The new guys have arrived. The Boss's aide-de-camp, a captain, and PSO, a SSG C, have been doing the left-seat/right-seat deal the past week. Aide Man has already pretty much been replaced by the new aide, and for the moment at least, I am staying on, splitting the PSO duties with SSG C. How much longer until I am back filling sandbags, or, even worse, riding a desk in the TOC is anyone's guess.
The other night we took the Boss to a meeting at the Villa. We walked him through the outdoor patio with its marble columns, past the Level 7 Lounge that I am not allowed enter, and then past the sparkling swimming pool to his meeting room. "What a way to fight a war," Aide Man said, and I couldn't agree more.
The Villa his home to secret OGA types. OGA means 'Other Government Agency' which might mean CIA. Or so they say. I certainly don't know, and probably couldn't say even if I did. Which I don't. All I know is, there were a bunch of overly buff dudes walking around in tight tee shirts and cargo pants with pistols on their hips, plus a couple of Laura Croft looking chicks who were also rocking tight tee shirts, cargo pants and pistols.
I remembered to bring my assault pack this time, and as we were sitting in the chow hall feasting on steaks, we were also eyeing the shelves of snack goodies we had strategically seated ourselves near. The new aide and Aide Man were scoping out the assorted boxes of candy bars, chips, cereals, and so on that were put out for us.
"Oooh, they have Frosted Mini Wheats!" the Aide Man exclaimed. A passing Air Force colonel heard his childlike enthusiasm, and stopped in his tracks.
"You know," he said, "I wouldn't have believed a Marine could get that excited over a breakfast cereal if I hadn't heard it myself."
"Ooorah, sir," Aide Man said, with a sheepish grin. In his defense, Frosted Mini Wheats are quite yummy. But still. I couldn't let that pass without comment.
"Sir, you just got busted on by the Air Force."
"Well, for what it's worth, both my grandfathers were Army, my father was Army, two uncles were Marines, and my brother is Army," the colonel told us. He went on to tell us that his grandfather had met his grandmother at a hospital after he was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge, and we spent a couple of moments talking about the hardships endured by those servicemen who went before us. Someone made a joke about how good we had it, eating steak and all, and how those soldiers from past wars were probably spinning in their graves.
There's some grunt in Afghanistan right now sleeping on the rocky ground on top of some barren hill. He stinks because he hasn't showered in ten days and he has eaten nothing but MREs for the past two months. He hasn't had his boots off in three days. He finally got a Christmas card from his mom two weeks ago.
I have a warm bunk to sleep in each night, three hot meals a day in a chow hall, gyms, internet, bootleg DVDs, hot showers every day, an armored Suburban to roll around in...they even have ice cream in the chow halls. I have an air conditioned room, small though it may be. I might not be thrilled with walking as far as I do to the latrine, or the constant noise from the huge generators outside, or the power outages and constant dirt everywhere, but the reality is, I have it pretty good and I know it.
Especially compared to that kid on that Afghanistan mountain.
After we ate, and I filled my assault pack with pogey bait, We waited for the Boss. SSG C and the new aide, CPT M, sat at a patio table and chatted. Aide Man flirted with one of the Laura Crofts. I lounged by the pool, laying back and looking at the stars reflected in the water.
What a way to fight a war.