Tuesday, May 02, 2006

First dispatch from the front

Reveille at 9am. Out of the bunk, a hot shower, the most comfortable fatigues, a quick chow in the mess to ensure a full stomach. A full stomach is the first piece of ammunition. Also, much drinking. Filled the canteen and drained it several times over throughout the day. Fluids are the second piece of ammunition. Both pieces, check.

We drove the humvee to the battle zone. Dropped off the K-9 at the safehouse on our way out. It was a slog through the heavy traffic of a hazy LA morning.

Arrived at the zone around 11:15am. Checked in with the sergeant on duty and sat in the staging area, surrounded by our gear. DVD player, check. Cooler with popsicles, check. Blanket, check. Reading material, check. The minutes dragged on. Dread became palpable.

This is the kind of moment when some soldiers might go AWOL. Might cut and run. But there was a battle to be fought. We pulled out more ammunition: Seinfeld DVDs. Watched two episodes of Season 3. Nothing heavy, just a little doobie for the FNGs.

After about an hour, a captain arrived to escort us to the front. Better than expected. Instead of lining up the ranks row-by-row, the strategy was to give each troop their own territory, where they could do combat one-on-one. This soldier had a recliner, and her backup man had a regular padded wood chair. A bit better than the muddy trenches, indeed. The fight started quickly. Four bullets were fired against the Nausea forces. Then the only blood-producing casualty of the day: one quick volley, and the first line of attack was opened. Pretty soon, our forces were pouring through the vein to seek out and destroy the insurgent cells.

The captain commanded the first half-hour personally, keeping up a steady barrage of fire. She used the Adriamycin arsenal, feeding the red ammunition at an even pace. This was where I was supposed to use my popsicle protective gear, but it had melted in the searing heat. Oh well. The captain kindly provided crushed ice and more iced tea for me. Not quite Kevlar, but hopefully it'll prevent Cancer War Syndrome in the days to come.

After the Adriamycin barrage, the captain set up an automatic artillery, firing Cytoxan at the enemy for the next hour. Throughout, I made my own salvos--working the "high spirits" battle by watching Ice Age and Battlestar Galactica. Pleased to report that I didn't bug out or desert. And no major casualties. Some sinus pain and a bit of a headache--not much to complain of, given the big guns that were firing wildly all around me.

That was the end. Fire died down right away once the last barrage ended. The whole time, there was not a peep from the enemy. Suckahs!! You'd think Saddam Hussein had trained their army.

And I walked away without so much as my arm in a sling. A bandage around my hand, where the first volley nicked me. Pleased to report no other wounds. So far, we've retired to the mess and enjoyed some pretty good chow. All regions reporting in "calm," no insurgent activity. The all-important midsection is quiet. It's under curfew, and the citizenry appear to be sleeping calmly (when not, they are cooperating with our forces). The northernmost region reports a few transition pains, but nothing that our specially-trained Advil Platoon can't manage. And we even patrolled the perimeter with no lagging or malingering.

All in all, the first day of engagement went fine. Will report on injuries, if needed, in the coming days. Tomorrow, another artillery barrage at 11am (the Neulasta stocks) will get sent out to form a protective barrier around the White Blood Cell division. And then in the afternoon, we bring out the special "acu" division that will shore up all defenses, including armor and protective gear.

Next major engagement in 2 weeks. Over and out.

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