC at least.

K, Sorry I couldn't make it to Bezerkly, but I had to do some more Army training last weekend...

Mr West, you know what I'm talking about. nuf said.