13 FEB 11 23:59
Forward Operating Base Ramrod, Kandahar Province, U.S. Army
5…4…3…2…1 I slowly look up at my buddy and grin knowing that I had been on watch for twelve painful hours and twelve more to go. Our FOB was on blackout. That night, we were attacked, and we had lost a few good men. I sit up, turn to my buddy, lit my cigarette and sigh: “Another holiday away from my family and my friends. Most of my friends are just now waking up and heading to class, some are more likely hung over from the previous night and are struggling to get up.” My best friend looked into my eyes and told me something I’ll never forget: “F*ck em’ man, you enlisted into the most under-appreciated job on this planet. Here we are; no internet, no food, no hot showers, and we’ve been watching this goddamn valley for the last twelve hours waiting on these sorry son of a bitches to pop their heads up so you and I can ruin their day. You need to get over the fact you will be not there for you family, but in essence, you’re more there for them here than you are being home right now. Think about it, without bad-asses like us, they would never be able to wake up and enjoy the freedoms they have today. They wouldn’t be able to stay out all night, get drunk, skip class, then flunk class. You and I are the epitome of what it means to be a man- at 19 years-old we’re providing more for them than they will ever imagine. Hell look at you, you spilled your blood on the battlefield, and then two short weeks later here you are- you REQUESTED to stay on this god-forsaken barren land, I’ll never understand why, and neither will they. You had your ticket out man, but you wanted to stay and fight, you want to give your friends the freedoms they enjoy. So here’s to you my friend, I lite this cigarette in your name.” Thirty seconds later- we where hit with mortars, shrapnel had penetrated my best friends armor, and I immediately began to do basic life saving techniques. I ripped his IBA off and frantically began to tear open my bag to get some quick clot out to save his life. I applied an Israeli bandage to him, and then picked him up, gear and all, and ran him to the aid station. To this day, I’ll never forget the sacrifices we all made that day- once the day was over with I went get my mail to find out my girlfriend (of two years) at the time, told me she cheated on me, and that we were over with. So I did what every guy did when they got this message- I grabbed a bunch of photos of my platoons; girlfriends, wives, fiancee’s, and then wrote her a letter saying something along the lines of: “I’m sorry, but I don’t remember who you are, please take your photo out of the bunch and mail the rest back.” To this day, I’ve never had a good Valentine’s day.
This blog post is dedicated to you my friend. I drink to your name! I went out: got your favorite liquor- Everclear, your favorite cigarettes- Marbolo Reds, and I’m listening to your favorite song- Shindedown – Simple Man. Even though I’ve quit smoking, I’ll lite one up just for you my old friend. You’re missed and I’m dong my best to live a life you’d be proud of. Because you’re not here I’m living the dream man, I got into college just like we talked about- don’t worry about your family either I am helping them as much as I can. Rest in peace my friend. You’ll never know how much you mean to me.