The Long Walk Back Home


Above: Biggie Smalls is the illest.

Today: -11
Days Rated: 73
Average Day: 2.55

Today I went to take a leak and while I was gone, the squad got sent on some detail that involved taking a tent down way off in the wilderness and carrying a ton of gear back. I didn’t know this, and nobody knew where they went, so I got stuck at the campsite. I didn’t mind, since I had a feeling they were doing hard work, but I didn’t want to be thought of as a shammer. Note: I don’t mind being a shammer, I just don’t want to be thought of as one.

The camp site looked like Valley Forge. I bet Washington’s men were sitting around freezing their asses off and were like “Dude, this is total bs. We’re supposed to have Christmas off. I bet the Hessians get Christmas Day off. So not fair.” Of course they had rags on their feet instead of nice boots, but whatever. Soldiers have complained since the beginning of time, I’m sure. When I watched Troy in basic training, on a pass, every time I saw the numerous funeral pyre scenes, with the solemn soldiers standing guard, I thought beforehand they were probably saying “Dude, this is garbage, I always get Funeral Pyre detail on a Friday.” And when they were all in those massive, disciplined formations before the battles, you can bet there was a whispered conversation like this:
Soldier 1: Hey man, do you have an extra strap I can use on my shield?
Soldier 2: No…what happened to yours?
Soldier 1: I’m pretty sure I left it in the tent. Do you think I have time to run back and get it?

So we were supposed to go back on Friday, I think, but whoever makes these schedules always has us leaving early on a Friday morning. And everybody thinks, if we are done Thursday afternoon/evening, why stay the extra night miserable in a tent. Why not just head back Thursday night and have the whole next day to clean weapons, put stuff away etc. Also we had to go to this memorial service that I’ll talk about in tomorrow’s post. Everyone was mumbling and grumbling, because they were insisting that we wait around for dinner to get there, and then leave right afterwards. We all just wanted to leave right then. Now that I had seen the mountainous route to the campsite – it is basically the same level as where the barracks are, but you have to walk down a steep valley and up the other side – I wanted no part of the walk back. In fact Hunter and sergeant Nolan told me that I’d need to take a truck back so that I could be there early to help put equipment away. I was loving that. But then it turned out that they got Nicely, who’s getting thrown out of the army, and 2 hurt guys to do it. Then there were rumor that we weren’t walking directly back, we were taking some circuituous route. Not what I felt like doing after a week in this stupid place, and especially not in the moon boots that feel like fishing waders on my feet.

It was about 9 miles, and 50 meters into the walk, my sling hook broke on the SAW so I had to carry that bitch most of the way cradled in my arms until Lessard helped my scrambled brain realize that you could hook it to another part of the weapon. Yeah, yeah, good training, blah blah shut the f*ck up, they make slings for a reason. On the way back I felt my feet blistering in the sweaty rubber boots. When we got back to the barracks, I put on flip-flops. I had a giant blister on my right foot underneath my big toe, and a raw bloody sore on the same place on my left foot. I walked by Doc Amos, the medic, and he told me he had something for me. Well I trusted him, even when he pulled out a syringe. He told me he was going to inject something into it to toughen the blister on the right foot so that it wouldn’t burst and turn into a callus instead. Sounds good.
“This is going to hurt a little bit,” he said, and I held onto the chair hard and told myself that I wouldn’t show any signs of pain. Amos came to our tent and put iodine on a gash on Hunter’s foot every night and Hunter whimpered and cursed every time he did that. I swore I would show no emotion. He inserted the syringe and started pumping in the iodine. Commence brutal, mind-scarring pain. I whimpered. I cursed. My fingernails dug into the wooden chair. My eyes rolled back into my head. Look, I think I’m pretty tough and have a high pain tolerance, but this was probably the worst thing you could imagine being done to someone’s foot. Never let anyone do this. The raw open sore on my other foot healed in 3 days. This took 2 weeks to heal and in the process turned my entire foot 7 different colors, made skin peel off, and there was iodine slushing around in little pockets for like 5 days.

The only other thing worth mentioning that happened in the field was Hunter telling funny stories about how he used to work as an exterminator. After a couple nights of hearing tales of how his truck used to be full of empty beer cans and a surfboard, his shenanigans with different poisons and his treatment of annoying customers, most of the squad has decided to get out of the army and go to work for Terminix.

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