Behind me is the "Cursed Bunk" at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
My deployment to Iraq in 2009 began with training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. When we arrived, we were assigned rooms. I was in a four-man room with Sgt. Nickey Smith, Sgt. Miguel Ramirez and another sergeant who was gone in a couple of weeks.
He was the first of four guys who slept in the "cursed" bunk during the two months we were in Fort Sill. The first guy was quiet and was suddenly gone. Some paperwork problem and he got sent home. The next guy spent a night or two and got reassigned somewhere.
Then came roommate #3, Specialist Big Dude. I wrote about him in 2009. He was a really good mechanic, a really good shot, and a really hopeless soldier. He weighed 335 pounds. He had anger issues, and he watched a Zombie movie EVERY day. Really! He was with us for almost a month and every every Big Dude climbed into his bunk and watched a Zombie movie. Then he would talk to his wife about the Zombie movie she watched. They seemed to be very much in love, talking every day and comparing Zombie movie notes. I had no idea there were enough Zombie movies that you could watch a different one every day--forever.
After a month, Big Dude got sent home. From what he said, it was weight. We never saw the anger issues. He was a gentle giant around us. When he left, Spc. Todd Tarbox moved in. Tarbox knew that "Roomie" was how college roommates sometimes refer each other. Once Todd moved in, the four of us started yelling "ROOMIE!" when we saw each other. We kept this up in Iraq and after. In the hallway of the Aviation Armory in Pennsylvania, I would see Miguel every other month and yell, "ROOMIE!"
These sergeants were also needling me for being more part of college culture than Army culture. I had three daughters in college while I was in Iraq. Roomie was what they said.
The culture clash between me and my roommates was not limited to Zombie movies. Nickey liked Anime movies--with his scars and gang tattoos, I would not have guessed Anime would be his favorite movie genre, but he watched Anime on his time off all the way through Fort Sill, Camp Adder and back to Fort Dix. Miguel liked horror movies. One morning he watched SAW 5 before breakfast. Here is the story I wrote at the time.
Spc. Todd Tarbox
Sgt. Miguel Ramirez on the Fort Sill Confidence Course
Sgt. Nickey Smith on the far right, with three other Connecticut soldiers on Camp Adder, Iraq. Sgt. Shawn Adams is to his left.
Sgt. Nickey Smith (right) at Camp Adder, Iraq. Sgt. Shawn Adams is to his left.