My war was shit though. Luck of the draw, I guess. 2d Force was split up between Task Force Tarawa and 1st Force Recon. My platoon had gotten attached to 1st Force. Really good dudes. I knew a lot of them very well from my days at 1st Recon Company. Some shit-hot operators for sure with a great reputation, but the crew that was running that operation at the time were first class shitheads: AJ Copp and his dipshit Sergeant Major. I don’t think there is anyone who was there that would disagree with me, including the operators from 1st Force. We were attachments. So in spite of our capabilities and experience, all of our best gear and all the good missions went to their own 1st Force Platoons and we were stuck doing all the menial bullshit missions or just rolling around with the damn HQ fucks. I was fucking livid. It may seem like a stupid thing to be pissed about. But I was still fucking pissed. I had learned all this shit, come all this way. Sweated the sweat, bled the blood, and when the chance to do the work came along, the leadership at the top was too incompetent to employ their resources or do anything else but bitch about shaving and hair cuts and figure out how many medals they could get without really getting their hands dirty. Unreal. Sure, we ran some missions. Nothing much to speak of though. I was a tourist mostly during the invasion. I remember standing on the hood of my gun truck looking out over the berm of the airfield near Al Kut and watching Cobras do gun and rocket runs on a column of Armored Personnel Carriers that were trying to retake the airfield. The war was all around me and I was immersed in all the emotional turmoil that changes someone in a war, but I wasn’t allowed to play. I knew that there were a shitload of people there that didn’t want to be there, had signed up to get their college paid for, and that’s it, and they were out there fighting. I was there for no other reason than to engage in combat. That’s what I had signed up for. But nope. It was shit. Like being in a strip club with no money. Like I said. Luck of the draw, I guess. Maybe it’s a good thing though. You never know. Maybe I would have gotten zapped or burnt to toast if it were different because there was definitely a lot of that going around, but I was willing to take that chance without hesitation. And no one would give it to me. I lived and saw and felt it all in spite of the frustration. Enough for it to change me. You can’t help that. But it changes you in ways that you don’t see in yourself until much later and in ways that you just don’t see coming. We’ll get into that. The biggest contributing factor in that particular conflict, for me, was this: From the earliest age a person begins to build this concept in their mind of a future for them. And what it will be like, and all the hopes and dreams and aspirations that go into that. It is always there and it is always being built upon. It was interesting that during our training operations we would always talk about what we were going to do afterwards. Whether it was go get slam faced at the bar or go have a big fat juicy steak, or whatever. The misery always inspired us to think of and talk about what we were going to do afterwards that we would enjoy. Moshpit touched on it when he mentioned the favor he asked of me. And when we got over there none of us had any plans at all of anything after. As far as we were concerned it was a one-way trip. It was only about what we were doing right then, because if you are thinking about anything other than what you are doing. If you are thinking about what could happen to you. If you are thinking about going home or anything else regarding your future it could cost you your life, or even worse, your buddy’s life. There has to be laser focus on the present. And you can’t help it, but when you live like that, you stop developing this concept of your future in your mind. And we lived like that for a long time. The problem is that when you get back no one tells you that you have to start it all up again. You get so used to living in the moment, of focusing on what you’re doing right now that you forfeit your future. I saw a something that a Marine wrote during the Battle of Fallujah where he talked about living 20 seconds at a time. He nailed it. When you do that for so long under such intense pressure your mind forgets to build your future. I think that’s why there is so much hopelessness in some people who have experienced combat or other intense experiences for long periods of time. You have to start it all up again. You have to do it. No one will do it for you. No drugs will do it for you. You have to start hoping again. And you have to start becoming excited about those hopes again. I wrote something while back, it goes like this:
Dream big. You would if your dreams were glimpses of your future. Well… They are.
And here’s the thing if you don’t dream, if you don’t hope, if you have nothing of the fantastic in your mind for your own self to accomplish or experience, if there is nothing amazing, no long-shot or hail Mary or long odds to beat, you will, by default, settle for the mediocre. You will never experience anything beyond your expectations because you have none. But don’t worry. It’s not hard to do. You just have to know that you have to do it. And no one told me that when I came back. It took me many, many years to figure this out. No, I don’t have horrific visions of my friends dying in my arms, I was spared from that, but it doesn’t matter. I still got it. You may be spared some of the nightmares. But you won’t be spared the acquiescence of your future if you don’t grab it by the balls again and make it your bitch. Dreams aren’t kid’s stuff. It’s just that that’s when you discover them and are best at it. Find your inner kid if you gotta, but you gotta start dreaming again my friend. Unless you’re in the shit right now. Then don’t think about anything but what you are doing. It’s like riding a dirt bike, or anything really. If you are constantly thinking about what bad things could happen, you’ll panic, freeze up, or hesitate at the decisive moment and the prophecy will be self-fulfilling. If you’re in the shit right now, for God’s sake, just focus on the now, but when you get back, just remember that you have to start your future up again.
We ended up in Al Hilla. Old timey Babylon. Right at the site of the old ruins. And we made ourselves at home in Saddam’s Palace and the surrounding areas there for a little while before we got the order to retrograde back to Kuwait. We had won the war. So it was time to go home. Once we got back to Kuwait, my Platoon Sergeant approached me and asked me a strange question, “Mo, do you have a wife or girlfriend or anyone meeting you when you get back?”
“ Good. You’re going to stay here with all the vehicles and gear until we find a way to fly it all back.”
So everyone else in my unit flew back home and me and a handful of other poor bastards hung out on the tarmac at the Kuwaiti airport waiting to hitch a ride with all of the unit’s shit. Like I said: always anti-climatic. It took us about ten days, but we were finally able to get the hell out of there. We loaded up onto a 747, threw our guns into the overhead bin, I took an Ambien and passed the fuck out. I awoke about eight hours later to find that we were still on the tarmac in Kuwait, with the AC barely hanging on. Apparently our plane was broke and they decided to keep us on board while they flew in the new parts from Bahrain. Twelve hours after we got on the airplane we finally left the ground on our way home. We smelled like ass. The whole airplane did. I felt sorry for the poor flight crew they’d chartered to fly us back home. They were great though. We bullshat with them up in the cockpit and told them all about the war.
We landed in America about three in the morning and I was home on my back porch smoking a cigarette when the sun came up. I just remember the colors. So many of them and so bright that it startled the eye. The sky was blue again, not blah and dusty. After living in a world of shit-ass dirt-grey for so long it was fucking beautiful. As soon as the base golf course opened that morning I bought a set of golf clubs and played a horrible and delicious round of golf. I just wanted to be in the lush green I guess. And forget about everything for a while.
My End of Active Service came up in the Fall and I decided to get out of the Marine Corps. I would have stuck around if they had let me try out for Delta Force, but the Marine Corps wasn’t having it. Not saying I would have made it. Just saying I wanted to take a crack at it. But nope. Ironically the Marine Corps opened it up the very next year and some good buddies went over there, but for me it wasn’t meant to be. I’d had a hell of a good time, the experience in Iraq notwithstanding, but it was time for me to move on. I remember leaving the base for the last time, towing my Jeep with my Uhaul, and realizing that I was no longer Sergeant Morrison. I was just Jason. After almost eight years, it was a lot to deal with.
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