Saturday, February 9, 2013

Anniversary of Sorts

Ten years ago I was a senior at Penn State.  I was trying to graduate on time, so I enrolled in 19 credits for my last semester.

I remember one particular Friday afternoon in early February.  It was 6 PM, pitch black, and so cold you could freeze the balls off a brass monkey.  My Saturday would be spent at work and "donating" plasma for money. I had just spent the past 3 hours in the vibrations lab and was not looking forward to the 10+ hours that would have to be spent there on Sunday.

So I get home.  My roommates at the time were all theater/drama majors who thought my beer stash was fair game*, and that cable TV was wrong.  This was my first experience with hipsters.  It did not go well.

*these were the people whose theories on shared housework convinced me that Socialism is wrong and we should get rid of it.  Personal responsibility trumps all.

A few slammed doors later, my phone rings.  It's my supervisor at my Air National Guard unit.  I was briefed that my unit was being activated, and was asked if I wanted to go to the desert.

I remember looking at my very pregnant backpack.  My desk stacked high with papers.  The apartment was a mess.

I also remember thinking that what was inevitably coming was going to shake world history.  I had missed out on Afghanistan the year before (still kicking myself).  I didn't want to miss out on a chance to serve my country and to have an adventure.

So I replied, "I'll see you on Wednesday".

And so began the most interesting four months of my life.  I would experience/learn: deployment, intense chemical warfare training, my first experience with Europe, learn the value of Tylenol PM, my first trip in a C-141, my first combat landing, my first experience with Asia, blast furnace like heat, sandstorms, my first gander at an F-117, mudstorms, how to properly stay hydrated in a desert, scorpions, camel spiders, drinking at the embassy in Kuwait City, MOPP levels and the appropriate reaction, learning to always have my chem gear near me, advising the Kuwaiti Air Force, the ineptness of active duty, lightning strikes near a rack of cluster bombs is not a good thing, what the contrail of a silkworm missile looks like, what not to write on a 500 lb. bomb, grass is a luxury, having multiple wives doesn't always favor the men, flying 500 ft. over sand on the way to Al Nasareyah in a C-130 is fun unless you get motion sick, Ur,....I literally could go on for another page or so.  I kept a journal of that time and maybe I'll dig it out.

Anyway...ten years.  So much has happened since then it makes the head spin.

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