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Uncommonly Sensible

Keeping the "anal" in analytical... (While trying to remain civilized)

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Location: United States

Monday, October 22, 2007

Humor in uniform...

...with apologies to Reader's Digest.
(For the headline)

I'd like to introduce you to one of my sailing buddies; here he is, on his boat in The Keys:

His boat at the Blue Water Marina in Bimini:

And under sail:

I've sailed with him (and his lovely wife) in flotillas, from The Keys to the Dry Tortugas, and from Florida to The Bahamas; he was the commodore.

He's currently serving in Iraq, and sent me some amusing anecdotes in one of his emails...he also gave me permission to share them.


In the midst of all this going on, there's humor.

Lots of it.

We get mortared and rocketed almost daily. On 9/11, we took a big one nearby. They come in at all times of day and night. Not predictable at all.

Two days ago, at about 10:30 in the morning, I felt the call of nature and left to go to the portapotties, which are nearby. As I pulled down my fatigue trousers and got comfortable, the electronic alarm went off (you can hear it all over the base) - "INCOMING! INCOMING! INCOMING!"

Now this alarm is not unusual. We hear it all the time. The purpose of it is to give you a few seconds to seek cover.

Except when you are sitting on the portapottie.

I was sitting there, staring at the plastic door, wondering what the density of the door was and how much it would slow down fragments of red-hot shrapnel.

"Great," I thought. "I'm going to get blown up while on the portapotty." I waited a few minutes, knowing if something blew up nearby, my biological function of removing solid waste would kick into overdrive.

I thought about the medics who would rush to the blown up pile of plastic and pull my bleeding, blue-stained body out and prepare to medevac me. The blue, of course, would be from the "water" you poop in.

The rapid-fire commands from the medics would go something like this:

"OK Private, get that tourniquet on him, NOW!"
"OK, now plug up that sucking chest wound with a compression bandage!
Now, Private! Move"
"OK Private, now wipe his butt and lets get him on the bird!"
"Say what?"
"I said wipe his butt. NOW. We gotta save his life!"
"I...you serious? He can die. You wipe his butt."
"Yeah. I see what you mean."

So they'd load me up, smelling bad, on the helicopter.

But there was no boom, so everything was good.

BUT... I later thought about what the local paper would say:

"**** *****, wounded in the line of doo doo is recraperating at a hospital in Germany"

Morbid humor, but funny.


Same thing. I'm in the "solitude cell" in the morning and I hear "ka-Boom! ka-Boom! ka-Boom! ka-Boom" Four mortar rounds about a half-mile away. I'm stuck again thinking, "Great. Now I can't go to the bathroom for the next six months."

I have put in a request for an up-armored portapottie, but I have yet to hear about it.

Yesterday we took two rockets at about 2:30 p.m. One landed nearby (300 yards). We stepped out to see the mess and went back inside. Very common thing.

My lieutenant comes in about ten minutes later. He is wearing his bicycle helmet, breathing hard. You have to understand that he is a little effeminate. He often reminds me of one of my seventh grade girls.

"Did you hear those rockets?"

We look around at each other. There are a couple of crusty sergeants with me. "No," I say. "What rockets?"

"Those rockets! One almost hit me!"
(Drama queen moment)

I look around. "Did anyone hear a rocket?" Everyone shakes their head ruefully.

"Lieutenant, I don't guess we heard a rocket. Did you hear one?"

"Yes! It almost hit me!"

We keep him going a while and finally come around to him admitting it was not really near him. He just heard the rocket motor as it flew overhead.

We got a big laugh over his hissy fit.

Later that night, my roommate asked if that rocket hurt anyone near us. He knew it hit near our building, but he is in a building a good distance away.

I said, "No, but we're still trying to pull my lieutenant's panties out of his crack."


My roommate is a Navy Lieutenant Commander, the equivalent of an Army Major. He just arrived in Iraq and has never been in country before. We were sitting around the trailer talking when we heard heavy gunfire break out nearby. It was pretty close, too.

I say, "Wow, they're shooting it up out there tonight!"

This is the first time he has heard gunfire close by.

He says, "Is that a shooting range nearby?" I almost break out laughing, but I don't.

"Nope. They're shooting the crap out of someone on the other side of the wall." The wall is about 250 yards from our trailer.

He is in a total state of denial. "I think there is a shooting range over there. They're probably night firing."

I point in the direction of the range. "The range is that way. The bad guys are this way." I point to the direction of the firing, which is intensifying. I'm having soooo much fun with this poor guy.

"You sure?" he says hopefully.

I crush his hopes. "Yep. That's a .50 caliber (you can hear the whomp-whomp-whomp). Those are M-16s. Someone has attacked one of the towers."

He looks around like, What are we going to do? I grab my towel and head to the showers.

The next day, he saw on the reports that, yes, it was a firefight.


Here's a picture he sent me of a li'l piece of "Americana" over there:

And last but not least, here he is hanging out with the locals:

A fine gentleman, outstanding American and a great sailor, with a terrific sense of humor...


Blogger Cassandra said...


I was talking to my husband about 4:30 this morning and all of a sudden the phone went dead.

At first I was fine - I just thought we'd been disconnected, so I emailed him and said, "We were robbed!" No answer. A half hour goes by and I felt a little frisson of alarm. So I sent another email to his work account. Another half hour, no response. Now I am starting to worry a bit. So I begin to check the online news outlets. No news of an attack. I know they get shelled frequently but I figure if there'd been a major attack with injuries it would be up there. More time. No response.

I turn on the TV. Nothing. I start pacing....

Finally after about 2 1/2 hours my phone rings. The power had gone out. Now why didn't I think of that? :)

Anyway, life is good.

October 22, 2007 10:08 AM  
Blogger Maggie said...

Great stuff Jack.
Please tell your friend a big "THANK YOU" for his service to our country.
Now that's the kind of potty humor I like.Maybe he ought to try depends.....just a thought......

October 22, 2007 10:32 AM  
Blogger Maggie said...

Good to read your post.What are you up to these days?

My brother served as a Marine in Viet Nam and our family would live for the Walter Cronkite news hour to learn of any battles in his last known whereabouts.We didn't have cells or computers and relied on his letters to assure us that as of that date he was alive.Sometimes we didn't hear from him for weeks at a time.

Thank the Lord for technology.Also, give my thanks to your brave husband for his service.

October 22, 2007 10:45 AM  
Blogger Ms RightWing's Ink said...

I hope your friend is keeping a journal. Someday those will make good stories to look back on and maybe, help in someone's healing process. Laughter is GRERAT medicine.

October 22, 2007 10:48 AM  
Blogger Hawkeye® said...

Great stuff. Pics are good too. Pass along my thanks for your friend's service.

Same to your husband as well.

Best regards...

October 22, 2007 1:00 PM  
Blogger camojack said...

Yes, power outages are an everyday fact of life over there.

Of course it's only normal to worry.

I shall pass along all of the comments to him; apparently, for some reason, although he has email and Internet service (when the power's not out) he can't just go to my blog from there.
(OPSEC, perhaps)

Ms RightWing:
I don't know whether he is keeping a journal or not, but it's an excellent idea.

The only picture I took was of his boat, but thanks...

October 22, 2007 8:02 PM  
Blogger Wouldn't you like to know? said...

I actually felt pretty dumb for worrying, afterwards. He's always telling me his power is off, and yet I didn't even think of that as a possible cause. I thought it was more likely we'd simply been cut off due to a phone problem.

Anyway, it's not as though I was frantic or anything. But having email or telephones and news and the Internet is (in some ways) not conducive to putting things out of your mind. I guess you don't realize that even when you are not conscious of being worried, you are thinking about it in the back of your mind.

I'm so lucky to be able to talk to him at all. It was just a little unsettling, that's all :P

Re: your blog, the entire blogspot domain is blocked on some military servers, camo. It may or may not be on his. Hard to say. There are a lot of sites my husband can't access.

- Cassandra

October 22, 2007 10:14 PM  
Blogger KJ said...

He sounds like a complete package. I'm glad we have him on our side.

I need to remember that one next time I want to hand up on someone -- power went out. Sounds good.

October 22, 2007 11:58 PM  
Blogger Beerme said...

In stressful environments the humor is sometimes the only thing that keeps you sane!

Great pics and interesting email from your buddy. Thanks for sharing!

October 23, 2007 6:42 AM  
Blogger camojack said...

Interesting alternative screen name. Signing at the end kind of negates its value, though. :)

You shouldn't feel dumb for worrying; after all, it is a dangerous place. Like I said, it was a perfectly normal reaction to the situation.

As for my blog, he already told me it's blocked, so I just did the "copy & paste" thing and sent it via email. Happily, he approved.

Oh, he's the "real deal", all right.

I'm glad to know him.

Quite true. And some of us can find humor in the strangest places.

Anyway, I'm glad to share, especially good news. Can't find much of that in the "mainstream" media...

October 23, 2007 7:02 AM  
Blogger Pat'sRick© said...

Great post. I'm glad your buddy can laugh through the bombs. Humor helps a lot. Also the blogspot domain seems to be blocked under official policy at military bases. That's why I tell you "I'll check it at home".

Kudos to you and your hubby. As a 26-year veteran of the Air Force, I salute him.

October 23, 2007 8:45 PM  
Blogger Wouldn't you like to know? said...

Thanks, Pat's Rick.

Very funny KJ. I don't think he was trying to hang up on me... he was right in the middle of telling some yarn about driving MRAPs or boxing Bulgarians or some such nonsense - can't remember what it was :p

Now it would have been different if I'd been yammering on about shoe shopping or my feelings!

re: the signin, I was working on something. I'll fix it later.

October 23, 2007 9:11 PM  
Blogger camojack said...

Thanks. Humor does help, to be sure.

I know you're speaking from experience, too.

Yeah, I doubt if he was trying to hang up on you, since you weren't yammering on about your feelings and whatnot.

October 24, 2007 8:43 AM  
Blogger benning said...

Military humaor is decidedly different from Civilian humor. There's an edge to it. ; )

Tell him thanks for me, Camo, when next you talk to him!

October 31, 2007 6:38 PM  
Blogger camojack said...

Undoubtedly different; something like gallows humor.

Anyway, I've been forwarding all of the comments from this post to him via email...since all blogspot.com sites are blocked to him over there.

November 01, 2007 10:08 PM  

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