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An Army of None

Discussion in 'Politics (deprecated)' started by R4V4G3D_SKU11S, Aug 28, 2003.

  1. R4V4G3D_SKU11S

    R4V4G3D_SKU11S TRIBE Member

    Thought this article I read the other day in punk planet was pretty cool. Here's an exceprt:


    An Army of None by TR excerpted from PP56

    These letters are from an anonymous soldier fighting the war on terror by administering urine samples and other mind-numbing jobs

    Dear You,

    Over the last few months, it’s been all but impossible to avoid interviews with military personnel in Iraq on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox news. Even the most Podunk stations imaginable seem to have a reporter or two embedded with the “fightin’ 409s.” The soldiers that fill your screen all seem to say the same thing: “We are here to liberate Iraq”, “We want to go home”, “Hi mom.” You don’t learn much of the realities of war or their day-to-day lives. And you certainly never get inside their heads. Welcome inside mine.

    I am a soldier in the United States Army with orders under Operation Enduring Freedom and this is my story, including all the ugliness that normal people would keep to themselves. It’s not going to be as action-packed as most war stories because, like many in the armed forces, my war has not been action-packed. I’m in the middle of America, where the beef flows like water and vegetables grow in cans. My story is a tale of boredom, frustration, and depression. The only conflict is in my head—I am utterly against the war in Iraq and any other war this administration may intend to wage, yet my daily routine is spent supporting the invasion of Iraq. I’m probably the last person you’d ever expect to be in the military, but I am. Lucky me.


    To Whom It May Concern:

    One would think that with all the money going to national defense that some of it would go towards building up the communities that grow around military installations. However, step outside any military post or base and you will find nothing but pawn shops, strip clubs, “cash now” loan sharks, restaurants providing food from cultures we have conquered in past wars, and used car lots preying upon poor soldiers who—probably for the first time in their lives—have more cash than they know what to do with.

    My environment has a heavy influence on my emotional state, and conversely, my perception of my environment is distorted by how I feel. Oklahoma files down your senses to the quick. Your perceptions have less range from lack of stimuli, but what little you do sense, you feel deeply. Living here too long is like being an old safecracker who has sanded his fingers raw for so long that his fingerprints are a faded memory and he can feel a fly’s wings vibrating from across the room. Sometimes the landscape even makes your eyes feel like they’ve sprung hangnails—but only when you’re hungover from an all-night bender spent trying to dull that acute perception of your austere surroundings.

    Oklahoma has a sad history full of dumb assholes with haywire survival instincts on quixotic quests for gold buffalo meat. The region has never gained enough altitude to go downhill—Oklahoma has been wallowing in the gutter since it was under the sea thousands of years ago.
    Geronimo had his ignoble end here after he was chewed up and made palatable for America. He finally succumbed to pneumonia after signing autographs at the World’s Fair and rubbing elbows with Teddy Roosevelt at his inaugural ceremony (all the while he was a federal prisoner). It was an anti-climatic finale for one of America’s first terrorists—and one of our favorites, as well. Geronimo is the patron saint of the doomed romantic. Soldiers shout his name for good luck before jumping out of airplanes.

    Thinking of Geronimo makes me wonder how our present terrorists will be viewed through the distorted lens of history. I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few decades the Afghani tourist bureau sold maps of Osama Bin Laden’s burial site to American tourists with zinc oxide slathered across their bulbous noses. It’s an ugly thing to imagine, but it’s an ugly time. It doesn’t take much imagination. Our enemies are our past allies and our allies are losers.



    You may be wondering why I joined. I wasn’t tricked or fooled into joining. And I wasn’t put at ease when my recruiter put on Operation Ivy at a follow-up appointment. And I certainly didn’t join out of any sense of patriotic duty or for life experience. Instead, take a beautiful woman, throw in no future in a small town and you have a desperate 18-year-old kid. Yes, I joined the Army because I was in love with a girl and she enlisted. I followed her, believing that she might be my only chance at happiness. Needless to say, she wasn’t and I know it was a mistake now. I knew it then too, I think, but I am a gambler by nature.

    Things might have been different if I did better in high school. Whenever, I got a bad grade, my dad would say, “That’s all right. If you can’t get into college then you can join the army—they accept anyone!” He was right, if a tad callous.

    Every instinct told me to run as I went through the process of enlistment. I held fast because every time I’d think of my girlfriend, my stomach would turn upside-down, blood would rush to my head and I knew I’d do anything for her. I rationalized my enlistment by telling myself that I was going to work in the medical field and that all my work would be oriented toward helping people, not harming them. If I knew how that would be perverted six years later, I probably would have gone home. Or maybe not—I was blinded by young dumb love.

    My MOS (that’s army-speak for job) was as a medical lab technician and had the longest training period for newly-enlisted soldiers. It was a year and half long (compared to the usual three to six months). A year of that was with drill sergeants. Within three months, I had broken up with my girlfriend.

    During the first couple of weeks in training, you are under what’s termed “lock down.” You can’t go anywhere or do anything. You go to class, do PT (physical training), and polish your boots. During this time, I thought my girlfriend would visit me, but she never did. Now I understand that she was a young girl away from home for the first time, and that while the military demanded a lot of your time and took some of your freedoms away, her personal time had fewer limits than ever before. At the time, I didn’t know that and all sorts of thoughts were going through my head. I was under enough stress with rabid drill sergeants, long hours, and living with a few dozen men in one room. It didn’t help that my fellow soldiers played devil’s advocate, telling me that they saw her with other guys. They had no idea what she looked like and I knew it, but it still tortured me inside. I rationally thought of a different complaint—that after all my sacrifices and leaps of faith, she owed me at least one visit in the afternoon, when she had personal time and I was stuck under a ramada shining my shoes in the setting sun.

    The only time we really had together was when we met for church (did I mention she was a Jesus freak?). No matter how much you love Jesus, it’s not easy getting up after a Saturday night spent partying. She stood me up twice, and each time I waited for her for hours and repeatedly called the pay phone at her barracks. The second time she was a no-show, I posted a crude note on her company’s bulletin board: “It’s over. I want my shit back.” Everyone saw the note before her. A friend came up to her and said she was so sorry about what happened. My girlfriend expressed confusion and she was lead to the note. It broke her heart.

    If she were more experienced, she would have seen the break-up coming. If I were more experienced, I would not have written the letter. That’s growing up. It’s tough enough without a contractual agreement with the military-industrial complex.

    Soon we were in the same school together and lived in the same building. I saw her every day and, each time, my stomach still did flips and blood rushed to my head. I felt sick all the time. I did childish things that I regret now: giving myself alcohol poisoning twice; stealing her car for alcohol fueled rage-drives on San Antonio’s circuitous interstates; embarrassing her in public. I saw her date other guys. I saw her meet the man she later married and had a child with. All this set me on a self-destructive course that went on for a few years. But at some point I realized that I couldn’t blame her. All this negative energy came from something I felt inside.

    Fast-forward to the spring of 2001; I was in my junior year of college and most of my time was spent on school film projects. The army was just a weekend a month for me after that first year and a half, but I couldn’t even do that. I was too busy filming, drinking, drugging, and having fun to show up to any of the weekend drills. I lost count of how many I missed. When I showed up for the two-week training in the summer, I was given money for a cab and a Greyhound ticket. I was no longer in the Army, they told me. I had missed too many drills.

    After a summer spent touring with friends’ bands, I came home penniless and facing a terminated lease. I ended up homeless, living in my van for nine months. In those nine months, I learned that I could survive without a job or a home on two dollars a day (with a lot of help from friends and family). But I also learned that I am not Aaron Cometbus and living scarce wasn’t for me. So when I was told that my paperwork for separation from military service wasn’t completed and that I was welcome back, I took them up on their offer.
  2. Ditto Much

    Ditto Much TRIBE Member

    Okay so the bone head almost flunked out of school and then chased the only peace of tale he ever saw into the military and regrets it.

    This guy not only sounds like a pussy he sounds like he has no brain of his own. He went into the military to follow a girl only to let his imagination ruin there relationship. He picks the field with the longest training to bitch and complain about it. When I hear all those complain about the youth not having any back bone this man exemplifies it. Maybe if he had applied half the time he spent ponering what this girl was doing and spent it on himself he wouldn't be sitting bored to tears in the mid west.


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