October in Iraq 2007.
Considering the season of All Hallows Eve I am reminded of the horrors endured at OP Omar on my first deployment as a company 1stSgt.
Going into the month of October the temperature had thankfully starting to drop. Which meant instead of it being 120 degrees Fahrenheit it is a mere 105. Cases of spontaneous combustion were less frequent and the weather kept to a reasonably low broil. Iraq being the kind of place it was we didn’t expect a comfortable transition into winter but instead theorized the temp would suddenly drop out the bottom and paralyze us where we stood.
At least the cooler weather cut down on the various flesh devouring insects inhabiting our small slice of the Middle Evil. Some of you may be familiar with the humming bird sized mosquitoes found in the Carolinas or in the jungles of Southeast Asia. At OP Omar there thrived a colony of invasive little beasts composed entirely of wings and teeth. They were so insidious you didn't even realize you’d been bitten until you looked down and noticed your arm was missing.
As we crept ominously through the month of October strange and unsettling things began to occur around our area of operations. Sightings of the elusive Chupa Cabra increased. No kidding. Pilots flying in support claimed to have spotted this creature skulking through the streets of Kharmah. Seriously! What was initially reported as an attack by flesh eating zombies turned out to be a squad of Marines getting up early to stand post. Disappointed we returned to our daily routine. It was agreed by all there would have been nothing like an early morning zombie brawl to kick the day off right. There were a number of reports of the wolfman stalking the FOB but once the Company XO put his shirt back on the villagers took their pitchforks home without incident.
October 2007 also marked the founding of the Kilo Gentlemen’s Club. This exclusive association sponsored a number of activities for men of distinguished taste in an effort to cultivate a more refined atmosphere around the OP. These included mustache grooming, cigar smoking, and Chupa Cabra catch and release programs.
Due to the efforts of Marines, schools in our neighborhood had begun to reopen much to the dread of local children and the maniacal laughter of their parents. We had given out all kinds of school supplies, toys, and enough candy to keep Iraqi dentists employed for years. Local people were beginning to enjoy a measure of security they have not had in a long while.
Nothing like fixed bayonets to keep the monsters squarely under the bed where they belong.
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