Tuesday, August 4, 2009

An Army of One

Light-hearted blogging gets harder to do when your number-one son is putting on his fatigues and flying to some God-forsaken desert region, peopled by heathens who think we are heathens and who abjure drinking beer. And that's just Oklahoma, where Erik is going for pre-Kuwait training next Tuesday. The "Army Way" - which routinely calls for training in Alaska prior to desert deployment - is on the fritz again this month. He ships out a couple months later.

While he is in Kuwait, Erik and his helicopter unit are going to - Christ, I hope this isn't classified - they're going to chauffeur important folks from place to place so they can see in the first person what evil is befalling the oppressed people of the region. They also will look to see what's befalling the Iraqis. By this I mean no criticism of the war itself or the Iraqis, although the war is imminently deserving of the criticism it gets from every other blog on the planet, except perhaps Dick Cheney's, and the Iraqis can get under your skin, as well. I do realize that important people need to be chauffeured. I would prefer my son not be doing the chauffeuring.

But that is what Erik does. Well, actually, he makes good helicopters out of bad helicopters so other soldiers can do the hands-on chauffeuring. It's what he signed up to do 16 or so years ago, he's good at it (or so he tells us), and I am intensely proud of him. Of course, I would be just as intensely proud of him if he were home out of harm's way.

Apart from oil - and I'm not getting into that - Kuwait's greatest natural resources are royalty, money, and sand. You could check Wikipedia. Erik is unlikely to run into much royalty, who prefer their own chauffeurs, and God knows sergeants do not see much money (Erik has already earmarked his war-zone pay for the mother of all cars). The soldiers do however get intimate with the sand. Kuwait has too much sand. In fact, in 2008 alone, the Army shipped 6,700 tons of sand from Kuwait to Idaho, which apparently is running low on sand. The good news is that the sand was a gift from Kuwaiti royalty. The bad news - at least for Idahoans - is that the sand is lightly laced with depleted uranium from a prior war. What's left over in Kuwait is exceedingly fine, it contaminates everything it touches, and it touches everything. My grandson Kellan is like that as well. But I am wandering here.

War has been described as endless days of soul-destroying boredom, interspersed with moments of sheer terror. As a parent, I don't care much about the boredom part; it's that other part that makes me breathe erratically. Hopefully, the greatest terror that Erik will see is that which flows from being in a state where beer is so hard to come by. Oklahoma, I mean.

Erik, keep the sand out of your socks, your shorts and your lungs. Do what you need to do and come back safely.



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