|Blogs > rm_Bigboygrunt > My Poetry|
Someone once told me “your not a civilian anymore DeLoach, You’re a Veteran” I never thought of that and the word veteran never crossed my mind in that way, I was moved.
Everyday I wake up with thoughts of where I’ve been, what I’ve done and what I have and will become. I look back to the days of war, I see myself looking back “what have I become” I remember one night we were invading a town south of Baghdad, it was dark that night. The desert air, dry and cool with a warm breeze you could hear bullets fire from miles around. When the Iraqi army heard of our mission they quickly sent out signals starting with tracer rounds in the sky. You could see the tracers by the thousands go straight up to the heavens; flairs flew and lit up our position it was hell in the making.
Hundreds of us soldiers made our way to the town not knowing what we were getting into. Young soldiers, old, low rank, high. It was the first day of combat time stood still for us that night for it lasted.
I was with the first wave heading in from the west. We entered the town only to see broken vehicles and small fires that lit up the road the soldier who was on point scanned the road ahead as we followed scanning the roofs and windows above. Creeping through the narrow alley. Skirting the walls, bouncing from cover to cover, caring to the best of our elements and protection. When we got to the first door it started.
BANG! The Iraqi soldier flung the door open BANG! BANG! I took him out, two to the chest, watched him fall. To me that is when the war began for me, the first kill. As we entered the building, like roaches the enemy scattered to the light of my M-4, jumping behind cover, spraying 7.62 rounds at us from there AK-47’s, already at the ready we fired our M-4’s with a vengeance shooting through the couch they hid behind. We went from room to room like exterminators, looking for rodents in hiding. Stacked like delta force, barrels first, we charge the rooms over furniture, through debris. It was hell and our night was just beginning. 12 Iraqis died in the first building, 5 of us entered 5 of us exited. We rendezvoused up with the alpha element left 2 guards to signal the rest of the force and kept on moving.
Most people don’t understand that fighting in an urban environment; you need momentum, which is the fire, the fuel to keep things going. Once you stop momentum you die. Adrenaline is one thing that is the first to go, without that you get tired and move slower for less time, your body gets exhausted and has to slow down. When your adrenaline is high you run full force for a longer time.
I could go into the whole raid, tell every detail but I wont. The raid lasted 72 hours. We had the shits, no clean uniforms, limited amounts of water and food and we were tired. This was the average day for an infantry man it’s what we do and what we did. We fought and killed together. That was the first conflict we had during the war. All of us remember the first one. The day we all tested our fears and we succeeded. With every victory some things may come out in good shape but all have scars as with us. I still have nightmares from the first one; they haunt me to this day. Some nights I wake up screaming. Some times I try to wash blood off my hands only to find out they were clean in the first place. We all got wounded in some way either mentally or physically, we all had a little something inside die.
War is hell and I’m not talking of just being in a combat zone, I’m talking about actually engaging the enemy. People die in war; bullets fly with the intention of hitting their targets with accuracy. Sweat gets washed away with blood. Forever you will remember war. I was twenty years old killing men twice my age for freedom and democracy. I’ve led men into harms way yet stilled got them out safely.
I can only ask God for forgiveness in the things I have done. I pray that no man has to deal with the things I’ve done; or remember the things I’ve seen for I know of many like me that wish to hide in the shadows of another life, only for a moment of internal peace. One night of peace is all we ask as soldiers.
Some say they understand or “I know what you mean man” but do they. I walked into a bar one night after the war in Iraq started talking to a guy about the army when another man interrupted the conversation with “President Bush sucks” as a soldier I defended Bush. The man got into my face like he wanted to fight; his fist clenched tight, blood raced to his head with the aroma of liquor surrounding his body. If only he could see the things I have, right that very moment, see the war through my eyes. What would he do? What if he knew that I killed for a living? Better yet what if they all saw me through my own eyes? At that moment I felt the whole bar stare at me, I left. When I got to the car I cried, I felt like a book that can’t be read then I thought if it could who would want to. When the guy I was originally talking to stepped out, he saw the tears fall from my face, walked up to me and patted me on the shoulder. He said “your not a civilian anymore DeLoach, You’re a Veteran” We talked for hours with a bottle of Jack Daniels; he was a veteran from the Gulf war 82nd airborne. We shared stories of our triumphs and our losses then went our ways.
I learned something that night. The only person you can talk to when you get home is another soldier, another veteran. For they are the only people who understand and when you stare at them you see yourself in their eyes. If you’re a true veteran from combat there are never too many stories to tell and never will you leave a man behind. That day changed my life forever.