Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Blackhawk Almost Down

Some of you know that I served in the Marine Corps Reserve for over six years. All in all it was a good experience, but I was extremely lucky that I was never sent over to Iraq. And I mean extremely. My unit in Hialeah had two of its three platoons called for the initial invasion and mine was the one left back. Then, my unit in Pasadena got activated two months after I got out. (And, for the record, my contract was up, I made no special arrangements to avoid going over). So now I lead a life consisting of lifting, tanning and blogging. Not too tough.

Not so for my friend Biff. Like me, Biff was a reservist and probably the best friend I made during my time with the Marines. Unlike me, he stayed in after his contract expired. I liked my time in the Corps, Biff loved it. He tried the civilian job thing for a year and found it so awful that he decided to go active. I think he is planning on Officer Candidate’s School upon his return from Fallujah. He has been in Iraq for about three weeks now, and has even called metwice and sent me a few emails. We keep him up to date on our pursuit of Spring Breakers and various stupid shit we do. He sends us emails like this:

So. Biff concluded his business in Al Asad yesterday, and with his motley crew of marines boarded a Blackhawk to come home last night at 2145. "Oooh a blackhawk" they said. "We're going first class" they said. True, four days ago we flew out to al asad on a CH-46 (AKA the flying shitcan) which if it does not leak, thou shalt not board it, because there is no fluid in it. Flying in them is comparable to locking yourself into a tiny smelly closet with no light, on top of a washing machine set on spin. With 12 of your closest friends. So yes, comparably, the blackhawk was first class. but I digress. Most of our flight was uneventful. We were about one minute away from ort LZ, and I was looking out the window at the MSR, and the east fallujah cloverleaf, and then I was blinded, and felt a searing heat on my face. I guess I should have been less concerned with my flashblindness, and more concerned with the fact that a rocket had just zipped past the bird, but no time for that, because another rocket ripped by a little closer than the last one at that particular second. and that's when the bird dumped flares and took "evasive action". Which is pilot speak for lets fly this thing like we stole it until we almost crash it in order to avoid the missiles. Like a roller coaster with no tracks. This my friends, goes far beyond living on the edge. It can be extremely fun, provided of course, that you live to laugh about it.

Eat an RPG dodging desert dick.

Biff, though his penchant for referring to himself in the third person is a bit much, keeps his sense of humor about being inches form death on a daily basis pretty well. I guess that’s really your best option since you’re there anyway. The point is, I don’t care what kind of drama you have going on in your life, or whatever stress your job or your friends or your significant other is giving you, it beats the hell out of having rockets fired at you on your way home from work.
It is very easy for those of us going about our civilian lives to distance ourselves from what is going on in Iraq, and sort of think “Oh, yeah, it would suck to be over there.” But when a guy who you used to exchange email tirades with on a daily basis about inconsequential stuff like bragging about your sex life too much is now sending you emails about how he had a rocket fired at his helicopter, well, that just makes this whole war thing a little more real. That, and the fact that I was a mere platoon placement away form being in the exact same boat.

A part of me is glad I never had to go over, but there is also a part, and many civilians can’t understand this, but there is also a part that is a little jealous. Like Biff is now a REAL Marine, a battle tested Marine. That being said, I have not met one Marine that has told me I didn’t make the 100% right choice to leave when I did. So I guess it’s a lose-lose. Oh well. My friends and I will continue to joke with him about having to feed him cigarettes after his arms are blown off and tell him that hookers in TJ charge extra for torsos. It keeps it light, and keeps our minds off the fact that what we are joking about may very well be true. Goddamn war. Ruined my military career.
Biff, In Happier Times


At 6:23 PM, Blogger Tara said...

I never know what to say about the war. I support our troops 100% and if I think about it everyday it fills me with fear for them.

I do admire the fact that your friends and yourself still have a keen sense of humor. Sometimes it gets people through the toughest times.

At 8:32 PM, Blogger Bad at Life said...

Talking to guys who have served overseas always puts my tough life problems--like dodging crazy women-- into a sort of trivial persepctive....I hate it when that happens.

Seriously, respect to your friend. I can't even imagine.

At 7:53 AM, Anonymous Johnson said...

I have exchanged many a email tirade with the Biffster. Although I've never met him, he seems like a good enough guy even though he bitches about too many drunken cell phone calls at 3am. Here's a tip...TURN OFF YOUR RINGER. I guess they didn't teach him that one in basic.

Seriously though, that rocket story is wild. Good to see that Biff is keeping his sense of humor through something like that. I don't know I'd be able to.

At 9:44 AM, Blogger angel, jr. said...

One of the blogs I read is written by a guy stationed in Iraq. It makes the war, terrifyingly real.

At 1:33 PM, Blogger mrshife said...

Well give my best to Biff and tell him to stay safe. And reading his email about his near-death experience does put things into perspective. Thanks for sharing.

At 4:59 AM, Blogger Cody said...

I don't have any cool war stories like that. But that's the difference between a military journalist, and an infantry guy. He gets to be in the shit, and we get fobbits who want us to photoshop them into the battle using our green screen (no shit.)

At 4:43 PM, Blogger White Dade said...

Tara - Like I said, what is your other option?

Bad - That typically lasts about five minutes and then I start getting pissed again because I'm not getting as long a lunch break as I want.

Johnson - It's amazing how you can be a bitch and a hero at the same time

Angel - I haven't read any soldiers blogs yet, but I really think I should start

Shife - Giving regards to a jarhead? How civil of you.

Cody - Appartenyl everything you get fed is complete bullshit anyway. Or so says everyone I know whos been over there

At 4:47 PM, Blogger jenjen said...

Damn Biff.
Glad you two have made amends over late night dialing. Yes, the war is real here in San Clemente too and depressing along with the fact that Marine sons are raising havoc over the Meatball's baseball season. Never forgotten.
Flag still flies over Capo beach, I think forever.

At 5:36 PM, Anonymous Ted said...

I support the troops 53%. Sound ridiculous? How do you support the troops if you don't support the war? I support them individually but not what they are doing. That doesn't make much sense. I don't want them to die but also don't support their killing of thousands of Iraqis. Some people need to grow up and start having the gumption to have grown-up views.


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