I never knew what was worse –
The feeling of being new out on patrol
Not knowing what it would be like
When the fighting actually started,
Or exposing yourself day in and day out,
Knowing exactly what would be waiting for you
Around the next corner, someday, sometime.
You only get to feel one of those once –
I was in Mosul a total of three hours when
We first got mortared. In front of a Stryker
That took an IED on my first patrol. You
Make a demonic checklist – mortared, ok –
Rocketed, ok – shot at, ok – blown up, ok –
You tick your boxes until there are no
More left to tick. And every time the
Radio squacks, or a target folder is assigned,
Or someone takes contact out in town and
You rush right out there – you put it far back
Somewhere else in your mind, otherwise
You’d never be able to do your job,
Never be able to protect your men
Soldiers that freeze-up, Soldiers with cowardice,
The only thing wrong with them was they couldn’t
Push it back far enough. We knew what awaited us
We were dead anyways. We pushed that fact far
Back in our core, and did our duty scared, anyways.
Experience only gives you more knowing of what
It’s going to be like when your time finally comes.
More to be afraid of, more to push away
Until you can push no more.