Saturday, May 26, 2012

Living Area In Tent Al Taqaddum Iraq Al Anbar Province

When we first got to Iraq there were 22 soldiers in this tent from two different platoons working two different shifts. It could get a little tense. Later there were only 8. It was like a family. There was no running water, but there were 4 air conditioners which could keep the temp. down around 80-85 degrees. Makes me shiver to think about it.

There was a legend started the tents were waterproofed with a kerosene derivative to keep guys from smoking in them. You couldn't burn one of those things with a flamethrower. I mean- nearly literally. My buddy from another platoon's gunner dropped a flare which was armed. It fired striking a tent pole, it flew up the pole and came out the tent hitting the giant tarp which covered the outside of the tent travelling to the other end of the tent where it jammed until the propellant was expended. The tent did not even try to burn.

There was always Dr. Pepper under my bunk. Everyone knew to take one if they wanted- unless it was the last one.

No one slept on top bunks with the theory being an explosion going up and out at an angle would be more likely to strike you.

Santos bunked on one side of me. He was covered in tattoos and muscle. His Spanish was terrible and he got teased by Mexican guys from another platoon that mine was better. Joe slept on the other side of me. He went to Poly in Fort Worth and was a smart Alec. He was my gunner on 80% of our combat patrols as the people who outranked me did not want to deal with him. He was smart, aggressive, to the point and much more of a thinker than he ever got credit for. He could fix our guns or trucks if either went down.

I loved both of them.

I still have the blanket hanging behind me from the top bunk. It is Zachary's favorite and he insists on using it for naps. My buddy who was our medic gave it to me. It has the caduceus on it. When I came home I washed it in the bathtub. Mud ran out of it and I had to fill the tub multiple times to get it clean- it was nauseating and I swear once dry it was lighter. Blankets and ponchos hung like that privacy were called jack shields.

Close to the end of our tour we threw a bunch of ad hoc furniture into the burn barrels at the smoke pit making a giant bonfire. Something in there caused a flash and huge flames. A Cobra helicopter pilot called some base command informing them we'd been hit and there was a fire. Halliburton firefighters came out. They were not impressed.

You had to walk about 40 yards to Port A Jons which were serviced by guys from Eastern Europe and 200 yards to the showers which were serviced by guys from Nepal. Toward the end of our time there I'd go to the Port A Jon in my underwear and boots much to the gigglement of guys in the smoke pit although said activity was mightily frowned upon by those with high enough rank to frown upon.

What were they going to do to me- send me to Iraq?


Paxford said...

Great post! and now when I need to survive a stressful situation I shall endevour to picture YOU in your underwear (a-la-Alan-Alda-Hawkeye-Mash)



The Donald said...

"Blankets and ponchos hung like that privacy were called jack shields."

Maybe my mind is taking this in the wrong direction, but - I checked the military and urban slang dictionaries for a definition of that term - couldn't find one. Hate to ask the question, but is that something requisitioned from the Master Sergeant?

YM said...

You should write a book.

Thanks for your service to our country.

Opus #6 said...

Jack? I must have a dirty mind....

el chupacabra said...

Paxilicious- Ha, thanks.

Don- Don't doubt yourself- your mind is taking you the correct direction...

My Queen! Thanks.

Lady O-Maybe, but in this case it's processing correctly!