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The stories soldiers tell

We on hold are required to sit in place all day. We have no duties other than to be here, and perform miscellaneous tasks as assigned. In the last five weeks, we have received exactly one such task, which took us all of two hours. Some of us read, some play computer games, some watch movies, but the majority spend the time telling and listening to stories. Here are a few I have heard:

Back in the hangar in my unit, we had this big old tank of compressed air. And it had a big six-inch blowout valve on the bottom that could vent the whole thing. So I took this PVC pipe and ran it out of there, and downscaled it down to a half-inch internal diameter. And the thing about that is, it’s the perfect size to fit a tube of chapstick. So I was playing around with this, and I don’t know what I was thinking, but I decided I would shoot it at the TOC. I did not expect it to go through the wall. The casing, the tube itself peeled off of it, but the chapstick itself splurted right through like some kind of sabot round. It ended up all over one of those big-ass wall maps. It sounded like a mortar had gone off, and the hole in the wall pointed straight back at my shop. That’s how I got my second Article 15 that tour.

In my first deployment, people from back in the US were always sending us candy. It was great for a while, but there’s only so much candy you can really eat, so we started putting together little candy bombs that we could throw to the kids to make them happy. Still, some of the kids were little punks, throwing rocks at us and shit. And what are you going to do? You can’t shoot them, you’d feel terrible, and you might get in trouble. So what I did is, I started putting together “Disappointment bombs.” They were in the same kind of plastic bag the candy bombs were in, but I put in ham from the MREs, and canned anchovies that I’d left out in the sun for a few days, and sometimes just junk out of the trash. The commander loved it, thought it was funny as shit, but eventually the colonel heard about it and made me stop. I thought it was the funniest thing, though, seeing them eat that ham; if they’re going to throw rocks at us, at least I can make sure they go to hell.

Wives! Wives are terrible. I had a Joe in my squad, it was his fault anyway ’cause he married a barracks whore, she had some nice titties but she was the dirtiest skank. She’d had sex with half the guys in the platoon. Anyhow, he goes to Iraq, and first thing, she sends him pictures of her having sex with some other dude. He’s barely into his deployment and she’s divorcing him and getting half his stuff. The cool thing though is that she’s dead now. Single car crash only a year later.

There are countless stories like these, small morality tales sounding like fables. In the end, it doesn’t really matter that they’re coarse, or if they’re true; only that they entertain for a few minutes while waiting to be able to clock out. I listen with half an ear as I read, or game, or whatever, and I can’t help but worry that if I stay in the army, my stories will gradually come to sound like these.

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1 Comment

Comment by Rourke Windows XP Mozilla Firefox 3.0 Subscribed to comments via email
2008-07-18 09:13:17

I think you’re probably right that if you stay in the army your stories may well end up sounding like that. I just reread The Last True Story I’ll Ever Tell, about that National Guardsman who was sent to Iraq, and in it he says something similar to your comment about them being fables: true or not, they’re an oral tradition, or something to that effect.


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