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.