Warm Beer and Sand, Two Years Later
Its hard to believe that its been two years since OIF kicked off. I worked nights at the CENTCOM forward HQ in Qatar so I watched all the initial strikes go in though various intel feeds. I came off shift at about 0600 in the morning at made my way back to the warehouse where our sleep tents were.
Prior to the war kicking off, we were allowed two beers a night at a little club they had set up on the camp. As the war drew closer, they cut off the alcohol. I never got to drink my beers anyway because of when I worked, but I had managed to hoard some in my wall locker.
So after my shift that first night of the war, I went back to my locker and got out a beer out of my stash that I really wasn't supposed to have. The morning was still cool so I went outside and sat on top of one of the bunkers and watched and listened to the jets as they took of from the airbase that was few miles away. Jet after jet was streaking north unleashing hell on the Iraqi Army.
The beer was warm and a clear violation of policy (which I'm sure I'll hear about from someone), but I guess that made it taste better. At that point things were still very uncertain. I didn't know where I was going to end up and nobody knew how this was going to go. A few days later the "mother of all dust storms" bogged down the attack and some asshole left the garage door open on our warehouse. All our stuff got covered in sand.
It was a minor inconvenience compared to what the guys in the actual attack were going through, but all the pundits were saying that our offensive was derailed. The dust that fucked up my walkman seemed to hammer the point home. Jessica Lynch's convoy got ambushed, and despite what the assholes in the far-left liberal blogosphere say, each and every one of us was concerned. One of the Colonels took a moment to remind us that we had to steel our hearts to war and brutality. There would be more casualties, and we had a long way to go before this was over. I guess he was more right than he could have guessed.
The storm passed and the march north resumed. We watched the thunder runs in awe, and we cheered as Saddam's statue fell. Truman was right when he said the Marines had a better propaganda machine than Stalin. We declared victory. After a few weeks instead of moving forward us to Baghdad like we all wanted/anticipated, they sent us back to Macdill AFB. On the way home, our plane broke down in Rota, Spain, and we all caught up on our drinking. The rule was if you were too drunk to climb back up in the back of the C-5, then you were too drunk. I almost didn't make it.
Our plane stopped again in Massachusetts to refuel and the locals turned out to stuff us silly with dogs and burgers. They were handing out little American flags and I still have mine. I was hung over, tired, and giddy all at the same time. Julie was driving from Texas to meet the plane. I actually got home on her birthday so we checked into a hotel and had a big night out on the town. More beer drinking and other stuff that's none of your business.
Of course while Julie and I were getting re-acquainted, the insurgency was just beginning. Over the summer things got gradually worse. I got released from active duty that September and went home to Texas. We bought a house and got pregnant.
I have drill tomorrow. I still have soldiers in Iraq. I'm guessing that its only a matter of time before I get called back too. This weekend, I'll stand in front of my soldiers and tell them to steel their hearts to war and brutality. I'll remind them that its just a matter of time before all our numbers come up and we're back in the sandbox.