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The new guy

Can't sleep from the anti-flu narcotics in my system (funny, they're supposed to help you sleep), so I'll mention a new guy on the block, who was nice enough leave a kind comment about my blog. :) Besides, Greyhawk has been mentioning him, and he looked interesting.

Why not run on over and visit 365 and a Wake Up, run by a California Army National Guard officer currently in Iraq, who goes by the call thunder6. He writes some good stuff.

Greyhawk recommends this post about checkpoints and journalists. A good choice.

Me, I like his description of ice in desert:

Today a thunderstorm rumbled through Baghdad and showered the FOB with gumball size hail. A couple of the troops armored up and waded into the storm, reveling in the raw display of nature痴 power. The fat frozen raindrops scuttled off the armor plates like miniature billiards, sheathing the troops in the open with what looked like icy halos. It was as surreal an experience as any I had experienced here in Iraq. So much for the desert being as dry as a bone. Iraq has turned out to be a lot different from my expectations, and the differences run far deeper then the climate.

If that doesn't do it for you, try his (rather short) explanation why anyone smart would ever want to be a soldier. His answer:

I spoke from experience, and I spoke from the heart. I told him about the misery of feeling my feet rot in the swamps of Florida during ranger school. I told him about getting stuck in knee deep mud during a blinding deluge in Germany. I talked about having to pull my frozen finger off the trigger while riding through the Balkan winter. I talked about the string of missed birthdays, holidays and weddings I never had the opportunity to celebrate. And I told him about living in the sun stoked furnace that was Kuwait in the summer. I purged all the collective misery of my decade in the service. Having finished my impromptu confession I paused for a long moment, letting SPC Frances absorb the full weight of my response.

As the silence stretched like a teardrop waiting to fall I broke the silence and told him that I would do it all over again. His face contorted into a mask of disbelief, his jaw drooping slightly from the strain of following this verbal about-face. His lips shaped the word 展hy?� but there was no breath to give it voice.

Before answering him I told him about how part of my heart chipped off when I looked into a mass grave in Bosnia. How for days after my dreams were clouded with an image of the very earth opening a yawning pit to engulf the dead, only to choke on their numbers and leave them on the surface half swallowed. I talked about countries where famine and disease left people whose bodies left shadows that gave the illusion you were looking at a photographic negative of a skeleton. About places where the only rule of law was the brutal and unswerving laws of physics and ballistics and the only peace one could hope for was the grave. And the story that did not need telling, the story of our ongoing struggle with insurgents who revel in the misery and deaths they cause our forces and the Iraqis.

As I finished I noticed my mouth was dry and I had to take a long draw of water before continuing. When I slaked my thirst I told SPC Frances to close his eyes and I would tell him why. As he closed his eyes I told him to imagine his young wife, his beautiful infant daughter and the future he wanted for them. He paused a moment and a smile slowly creased his face. As he looked up I caught his eyes and told him a simple truth. I told him that the thin line that separates the two realities isn稚 a line on a map or the signature block on a document filled with hollow proclamations. The dividing line between the two kingdoms is a long line of soldiers. And that is why I知 proud to call myself a soldier. Its not about a lack of options, or the size of my paycheck. Its about what kind of world I want to leave for my children if I am lucky enough to be a father.

The man can write...

UPDATE: Almost forgot. Check out his photo section, too. Great stuff.

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