Please read the beginning of this story as shown within the “Afghanistan Story” tab above.
Afghanistan, June 2010, Camp Delaram
I grabbed my giant flak jacket from the bottom of my bed. I looked inside the magazine pouches to make sure all of the magazines were there and filled with one hundred and eighty 5.56 mm rounds. My IFAK (individual first aid kit) was strapped to the top left side of my chest and my “drop pouch” to throw any empty magazines during live fire was on my right hip. I didn’t have any cool patches on my flak that had my unit’s name and design on them. Would it even be appropriate since I wasn’t even with my unit?
Jesus, what even was our logo? A giant ass computer with Call of Duty on the screen?
Looking down at my flak, I thought there was no way it could look more POG-gy. It was so new, freshly pulled out of its package five hours before I deployed and assembled at the last minute. I shook my head. I stuffed some extra shirts, silkie shorts, and a few thongs into my backpack, threw on the flak jacket, and clipped my Kevlar helmet to the front of it. I grabbed my rifle, and started to walk out of the can.
Holy fuck, this thing is heavy with a backpack and all this ammo.
I swirled around suddenly to go back to my flight bag. The momentum from all of my added weight caused me to spin a little further around than I had expected and I stumbled. Barely recovering, I knelt down awkwardly with my gear banging into everything. My rifle’s sling caught on the drop pouch, causing the rifle to swing forward just as I finished kneeling completely. The tip of the rifle slammed into the ground and the butt stock of the rifle smashed into the bottom of my chin.
Eyes watering in pain, I rubbed my chin with one hand while I searched my flight bag for the bag of Tootsie Pop suckers I had saved from a care package I had received from a stranger when I was on Camp Leatherneck.
If I go on a patrol, I want to give some kids candy. There would be kids, right? That’s all they said about Iraq; the kids would be everywhere, wanting candy. This place is a hellhole. They can at least have my suckers.
I stuffed the bag of suckers into my drop pouch, grabbed the camera that I had noticed at the last minute, and awkwardly tried to stand up. I had to grab at my bed sheets and pull myself up to stand.
Why is everything so awkward with this damn pack on? I’m relatively used to the flak and the rifle feels like an extension of my body. I guess I’ve never trained with a full combat-load on. It feels like 80 pounds.
I did a quick breakdown of the weight:
Flak jacket with SAPI plates to stop bullets- About 30 pounds
Rifle- 7.18 pounds
“Lightweight” Kevlar helmet- 3 pounds
IFAK- 2.5 pounds
180 bullets- roughly 22 pounds
Backpack with various shit- 10 pounds??
Roughly 75 pounds. I weighed 125. Starting to sweat profusely, I exit the tent into the hot sun and go to meet the grunts.