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An excerpt from: Alone In The Light

Monday, March 2, 2020

The Unwelcome Anxiety of Memory.

The Unwelcome Anxiety of Memory.

I can't speak for anyone else, but as we approach the 17th anniversary of "Shock and Awe" and the invasion of Iraq... I find myself getting anxious. Just like I do every year. I don't know if this anniversary is the cause of massive anxiety attack today, or just a convenient excuse - but I sort of feel like the two may be connected.

Shock and Awe on the television

I can't really explain it. I don't actively think about it, it just happens. Every year. And it sucks.

In March of 2003, I was twenty-four, and I was at Camp Doha Kuwait. As the month progressed and rhetoric of war started getting more and more pronounced - things changed...

At the beginning of March, we upped our training schedule. We started going everywhere in groups of two or more. Things were changing. We conducted more and more MOPP drills... (Mission Oriented Protective Posture - your nuclear, biological, and chemical protective suit). We were living in a warehouse in Camp Doha. An entire company's worth of soldiers crammed into on giant, open-air space with all of their gear confined to a 3'x4' plot of personal space. In one corner, we had a small television set up. We watched the news and re-runs of The Simpsons with Arabic subtitles... Then, one day, all of the channels became news only...

Shock and Awe started on the 18th/19th of March. The ground forces followed behind on the 20th... Between the 18th and 27th I remember the missiles launched at Camp Doha. The air-raid sirens, the MOPP drills, sitting bunkers as we waited for the all-clear. I remember being on my phone with home when the sirens sounded and I dropped the phone and took off running for the bunker and my pro-mask. (protective mask) - when I eventually called home again, my family was in tears. They didn't know what had happened. They just know I said "oh fuck" and hung up.

Then... I remember my dad's birthday on March 27th - my last phone call to them before we headed out. They were eating at Hooters for his dinner (his favorite place to eat). I couldn't talk long, I was already in trouble for skipping out to make the call, and we'd just had a close-call with a Rocket/Missile attack - Hooray for the Patriot Missile Defense Battery!

I just said "I can't talk. We're packing up and heading north. I love you. Happy birthday." - I apparently ruined my dad's 53rd birthday. Which was not my intent, but it's easy to forget that 6,000 miles away, my family was trying to go on with their day-to-day lives and my little calls were just a dick-punch to remind them of where I was and what I was doing.

While my family ate the remainder of their birthday dinner in silence, my unit loaded up and headed to Navistar at the Kuwait/Iraq border. There we lined up with the other trucks and supplies and waited. We slept in the back of 5-Tons and Deuces. Then we were in Iraq - weapons loaded and futures unsure. I didn't speak to them again on the phone until May.

Now, thirteen years later, those memories surface as anxiety - unbidden... And I fucking hate it.

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