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April 04, 2012

Perspective Is Relative

I know I've promised you all a post telling you all about the guys I'm serving with while here in Afcrapistan Afghanistan, but I want to get this quick post out there while it's still fresh for me.

Everybody who has sent packages to me (thanks btw!) has always included a little note thanking me for my service and sacrifice. And those notes have always been touching and remind me what it is that I'm doing. The pictures on my wall of Li'l Dubs, Li'l Dubyette and Littlest Dubs remind me every day WHO I'm here for - that somehow, what I'm doing now will mean that they never have to or know people who do. I know it's folly given the world we live in, but a boy can dream, right?

Anyway, after I read these notes, I always come back to the sacrifice part. Yes, I am spending a ridiculously long time away from family and friends. And, yes, there's always the possibility some yahoo driving a VBIED or wearing a explosive-laden vest is really gonna put a damper on my day (black humor, people - just roll with it), but what is the level of my sacrifice? Yes, the family and friends part really, really sucks - I'd give anything right now to be back home with them cuddled up on the couch. But, I have access to Internet and skype, a laptop with a huge external drive, plenty of books to read (I liked The Hunger Games, who knew?), cigars to smoke, and some good friends to hang with. I don't have good pizza, beer, a car, beer (You said beer twice. I like beer.) or the freedom to go where I want when I want. It's like a year-long Lent. For the most part, it's teh suck, sure, but really? Not bad considering what other soldiers before me went through or endured.

I have a friend here who works in one of the operations centers here on the FOB. He's a young sergeant (everyone here is young to me) who's wrapping up his third tour here. Dave (not his real name) is anxious to get home, get back to his family and get out of the army. However, he's conflicted - part of him wants to stay - but the more rational part of him wants to get the f*ck out. He's paid his dues...in full. How so? you may ask. Well, Dave caught a grenade between the legs on tour #2. When he told me, I looked at him incredulously - Seriously?!? I asked. You usually don't talk to people who have been on the receiving end of a frag grenade. Yep, he said as he pulled up one leg of his sweatpants and then the other.

I looked at his legs. They were crisscrossed with angry red scars from his ankles to his thighs. He lifted up the back of his sweatshirt. There were more scars on his lower back and as high as his shoulderblades. When he lifted up the front of his shirt, there was one, long scar from just below his navel to above his sternum. Apparently, he had to have some of his intenstines removed. Now, being a guy, of course I had to ask him...well, not ask him really, just give him the look that conveyed, "How are the boys?" He chuckled and replied that, luckliy, they escaped unharmed. Phew, I said and we both laughed - thank God for small favors (there's that black humor again).

But, what shocked me the most was when he told me he was thankful for that grenade. That after 4-5 months in the hospital and the amount of excruciating pain he endured, he still considers himself incredibly lucky. That that grenade saved his life. Really? I ask, incredulous once again.

Yeah, he says. The following day his platoon leader and a member of his section were killed by an IED while on patrol.

I look at Dave, dumbstruck. All I can utter is a weak, "Sorry, man."

Sacrifice, indeed.

mr. big dubya, RC-East, Afghanistan

Earlier posts:

Shoobie Doobie Do FOB, FOB Life, Everybody Needs a Thrill, What A Long Strange Trip It's Been


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