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First Kiss, First Love, First War

     It’s March 2004, I am 20 years old for about a month before all the dust settles and I am in my new room for the next year.  You never hear about the long two weeks in limbo you have to spend in Kuwait.  You kind of just wait around all day in a tent soaked in kerosene waiting to die, waiting to live.  I spent most of my time reading the bible that I had never touched before.  I guess it’s funny how certain situations can your change your perspective, change your mind on religion and your beliefs.  That is neither here nor there after we left Kuwait and got to our Forward Operating Base which was named like FOB Thunder or something.  When we got there, the Infantry, The Cavalry, we took over operations called it FOB HeadHunter and ultimately began taking down an army of insurgents on a street I will never forget, Haifa Street.  A lot of men know about Haifa street but I want to share a little bit of my story with you.  You can google Haifa and read about some of the horrible things that have reporters have had a chance to see when on patrol with us.

     It is my first patrol and I realize that I know nothing about the world.  I am in a different country on a street narrower than ours in the United States with houses that don’t look like houses on either side.  I am surrounded by people in their country, I am a foreigner, I am a the one who is out of place. I am a big FUCKIN TARGET just like the rest of my comrades.  I am not scared, not much at least, I am ready for this.  I am walking down the street on a very hot April day sweating with over a hundred pounds of gear not including my weapon.  I am a S.A.W. Gunner so I have over a thousand rounds on me and I don’t mind the ammo. 

    As we get deeper into our patrol, a patrol basically to familiarize our sector and recon the area I begin to relax.  This is when the War first started so a lot was still unknown at the time so I was oddly enough excited.  This IS what I had signed up for after all UNTIL… POP POP POP, I hear my first POP shots which would soon become known as bullets shot near us to keep us on our toes to see our defenses.  They cut that shit out fast once they realized we were an Infantry unit and found we were catching the bastards who did it.  So I have no idea whats going on I am just a Private waiting for orders.  Well I just know that the guy in front of me says “let’s go, keep your distance” and I start running.  Nothing spectacular, nothing too amazing but it was a very interesting first patrol.  It only lasted a couple of hours but the work it takes to observe and take in everything in your sight, analyze it as threat or not can be so exhausting not to mention you have an entourage of children yelling “mister, mister, chocolata” in there Arabic accent.  There are so many plains and fields of fire, avenues of approach, alleys, corners, rooftops, windows, doors, and people. 

     For most people walking down the street is as normal as walking down the street, but for an Infantryman it can be hell trying to filter things out of your mind that don’t make sense.  I wish it was like a switch but it’s not.  We are trained to survive, we are drilled and brainwashed to survive at all costs and die if we must.  How can you turn that learning off when your trained to do it all the time for months at a time.

     The first time I fired my weapon in a real world environment I thought I was going to die.  Haifa street is a long street but there is a section that has four lanes similar to a highway in the States but it just a regular street and on both sides there are towering apartments at least six stories high each and run the length of at least a couple of football fields.   I hope I have given you an idea of the setting.  My Squad, KAOS, and I along with Rage Squad are one side of the four lane street and it’s about midnight and no one is on the streets.  We are all getting ready to bound across the street two at a time 5 meters apart hauling ass to establish a foothold on the other side.  Well I am the second guy to run across with my team leader and half way across the street I hear the 240Bravo go off which is a loud effin weapon and I see tracers start hitting the ground around me and pieces of the street breaking so I raised my SAW and shot into the second story windows where the bullets were originating from.  I sprayed and prayed trying to get the enemies heads down because there was still guys following behind me.  As soon as I reached the other side I hugged a pillar that was on the breeze way on the bottom floor of the apartments.  I have to reload so I yell “AMMO!” the other SAW picks up the slack while I take 15 seconds to put in another nut sack, I really hate writing that but thats what they were called a 200 round drum and a 100 round nut sack, what can I say?  I digress, I reload and start firing again waiting for the rest of my squad to get across.  Thank God we have all made it across and just then two grenades go off seconds apart from each other and close to where I am.  I wait for orders, they say the Bradleys are coming and for us to hold position. I look to my left where one of my friends is and I see a grenade bounce roll towards him bounce off his leg and over him and never explode. At that moment the world had stopped and I thought it was all over but the grenade never goes off.  We both would have ate it but it never goes off.

      I am very happy that so many of you have taken a liking to my blog and now I want to try to start from the beginning because we can’t have a future if we don’t understand our past and where we come from.  In my next blog which I have no idea when I will write because quite honestly I am falling more and more into insanity I want to talk about who we really are and how I can give my two cents to the world before I go, or this part of me.  This is my voice and I thank you all for listening./Nothing Follows/

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About soldierspoem11b

I am a Father. I am 32 until March. (at which time I will update this) I am an Infantryman. I have seen War. I have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I love the Walking Dead. I am on mission to find out who I am.

10 responses to “First Kiss, First Love, First War

  1. behrfacts

    I’ve just read all of your posts. You certainly know how to express emotions which is not easy for me – I’ve tried a few times. Communicating is important whoever you are and whatever you’ve gone through. I watched a programme last night here in the UK about a guy who survived 9/11 in one of the twin towers. Quite a miracle and he felt incredibly guilty afterwards as the sole survivor – but meeting the guy who rescued him helped turn things around. At the end of the programme he said that what mattered was to make sure he did good as a father to his 2 daughters, as many other fathers were now gone never to see their loved ones. This is a very poignant message. Hope it helps you somehow.

  2. Awesome post. If you don’t mind I will share one of my firsts with you. It was the first time someone tried to kill me in combat. I was SF and we were moving through a long narrow street in Panama City I was standing in a ring mounted M60 on a 5 ton and I took it because in the states it was so fucking fun. As they drove down this street my mind wasn’t in the game yet until about 100 yards out a guy pops out with an AK and shoots at us and I see and hear the rounds hitting the window and all around me. My first reaction was, what the fuck are you shooting at me for ?!! And I duck! Standing in the ring mount ! Then as quick as its possible to even think, fractions of a second, I thought, because you stupid bastard your in his country standing behind an M60 and I leveled the 60 and pulled the trigger and walked it into him in just a fraction of a second and I saw it impact him and he fell forward and landed in the most unnatural manner on his face and moments leave we drove past him and he was laying there dead. That was the first time I had a one on one kind of exchange, weird. When we talked about it a few days later the other guys said they didn’t see me even flinch and that I just started pouring in in, but in my mind it was different. That was the first. Hell of a thing! Keep writing Brother and tell the stories out loud, it’s the only was to get it out. Find a Nam Vet someone who’s felt the heat and delt with it and swap stories. Met a Nam vet in a sauna in Germany once and we showed each other our scars and Swapped stories. It was as if the poison was sweating out of my past. Love the blog.

    • Thank you for your story, it’s an honor to have an SF guy read my stuff and relate. I get what you’re saying about how things seem and actually happened. I wanna keep writing my stories and maybe you can share more too. I wasn’t SF but in the Cav I did some Purdy crazy shit. As they say “Thank you for your service.”

  3. Sorry one other thing that gets in my head. There was just that one guy! No one else there! We drove close dismounted and humped in and engaged a bit later, but right then, that engagement, one single guy. Never understood that, kind of ate a me for a while. Sometimes all these years later I will smell something and the moment of him landing on his face will flash through my mined. He’ll of a deal.

    • I have to apologize as well. You’ll have to forgive me, I am reading and replying on my cell phone. I shouldn’t have referred to you as an SF guy. I should have said a senior NCO in a Special Forces Unit. You remind me of my 1SG, maybe I should give him a call.

  4. Don’t sweat the rank and SF guy thing no biggie. In a way the farther away you get from you active service the easier it is to let that stuff go a bit. Time will come when you will even see a guy in a black hat that says “Navy” and you’ll think to yourself “theres another Vet” LOL.

    For a long time I didn’t know what to say when people said “thanks for your service” but over the course of time I heard two different replays from vets in hats that I’d meet and shake hands with. One older man WWII vet said “we’ll it takes us all”. I that was pretty cool. Another said ” it was an honor to serve”. I thnk both of those are cool. Some times it’s still odd to hear because I just keep doing what we were doing. Know what I mean? You just keep humpin. But thanks and thank you for your service as well. The Nam vets (which I really like because the Nam was over when I joined but there were tons of good Nam Vets that trained me and told me the real deal. They say “Welcome Home” because no one ever said that to them. So I like that too.

    The Cavs awesome! Worked with a lot of Cav guys through the years. I was involved in all of what I call the invitationals, Granada (wasnt SF yet ) Panama , Nicaragua, the war on drugs, the Balkans, Panmunjom, Somalia, Haiti, and Kuwait DSV I and II. I saw a lot of different stuff and believe it or not i saw the most death and the most killing in the War on Drugs. But even with all the theaters I was in, I doubt I saw as much as you did in a year in the Cav where you were. Props to you for sure. A year on the ground taking fire every day. That’s hell Brother!

    Give your 1SG a call is a good idea to. Best job in the Army!

    • But is that just apart of life? Excuse me, War? I thank God you and I made it BUT what of or comrades or worse our sons? I am proud to have served but… I don’t want my sons or any others sons or daughters to experience true war. Service is one thing but War. It was great as a single young kid, but as an older man with children of my own, what is war good for? How many of our brothers lost to this… It breaks my heart…

  5. My Brother was an MP with the 10th mountain in the 80’s and was never moralized. I love him and I’m proud of him and his service. I feel the same about every Vet, period! But his service does not mean the same to him as mine does to me. It did not change him. It was a job to him. The flag means more to him than many people but not what I means to me, (good bad and ugly to be honest). War changed me profoundly and forever, it fucked me up! My life is sweeter and I know the difference between when life sucks and when it SUCKSBALLs. I know I can fucking take it! Not just the whore baths and taking a shit in front of a hundred other guys on patrol, but busting my hump beyond anything I thought I could do. I have guys I have not talked to in 10 years that if i called them and asked theyd be here in the morning and vice versa. I know EXACTLY what it means to trust someone with your whole life. I’ve been there for guys in a way no one would ever understand. I don’t know how to say it but I know you’ve been there. I’ll try again. I saw some ugly ugly shit that I would never wish on anyone else. But in truth it’s mine and now that I survived it I wouldn’t trade it away even if I could. If I could go back and make it not happen I don’t know if I would. I’ve killed people who should not have been killed and who got fucked because they happen to be there. And ive lost some good friends, my best friend made it throught several deployments with me, then once we got back in the states started drinking and got in trouble and ended up hanging himself in the middle of the night in the team room in his class A uniform. Some really fucked up shit! But I fucking did it and made it. Not meaning I didn’t die, meaning that since I wasn’t killed, it didn’t break me, and it won’t break you either!

    As for war there is a quote that I memorized by John Stewart Mill.

    “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

    I truth the war I have seen is a little different than this but I’m sure it means something to you. I understand this. As for war. I don’t think it fixes one fucking thing period! Not what I’ve seen. The war I’ve seen doesn’t accomplish anything. It’s two countries measuring their dicks. At least what I’ve seen of it. I have two Sons ages 22 and 25 and I don’t want them to see it. They grew up in the Army and I never encouraged it. They both considered it and neither joined. If they tried to join I don’t know what I would have done. In a way I don’t see any reason for being at war unless it directly protects the US. But then I also believe that if we weren’t fighting them over there we’ be fighting them over here, which I think is coming. Big question!

  6. MikeW ⋅

    Soldier’s Poem: for you and those you help, I recently found something you may be interested in passing on by Molly Webster at Scientific American. The piece is entitled, “Exterminating Fear,” and is a report on a recent PTSD study finding that is a bit of refreshing news in an otherwise, tough subject matter. Here’s the link, and the study she references can be found online as well:

    http://www.scientificamerican.co/article.cfm?id=extinguishing-fear

    All the best,
    Mike
    m7adapt.wordpress.com

  7. Haifawasablur ⋅

    Hey man you captured haifa well.

    I spent some time there I wrote a long response it got cleared.

    It seasoned me well for my next tour.

    Lots of things I havent thought about in years are starting to come out.

    Haifa was a blur so much action all the time.

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