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Letters from Iraq Part VIII

New Letter from Felipe. The first part of the letter deals with the aftermath of the attack on Felipe’s team. The second half of the letter describes a typical work week. It sounds like he has settled into some type of groove: work behind the walls; perform basic maintenance; get shot at beyond the walls; and watch many pirated movies (Disclaimer: I doubt soldiers stationed in Iraq are the best source of movie reviews. Furthermore, Felipe’s taste in movies is unlikely to be representative of the armed services in general. In other words, rent the movies Felipe endorses at your own peril).

Date: Thursday, 28 October 2004

Subject: Two weeks in the life…

Wednesday, October 13th: Norah Jones. Jack Daniels. Stare at the night.

Thursday, October 14th: Stevie Wonder. Coffee. Stare at the day. All operations shut down. Scan New York Times for mention of our attack. Relieved/ confused/ insulted/ saddened to see two sentences, six paragraphs in. Just another ambush. Just another two soldiers.

Friday, October 15th: Rise before dawn. Watch the sunrise. Run. Spend the morning at an “After Action Review,” piecing together Wednesday’s story. See what we did right. See what we could have done better. Comforted to know we performed “well.” Sad to realize it wasn’t enough. Happy Ramadan.

Saturday, October 16th: Combat stress counseling. Us, the Army shrinks, and the Chaplain. We speak of rage, fear, sleeplessness, guilt, melancholy. We feel a little better afterwards.

Sunday, October 17th: Church. 426th well-represented. Realized I needed to talk with God in private. Movie Night. Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Sean Penn is an awesome stoner.

Monday, October 18th: Write, re-write, edit, re-edit letter to loved ones. Hard. Movie Night. Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. Sandra Bullock isccute. I get misty.

Tuesday, October 19th: Memorial Service. Chosen as an honor guard. Get up early to iron uniform. Wear my new boots. Participate in the 21 gun salute. Three weeks of drill and ceremony practice at basic training no longer seems pointless. Want to thank my old drill seargants. Cry during taps. Closure begins. I sleep peacefully that night.

Wednesday, October 20th: Game on. Time to get back to work. Spend most of my day at realultimatepower.net. Spend all night on guard duty. Jerked into alertness at 3am by the eerie/ beautiful call to prayer and breakfast coming at me in super-stereo from the 3 mosques in my sector.

Thursday, October 21st: Sox beat Yankees. Sweet. Sleep all day. Wake at up to the sound of afternoon mortars. Insurgents have terrible aim. Movie Night. Bridget Jones’s Diary. Laughed out loud.

Friday, October 22nd: 4 weeks down. 40 to go. Repair our Humvee. Busted headlight, flat tire. That’s it. Amazing. Impelled to save the shrapnel I yank from the rubber. Borrow a guitar that night. Learn to play Foo Fighters “Times Like These.” Wallow in self-satisfaction. Movie Night. Anger Management. Squirm. Occasionally laugh.

Saturday, October 23rd: Guard duty. Day shift. Get so bored I exercise, helmet on head, vest on back, rifle in hand, gun on hip. Later make friends listen to me play “Times Like These.” They are more amused than impressed.

Sunday, October 24th: Battalion softball game. I hit 5 RBIs and field 2 fly balls. My team wins. 28 years of athletic failure evaporates in one dusty afternoon. To celebrate, treat my friends to a rousing “Times Like These.” They are more tolerant than amused.

Monday, October 25th: Get back to work on economic survey. Feel pretty smart. Movie Night. Real Women Have Curves. Loved it. Miss my sisters. Friends make me give back guitar.

Tuesday, October 26th: Order a guitar online. Help inventory boots and uniforms for Iraqi National Guard. Movie Night. Wimbledon. Predictable but pleasant. DVD copy includes big head of patron sitting in front of movie pirate.

If you’ve read this far, you must be pretty bored. Thanks for caring.

Much love,

Hang in there, Felipe. Letters from caring Ephs will help ease the tedium.

SPC Perez, Felipe
426th CA BN
APO, AE 09334