Sunday, September 23, 2012

Month 1 Day 23

Today we went out on our first patrol a ride up to Nawa, down to Garmsir and back in. It is an odd thing. I was the gunner throughout the patrol (not really a patrol, it was just for [Area of Operations] familiarization). The gunners seat is much nicer in the MATV [ambush protected vehicle] than the HMMWV [Hummer]. It is really odd because I am a Lieutenant, and would not normally be in a turret, but there I am. It keeps you at just about the right level (a little lower than the sights) and the windows allow you to see all around. Anyway onto the really odd things. We were shot at today. I think that it was some distance away; it came from the Helmand River direction as we were going South. I was not even sure that it was gunfire until we found the bullet mark in the driver’s window when we got back. I did not return fire. I was looking very hard to see if I could positively identify anyone, but I could not. I wasn’t about to open up with a .50 cal inside one of the little hamlets if I couldn’t see anyone. It is really weird. You know what else. Part of me really wanted to get in a gunfight, I can’t really pinpoint why. It could be to prove something to myself, it could be to get a combat action ribbon, it could be to make me feel like less of a fraud. It seems odd that no matter how far you go it is never far enough. I am here in Afghanistan, in the Marine Corps in one of the most dangerous areas of the country, but I feel fraudulent, I sleep on a cot, I couldn’t [Positively Identify] some jackass, I am about to move in with the Afghans, but I still don’t feel like I am in the shit. I wonder if anyone does? If we all just think of war as trenches in WWI and sleeping in the mud and hand to hand combat.

Edited to Add:It is funny to look at this post now. It feels like a child wrote it. The point of infinite regress holds true. Even after we were blown up, and shot at later in the deployment, it was difficult to feel like you had really been 'in the shit' like your fore bearers.

Yours truly just before leaving

Afghan Goat Herd

A compound on the outskirts of town

A small camel herd

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Month 1 Day 22

What do you feel before going out of the wire, exicted, worried, relieved, happy, all of the above, it is a feeling I have never felt before in my life, but I know I am ready.

I love my wife.

Edited to Add

Capt Graham Brawny
Maj Andrew Valquist
CWO2 John Stoltz