War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele


they love to tell stories, anecdotes. and now a year out, the amusing ones are landing. last night on the phone, stories of Spir, of ’06, of this crusty old warrant or that old dinosaur or “the time we…”. old guy stories coming from young men.

visiting 3VP at the Olympics, their CO turns to me and says, “you know of course the difference between a war story and a fairy tale?”

“the fairy tale starts ‘ Once upon a time’ and the war story starts, ‘there we were in the shit’”

but I repeat myself.

last night a story about playing poker using peanut butter, jam, and honey packets as poker chips. peanut butter was 5, strawberry jam was 10, blueberry jam was 25, cheez whiz was 50, honey was 100.

I admired the inventiveness of these people, their adaptability.

I remember meeting a young reservist in “Spin” (WWx) who was the most amazing inventor, adaptor, craftsman. he was one of the “dirty dozen”, the 10 who went out for a stroll with just enough kit for a few hours, were cut off by insurgents and roads that were blown up, then ended in “Spin” for 10 days without a change of clothing, toothbrushes, sleeping bags. (amazingly though, they had a ghetto blaster along with them. go figure).

the dirty dozen, so named because two of them had feet that stank so badly they stank enough for 2 extra guys, slept in a BAT outside the “Spin” compound which housed CIMIC and their protection.

one day I was invited into their BAT (and it really DID stink of smelly feet even though they made the two guys with the stinkiest sleep with their feet near the doors. inside the BAT was scrounged bedding on hard ground, but at the centre was a beautiful hammock made from the cover of a Coyote, paracord and guntape. the young guy who made it was sleeping like a baby every night cradled in his handiwork.

a farmboy, he showed me the beautiful knife he’d made, its handle carved from a deer antler. a deer he’d shot, butchered, ate. he made guntape wallets. and I don’t know if it was his invention or one of the other’s, but the boys were all drinking their coffee out of guntape coffee mugs. they’d taken water bottles, cut them in half, wound tape around them, fashioned handles, decorated them with Sharpies. they made one for me.

I carried cigars with me whenever I went out with the army. little flavoured ones. because even non-smokers liked them. at “Spin” I shared these cigars with the dirty dozen after they got jacked up. cigars and coffee in our gun tape mugs. I have a picture of us all smiling, smoking, sipping our coffee. all of us dirty. filthy with dust and crusty clothing. it was a good moment to be alive and enjoy a simple pleasure.

“you’re good for morale Ma’am” one of them said to me.

after our smoke and coffee I walked around to their buddy who had pulled sentry and gave him a smoke.

I’m so glad to have shared that experience with those boys. I promised them a poem but haven’t been able to find any of them.

the last time I saw any of them was at the Memorial in June 2010. as they bid one of their own farewell.

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled stories. It was posted here on July 07, 2011.


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