Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Smell of Diesel Brings Back Army Memories

"Deuce and a Half" trucks spewed black clouds of diesel.

During the 23 years I was a civilian before I re-enlisted in the Army, the unexpected smell of diesel that would take me back to the Army in a flash of memory.

In the 70s and 80s, the primary vehicle--the Jeep--had a gasoline engine. but most everything we drove had diesel engines. Tanks, Personnel Carriers, Howitzers and trucks all had diesel engines. Now the Humvees are diesel just like all the other trucks. On all of bases in this barren land of Iraq, power comes from generators. Huge generators, small generators, in-between generators.

Last month in the motor pool one of the mechanics grabbed a 110V drill to work on a 5-ton truck. He had to drill a few holes while he worked on the truck. He fired up a 150hp 6-cylinder diesel generator that happened to be close to his work site. It ran continuously for the entire time he worked on the truck.

On this morning's 5k run, I ran past several howling generators in containers outside the housing areas. Every time I turn on a light, charge a computer battery or go the chow hall, one of those generators is making power for me.

A diesel generator sitting in a Conex roaring day and night is not the most efficient way to provide power, but it is what we have here on Camp Adder, Iraq.

Just a whiff of diesel from a passing bus would remind me of eating on the back deck of our M60A1 tank or the driving in long convoys on the Autobahn that spewed black clouds of diesel from tanks and trucks.

When I get home I will smell diesel and think about those huge generators outside every facility, puffing clouds of smoke and keeping me well-fed and on line.

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