Monday, September 1, 2008

Once In A While

It's true what you might have heard. We do sometimes miss being deployed. It doesn't make much sense and we know it. The truth, though, is that things were usually pretty simple "downrange".

Anytime we were forced to assemble together, it was for a reason. Not formation just for the sake of formation. If there was information to put out, a huddle was good enough.

Not drinking was easy. Some dudes handle it just fine, I ended up cutting mine down to a bare minimum--drink or two. Some dudes just need to not drink. Ever.

Our safety briefings are continuously lengthier because we're all supposed to be harboring sinister, self-destructive thoughts or subconscious desires. Buying up sports cars and crotch rockets. Deliriously wasting money.

My friend and I took an ass beating a month or two ago in Seattle. I was logic-defyingly drunk and I'm pretty sure he was too. I came out of a blackout just in time to see him turn to face me and say, "Yep. We're about to get our asses kicked."

Then five or six dudes proceeded to do just that. All I could think was, "This shouldn't be happening. Wouldn't happen if I had a gun." That's about when it hit me.

We aren't worth dick if we aren't armed. Myself especially. No eye contact in public, don't cut anyone off in traffic, don't turn onto the wrong street, hope no one smashes your windows out when you go to see a movie, neurotic social terror. But put me in full kit and give me my rifle again, and I'm God.

One day you're detaining some asshole who rigged a house to explode on you and your guys, negotiating with the train tunnel sized shotgun barrel. The next, you're John Q Whogivesashit, capable of not much.

Oh yeah, I thought long and hard about spending my last year in Iraq. It sounded like a really good idea too. More money, actually doing my job. Sounded wonderful. But there's more people to consider than just me. So it's John Q Whatsit.

You get back, and everyone goes back to focusing on their own little things. Their upcoming marriage and/or divorce. Their suped Volkswagon. It isn't Us vs The World anymore. And it's a law of nature that everything eventually goes downhill. When that happens, you can either pout and live in the past, in the good ol' days, or you can move on and find something new and good, and enjoy it while it lasts. Then move on again when it's drained of awesome.

See, I don't know if I ever made this clear enough. I didn't enlist for "freedom", and I didn't enlist for college. Fuck, I didn't even THINK I'd go to college back then. Thought it "wasn't for me". [Vomit blood here]. I didn't give two shits who the President was, I didn't care who the enemy was. I've said this a million fucking times, but I did it for the dudes of my generation that were going. We could have been storming London and I still would have signed up. I signed up for dudes that I didn't even know. Some that I came to hate, some that I never knew all too well, some that were just too fucking weird not to love, and some that are the best friends I'll ever have.

That Band Of Brothers feeling is few and far between though. Only in rare moments that you don't talk about in the first place. But I've done some really STUPID things to help or bail a friend out.

The Army is where you go if you're afraid to grow up. If you have that Peter Pan Syndrome. But it isn't always the party you thought it would be. For some reason, I really thought it would be a life of excess and all things awesome. Sometimes, it is. But no one advertises the gray moments in between. I'm not against recruiting for the Army. It's actually a really good thing for most people. I just think there should be more honesty in the advertisements. But wait, that defeats the purpose.

The thing though, is that you almost have no choice but to try to plow forward. If not, all you can do is look back. And I can't do that. So I have to stay busy. Bring the new guys in, I promise not to ruin their attitudes and I'll do everything I can to teach them and look out for them, and not ruin their mindset. The Army really could use more high speed, low drag, motivated types.

My heart is just never going to be in this unless I'm in a warzone again. So it's time to move on.

Now observe while Kid Rock and Dale Earnhardt Jr take a nice long piss on my face.

"If you ain't gonna fight, get outta my way," he says. Practice what you preach, faggot. How stupid do they think we are? Dale drives circles around a fucking track for exhorbitant amounts of money, and no one has given a shit about Kid Rock since 1998. But he breathes red white and blue apparently. That's one hell of a way to support the troops, with endorsements. Shut the fuck up and enlist. Pull the weight. Prima Donna fuck. They go home to mansions. But they call him "warrior". That's interesting, cuz I sure don't feel like some kind of warrior. I just feel like I was in some strange place in some weird circumstances with random loud noises and things you can't quite explain, and now I'm not so sure that I was ever there, or that it was ever REALLY real, or if I just made it up. Hell, I could have been lying to all of you from the very beginning. I could have been a desk jockey, or I could have never even taken the oath, and just be some sick fiction writer, fucking with the minds of strangers.

I don't think the "war" fucked me up. Most of the time. Other times I wonder, but no. I won't accept that. I haven't seen half the shit that some of our vets have. And still I want more and I want none of it at the same time.

So yeah. I'm getting out. And no, I was never ever in the Army.


Ky Woman said...

Soooo, you're saying you joined for your own reasons, huh? And your point? Doesn't everyone join for their own reasons? Yeah, that's what I thought....

Now you move on to bigger and better things. You still have your loyal readers who still give a shit about you and the rest of the guys. Nothing new there.

Just chalk it up to the phase of your life where you slip into the world the rest of us inhabit...

Not so bad, is it?

BigD said...

Hi Suspect,
Are you deleting posts again? What happened to "A Call To Arms?" Anyway, I am not sure what to make of this one...I guess I will give you my "Usual Suspect" play-by-play:
1. I agree that soldiers may miss being deployed because when deployed they are doing what they have been trained to do, the BS is on the back burner and the job gets done.
2. I am glad you cut your drinking down to a minimum...although the rebound drinking seems to get a lot of guys into trouble...thus bringing me to number three.
3. Safety briefings - one day it occurred to me that soldiers deploying home from a war zone must routinely scoff at the implied "dangers" of things like speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, eating at Taco Hell, riding without a helmet and crossing the street against the light. Being in Iraq has raised the bar on what constitutes actual danger. Your Richter scale of Danger has been re-calibrated forever.
4. I agree with your "we aren't worth dick if we aren't armed." Nothing like a big gun to get your point across real quick-like. There are many days when I wish I had a gun and I could waive it about and scream at jerks on the road or dullards in the Home Depot. Wouldn't it be great if you could morph into Super Hero, "Infantry Guy!" When those dudes started beating you up, you would morph into your full kit with rifle at the ready! A big booming voice would come out you saying..."Behold you mother f*ckers, I am God!" (Is it OK to use expletives and God in the same sentence?) That would be a site to see and I would LMAO as you made them "dance" with a spray of rifle fire from your M4.
5. I do NOT agree that the Army is where you go when you are afraid to grow up. Generally speaking these days, I would say that college is for that purpose! Going away to college and its requisite non-stop partying and drinking is a hell of a lot easier than walking into a recruiter's office during wartime and signing up for the Infantry, followed by rapid deployment to a war zone. If anything, you had to grow up too fast!
6.I am rooting for you Mr. John Q. Whogivesashit. I am selfishly happy that you are not in Iraq anymore. I know you will find a way to make a difference in this world, if you keep your eyes, your ears and your heart open to the opportunities that life will bring. We all must find ways to move forward with our lives, to create new adventure, and discover joy. God(s) bless you Ryan. You still rock my socks.

lorraine said...

Hey Suspect - sounds like you pulled your head out or never put it up there in the 1st place. My son said to tell you - at last post - you are holding a 2 & 9, off suit - fold and wait for next hand. Whatever in the hell that means - something about Texas Hold 'Em hand - that you'd know. He gets irritated at my lack of understanding at what every cryptic combination of words he can throw out and people under 30 understand and when I was under 30 I was busy trying to hold onto the 1960's because as Wavy Gravy says- if you can remember the 60's you weren't there. Anyway - I love your stuff and it helps me get through my day to day life - I guess that what most of us old guys & gals are doing reading about your expexrience - fooling ourselves that we would be there if we could - 'cept I never thought about it when it was "my gen's war - of course I wasn't an RN then either with a BS degree (yes it can stand for bull sh*t)- now - wistfully I am to old - I asked a recruiter & he had to laugh - much love & keep your head up and out now that you are home - love lorraine

themorethingschange... said...

Well. Whatsup with the last post of yours? I know it was there this morning but now its gone...

Buckle up man, I've got lots to say about todays post...

First of all, I'm wondering if you miss being deployed, or if you miss the adrenalin rush of clearing a house or heading to a firefight.

You're right: some dudes should not drink and right now Ryan, you're one of them.

Maybe the briefings are getting longer because the higher-ups are seeing more, oh, say bailing drunken troops out of jail or picking them up at the emergency room...

Come on, you never were god, you were in a warzone where other guys with guns were trying to kill you and they weren't god either.

You're also not John Q Whogivesashit, you never were, except maybe when you were in Iraq - where you told us time after time that your heart wasn't in it.

Think you've got the laws of nature confused - water goes downhill, life goes up and down.

Yes, you've made it clear why you joined - several times.

"...The Army is where you go if you're afraid to grow up...I really thought it would be a life of excess and all things awesome..." WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot!!
Seriously, Suspect, you didn't really think that did you? If you did, I'd bet next month's paycheck your father did all he could to disabuse you of that idea.

About the youtube tune - gotta admit I sat here thinking the same thing.

You're right, you do have to press on. But. Just because you haven't seen as much as other soldiers, does not mean you haven't been affected. How many dead bodies are enough? How many buddies do you have to lose? There's no magic threshold here. Once is enough to stay with you forever.

So. Take advantage of all the talk-time the Army gives you. It's free, it won't matter if goes on your 201 file cause you're getting out, and it may get you out of one or more assemblies.

Just call me Miss verbosity ;)

Anonymous said...

How thoughtful recommending "talk-time" after riding roughshod over a recently returned soldier.

Anonymous said...

Hi boy. Way to work that lovely Kidrock moment in.

Next time we could maybe forgo the loud sarcastic "Yeah, remind me NOT to do that" when they tell you to show your support by downloading ;)

And I just wanted to point out that you dudes may go into it with the rally cry of "Think of a wonderful thought", but you said yourself that you went in thinking the Co ed life wasn't for you and are now looking at colleges.

Sounds like growing up to me.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a guy thing. Go figure.

membrain said...

Yeah, you grew up Suspect. Sounds to me like you're maybe trying to figure out what you missed. Going through some changes as we used to say in the sixties.

I read a really interesting piece by a member of the NY National Guard about how they're in the shit in Afghanistan one day and back on the street in Amherst the next. Freaky. A LOT of those guys flip out.

Your future months of garrison bullshit is kinda like a long hangover. It takes time Dude. We're thinking about ya.

mamaworecombatboots said...

We could take you out of the Army but there isn't anything that is going to take the Army out of you.

History takes time, whether it belongs to us or to the nation. You are way too close to your experiences to know how they will ultimately affect the path of your life.

Anonymous said...

The video comes off patronizing and confusing to me. A particular segment within the video caused a gut wrench. Damn.

Anonymous said...

Kid. Chill out, for the love of God. Thing about the young...they think they invented life. Don't drink! look forward! Don't look back. It's hard. So many people are supporting you - people you don't even know. You are awesome.

manzie said...

agreed, aprillini.

people you don't even know are supporting you.