Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Thanksgiving and the hospital cafeteria

Tomorrow is the American holiday of Thanksgiving and I will get it and the Friday afterwards off. So I am planning to rent a car and head to Saas-Fee in Switzerland to do some snowboarding. I figure this will be my last chance to ride a board before going down range. Also I will get a way from the army and visit a new place. I hear that Switzerland is beautiful and this will be my time to find out. So there will be no posting until Sunday the earliest. Have a nice turkey day!

The other day I went to the hospital with some fellow soldiers to get cleared by the doctor to go down range. He gave me the all clear, so I am finally good to go. At lunch time we went to the cafeteria. The food was good and was even better when I said “I am part of OEF/OIF”. When I said the magic phrase the cashier waived me through with out paying.

We sat down and started to eat and talk about our appointments with the doctor when one of patients who came down to the cafeteria to eat spotted his old Platoon Leader, who is now part of the same unit that I am in. He had a bit of wild and dazed look in his eyes. He told us about getting wounded in Iraq and how he is permanently out of combat. His story was incredible and he was lucky to survive. The table next to us was filled with civilian employees and they had the look of disbelief and horror while listening to him. I figure he had to vent and tell somebody about what he went through; it would be better to be us, fellow soldiers, than some civilian who could not relate or show disrespect to him. After his recount of events in Iraq he told us that he went to a German disco in K-town, but he had to leave since the house music had a heavy beat and percussion sounds that reminded him of mortars and machine guns. He felt embarrassed and I told him it was ok and normal to feel that way. It would take a while to get used to the civilian world again. He laughed that he must have “freaked out the German chicks” with his low crawl out of the disco. We laughed too, saying with that comment he was on his way to coping with his ordeal. We all wished him good luck and a speedy recovery. All he said was keep low, shoot first and straight.

I pray I will not have to go through what he went through, it was more harrowing to hear it from a participant than seeing it in any Hollywood movie.

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