I am a US Army combat Vet with 16 years of total service…I was a Tank Crewman in the Cold War, then re-enlisted after 9/11 and mobilized for Operation Iraqi Freedom in November, 2004. My first daughter was born in October 2004 and I only had 30 days with her before I deployed to Iraq. I didn’t get back until the next November, after her 1st Birthday. I went on many missions with the 216th MI, Ground Surveillance and Recon Platoon and I was awarded a Combat Action Badge. I lost two friends to IED’s. I also survived a rocket attack when it impacted behind me and went whizzing past me, but for some reason, perhaps by divine intervention, it failed to detonate. I just think it was autonomous chance, like a Las Vegas Slot Machine except this one took your life in exchange for nickels and the payout jackpot was another day to live and breath God’s good air.
A Non-Fiction Essay By Former U.S. Army Sergeant, Stephen Crowley
3rd Place Winner 2011 Maricopa County Community Colleges Creative Writing Competition
Route Cherry is a road outside of Kirkuk Airbase to the west of Riyhad with bomb craters pot marking its lethal warnings every foot of the way. A road traveled with whispered prayers and curses. The one thing more frightening than traveling Route Cherry is to be parked along side it, waiting. “Waiting for what?” I ask myself.
The Humvee idles, the radio squawks. “Charlie Niner Bravo, SIT-REP, Over.” Situation Report, that’s what they want. I want to reply with SNAFU (Situation Normal, All Fucked Up), but I don’t. I just whisper it to myself. I have been in Iraq for many months now. The days blur together. It’s all the same, every mission, nothing changes for me. It wasn’t always like that, but Iraq will condition you that way.