A New Ration of Shit

Posted: June 1, 2013 in Military
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I am going to open with a disclaimer.  The following opinions are completely my own and in no way, shape or form represent those of the Department of Defense or any of her services.  These are strictly the opinions of an old NCO who is tired of whiny, entitled, post-9/11 service members who have nothing better to do but whine about the loss of one hot meal a day and the sensationalist media who makes it appear as if they are being starved because of it.

In keeping with the theme of being a grumpy Ol’ Sarge, I am  going to use the language of the Army when I came in close to 20 years ago.  It may get a bit crass, dare I say vulgar at times.

Marines at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan are up in arms about the loss of midnight rations, also known as mid-rats, taking away one of four prepared, hot meals a day and stunting their social life in the process.  The articles I have read in Huffington Post and GOP THE DAILY DOSE make it seems as if this suffering is the solely restricted to the poor devil-dogs rather than the phased plan that is affecting numerous FOBs and COPs throughout the country as we begin to withdraw from the country in which we have fought the longest war in our history.  Before I go into the long and obscene litany of Morale, Welfare and Recreation activities and contract snackeries available in the post Stan McChrystal Afghan Theatre of Operations let me flash back a decade to young Sarge’s first trip to one of the shit holes that would occupy a significant portion of his life and do a comparison contrast of what was available then as opposed to now.

Late in August of 2002 I offloaded a C-17 at Bagram airfield and immediately cross-loaded my team and our gear onto a MC-130 for a trip out to FOB Chapman.  This was done in the middle of the night with minimal lighting without a meal for me or my crew to charge up our weary bodies with.  We landed on a dirt strip at Chapman Airfield into pitch blackness and choking dust.  We grabbed our shit, waved down a forklift and headed on over to the tent that would be our home for the next six weeks.  We made our introductions, stored our kit and bunked down for the evening.  Still no meal, no phone call home, no email, hell, Facebook was not twinkle in Zuckerberg’s eyes yet.

We did not even have a chow hall in our little under-defended slice of paradise at the time.  We got regular resupplies of food stuffs, most of which did not even go together.  We would have spaghetti sauce and no pasta, pounds of meat that we would have to cook because we did not have enough freezer space, lots of bottled water and Gatorade, pop-tarts of the frosted blue berry and un-frosted strawberry type and to this day I still cannot eat a Slim Jim because we had so many of them.  Once per week we were able to call home on a shitty connection Iridium satellite phone and we hoped that our mail got to us.  YES, that is right, we relied on actually writing a letter to stay connected to our loved ones!  After six weeks of incoming mortars, patrols through the eastern Afghan countryside and the worst case of food poisoning I have ever had in my life we packed our kit and headed back to Bagram so we could eventually catch a flight out to a little slice of mountain paradise called Asadabad.  In Bagram I finally got to spend a little time emailing and catching up with the wifey and even got to hear her lovely voice more than once per week.

Asadabad was four months of the same shit with pretty scenery and the same assholes wanting to kill you.  Mortars and RPGs were a way of life.  There was still no regular phone calls, no internet, we had a tent for a chow hall for one crew of folks on the small camp and for us, massive stockpiles of shit that we had not enough storage capacity for.  It was during this time though that I got my first ever taste of a fried turkey as a few industrious fellers helped to put together a field ready Thanksgiving dinner.  Just like at Chapman, we had the ever-present and stinky piss tubes to relieve ourselves in and the cut off drums that we hired some locals to burn daily to do a number two in.  Showers were infrequent and seldom was there hot water and let me tell you it does not matter how hot that water is when you live at 8000 feet in part of the Himalayan mountain chain from October to January.  The only saving grace of feeling colder than you ever have in your life is that you do not sweat that much and therefore, do not stink so bad.  There was no PX available, no amenities, nothing but your camp mates and whatever social life you can string together in the down time.

So let us fast forward ourselves through time as we deploy 14 more times for varying durations and two wars.  There was an increase of amenities, many of which seem to have become entitlements.  There are fast food joints on all but the most austere of bases.  There is not one place that I have been that you cannot find good old fashioned internet on which you can check-in on Facebook with a bad-ass war zone location, post some cool-guy photos on Instagram or live tweet the most current breaching of the wire or casualty reports from the most recent suicide bombing.  You can buy a Harley-Davidson or new car tax-free, buy just about anything you want from the PX, sit down at the Greenbean coffee shop and try to pick up the gender of your choice.  Hit the internet cafe and put your name on an enormous list to get some Skype time with the spouse and kids, and today when all that shuts down for the evening I guess you can go back to the hootch and stuff your face with an MRE since those uncaring bastards who sent you over there are obviously not in tune enough with your personal requirement to keep the goddam chowhall open for some fucking midnight victuals.  What callous, uncaring bastards to make you eat a packaged meal rather than grade 4, government food not to mention the Campbells chicken noodle soup that you will miss.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to minimize the sacrifice our troops are making by being deployed over there.  After 51 months of being deployed to both Afghanistan and Iraq I was more than pleased when it became a priority to give a little bit of home to us in order to make that suckfest just a little bit more tolerable.  There was more than one time that I came back in from the outside to head over to the chowhall and slap together a couple slices of cheese between some bread, jam it under the panini press and sit back and enjoy my childhood favorite of grilled cheese and tomato soup.  In the absence of that, I would rip apart an MRE and choose which piece I could stomach at the time.  As far as a social life goes, I work with people all day long, I deploy with those same people, other than a little Call of Duty action once in a while, I just wanted to be by myself.

We still have our guys and gals in harms way being injured and sometimes killed on a daily basis.  To all that have served and continue to serve, my kudos to you for having the balls to do it.  Afghanistan is a shit hole, no doubt about it, but in the middle of all that austerity the DoD has done a pretty good fucking job of bringing a little bit of home to the majority of the locations out there and anyone who bitches and complains because their internet and phones have been turned off because there is a casualty or gripes about the loss of one hot meal per day is behaving like a prissy, entitled little punk.  Don’t cry to your spouse or your parents because your over abundance of calories has suddenly been decreased.  Don’t let them cause a public outcry on your behalf, have the balls to speak up and open your mouth with your name if it is such an indignity.  Next time you want to gripe about not having a hot meal waiting for you remember the 101st in the Battle of the Bulge as they literally froze in their foxholes in the forests of Belgium.  Remember the Marines in the Pacific theatre who went days without food at times, lived with dysentery as way of life.  Remember all those service members who spent time in an enemy prisoner of war camp under the shittiest of conditions and with the worst of nutritional sustenance available to them.  After you take a personal mind trip through history, shut that hole under your nose, drink water and move the fuck out.  You don’t have it that bad you spoiled little shits.

And for your viewing enjoyment a slideshow of what four hots a day gets you.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

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Comments
  1. Valerie Austin says:

    Great last paragraph – so TRUE!

    Like

  2. R01R says:

    Stan had the right idea Brother. If it’s a little uncomfortable, maybe we(they) could better focus on the task at hand. The slide show almost made me spit. That’s disgsuting but true. I’ll tell you a story sometime from a visit to TF-82, 76, or some other, while at Bagram for a minute. CLUELESS. I’m sorry that it was that way. But, it was.

    Like

    • Stan did have the right idea, but he developed that little nugget while flying over Camp Victory one day. I can’t remember what year it was exactly, but it was in the good old days when we were the only ones getting off the FOBs and when we would get back could not even get a bag of chips at the PX because all the fobbits had run them dry.

      At some point our war became a job and with it all the complacency that accompanies the bored. I still remember vividly when my hot meals were provided by an MRE heater or, I shudder at the thought, t-rats from a mermite can. I also remember taking a knee and facing out while standing in line. Ah, the good old days!

      Like

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