Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Merry Chrisemas

Well, it's Christmas. I took my boys out for a short run this morning. Everybody took the day off, but not PSD. On our walk out to the running track, I butchered 'Fairytale of New York' for them. None of them had heard it before. On the march back, we sang Christmas carols. 'Jingle Bells'. 'Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer'. The first verse of 'Frosty the Snowman', because nobody could remember the words to the rest.

Back in July, my company commander told some guys that I'm a Scientologist. I've played along. About half the company believes it, with the other half suspecting I'm pulling their legs. Sometimes somebody will ask me about Tom Cruise or L. Ron Hubbard, trying to push my buttons. I always play it very serious. This morning, one of my boys decided to go there.

"Sergeant, are we out here doing PT on Christmas because not all of us believe in Jesus?"

"Drop, you. Do pushups."

"One, Staff Sergeant. Two, Staff Sergeant. Three, Staff Sergeant..."

I formed the rest of the platoon into the Extended Rectangular Formation.

"Extend to the left, march! Arms downward, move! Left, face! Extend to the left, march! Arms downward, move! Right, face! From front to rear, count off! Even numbers to the left, uncover!"

I bent down to where my young smart ass was dutifully pushing. "Twenty three, Staff Sergeant. Twenty four, Staff Sergeant.."

"Listen up, you. You mock my belief system again, and you will be a very unhappy young man. You got that?"

"Roger, Staff Sergeant."

"Recover and fall back in."

Anything to pass the time.

It's just another day here, pretty much. We had a White Elephant gift exchange for the company. I donated some bootleg Hajji movies. The Men Who Stare at Goats. Bad Lieutenant, Port of Call: New Orleans. The Maiden Heist. Armored. The quality isn't that great on some of them, some guy with a video camera in the theater. Others are DVD quality. Roll of the dice. $3.00 a pop, or four for ten bucks.

We've been here twelve days now. We are on the Victory Base Complex, near BIAP. My company is on a very small FOB within another FOB. I can't say too much about it, although it's all over the internet if you know where to look.

We have everything we need here, and life isn't too bad. We are living in the only hardstand barracks in theater, three to a room, but indoor plumbing so, hey. Chow hall is a very short walk, and the food is typically decent Army chow. We have an AAFES trailer here, and a decent gym and MWR.

I am the battalion commander's PSO, Personal Security Officer. His tactical bodyguard, in other words. I'm in charge of a ten man Protective Services Detail. Our job is to provide the BC, the Boss, with close-in protection whenever he goes outside the wire.

I've got a good bunch of boys. They're young and motivated and hardly a knucklehead in the bunch. They do keep me entertained, though. Funny little bastards. I've got a buck sergeant and a corporal to help me keep them straight. They are good boys.

We haven't run any missions yet. I don't know when we will. Or if we will. That pleases my girlfriend. It doesn't look like the Boss will be going outside the wire much, if at all. The war is winding down. The days of door kicking and meet and greets with tribal leaders and sheiks are pretty much down for. Sort of leaves me without much of a job. The vultures are circling, other section leaders licking their chops, wanting to strip my PSD of manpower to backfill their own sections. Free labor. Spare bodies.

We keep busy. We PT every day, run battle drills, work on formations, arrivals, departures. The BC knows we need to learn the area, get outside the wire, get a feel for things. I think he feels bad, knowing how much work I have put into building this PSD, and realizing we might never be used as we had envisioned.

He has me hitting up the other line companies who are going outside the wire. Trying to get my boys seats on some of their missions, strap hang so we can learn the routes and all. Maybe in a few days. Maybe tomorrow.

Today, everybody is lazing around, grazing on care package candy and cookies. I got one that had original crayon art by Hannah, a second grader from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, wishing me a Happy Merry Chrisemas. Included was more candy than I will eat in a year, some hygiene items, a Danny Thomas CD, and an ancient copy of Harold and Maude. We had an OPSEC briefing earlier from a guy in a blue polo shirt with an M9 on his hip and a tribal tat down his left forearm. Now, some of my boys are grilling burgers and shooting the breeze. The chow hall, like all chow halls today, should have a pretty decent Christmas spread.

Other than that, it's just another day.

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