War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

Shilo

sick with a bad cold and tired from rising at 03:45 to catch a plane, I drive 2 hrs from Winnipeg, across the wide prairie, westward to Shilo. I’m feeling like shit. in more ways than one. and I keep thinking, this is what it must feel like to be one of the soldiers deploying—doesn’t matter if they’re sick, or their kid is sick, or they’re fighting with their spouse or whatever is going on… they just get on with it.

the road into Shilo is marked with yellow ribbons tied on every fencepost, telephone pole, street sign. 2PPCLI is home from Afghanistan. I turn onto the base and pass the PMQs, the married quarters. yards are decorated with hundreds of yellow ribbons. welcome home signs. the streets are empty. there is palpable relief in the little village of CFB Shilo.

Lt. W., a Cpl. who is a driver and quartermaster and another Lt. meet me at 2PPCLI’s shiny new headquarters. they have a truck full of boxes of urine. a surprise piss test for the battalion. it’s taken all day to collect.

they take me to my room in the officers’ quarters. a suite with fridge, microwave, t.v., internet, bath, a desk. they are all out in the field under canvas and stars. I’ll be joining them later this week for a few nights, but the CO figured I needed the desk and quiet.

we head out after sundown into the field. down a deeply rutted road. red prairie soil. half-naked birch. scrub.

green canvas with soft white light coming from their windows. generators. a stadium light. a tripod of shovels, fire extinguishers. clusters of soldiers. a combination of routine and excitement in their step.

we climb the metal stairs of the flying kitchen, a canvas walled, roofed platform, pull back the canvas curtain, in the Dickensian half-light, the cooks finished for the day, their faces tired, hand us our dinners foiled and ready. we head out into the mess tent. grab something to drink. eat fast. head out to meet the officers, the men and women.

I get introduced to D company. I already know their 2IC from home. chat with some of the men tweaking their LAVs. meet the acting CO. get driven back to my cosy quarters with the lovely, soft bed. threads of cloud covering the half prairie moon.


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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled Shilo. It was posted here on October 16, 2008.

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