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If You Love Kitties, Don't Read. . .

My wife sent me a lovely email about my son Nigel. He loves animals. My wife found a mouse nest in the garage and let Nigel care for a baby mouse. He spent much of today with the mouse, watching it in its new clear-plastic-container home. Nigel is a sweet kid. Luckily for him, his eyesight and hearing will not allow him to join the military when he gets older. Because animal lovers have a tough time in this crowd.

Now we switch to tonight's dinner. In the usual random way that dinner groups form by whoever recognizes each other siting together, I was sitting with two senior female sergeants: by senior I mean in rank, they are both in their mid-30s. We were joined by our commander and executive officer: two Penn State grads who are 25 and 24 respectively. One of the sergeants brought up our commander's age. I thought I was twice as old as he is, but it turns out I am three years older than twice as old as he is. So then everybody played a game of "What was Sergeant Gussman doing when I was born?" The youngest guy added "What was sergeant Gussman doing when my mother was born? I was four at the time."

With everybody laughing the topic switched to animals in Iraq. The commander had not seen any cats here, only insects and reptiles. One of the sergeants had been assigned to a remote fueling site early in the deployment. The site had a mascot, a small kitten. Fuelers work 24 hours filling helicopters with JP-8 fuel. Their primary vehicle is an 8-wheel-drive, all-terrain HEMMT fuel truck. During one of the night fuel missions the kitten was hiding under one of the HEMMT's six-foot high tires when the truck rolled out.

The next day a very sad sergeant announced with tears "We have lost one of our team." Soldiers started looking around to see who was missing. Then the sergeant said, "Fluffy got run over by a HEMMT last night." According to my witness everyone was relieved at first then started yelling at the sergeant for scaring them and saying, "IT'S ONLY A F#$KING CAT. . ." and other variants on that theme, before they started making jokes about him.

Which led to stories about other fuelers who captured a camel spider (the local scorpion) and how cool it is to watch when these scorpions catch a lizard and how the exactly scorpion eats the lizard.

I am glad my son the animal lover will be a civilian.

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