I remember being in a tent in over 125 degree heat. Iraq seemed to have a much closer relationship with the sun than anywhere I’ve ever been. The tent was filled with other soldiers and cots as we each lay in our own sweat, waiting for a plane to arrive and take us back to Kuwait, where we can begin our travels to our two weeks of vacation or as we call it “R&R Leave”. We never knew the times of the plane arrival for tactical purposes so we were stuck in that holding tent just waiting. We figured we could pass the time joking and playing cards with complete strangers. Military is funny that way. Putting a room of people that know nothing of each other and making bonds between them stronger than some families. I digress though.
We were all laughing and smiling until we heard that distinctive whistle. Time just seem to freeze as we all looked at each other, knowing that hearing the whistle meant you were going to be close to the impact. Too close to come out unscathed. When it hit, the ground rocked and shook the tent violently. We were all half dressed but scrambled instantly to grab our vest and Kevlar’s. We rush out the tent into the nearest bunker and watch the mortors begin to fall from the sky one after another half a block away from us. They were going north. Had they calculated better and came south, I may be a different man today or not here at all. I remember saying to myself when it was over.
“I never want to come back to Anaconda,again. That’s if I make it out of here this time”.
Of course I didn’t have much choice in the matter for I was just a private and had to follow all orders and directive from damn near every body. The year was 2004 and I was barely 19. Iraq was my dark place. A place where I manage to survive 2 visits while others died around me. God has a plan for everyone and the reasoning may be beyond us, but his will is far beyond our minds.