Medicine Soldier

A View from Iraq



There we were on a typical day at camp. As usual, the power had been fluctuating because even the generators could not take the heat. After hearing some curious popping sounds, we sprang to action upon realizing one of our neighboring tents had caught on fire.

My able-bodied armor crewmen jumped to action, and we began surrounding the already engulfed tent with clouds of Halon. Despite our best efforts, the 140 degree air temperature and persistent wind did not act in our favor. It was a tug of war stand-off between us and the fire. As we exhausted the dry chemical bottles and almost put out the fire, the wind would resuscitate the smoldering canvas. Runners were dispatched to find more bottles, and the company first sergeant and I quickly realized this was only a containment job, not an extinguishing job. I quickly called on the radio to the operations center to alert them and dispatch more help and a water truck.

Luckily it was just a tent for transient convoys and was unoccupied at the time. Our biggest concern was not letting the fire spread to adjacent tents with gear and people inside. After a good workout, we spent the rest of the afternoon finding shade since they had to shut off the generator to clean up the mess.

Happy First Day of Summer

One of my jobs is to report the weather to the guys in the company. It sometimes seems trivial because it is always hot, dusty, and dry. However, changes must be reported like an extremely hot day or increased sand storms. Also, things like the amount of moon light or sunrise and sunset affect our missions. We found out the other day that the official thermometer stops reading at 118 degrees. I took a little heat for that, since everyone asks me, "How hot is it today?" Well, I had been reporting 118 degrees when it was actually closer to 138-140 degrees, already.

In case you are wondering what it is like over here, try this at home. First, get a cupful of fine dirt or sand. Find a nice cotton long-sleeve shirt and pants and throw the in the clothes dryer on high heat. Then run into the bathroom and put the cup of sand on the sink. Jump in the shower with the water as hot as you can barely stand. Then without drying off, run to the dryer and put the clothes on right out of the dryer (yes, over your wet body). Run back to the bathroom and turn the hair dryer on full hot blast and hold it a half inch from your nose. Throw the sand in the hot air. Repeat this several times and you're in Iraq. (Athlete's foot and jock itch not included.)

Poetry or Prose?

I have received many comments and praises on my writing. I had initially intended my writing to be a way to vent, express my feelings, and capture my experiences here. I also wanted to have a way to keep in touch with my family and co-workers back home. What started as a small email list grew to a website, and I have received emails and letters from Iraq to Kuwait to Europe and even back in the states.

My writings have even made their way back to the guys in my company. I had mixed feelings about this at first. Not that I am keeping anything or writing about them specifically, but I never envisioned my popularity. I saw this as more of a personal log and a way of keeping in touch with people I care about back home.

In any event, several people have commented about my writing a book, and I am flattered. Most recently, the guys were teasing me about doing a movie deal. We have not decided if it is an action film or comedy, but casting has gone out for Bruce Willis, Danny DeVito and Jack Nicholson as some of the main characters. To play me, the guys have suggested "the Rock." I think I had better hit the Gym.

If you like my prose how about a change this time?

    The Lonely Path

    I found myself in the desert.
    Alone, I stand bisected between a blue sky and tan sand.
    With feet planted firmly my gaze upward and alert
    Once again contemplating the measure of a man.

    Far away from home dust sweeps across my face.
    fettered in modern armor and sweat lingers on my brow.
    Surveying a barren horizon, salt on my lips I taste.
    Looking outward, but meditating inward, "Who am I now?"

    Fighting a war of the flesh, mind, heart and spirit,
    On a quest to become whole and holy.
    Looking for balance and reason I discover
    In the eyes of the children are lessons of mortality and humanity.

    Watching war from the inside on the news,
    learning first hand about other people's views,
    and observing how politics can abuse.
    These lessons to my own character, I have fused.

    Unyielding devotion to my comrades in arms
    To see them through the course.
    With my best effort I have done my part.
    And hope to leave this place better than worse.

    Alone in the desert, I stand
    While loved ones back home send me comfort
    I am but one small humble grain of sand
    Still, I found myself in the desert.

    —April 23, 2005 from Iraq

posted by Scott | 19:15 Baghdad time | © 6.21.2005
Comments (4) | | permalink | main | email this

Feedback from readers: 4

Bravo, (No pun intended) Scott!
Think about that book.

Posted by Anonymous Sue Marshall | 22/6/05 15:02  

I am glad you are finding your voice. I'm sending white light your way, hoping for your safety and well being.

Posted by Blogger Carol Gee | 25/6/05 18:18  

You have a wonderful way with words. Very moving

Posted by Blogger justme88 | 26/6/05 08:32  

You have a beautiful way with words. You are very talented. I thank you for being where you are and I pray for your safe return soon!
Katie Flannery

Posted by Anonymous Katie | 6/7/05 23:52  

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