To the Front

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: War and Military  |  House: Booksie Classic
I don't remember when exactly I wrote this during my deployment, but came across it today. I don't even remember why I wrote it, but here it is from sometime 2004/2005

Submitted: May 10, 2015

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Submitted: May 10, 2015

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~~Welcome dear reader. We are about to embark upon a trip to a land across the oceans, found in strife. But let me first interpose a couple points. First if by chance you have already been to this land, then you may wish to stop reading, for you’ve already lived it and may find my account a trifle rife. If not then know that I will do my best to bring you here, and give you an interesting day, and while all the occurrences are actual the formalities of them all being within a set sequence of events or time has been dispensed of for your benefit. So you are about to embark on the truest voyage of fiction. If you are still with me, I presume you have decided to continue this mental journey, and thus I begin.
 You find yourself in darkness, when pricks of light tingle upon your eyes and then that familiar cacophony sound of the alarm clock wails in your ears. Simultaneously you open your eyes, sit up, and shut of the alarm, that pitiful alarm. It’s been two hundred days and that poor alarm hasn’t had a single day of. Not one single day to just not have to sound, not have to ring, not have to rouse from bittersweet slumber. You look sorrowfully upon the clock and realize that there is no time for pity now, you must get ready. So you put on your shorts, shirt, and flip flops, grab a towel, and head to the showers. That’s were you get to take a spin on the water temperature Merry Go Round. Brrrrrrr cold, warm, warmer, warmer, HOT, brrrrrrr cold and so the cycle continues until you’ve gotten all soapsy sudsy done and clean. Not the most preferred way to bathe, but at least you’re clean and that’s quite good enough. From the shower you go back to your 7x15ft living pod, throw on your tan and brown speckled uniform, and lace up those tan leather boots. You then grab your ballistic vest, which is of the traditional camouflage color and has various pockets and holders on it, containing ammunition magazines, and other essentials and weighing in at approximately twenty pounds, and throw it on, grabbing your rifle as you Velcro it shut down the center. Topping off your cranium with a helmet, you are now ready for the next adventure as you step out the door.
 After a breakfast of eggs, sausage, and a sweet, sweet Otis Spunkmeyer Blue Berry Muffin you head the Tactical Operations center, and well reader at this point it becomes rather boring and classified, so let us speed ahead as you go to accompany a Platoon of thirty soldiers on their day’s activities.
 You start off by boarding the ramp of an eight wheeled armored transport vehicle known as a Stryker. It’s green with a pointed front, a large automatic weapon that pivots on an arm at the front top, and a green horizontal slated cage around it. Since you don’t get out much and out rank everyone there, we decide to take the scenic view and opt to ride with your head out of one of the two hatches on the top back of the vehicle. The vehicles are then underway to their destination as you pull out the protected confines of the Forward Operations Base, and head out into the open.
 You head down a paved road, much as you would find in the US, but without any lines. The wind is upon your face and you take in the scenery around you. You see it’s not all desert, for you’re in the Northern City of Mosul, and for the sake of the narrative, let us make it spring time. So thus it is springtime, and you see an ocean of green fields, with swells yellow flowers, and amongst it splashes of purples, whites, and reds. Of course there are the arid places that do stretch out in a vast chasm of brown, but choose to cling to the green. You then see off to the side what seems to be the most hodgepodge form of living you are yet to behold. It’s dirt roads, and some of those dirt roads turn into dirt walls, and some of those dirt walls in turn become dirt houses. However, it’s not all dirt edifices as some homes remain of traditional cement. How curious this mesh of modern and ancient building styles appears you think as you survey the scene. You realize why you are there as boxes of pens, pencils, and paper begin pouring out of the backs of those green caged beasts. You are delivering school supplies to the school in the village, and just then you see that you are in a place where cows, chicken, and sheep roam freely. So you walk into one of the few cement buildings, and take refuge from the wild farm animal jungle. Inside you see the teacher has had the students sit in the classroom as the supplies are given out. Smiles and waves dance through out the room. Some say Shukran and others say Thank you and in all you feel warm inside. After the supplies have been handed out, you say Afwan (your welcome) and jump back into the Stryker. By this time a kind of happy chaos has broken out, and the children run after the vehicles waving and yelling goodbye.
 The vehicles are now headed towards the city. You know that although you must always be alert, you are headed to a more dangerous area, and must be especially attentive, as the potential to encounter a road side bomb or suicide vehicle increase. You think of your arms and legs, how nice it is to have them and be able to use them, and how wonderful it is to be able to see, and you hope and pray that when the day is done everything will still be in its proper place. At that moment the vehicle rounds a traffic circle and you see a blue compact Opel car that is not stopping. Your rifle rises, your thumb moves to the safety switch, and the car comes to a screeching halt, as sigh of relief drips off your brow along with a bead of sweat. You look around the see the city is quite contrasted to the humble village you just came from. The streets are paved, and there are concrete side walks. By just looking at the streets alone, with gutters and lamps, you could almost imagine you are back home, that is until you see the houses. Many are two stories, and have a curious design. The fronts are ornate, some with columns and all having doors and windows arched in the arabesque style, while the sides are flat and bare. Once again the contrast is striking. You exit the vehicle as the platoon embarks on a presence patrol. You stop at some houses and ask to look inside. The inside of most houses resemble typical European style. No carpet, merely ornate rugs here and there, and the usual furniture that you would find in most homes. At one house they offer you some cuss-cuss which tastes very good, especially after all the walking with all the gear on. At another house a gentlemen offers some yogurt. Always looking for the cultural experience you readily accept. At first taste you recognize the familiar taste of plain yogurt, which is then followed by a taste that reminds you of your youth. Unfortunately that remembrance is of a time when you tried to make warm milk, but left the stove on too high, and ended up spitting out a mouthful of burned milk, gargling, and taking a spoon of sugar to vanquish that wretched aftertaste taste. Unfortunately all rules of etiquette and common courtesy now apply, so you simply say thank you, and try your darndest to re-conjure the taste of the morning’s delectable muffin, and move on. As you walk people wave, and children gather round. They keep saying, “Mista, Mista”, so you start singing, “Take These Broken Wings” until you hear them say, “Mista, Mista, Pen, Mista” and then you realize they didn’t have you mistaken for the lead singer of the 80’s pop group Mister Mister. It’s then you realize they are asking for pens, or pencils. It’s amazing how much they want pens. You see a soldier toss a pen and a couple kids fight for it. It’s quite sad. Since you have an extra pen you give it to a kid on the sly. However, then the kid starts asking you for your sunglasses and your watch. You become frustrated because you wish you could just say “Look, I gave you a pen, and I need these other things a lot more than you, so show a little gratitude, say thank you, and stop pestering me,” but alas you can’t speak Arabic, so you just patiently shake your head and keep on walking. You walk a few more blocks and hear gun shots, but since you don’t see anything breaking, ricocheting, or bleeding anywhere near, you realize it’s a distance away and not directed at your location. After a few more blocks the patrol is finished and you get back into the vehicle and head back to the Forward Operations Base.
 After you return you make a quick run to the Post Exchange store, search for Doritos, and after a few minutes without success settle for a bag of Sour Cream and Cheddar Ruffles, and grab a pack of Twinkies that catches your eye and after paying for them head over to the Combat Support Hospital. There you visit a soldier who used to work for you, until he moved to a platoon. The other night while riding his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb. Fortunately his injuries aren’t too bad, just some shrapnel to the leg, and a couple weeks to heal. As you talk you see someone wheeled by with a bandage on their head and neck. You look briefly and then turn away. After some small talk and wishes for a full and speedy recovery, you leave the chips and Twinkies and head to dinner.
 After dinner you head to the Tactical Operations Center for some more classified and boring stuff. You then return to the place you began, walk to bed, and thankful to have legs to kneel, arms to fold, and eyes to close, you bring the day to its close.
 Now reader return from this place known as Iraq, for the scene here has closed and your day is still yet to end. But know this in the faces of the children you’ve seen, and the people you’ve met and their offerings, you have seen that this place is not one great blood bath, and although danger does lurk, it does lurk but by the hands of a wicked few, and not by the majority. And now dear reader, peace be with you now and forever


© Copyright 2020 Mist James. All rights reserved.

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