War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

the real deal

a few days ago a WO stopped by to see my pics of A’stan. WO is signed up. ready to go on T-F 20XX. 20 years in, WO says he needs to do it. needs to put a lifetime of training to work. “I’d feel like a fraud when I looked into the mirror if I didn’t go”

and I’ve heard this time and time again. soldiers with time in. did their work honourably. served in Cyprus, Bosnia, Somalia… you name it. soldiers who could take retirement, collect their pensh. who could settle into a cosy routine of regular hours, relationships, maybe even something like hobbies. their bodies worn down by too many nights freezing in the high Arctic, too many ruck marches with 70 lbs on their back and shitty boots on their feet. and still they need to go.

war is strangely shiny. the minute you sign on (even as a war artist), one’s entire perspective changes. one’s focus. suddenly, you think only of war in the time between now and then. you are alive as never before. every minute counts. every minute is weighed. evaluated. lived. the highs are sweeter, the lows are lower but also put in perspective. after all, when one signs up, one is rolling the dice for real.

two very good friends recently said to me about my physical presence but my mental/emotional absence over the past 18 months, “we missed you when you were gone but we always knew you’d be back.” I guess that’s the definition of friendship. the definition of faith. they knew I had to go away somewhere interior. but they know me and love me enough to know I’d return.

the other day I warned WO to prepare his family. even before work-up. “tell them you’ll be gone long before you board the Herc. into KAF.” I said to him. “I know it’s hard for them to understand, but try and explain that your absence isn’t personal.”

“and be careful what you wish for” I said to WO.

he asked me when the excitement wore off and the nerves set in

“the minute you fly into the war zone, have to put on your frag, your ballistics, your helmet. you know this is the real deal. even in KAF. those rocket attacks are the little hum in the back of your brain.”

I remember a medic in KAF saying to me, “it begins to wear. knowing every minute could be your last.”

I’m thinking about Sgt. Faught these days. 3 tours to A’stan. he knew it was the real deal.

even still, he signed up for it again.

my sincere condolences to his family, the Patricias, and Delta Coy., the rifle company I watched be born at Shilo in 2008, then travelled outside the wire in A’stan to see, and who yet again lose one of their leaders


1 Comment (Closed)

Joan Dixon

Many thanks, AGAIN, for putting into words this unique culture and for helping us understand— as you also understand, share the thoughts of many of us on the periphery looking in.

Jan 18 2010 · 16:21

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled the real deal. It was posted here on January 18, 2010.

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