Friday, December 08, 2006

The Bullets Scream To Me From Somewhere

I got shot at for the first time today.

We were in the motor pool, Oz and I, working to service his vehicle, when the disturbing whine of a passing bullet rang in my ears, maybe a dozen yards away. A second later, the air was filled with the songs of multiple live rounds in flight.

Most people who've never been to war expect that when something actually happens, one run the risk of just slipping into a catatonic state of panic; that one will just freeze up, time slowing down like the opening scene of "Saving Private Ryan." That didn't happen today. We've been training for combat since the days we reported for Basic; drilled with the same hypothetical scenarios and responses over and over, until even tasks of mortal importance come to us like second nature. Though my heart rate shot through the roof upon hearing the noise, I don't actually remember being afraid. All I remember is dropping the grease gun I'd been using, leaping down from the trunk, and yelling for Oz to grab his weapon while securing my own. Everything after that was a blur of shouts and crunching footsteps; a tunnel-vision home video jittering as I sprinted like mad for the nearest bunker.

There are no John Wayne heroics to be found in this story. We did not engage. Our perimeters were unbreached, and for all we know it was just some inexperienced gunner on a .50 cal. getting stupid on the test-fire range. I suspect now that it was just a pack of indigent farm kids stirring up trouble with their father's Kalashnikovs, but whatever the case, we didn't let the sudden excitement faze us. We joked around and smoked cigarettes in the safety of the bunkers for about twenty minutes, and then went back about our business.

The rest of the day passed uneventfully. After being here for a while, the realities of combat become more a nuisance than anything. Like it or not, being in the Army is still a job, just like any other, and regardless of whatever happens, any day that ends in the comfort of our living quarters is a good one. Today was yet another such day.

2 Comments:

Blogger Softball Slut said...

Glad to hear you are doing ok. I just read your previous story. My heart hurts for Pfc. Hedley. I hope she can find some inner peace.

7:29 PM  
Blogger cinnabari said...

I'm glad the training's worked so well. I'd be more alarmed if you did report time dilation and freeze-up.

Just keep your head down...

11:21 PM  

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