Saturday, February 7, 2015

Homesick...An Essay on War and the American Homefront

I often wake up hoping I’d be in a cot. Hearing Jason screaming the lyrics to barbie girl. I’d roll over and click play on the pre-mission playlist; Big Krits  “Rise and Shine” plays. Maybe Poly would come in and slap my foot and say lets get chow or Ryan would have already been up giving me his leftovers while I tell him his sister is beautiful, A running joke that has been going on for nearly 4 years now.

I wake up in a full size bed on Long Island. No chow hall but easily accessible food everywhere in sight. I can get a breakfast sandwich if I really wanted. Freshy Fresh isn’t too far. I no longer see the faces I’ve grown comfortable and accustomed to seeing. The things that were so agitating have become memories and jokes. We would tip beer bottles and laugh about the indirect fire and Rashaldo’s reaction to it. The time when First Squad’s tent got deflated because of people playing with knives. It was a big deal, angry faces and threats left and right but in the end, why be mad? Brothers forgive. I can still hear Big Davis, Gabe, and Tony P arguing over the state of hip hop. Life was simple. Life was good.Life wasn’t promised.

When over there things didn’t matter. It just was. We had no control over what happened back in the United States. The only thing we could do is complete the task at hand. When that was done we had to enjoy the time we had. We never wanted to go there but we were there. We made the best of what it was. We hated the taste of dust in our mouths. We hated 10th Mountain’s leadership for making the rules that made our lives difficult. We hated the Taliban. We hated the IED’S.

We landed in El Paso, Texas and said hello to America. We put on normal clothes, Laced something other than combat boots and PT shoes, and Hopped in vehicles that weren’t MIne Resistant. Something felt missing and couldn’t explain what it was. Unlocking the door to our barracks room felt unreal. Eating jack in the box couldn’t compare to taco Tuesday on FOB Arian. The shopping mall didnt give you the same excitement as the PX on FOB Sharana. The comforts of America no longer made us feel normal. This wasn’t where we belonged. We became home sick for the place we never thought we would call home.

- Andy Gomez, Combat Engineer


  1. Life will never have more meaning than it did to people deployed in such circumstances.

    The more intense the experience, the more meaning it has, I suspect.

    I was just a support troop doing a year at a comfy base in the Gulf and deploying up to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait, but that was a year I will never forget.

    I can only imagine how it was for combat troops and all the shit they went through.

    Life deployed is focused and your path is determined, you take perverse pleasure in the shitty conditions all you put up with, but even solving problems day in and day out, somehow life seem simpler... I dunno. That's my 2 cents.

    Great post!

    1. Andy didn't write a terribly long piece, but he didn't have to. He captured what he wanted to convey in a concise, yet impactful thesis. It brought back the feelings of anxiety and incredulity that I felt when leaving Baghdad for R&R....walking through Atlanta airport...seeing normal people, clean people...but above all...detached, comfortable and seemingly oblivious people. All at once, I wanted to be just like them...but hated them with a passion.

      I'm not ashamed to say that I broke down in tears when I saw my two little girls running towards me. At that moment, I didn't want to ever return to Iraq, but felt like I didn't belong here either. Like I was in a dream.

      Thankfully, time has softened and eroded those feelings for the most part.

  2. Thanks for the excellent, as always highly informed comment, Silver...

  3. Things I have been trying to figure out how to explain to family and friends for almost two years. I have been out of the service that long.... Hard to believe.

    1. I dropped my retirement packet while in Baghdad and hung up the uniform about four months after returning. It's weird having six long years pass but with stark memories as a constant companion.


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