Postcards from Tradocia

the war in the backyard

Whenever a US soldier is killed, we have to disable our non-secure internet connections and inform our subscribers of the outage. (Phone calls to the United States are also restricted, but that’s above our pay grade, as it were.) Two days ago, our node center called to inform us that soldiers had been killed, so we took appropriate action. SGT Boner went to the TOC that we support, telling them that “the internet’s going to be out because I guess some guys got killed.” Imagine his sheepish retreat, then, when they responded to the effect of: “Yeah, we know. They were ours.”

The two soldiers killed two days ago by “sniper” fire were from the unit we’re supporting. (I use scare quotes because such attacks are rarely from a sniper in the classic definition of the term; rather, they’re lucky shots, drive-by shootings, or a few long shots from concealment before running away.) We talked to their commo guy about it; he didn’t know the men personally but he knew their names. I don’t think either one was old enough to drink in the United States. There wasn’t much we could say, just shake our heads and stew in brief awkward silence.

Even so – with two men dead that I might’ve seen at the DFAC choking down a cold hamburger, or at the internet room, talking with girlfriends or buddies or parents – our generator still hummed; the RAU and the LOS still sat, compiling and transmitting all those electrons that somehow turn into words and sounds and pictures; and we continued to read and eat and play Xbox and computer games, just like it was another day. How can one be so close to death and not even feel it?


  1. Bryce and Lola

    tragic is such a terrible understatement, isn’t it?? we keep praying—wish there were something else to do–tho as you know i really believe in the power of prayer,,,lots of love and prayers, g and g

  2. Spike

    I see it as like the being naked in front of your doctor thing. You separate that from other kinds of naked or die or embarrassment. With the deaths of fellow soldiers you’re separating it from other kinds of killed so you don’t die of fear.

  3. Mom and Dad

    You’re feeling it.

    Love, Dad

  4. Mom and Dad

    Spike is right, you must detach or you will have a hard time getting through this. Love, Mom

  5. Papa Ray


    Yes, you can’t really “feel” it, like you would think you would or even think you should.

    But that takes nothing away from you or the passing out of this world into the next of the two fine young men you referenced.

    But, you don’t really get that choice, as such, when the violent sudden thud hits you friend that is right next to you, splattering you with his lifeblood. You choice of feelings as you watch the brightness of his life leave his eyes, is only limited by how sane or insane you are or become.

    I never did deal with my feelings and they delt me a life of confusion, anger and resentment.

    I waited twenty some odd years too late to deal with my feelings. Ten years of therapy has helped but…

    I am still trying to deal with them today.

    Papa Ray
    West Texas

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