Charmed (aka. No Bad-JuJu)

Pretty much everyone had one, a charm. A charm of some type. For those unawares, a charm is something that has an aura about it that prevents you or your Stryker (truck) from getting hit. When we replaced 1-14 Cav in 2004 we also fell in on all of their equipment, so my truck came with a charm. There was a Mercedes emblem tied onto the front slat armor.

It must’ve worked for 1-14. And we kept it there for a while assuming the charm was tied to the truck and not to the crew. We lost it though one day as we were maneuvering through some deep wadis on the outskirts of Tal’Afar; we were flank security on a large raid and the infantry had “squirters” that escaped the cordon and were attempting to get away. The front of the truck came down a little too hard on one of the wadis and the ‘Benz emblem broke off in several pieces. Stopped the escaping car, though.

We got a new one. My driver, ‘Gordo’ found this ratty-ass little plastic baby doll. It was naked, it was missing a leg, and he drew angry eyebrows and a mustache on it. He tied that up in place of the ‘Benz symbol. I think he also screwed a screw through its hand to make it look like it was wielding a big spike at you.
I think it was named “Fa’Q Yoo”

We’d be maneuvering through a tight alley, and I would voice concern over the great opportunity this was for the Hajj to drop a grenade on us, or have an IED literally sitting around the next corner. ‘Nah, Sir’ Gordo would say. ‘We got that fuckin’ baby. No one fucks with the baby…’ My driver said fuck a lot, I should mention.

But you’d see a little something on everyone’s truck. Subtle; a little stuffed animal hanging in a hatch; a Barbie from a guy’s kid tied to a radio antenna; a bumper sticker – anything. Whatever it was you really didn’t question, because it was obviously working for that crew.

And everyone usually had a charm of their own they kept on them. I had a rosary I had gotten from my grandmother when I was little; she passed when I was 18. Everybody had something [except the actual ‘charms’ candy from MRE’s – those things were unlucky as hell and were quickly tossed].

And when a truck got blown to shit and all the crew survived, you’d say “Man, that Sponge Bob really did it for them.”

And when someone got shot or killed you’d say “Damn. That ‘dart world’ key chain he kept must’ve run out of luck. Damn…”

The whole thing was stupid superstition and had no solid logic or science behind it. But when you’re deployed that good luck charm suddenly becomes as important as your weapon when you can’t find it and you’re rolling out the gate.

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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5 Responses to Charmed (aka. No Bad-JuJu)

  1. In situations like that, you do whatever works.


  2. Andrew Davis says:

    Fascinating how superstition plays a big role in military life. God, country and “charms”.


  3. Gordon Heintzman says:

    Don’t forget about the rpg that day we passed out radios and the damn crew ravaged my jerky. I don’t swear as much now but the f word seemed so versatile at the time.


    • GORDO!!! Dude – seeing you here has made my goddamned day dude.

      Forget it? How could I forget it – that picture of the two of us on the back of the truck is one of my favorite. Damn good to hear from you brother.


  4. Pingback: Winds of Change: Pages From My Pocket | The Ghosts of Tal'Afar

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