The strict adherence to most major ideology will yield some betterment for you, but I wasn’t after betterment. I was after truth. So, I decided to take a year and just study the Bible. I went to school to study the Bible because I’m a cynic. I wanted to see if it held up. I decided to only believe the truth - if I could find it - and that’s a hard thing because no matter what you believe about anything, you’re at least a little bit wrong about it. That means that when you find truth, you have to give up the lie that you’ve been believing in its place. I was prepared to do it. It was scary, but I know what I believe. Don’t ignore it. Don’t minimize it. Don’t act like what you believe is unimportant. That’s a tremendously popular and insidious lie. It might be hard but it’s fucking important. Be ready for it though. As soon as you profess to believe anything they’ll call you a hypocrite. And they’ll be right. You will fail at measuring up to what you profess to believe. Here’s the thing: anyone who believes in something is a hypocrite because no one can actually measure up to their own standard. Only those too timid and spineless to believe in anything can claim that they are not hypocrites.
I remember the first time I drove into Estes Park, Colorado. It was early in the morning. Still dark. The sun in the east behind me wasn’t up yet. I crested a rise in the road to see the first fingers of the dawn touch the snowcapped peaks of the Rocky Mountains. It hurt me in the gut it was so God damn beautiful. It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done, driving up that hill the first day of Bible School. No possessions to speak of, no identity, and no plans but to seek out the truth. It was a good time in my life. It was a very good time indeed.
I was in Cape Town South Africa a few months later on a two week break from school when I heard about the Blackwater contractors being killed and hung from the Fallujah bridge. Iraq was getting hot again. I was in South Africa helping a friend of mine build a church. Yep, doing the missionary thing again. College kid style. As soon as I got back to the States, my buddy Potsy contacted me and asked if I wanted to join a company that was hiring former Special Operations guys to do security work in Iraq. Fuck it. “I’m in”, I told him. I guess I’m going back to war.
So, I ducked out of Bible school for few weeks again to attend the selection course. The company was all run and managed by former Delta Force guys. I remember meeting one crusty Delta Sergeant Major and introducing myself. He told me “I’ve never met a Force Recon Marine who I haven’t been totally impressed with.“ I guess I have some expectations to live up to. The training wasn’t really training. It was more of an assessment. The only people there were former Navy SEALs, Army Special Forces, Army Rangers, and Marine Force Recon as well as some Marine Scout Snipers. In spite of the impressive resumes of everyone there, the attrition rate was still through the roof. People were dropping like flies. It was funny because no one else really knew too much about Force Recon before then. I had no idea how we really stacked up against the other special ops guys other than a few operations that I’d done with the SEALs and Army Special Forces guys when I was in the Marines. But I had never worked with the Rangers or Delta before at all. Turns out we were trained pretty damn well. Most of the Marines were in the top part of the class. The focus was mostly on shooting and driving with an in-depth medical portion as well. By the end of it about half the class was gone because they couldn’t meet the standards, which left us with a very solid compliment of experienced Special Operations dudes who were at the top of their game. I had a good feeling about going to war with them. I went back to Bible school and finished it out, then waited for the call to go to Iraq.
I showed up in Baghdad around the first of July 2004. I was told I was going to be assigned to Team Miami and working out of Ar Ramadi. Ar Ramadi was the provincial capital of Al Anbar province. The triangle between Ramadi, Hilla, and Baghdad was known then as the “Triangle of Death”. I knew Ramadi was going to be dicey because every time I told someone that was going there their eyes got really big and they said, “Shit! You’re going to Ramadi?“ Team Miami had driven out to Jordan to pick up some of their guys who were flying in, so I waited around Baghdad for them to pick me up. After a week or so they were able to make it out to Baghdad and collect me up and stock up on booze and ammo and spare tires and other such essential bullshit. I found myself in the back seat of an armored Mercedes S500 with a PKM medium machine gun running the “Highway of Death” from Baghdad to Baghdad International Airport (BIAP). (Everything there was dangerous as fuck at the time, so everything was the “________ of death”. There was even a Traffic Circle of Death near Al Asad. It sounded corny as fuck until you realized that people called things that for a reason.) At that time it was a constant gunfight on the BIAP road. And this was back when Chechen mercenaries were still getting paid. Those motherfuckers knew their shit when it came to vehicle ambushes, and they fucked some people up on that road and pulled it off without getting killed. There were some shooters along that road then. There were always burning cars on the side of the road from one side or the other and at any given time a complex ambush could kick off if you made yourself a target, or even if you didn’t. Everyone had an itchy trigger finger too, so you had to be careful of everyone, especially the Military who were the main target for Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs). Tactical vehicles aren’t fast, they had to cruise at 45-55 Mph, and those dudes were getting hit every day, so they didn’t give a fuck about launching a round into you if you came up on them too fast or aggressively. All we had were American flags and bright orange air panels in 12”x8” ready to display and our smiling American faces behind them. Most of the Personal Security Details (PSDs) would run nut to butt down that road in SUVs. In other words, their high-profile cars were stacked up very close to each other making them an obvious target. We spread our motorcade out and hauled ass in armored sedans. At that time our motorcade consisted of a BMW seven series in the Lead, a Mercedes S600 as the Limo, directly behind the lead, and another BMW 740 as the Follow car. Two Mercedes S500s covered the 6 o’clock and acted as the emergency response, or Crisis Action Team (CAT) and brought up the rear. All of them were factory armored in Germany and they all had big fast engines. We each had our own our own M4 and Glock as well as a complement of ammo and grenades and in the cars we had PKM medium and RPD light machine guns, a shit load of grenades of all kinds, as well as a few other surprises if anyone wanted to find out what kind of fire power we were packing. Our cruising speed was anywhere between 100 - 120 miles an hour once we got passed BIAP and onto Route Tampa. Route Tampa was the main artery running west from Baghdad all the way to Jordan and passing through the Triangle of Death.
So, I settled into my new home on Camp Blue Diamond in Ramadi as a member of Team Miami, and was given the nickname “Elvis” which has been my callsign ever since. We were fat with Delta Force and senior Army Green Berets who’d already seen a ton of shit either in Afghanistan or in past secret squirrel shit they were involved in. I was among the young guns there even at 27. A handful of Army Rangers and few Force Recon Marines rounded out the crew.
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