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Postcards from Tradocia

the justice files

A warm, dark night atop the 7-story building I call home, for now. To the south, a mosque blazes into the night, looking more like a Vegas casino than any kind of holy monument. The rest of the city seems more or less normal: a mixed constellation of white and orange streetlights, stretching off into the hazy distance; pairs of yellow-white headlights floating through the darkness; the occasional wail of a police siren.

Only a few gunshots break the quasi-normality – lone shots rather than long ragged bursts suggesting a real fight. Up there we meet a pair of infantrymen, manning an OP (observation post), on the lookout for…anything. One complains about the boring duty; he says he’d rather be out on patrol; he says he “loves that shit.” It’s good to know I’m not the only one who feels bored and caged; it somehow makes my boredom more authentic to know someone who’s been shot at also hates the inactivity of FOB life.

Life is different here at Justice – Liberty is a barren expanse of gravel, rock, and sand; where you live in non-permanent trailers and everywhere you go seems almost ephermeral, not having existed until two years ago; where it’s a war zone and yet manages to be just like garrison. Justice has a more concrete feeling of place, of reality – real buildings, real trees, real grass, real people – mostly enlisted infantrymen and Iraqi civilians and soldiers. The flora and fauna give the air a subtly different flavor, too; the trees and plants give the atmosphere a faint, familiar, pleasing humidity in the daytime heat, totally unlike the sandy alien atmosphere of Liberty.

Not to say everything is sweetness and light – mortar impacts are regular and close, though still random enough to dismiss as lightning bolt-equivalent events. Yesterday what I assume was a VBIED (vehicle-borne IED) detonated near the front gate in a tremendous crash, followed by a burst of small-arms fire.

But here we’re close to the mission, directly supporting the warfighters, and it makes this seem much more real and relevant.

3 Comments

  1. Bryce and Lola

    11 May, 2005 at 11:03 am

    you write vividly,,can see it in my imagination..lots of prayets continue—liebe, g and g

  2. Sup man. Leave is winding down and it’ll be time to get back to “the shit” soon enough. Today a Cessna got real close to the Capitol and the White House, which they evacuated. The President was out biking, so no real worry, but it was interesting. Of course CNN and Fox are running the shit out of it, even though nothing happened.

  3. when I first asked my soldier what his FOB was like there, he said “just like Ft ____ only with lots of sand and an occasional mortar… garrison life indeed…

    stay safe.

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