Fear and Loathing in Iraq: May 30, 2004

Chris, not feeling well

Another week goes by and things are the same as ever. On Monday I came down with a bad case of food poisoning. It was from the camel hump-horse hoof-bat nipple-meatloaf that was served on Sunday night. I woke up on Monday in pain and it only got worse. I left work to lie down and was balled up in a knot by noon. I went to the aid station and was given an I.V. and some meds to ease the upset stomach. I was out for a day and felt like shit. But by Tuesday afternoon I was up and around again and I got my energy back. I was told later that “You never eat the meatloaf in the Army. That is where all the nasty, old meat goes so they don’t have to throw it out.” Great, now I know.

I received some news that has concerned me and I am wondering what to do. The 67th CSH (Combat Support Hospital) knows they are going to Afghanistan in July of ’05. Now we usually go where they go since we are in the same brigade. So there is a strong chance we will get a stop-loss order again next year to go to Afghanistan. Now the tour would be a year, and I would have only six months left by then, so I will be kept in the Army 6 months past the time I was due to get out. So if I stay in Germany I may go to Afghanistan.

My other option is to go to the States. I would leave early in the year, but there is a good chance I may get sent to a unit that will be on their way back here. So it is a roll of the dice as to whether I get a unit staying or going.

Another option is to deploy to Korea for a year. Now I would be fairly safe, and only have to extend my tour by a month or two. But it keeps me out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

So there it is: my options. I am not sure what to do but I am leaning towards rolling the dice and going back to the States. If not then I am thinking of Korea. Afghanistan won’t be so bad, it is safer than Iraq, but I don’t want to stay in the army so much longer than my contract. I want out! Any ideas?

We had our first barbecue last night and the entire battalion showed up. I was hoping for something with my own company but instead we got like a 150 people. It was too many and I ate and ran off to do homework. I am not a fan of the other companies and I tend to stick with my own. I am big believer in troop morale and it is tough when the company doesn’t stick together and invites, in a sense, strangers. So nobody mingled and everyone stayed to themselves in their respective company. It was not what I called a good time. I appreciate the effort, it was about time, but it was turned into an event that didn’t help morale. It was a feeding station, not a company get-together.

There is supposed to be a Bazaar on the 1st and I am looking forward to the goods that will be sold. I want to find gifts and trinkets that I can’t get within the base. The Army checks out vendors and they are allowed to set up booth and sell goods. I went to a rug dealer in Anaconda and the 6X9 rugs are up to $3,000. They are hand made in Iran but out of my league. I may buy a small $80 one if I do, and I hope the bazaar has some to choose from. I will keep you all in mind if I see cool things. I applaud the Army for offering something like this.

I sometimes forget to direct my anger at who sent us here, and not to those that are here. We support each other because we have to survive. I don’t agree with the war or the people that sent us here, but we are all in this shit blender together and I can’t get angry at everyone. I would support any money asked for because even though the war is a farce and full of shit, we are here and we have to have what it takes to survive. I would rather be pulled out, but barring that, at least give us what we need to survive. As Bill Maher once said, “It was Bush’s war, but it’s America’s peace now.”

The Republicans say that if you don’t vote for money you are not supporting the troops, no matter the amount or the wastage. But the truth is we need the money to run this crap. The last thing we need to do is recycle our piss to get water and turn screws with butter knives as tools. So I would grit my teeth and curse the person who forced this money to be spent in the first place. It is like paying for blackmail, you don’t want to do it and you are pissed that you are forced to.

I have been watching movies that are unique and I have found two I highly recommend. The first is Amelie, a French film that was up for 5 academy awards a few years ago. I also recommend In America, about an Irish family that comes to the US. And I also recommend The Fog of War, a documentary with Robert S. McNamara. All three were wonderful and I suggest you rent them when you get the chance.

I am scheduled to go to Qatar on June 21st for my four day weekend. I look forward to the trip, as I am very stressed right now. The end of June will mark our 6 months here and it is a perfect time to take some time off. This week we had two Stress Counselors come and talk to us about how to deal with stress. Rolling our shoulders and closing our eyes and thinking about mountains and clouds. They are trying to reduce the number of suicides in country and keep as many soldiers going home from shellshock. I liked some of the ideas but they disappear as soon as you step outdoors into the heat and dirt. There is not much to do about stress. I told some people in class about living in close quarters and gave them an idea how to see what it’s like. Try this: take six cats and put them in a living room. See what happens. Now take the same six cats and put them in a pillowcase…

Until next week. Same bad time, same bad channel.

--Chris Sachs