Medicine Soldier

A View from Iraq


Things Are Getting Muddy

(Written 11.10.2005, posted 12.12.2005)

The change in weather has brought damp days and rain. We re-tarped our tents just in time for some rain, yet there were still puddles in our tents. The mornings are damp and the fine sandy "moon dust" just cakes to our boots in the morning and gets tracked inside our tents.

The weather is not the only thing getting muddy. With such little time left, the soldiers seem to not care about some things. In some ways it is good; they don't mind some of the mundane or arduous details around the camp because in a few weeks, it won't matter when we are all headed home. Other things, like paying attention and having the right gear on patrol, must continue to be enforced. Supplies are running low and we are not getting any mail. This has also been a bittersweet reminder of our pending rotation.

Then there are those people who realize this is the last chance to accomplish or try certain things, either physically or morally dangerous. Most people are content with just going home with their appendages intact, and others want medals, badges, or other ways to prove their combat experiences. Everyone is also burnt out about something: the food, the mundane cycle of meetings, patrols, even movie nights. Still, we go through periods of inactivity and more hostile activity, so you can never assume it is going to be a quiet night.

One evening, reports of flashes and bangs came from the main building complex on the camp. Everyone who had been on the camp when artillery, rockets, and mortars were incoming assumed it was the worst: insurgents anticipating troop rotations. I was busy trying to ascertain what was unfolding on the camp while listening to four radios. There were patrols reporting in from outside the camp, the higher unit trying to assess the situation, our unit's two-way radio, and the camp two-way radio. After about 20 minutes of chatter and units reporting in their accountability, it was discovered that two transformers on the camp blew up and there was no cause for alarm. It turned out to be a good "fire drill" for things to come.

Our anticipated rotation has prompted some improvements and changes on camp. From additional gravel to new shower units, we have made some necessary changes to leave the place in better condition than we found it. Still, were we not good enough to have these improvements sooner? The pumps on the shower units were not installed correctly for the first week or so with the new units. Perhaps it was a ploy to keep us on our toes. When we heard the pumps kick on, we had to do the "duck and dive" because the water would get either really hot or really cold until the pump cycled off.

We all had hoped for more improvements on our camp, like the dorm room-sized trailer homes (or cans as they are known on other camps) or even the Chow Hall.

posted by Scott | 22:00 Baghdad time | © 11.10.2005
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