Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Boom, Boom, Yawn

We began the Memorial holiday weekend by being woken up at 3:54 am by a series of explosions. Rockets fell near the fence on our side of the base. After the blasts the sirens wailed and we all went out into the pre-dawn light to check in and be counted--100% roll call after an attack. Most everyone went straight back to bed inside our 12-foot blast walls, and everyone knew we were safe because once they fire, they have to hide or an Apache helicopter will get them.

The only complaint I heard was one of our platoon sergeants. He was looking forward to Spin Class (bicycling in the gym) and knew that by the time everyone was accounted for, the 0530 class would be cancelled.

Later, around 1100 hours, several of us were unloading shipping containers in the motor pool when we heard two big explosions about 600 meters away. The tall thin mushroom clouds in the relatively still air said these were big artillery or mortar shells. The first had a brown cloud--probably hit a dust pit, the second was white and thinner. It must have hit concrete.

As the clouds dissipated we decided to keep working until the sirens wailed. They never did. We found out later these were controlled explosions--they just forgot to tell us. Again, the only complaint was from two soldiers, one on his first deployment, one on his second, who did not want to be in a blast shelter in the heat.

Many proverbs say that stress brings out the true character of a person, whether good or bad. In a place like this, it's good to know I am with people who yawn at missile attacks and complain only about the inconvenience.