Rain. Much like today, last year in Iraq was a typical day. We had received mortar fire the night before and were on our toes because we knew the scumbags knew it was “our” holiday season as Ramadan had just ended and we figured they would try a nice assault on the base. It was quiet, too quiet with the type of silence you hear at night when you can hear the blood rushing through your ears.
Back home everyone was getting into the holiday spirit in Iraq there was a brotherhood spirit already in place. The kind you get from looking at one another while mortar rounds and RPGs are shot at you while you wait for a lull in the fire so you can get you armor on or move to a solid position to return fire.
I truly didn’t even think about the holiday. There were no indications of a holiday in the damp area. No decorations, no parades with giant cartoon characters. The holiday was planted way in the back of your head as you focused on a much more in your face issue, the enemy.
A makeshift tensile decoration and a turkey silhouette cutout was on the wall of our refortified bunker chow hall but then again so was a cut out of Uncle sam left from the 4th of July. A thin plastic table cloth covered the table where me and a few close friends sat at. I had to coax them to go to the chow hall and experience the “Thanksgiving chow” late that afternoon. In fact Burrito Thursday would have been a better deal as at least you knew what you were getting to eat. We all sat there going through our exact routine of waiting in line, getting our trays, paper plates, chow then moving to a salad call. Yes, there isn’t much brown leafs; I think I will have a salad today. Grabbing two Hajji Pepsi’s we all arrived at “our” table. A table positioned way in the back in one of the bunker corridors. Quiet and by ourselves, we tried to fool one another we enjoyed the holiday there but at least we were there together. We discussed what our families were doing that year back home with us being gone. Some volunteered to help charity groups some met with other members of the family. We sat and enjoyed the chow we had, although it was no where close to family cooking but more like an MRE covered with Mrs. Dash. I Scrambled what was a weak attempt at a pumpkin pie that one of the Iraqi locals made up and wondered if the had spit in it.
It was a quiet chow. A few comments about the day were made and then it was over. Thanksgiving was gone and we were that much closer to going home. That’s how we looked at it. Get it over with then you could tell yourself”we only have Christmas and New Years left and it will be close to going home time”.
This year, I’m home, I’ve cherished the past few months being here and home with friends and family. I stop sometimes and look around at all the great things we have and are offered to us in America and Im proud to be a defender of them all. Today, I will enjoy a nice meal, cold beer and a big cigar for those who are out on the pointy end of the spear, protecting our country, sitting quietly in a bunker during Thanksgiving and saying we are almost home.
Enjoy your holiday and never ever forget those who have paid the price to ensure we can relax and enjoy such events in our free country, that’s something to be thankful for!!
Semper Fidelis and Happy Thanksgiving,
Time for a C-Gar!