Your First Deployment

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.

About anotherwarriorpoet

Mathew Bocian served as a Captain in the United States Army with the Stryker Brigade and was deployed to Mosul and Tal'Afar in 2004 - 2005, and to Baghdad for The Surge in 2007 - 2008. He left the Army in 2012 and now uses his poetry as a way to heal from the traumas of war, while attempting to express to readers the realities of war. He is the recipient of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, and holds a master's from the Graduate School for Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.
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