19 May 2011

The Things I Carried

With apologies and acknowledgements to the bound-for-Walden-Pond Henry David Thoreau and the bound-for-Vietnam Tim O'Brien, here's a partial laundry list of my potential laundry downrange:

Things I Packed for the Trip:
  • 3 pairs of antimicrobial underwear.
  • 3 pairs of antimicrobial socks.
  • 1 inflatable travel pillow.
  • 3 long-sleeved shirts.
  • 1 short-sleeved shirt.
  • 2 pairs of desert-tan cargo pants.
  • 1 pair of stone-colored convertible pants. (At least once during the trip, I plan to walk around Afghanistan wearing shorts, and loudly "I am not wearing pants!" We'll see how many sergeants major come running.)
  • 1 pair combat sandals.
  • 1 pair hiking boots.
  • My "go-to-war" laptop computer.
  • My six-shooter coffee cup, with dry-powdered reloads.

Things I Did NOT Pack:

  • Anything made of cotton. I miss the feel of it already.
  • My "deployment copy" of Henry V. While it's once more into the breach for me, this time I opted to replace my usual hip-pocket inspirational with some military-themed science fiction. I used to read a lot of David Drake ("Hammer's Slammers") and Orson Scott Card ("Ender's Game"). I figured that a couple of mass-market science-fiction paperbacks would: (a) fit into a cargo pocket; (b) provide easy distraction from half-day layovers in foreign airports; and (c) avoid barracks discussions about how much Shakespeare does or does not suck. Besides, I got suckered in by this John Scalzi title: "Old Man's War." Don't know why.
  • My Kevlar helmet and vest. When I still worked at the Magazine Factory, my fellow workaday editors and I were appalled to hear about upper-crust editors-in-chief who sent their luggage via overnight delivery, rather than be hassled by carrying-on or checking-in. Schlepping a gym bag full of heavy-but-still-breakable bulletproof plates on my way to Fort Irwin, Calif. last fall, however, convinced me to send my gear on ahead, courtesy of U.S. Postal Service. As a bonus, now I don't have to worry about them being "confiscated" along the way.

Things I will do while overseas:

  • Embed as civilian media to cover the current deployment of the Iowa National Guard's 2nd Brigade Combat Team (B.C.T.), 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division.
  • Attempt to post occasional reports to the Red Bull Rising blog.

Things I Promised Household-6 I would NOT do while overseas:

  • Take any unnecessary chances.
  • Grow a moustache.


  1. Yes.. I agree whole heartedly with HH6 re the mustache :D

    Stay safe Charlie.

  2. Safe travels, Charlie! We look forward to your posts!

  3. Envious of you Charlie. I know your news will have a great "ring" to it

  4. Looking forward to your posts from abroad. Stay safe and use a razor daily.

    Where do you get combat sandals? Payless?

  5. If you run into anyone in need of some care packages from home, just let me know! We sent packages for a year to the unmarried guys and gals who were in Iraq with the 108th MP Company out of Fort Bragg -- they're home safe and sound now, so we're happy to pick up some more folks!

  6. I hope you come visit us in the other cav, down in Kabul. I like to start missions with a line or two from Henry V. I personally believe mustaches are mandatory on deployments.

  7. I love the six shooter, and the bag. Any more fashion statement for you, we'll have to get you a spread in Esquire.
    I'm busy with Tim's memorial being held last week. I'll be among your new tribe! The journalists, or as Tim called himself, "an image maker."
    I'll think of you, afterwards, as we all adjourn to The Half King in Chelsea.

  8. What do combat sandals look like? Please post a photo. Interested to see if they are just flip flops with a safety strap on the back, or the ones with the bottle opener built into the sole.

  9. My go-to-war "combat sandals" are basic black Tevas. I seem to recall they were once marketed as being the choice of the Israeli military. They double as my shower-shoes and my midnight-run-to-the-latrine shoes.

    Otherwise, I try to use the hiking boots. The FOBs are rocked with pretty sizeable gravel. I can see what some Army buddies meant when they observed that the newly issued mountain boots have a hard time standig up to FOB life!

    @Strength Behind the Strong: I've got some Red Bull-flavored ideas to share after I get stateside, if you don't mind keeping a midwestern focus. More news as it happens!

  10. As a fellow Household 6, I whole heartedly agree with her requests! My hubby grew a stach while at NTC and was called Sgt. Stach and warned not to go near small children because he would terrify them! LOl! Stay safe and can't wait to read stories and look at pictures!!! (hint, hint....Sgt. Harrington needs his picture taken - HHC 2/34th supply is where you may find him ;))


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