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Finally Somehow Home - Chapter 10.1

Our heart and soul were the vehicles we drove, because they were the biggest weapons that we had and because we were so damned mobile. We operated all over Anbar Province, from Baghdad to the Jordanian border. We knew the roads intricately. Every pothole, every mortar round impact, every interruption to the road’s surface was memorized by the drivers, as well as called out by the Lead car over the radio en route. I ended up driving Lead car, which to me was a great honor. You had to know where you were going, and you had to know the roads perfect. But I learned to drive Lead car by driving Follow car under the tutelage of Rancher. Rancher and Smuggler were the Shift Leaders and switched off with each other on leave. Rancher taught me to drive. He was a consummate professional and tremendously capable across a broad spectrum of skill sets. He could drive, shoot, lead, fucking kick ass as good as anyone I’ve ever known. He was young too, a couple years older than me. A lot of the Delta guys were older, some of them had been in Delta since the beginning of it. Rancher was the byproduct of what the more senior Delta guys had created with their skill and legacy, and Rancher, like the rest of them, was a very, very, very fucking dangerous man. He always smelled great too. (I have to admit that I adopted his habit of the application of copious amounts of cologne.) After a couple of months driving under Rancher’s tutelage I was ready to drive Lead.

I would have to push out in front of everyone else to create a couple miles of dispersion between all the cars, so if the Limo wanted to cruise at 120mph, or even at 100 (when we later added SUVs to the mix), I’d be up to 140mph for a good 10 minutes or so to give everyone behind me enough room. Driving on a blown-up shit ass freeway with dogs and kids and trucks who don’t check their mirrors when they change lanes, and bad guys everywhere, and IEDs, and trigger-happy Big Army or the Marines rolling along at 45mph in convoys, is much different than driving on a cambered race track, but for all intents and purposes, we were combat racecar drivers. Due to the temperature hitting around at 120*F on some days, the road surface would be hot as hell, and at those speeds on that hot asphalt the tires would sometimes fail at speed, but even with a 17,000 lb armored sedan they would usually hold together long enough with enough rigidity in the sidewall to facilitate safe-ish deceleration provided you stopped immediately to change the tire, because by then it was in ribbons. We did have a BMW spin off the road at about 90 miles an hour due to a flat tire, but that happened because as soon as the tire blew it hit a pothole, which grabbed the rim. Everyone was ok. The weight of the car kept it from flipping over, but in most cases you could get slowed down and stopped safely in time.

We rehearsed tire changing drills. To be a driver you had to, with the help of your right from seater/VC (Vehicle Commander), be able to change a tire in under 2 minutes on a sedan and under 5 minutes on an SUV. You never knew when it was going to happen, or where, so you had to know it cold. The other cars would form as much of a protective cordon as they could, and you just had to get it done with your ass out in the breeze on the side of the road with probably no cover.

Driving at those speeds and in those conditions takes tremendous focus. You’re looking much further out in front of the car because of the high speed, then checking close in, and the sides of the roads, check mirrors, check road far, check road near, check speed, check road far, check road near, check dispersion, check road… it was constant, especially while cutting through traffic at 90-100mph in a city checking rooftops, windows, other cars, scanning everywhere for IEDs and VBIEDs who’s suspension would be sagging heavily from all the explosives stuffed into it. Your sense of awareness is totally maxed out, and for very long periods of time. We drank RipIts like mad to stay awake and keyed up. I was on a good healthy diet of Sostenon 250 and Deca Durabolin that I had stocked up on during my layover in Amman, Jordan. I could use the extra energy and aggression. The strength and endurance I derived from it helped as well and of course would come in handy if I ever needed to bust heads with bare muscle. You can’t be weak. In my mind it wasn’t worth the tradeoff to not be taking that shit. If you weren’t aggressive, you were a target. Period. In how you drove and walked and operated overall. Everything. Timidity was the fastest way into a body bag. The bad guys weren’t stupid. They picked the softest targets and we always made sure that wasn’t us, which is why we all made it out of there alive and a lot of others didn’t, especially a lot of bad guys who tried to fuck with us. Not that we were out actively seeking engagement per se… well maybe sometimes… but we definitely weren’t discouraging the bad guys from mixing it up - on our terms. I was at a job interview once afew years ago and I was asked to describe the most highly competitive situation that I had ever been in, and how I had prevailed against the competition:

“Well, one time a bunch of people were trying to kill me and my teammates, and well killed all of them instead.”

Hey... She asked. Plus, what the hell? Am I supposed to lie about my life and dumb it down so it doesn’t scare you? I didn’t get the job.

The currency of getting things done was booze. The military didn’t have access to it, so we found ourselves in a unique position. We always made sure we had plenty on hand both for our own consumption as well as to grease the skids on any favors, such as work done on our cars, issues with the Marines on base, swapping for ammo, or whatever else we needed and also just to hook our buddies up who were in country and still in the military. You always have to remember where you came from. There were a few liquor stores in the Baghdad “Green Zone” we could go to and stock up. We would fill a whole Suburban full of booze and then make the run back, or if we had to fly out on a helicopter and load up kit bags full of the stuff we would. However we could get it. It was absolutely essential. Plus, it gave us another way to be popular with the Marines who we relied upon heavily and worked closely with both on base and during our daily operations. Honestly, it did make afew enemies though because some of the female Marines would find their way over to our compound for drinks, which caused considerable jealousy, but all’s fair in love and war.

NOTE: Finally Somehow Home is a separate book from The Perfect Fucking Life, and is not yet in publication at the time of this post.

All this shit is written and created by Jason Lee Morrison © 2022

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