We recently underwent a communications blackout, which are imposed due to fatalities until Next of Kin can be notified. As a result, I had not been able to update my blog. The night of the fatality, I wrote an entry, and I’ve been on the fence about whether to post it. It was angry, and I didn’t really think it through before I wrote it. In the end, I’ve decided to post it. It may be dark, but it’s true. Below is that entry:
We’ve been in a communications blackout, which means no internet, no cell phone, no contact with the outside world. The reason for this carries heavy on my heart. On Monday, two pilots that I work with, one of them a friend, died when their helicopter went down.
Theoretically, I knew this was a possibility. It’s the military, and over the course of a career in the military, many lose people they know. I knew it was a possibility someone would die on this deployment, but I always hoped it would be someone down at one of the battalions that I’d never heard of. Now, for the first time in a long time, someone I know has died. There is pain, and sadness of course, but at the end of the day, all I really feel is a deep rage at myself and at the world.
I feel like I let myself become deluded. That many of us did. We sit at the pizza place, shop at the PX, talk to our family and friends using internet from the comfort of our own beds. It created a dream that I lived in, that we’re just at work like usual in a slightly shittier environment. We put the blinders over our eyes and forget we are in Afghanistan, a combat zone.
A bucket of cold water has been poured over my head. In an instant, my perception of reality flips. The base that was growing on me, that I even began to like, shows its true colors. I suddenly look around and see that this is just another stop on the way, a temporary safe haven from which Soldiers venture out to kill the enemy. It truly sinks in that missions are not just a series of dots on the monitor, but actual fucking people that I know and care about going out and putting their lives on the line.
So when I woke up from that dream in a cold sweat and a wave of anxiety, I found myself staring off into my memories at two dead men. Trivial moments gained new significance. Chatting with Mr. Pratt at his desk at Brigade. Eating lunch with Jay a couple of days ago. These were moments I had been on the brink of forgetting, but now the smallest details are burned into my mind. And all that these memories do is fill me with rage.
I’m angry that the world decided to kill of a friend of mine in his mid-twenties. I’m angry that Mr. Pratt’s wife has to explain to his children that he’s not coming back. I’m angry that people thank me for my service, when I sit at a desk all day, while friends of mine actually put their life at risk. But most of all, I’m angry with myself, that as I sit here writing this, I can already feel my rage subsiding, and I worry that when I wake up tomorrow morning, it’ll be back to business as usual. They deserve better than that.