Shit… Did I Leave The Stove On?

Anyhoo. I’m back y’all. Sorry for not being as active as y’all would have wanted but shot got crazy these last (fuck) 8(?) days since the last update. Not having my phone or any reception to speak of blows and I’ll try to make up for my lack of updates.

The pace of operations here was hectic. Between sleeping in uniform for quick action readiness and late nights working with the kids, there wasn’t a whole lot to write about. But I will say that the biggest take away from this shitshow was being flexible.

As the radio guy, I have a lot of shit. A lot of things to get done and deadlines to meet. Needless to say, the radios I’m in charge of are my babies. My kids. And trust me. Sometimes I’d rather not be their parent. They’re a finicky bunch. Some work well (my golden children) others work half the time (reminders of myself. They’re wonderful, but a bit of a pain). Others I swear we’re born and bred in satan’s asshole. Constantly glitching, never doing what they’re told, and being a general pain.

Right off the bat, three decided they wouldn’t work for me. No big deal, but I had choices to make. Now people would have no way to communicate silently like we would like, and it would be difficult. We adapted well, and we were still looking good. Then came time to put some in the trucks. That was a long night.

For five trucks we needed five radios. I had two ready to put in, and hold one outside as a personal one. But that plan was scrapped when one of the radios that wasn’t mine went down and wouldn’t work in a truck. So I improvised. All three of mine went to the trucks and I kept the glitchy one to myself. That was a late night. By the time they were all hooked up and running right, it was one in the morning and I was exhausted. Single parenting is tough. Enough said.

After that days blurred together. Attacks on our base, missions that got shut down as we were ready to roll out, and somehow finding time to shower. But for the most time it was waiting. Followed by more waiting and then sleeping. Food was the only constant. Three meals a day, one of those being a MRE (meals ready to eat, but in all reality, they should have been called Major Rectal Explosions. It’s the better name). The cooked hot chow was edible at minimum. Army eggs are the worst. And chicken bacon isn’t even worth touching. But dinners were nice. Even if it wasn’t the fine dining I get back home, it went down well.

Then, word came down that we would be moving bases for 48 hours at minimum. Moving for that amount of time is tricky. I chose to pack the essentials, which for me was a hygiene kit, a towel, a set of clothes to shower in, and batteries. Lots of batteries. The chargers had to go with other people. But at a price. In the field, tobacco is king. So, one can to have them carry the chargers and I had secured their place on the helicopter. The pack was perfect. Heavy, but still light enough to maneuver in. I don’t even need to have my name on my pack. All one has to do to know it’s mine is to look for the antenna sticking out of it. That and it’s usually the weight of a small child.

Helicopters are fascinating things to me. As a child I wanted to fly them, but life said no. So instead I get to ride in them. Fun, but it looses its appeal after a while. We packed our bags into the bird, strapped in, and flew away from our first base. New base. New adventures.

This next base was a lot bigger. But we had been there earlier in the year, so we knew the place well. First things first when we arrived was getting the radios up. Come to find out, I had the wrong stuff I needed, so I had to do a late night run to get that fixed. It was after midnight when I finally got it working. Another late night with the kids.

Our awakening was rude. Artillery fire early in the morning meant that it was time to start the day. But that was fine. We had missions to prep for. The first one never left the gate due to a conflict with our supporting personnel who didn’t want to go out that late at night. So we went back. The next night we went by ourselves to go try and find the people who were disturbing out sleep. We barely missed them. We were disappointed, but knew we were on the right track.

Remember the bugs I talked about earlier? Yea. They love those woods and I woke up unable to count the number of itchy red bites I had from those stupid fuckers the next morning. Damn things seem to like the taste of my blood. We decided to leave, our targets weren’t coming back. We got back, showered, and then debriefed the good and the bad of the mission. The next day another mission, but it only lasted the morning. Time went by, and our last day there arrived. We were supposed to fly out early that morning, but again, the enemy artillery shut us down. Then came the news over the radio. Our base was being attacked. We were already outside, and we rushed into the fight. Well. The rest of them did. My radio decided not to work, so I had to run back and figure it out. After two minutes, I knew the radio I had would not work. I looked at the packed radio, heard it working fine, and formulated a plan. I dumped out the unnecessary batteries, quickly zipped up the pack, and sprinted out the door. Thank god for cardio days. It was a long run back to the front. We got the word to move to the front lines. They were getting overrun. I followed my lieutenant as he led the way. We arrived to find a huge firefight, and few survivors on our side. We set up our defense and waited for them to come. And they came. We took a casualty almost immediately. (Note: these are notional casualties not real ones). He was part of a machine gun team, and his gunner needed someone to help him with the gun. So I stepped up. Then, the gun stopped working, so I fired, (which usually never happens) as he worked to fix the gun. The gun was a lost cause, and the gunner himself was hit. I then moved to call up the wounded. Three. In a little over half an hour. But we drove the attack off, and waited for reinforcements to arrive. It wasn’t even 0900 yet. When the fight was over, we had killed at least ten and had destroyed two vehicles. It was a good day. We left to go back to the bay we slept in to regroup. Every last one of us was exhausted. I took off my armor and helmet. Both were drenched with sweat. I took off my gloves and shirt and let the ac cool me down. I used my sweat to clean the dirt off my hands and regrouped. I looked at the pack. Time to repack. Then I saw a battery loose in the pack. Usually things are nice and organized, packed tight to help with the weight. Then I remembered. I had changed batteries in the middle of the fight. I marked it as bad and reorganized the bag. We waited to fly out again. Then came the call over the radio. “All units. Endex, endex, endex.”

It was over. All over. No more fighting was to be done. It was time to pack up and leave soon. It was a relief. We discussed the good and the bars of our missions for the last time, and then were driven back to our first base.

The rest of the time has been spent packing, relaxing, showering and relaxing. I packed my box of equipment nice and tight. It will follow me into the bus for the long bus ride home.

The morale here is high. We all know we did a great job here and did our jobs well. But we all want to go home. The bug bites, sprained joints, and all the other discomforts here helped us out as we prepare to go on the “really long business trip” as I like to call it.

In the mean time, we keep ourselves occupied. Cards, music, and other forms of entertainment. As for me, I think of home. I dream of being back home in lovely Chattanooga, waking along the beautiful river that flows through that city, home cooked meals with my family down there. I have missed them, and cannot wait to see them again.

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