Sunday, February 04, 2007

Another Sunday...

Another mission come and gone. I'm thankfully intact, as are all my friends. I've been back for a few days, but honestly with the lack of sleep I've been getting I've been less than inclined to write.

It's Sunday, and the Diyala farmland has been slashed by rain these last few days. The cold has abated somewhat, and there's a sweet, warm breeze coming in from the North. I got up early today--about 0700--and so for now, I'm sitting in the local Internet cafe, enjoying the quiet and talking to an old friend from college over Instant Messenger. I really wish I had something more profound to say at the moment, but unfortunately with the Internet service down at my room, I have less time to commit every single thought I have onto digits. Too many ideas lately have been left to die of exposure overnight.

Our last mission took us out to Baquba, where we were sent to link up with a local armored cavalry element. I rode in the platoon sergeant's Humvee, with SFC Jameson, Spcs. Colton and Gonzales, and the Hopi, Pfc. Ahote, manning the .50 cal. Let me say first off, that I hate riding in Hummvees. They're cramped, prone to rollovers--especially when the new up-armor kits--and even with the armor, still considerably more vulnerable to IEDs than a good 5-ton or HEMMTT. That being said, the convoy out wasn't bad. I spent the trip pounding cans of Red Bull to stay awake, and bullshitting over private channel with the rest of my squad. We love private channel, because it allows us to hear each other over the din of the vehicle, while still scanning the main channel for official chatter.

We ended up getting lost as hell out at Camp Warhorse, unable to find our rendezvous point for our security element. By the way, Warhorse is a dump, from what I could see. The only good thing I've heard about the place is their DFAC. It took us an hour and a half to find our Cav guys, and before long we were rolling back out the wire again, this time with Bradleys and Abrams' speeding ahead of us on either side of the road. We got to our mission site a half an hour later, so between all the little hiccups and missed turns, what should have been an hour convoy took more like four hours.

The mission went well enough, though of course I can't say here exactly what we did. I can say what I did, though--I got covered in mud and sweat, and worked literally until sunrise. At one point, while securing a bridge we had to traverse, I nearly lost my weapon down a gap in the cratered median. I was climbing under a "overbridge" at the time, and in the process was required to unsling my rifle so I could lowcrawl underneath. The primary bridge atop which the temporary structure sits was damaged by a rocket at some point, and the whole thing straddles a quarter-mile-wide gorge that drops down over sixty feet to the river. I tripped on a chunk of concrete, and to my horror my weapon went tumbling down into the abyss. I thought my life was over at first, but upon shining my flashlight into the crack, I discovered a spool of razor wire had fallen partway into the opening, thus snagging my weapon by the sling and leaving it to dangle some fifty feet over a watery grave. I can't begin to describe the relief I felt at that moment. I'd be a buck private right now, if not for that length of concertina.

Thankfully, that was as eventful as things got. A few bursts of gunfire erupted over where our Cav boys where at, but nothing really came our way. We turned back around for home just before sunrise; a tense thing, because daylight in this area is the most deadly time for U.S. troops to be operating. That said, it was nice to drive through the winding dirt roads of rural Iraq just as her people were waking up for the day. Aside from the palm trees, I was amazed just how much the area reminded me vaguely of home. Like Filion, only with mosques instead of churches.

We got back on Thursday morning at around 0830, and after refueling, equipment turn-in, and
restaging of vehicles, we were finally released at almost noon. We downloaded the last of our gear, and while most went straight to bed, I headed for the nearest phone immediately. I always call Anne as soon as I come off a mission. This time, I called her at work, in a staff meeting. We didn't talk long, for this very reason, but it was nice to hear her voice again, and be able to assure her that I was safe.

By 1230, I was back at my trailer, moving quietly to avoid disturbing Brooks as he slept. Itried to lay in bed and read for a few, but before I knew it, sleep was pulling at me, and as far as I can tell I passed out, Camus in hand, still in dusty uniform. I don't think I even took off my boots.


I dreamed I fell through a crack in the earth;
Where below me waited an endless void glittering
With alien stars. The light from my world
Faded to a pinprick as I fell. I rolled
Onto my stomach to face
The dead space between galaxies,
And as I spread my arms, I felt,
For a rare moment, at peace.
My mind blew out like a candle.


Blogger iamcoyote said...

Good to hear that you're back, Milo. Get some good sleep, buddy.

4:25 PM  
Blogger tempus said...

Another great post and poem, Milo. And don't lose your damn weapon! You're going to need it when you return to Bushistan.

5:53 PM  
Blogger cinnabari said...

Glad you're back and safe. Crawling over a 60 foot drop would be enough to give me cold sweats and shakes in and of itself. Gah. Never mind dropping the weapon--!

10:14 PM  
Anonymous soul pumpkin said...

...very happy to read your new words...the poem is marvelous...i know i've said it once before, but i would love to put some of your verse to would be an honor...

5:41 AM  
Anonymous delia443 said...

I'm sorry I missed you online. I'm glad you're back safe and sound and on the ground.


6:11 AM  
Blogger Spc. Freeman said...

Thanks for the support everyone. It means so much to have you all rooting for me. I really appreciate it. And by the way, Pumpkin, you may do so by all means. Just let me know what you're looking at, and maybe email me at Maybe we can go over some stuff together. Let me know.


6:41 AM  
Anonymous soul pumpkin said...

...thanks Milo...i will scan your archives...there are many lines and images that struck me strongly at first reading...will e-mail with e-mail is will keep you posted...stay safe, my friend...

2:49 AM  
Blogger Chris Rich said...

Milo, these dream patterns are essential coping forces for this predicament.

It is a kind of protective dissociation from the thing bearing down and the dreams are promptings from the essential core you to help with the ordeal of the transient soldier persona you honestly agreed to assume, now wearing thin.

If you can find Carl Jungs Autobiography or Man and His Symbols, they will be helpful for understanding and interpereting these valuable messages, pumping the signal while muting the noise.

12:53 AM  

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