We’d been in country maybe a week or two, and one night there were these loud BOOM!s. And people were running around in the dark, in various stages of uniforms, with weapons out, some loaded; people had cigarettes dangling from their mouths and we could see where they were by the little glows… some guy ran around busting out the porch lights so they wouldn’t “illuminate our positions”… and in the end, all along, it was a bunch of our own artillery doing a fire mission for another unit, a kilometer or so away.
No one that I knew actually had a breakdown like Patterson, here, running around screaming, but over the days stories came out of people huddled under their bunks, or people muttering “we’re all going to die!” or what have you… at the time it was scary, and I’ll admit I was certainly alarmed, worried… I just figured I’d be ready for whatever came.
Truth is, I think this was the best thing that could have happened to us. We’d pulled into Baghdad and for days nothing had really happened, and we were getting the impression that this was no big deal. But this was a good way to give us a reality check and remind us this stuff is potentially real; and did it in a way that gave us a deep-dish serving of humility in the process.
Today is Memorial Day, 2014. By all means, enjoy the day. Party, barbecue– it’s what our fallen would do if they were with us. Just remember that the freedom to enjoy our lives sometimes takes a toll, so maybe lift one of those drinks in remembrance of those who paid a price."/>