Please read the beginning of this story as shown within the “Afghanistan Story” tab above.
Afghanistan, June 23rd 2010, Camp Delaram
SSgt Rambo asked if I had finished installing the switch.
“I dunno, SSgt. I think something was wrong with the IP I gave it.”
“What do you mean?”
He pulled up the excel document.
“The next IP to use is right here. It didn’t work?”
I looked at the spreadsheet.
“Where did you get this spreadsheet?”
“On the sharedrive. Come on, Cannon, you know this.”
“I…I guess I had a different one.”
“Well, use this one. Get it done.”
I avoided that switch all day. I went in the tent where it lay to look at it. My laptop was still connected and lying open on the table I had thrown it down on. I stood in the doorway of the tent and just looked at the switch.
I also avoided SSgt Rambo all day. I didn’t want to be asked about the switch. Instead, I scoured the sharedrive to find our IP address scheme documentation. I found five copies of the spreadsheet, similarly named, and opened the first one on the list. Sure enough, the address I had used was taken by a device in the COC. I had used a duplicate address. The lack of communication at the most important time of military operations was my fault. Shaking my head at the stupidity and horror, I deleted the extra, and very wrong, copies of the spreadsheet.
When Virkler came for his shift, he looked at me concernedly. He was treating me like I would break into two ever since I told him Dumaw had died. I didn’t tell him any details, but he could tell I was extremely bothered.
“I’m fine. Look, SSgt Rambo needs this switch installed next door. I didn’t get to it today. Just use .72 for the IP address and it should work.”
“Alright. Want to grab some food?”
“I’m not really hungry.”
“You need to eat.”
“I’ll come sit with you.”
I rolled my eyes and walked to the chow hall tent with him. As I rounded the corner of the hesco barriers that formed the line outside of the tent, I stopped so abruptly that Virkler walked into me.
“What the heck, Cannon?”
His eyes followed my gaze.
The grunts were immediately ahead of me in line. I saw the backs of Sgt P and Owens. Red was standing in front of them, facing me, and looked directly at me. His eyes were still deadened and his gaze made me look down immediately. Red wasn’t wearing bloody cammies anymore, but he looked like death.
I turned back to face Virkler.
“I’m really not hungry. I’m going to go to sleep.”
“Uh, okay? You really need to eat.”
“I’ll see you later.”
I slunk off to my can in shame. My feet crunched the rocks with every step and with every step the noise grated into my ears, boring into my brain.
Fucking noisy fucking feet. Why the fuck are you so loud? Why the fuck are you so fucked up? Why did you fuck up? What the fuck is wrong with you? If you had just opened the other document, Dumaw might be alive. You dumb fucking fuck. Fuck.
I walked up to Dumaw’s memorial service and stood extremely far back. No one noticed me. Everyone was gathered around the boots and rifle display. Their body language showed defeat. I stayed for less than a minute before walking away. I was an imposter on this heartbreaking moment.
I shouldn’t be here.
Rest In Peace
Corporal Joshua Robert Dumaw
June 13, 1987- June 22, 2010
If you haven’t listened to any of songs identified in the titles of the chapters, please just listen to this one: Brothers In Arms by Dire Straits.