A Tribute to Troop 31815
The power of Thin Mints
Originally posted on Fever Dreams | A Blog:
I never got used to sweating at night. Middle of the day, under the blaze of the Iraqi desert sun, helmet and body armor a primitive dutch oven, sure, it made sense. But to have your t-shirt and underwear wet and stuck to your skin at two in the morning, somehow that was worse. Laden with gear and ruck sack, standing in a line of Marines waiting on a deafening tarmac to board a C-130, sweat in rivulets over my eyebrows and down my cheeks and tickling the tip of my nose, I admit it, I was miserable.
I wasn’t even supposed to have been at Al Taqaddum. I was stuck, my hop to Kuwait diverted almost immediately after leaving Baghdad, as if I was flying from JFK to Miami with a layover in Trenton. That is, if Trenton was a primitive airbase in western Iraq that exchanged regular mortar fire with surrounding neighborhoods. When my blacked-out flight into TQ landed I had to ask the air terminal workers where I even was. For two days I had squatted in a communal tent next to the parking ramp, had tried to doze on a cot between sortie launches, waited and waited on a stand-by list for a bird out. This 0200 flight was my chance.
I was the last man in a line of Marines waiting in the pre-dawn dark for the loadmaster to wave us forward. The only light on the airfield came from the dim-green interior of the awaiting aircraft. I hadn’t slept, not really, not more than fifteen minutes at a time, in almost three days. I needed a new shirt more than a shower; after several days of sweat, cotton stiffens into a salty board. It was only April, and night time temperatures were already over one hundred degrees.