08 April 2011

A Day in the Red Bull Life

"I read the news today, oh boy ..."

Yesterday, the Des Moines Register posted an early report that two Iowa National Guard soldiers had been injured in an Improvised Explosive Device (I.E.D.) attack in Afghanistan--Laghman Province, most likely, given that they're from the 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regment (1-133rd Inf.)--and had been evacuated to Germany. The count of 2nd Brigade Combat Team (B.C.T.), 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division soldiers (2-34th BCT) seriously injured on its current deployment now totals six.

A few hours later, the Omaha World-Herald posted a gritty and grippy article about soldiers from 1st Squadron, 113th Cavalry Regiment, engaged in a Parwan Province firefight.

"Woke up. Fell out of bed. Dragged a comb across my head."

Archer is home from Afghanistan for a few days. We met up at a local pie-shop yesterday, and didn't talk about too much that was too important. That morning, I'd seen The Postman's wife post on Facebook a glimpse of her camouflaged husband, snapped as he crossed the threshold between Jetway and Delta Airlines. Two weeks ago, we met at Bennigan's. Now, he's back to Bagram. The Great Freedom Bird is, without doubt, a fickle and migratory animal. It only rests in one place for a fortnight.

Meanwhile, there's the rushing sound of a threatened U.S. federal government shutdown. Soldiers may not got paid on time. Families at home are worried about paying the rent, and off-duty soldiers downrange have little to do but take it out on the Internet. If you think all the flinging of political venom and excrement isn't playing well back home in Panora, think how it's playing downrange in Parwan.

This morning, I chatted online with a buddy overseas. We'd planned to deploy together last summer, and had even begun to conspire to somehow improve our little part of the U.S. Army. He sounded good, but frustrated. He's had about three different career changes since 12 months ago, and none has been what we'd expected to be doing. Reading the scroll of our conversation back, parts now seem almost poetic. Here's a sanitized snippet:
but i'm an X
not a Y
it actually could be an easy job
but there is no room for error
and I have made them
There are approximately 3,000 soldiers on the 2-34th BCT deployment. Each day brings a soldier another story. Some of those stories are heart-pounding, some are chest-thumping. Some are filled with confusion, hurt, or injury. Some are contemplative and thought-provoking.

The passage of each is worthy of note.

Another "day in the life" ...

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