I sit here, resting in my cot, staring at the 'roof' made from a fairly broken and beaten tent. There's no holes in it that leak the few times we -do- get rain, but a few pinpricks allow the hot Iraq sun to shine right in my eyes. The air conditioning doesn't work - it's overheated itself, so I'm sweating profusely. I listen to the wind flap the tent violently, nearly carrying it off, held down only by the many sandbags we've filled to shore it up.
I hear the "whump whump whump" of a helicopter's blades cutting the air, and I step outside for both a smoke and a look at what's going on, since it's cooler outside than in at the moment. I see a Blackhawk taking off, with a massive plume of dust following closely behind it, kicked up from the downdraft of the helo. The dark green or grey chopper has a red cross on it, with a white background to it - one of the many symbols denoting an unarmed medical vehicle - the docs on these things aren't even allowed to carry their pistols. Another helicopter, bristling with guns and weaponry of all sorts, takes off hot on the 'Hawk's heels, providing cover for it, ready to be shot at and shoot back, all to save the life of a fellow Marine or soldier. I watch them take off, fly off into the distance, and I go inside.
I sit back in my rack, thinking of how foolish this war is, the senseless loss of life. Each time I see that little air convoy go, I know that someone's been hurt. I silently thank the gods that it's not me out there getting shot at, but at the same time, I say a little prayer, send the energy out to the great beyond, and hope that somehow, somewhere, that little prayer diverts a bullet, makes someone turn their head in time, gets that armor plate in the way, whatever it is, and saves a life. I admit to being selfish enough that I'm glad that I'm not out there, but I'm not so jaded and hateful of life that I wish that everyone else dies.
I hear that rythmic beat again, and go outside, just to see. The Blackhawk has landed, and there is a flurry of activity as whatever bloodied, broken body caused by this war is carried into what is likely a makeshift operating room, hopefully stabilized, and sent off to a bigger base to be saved by doctors with more equipment, better facilities, whatever. I watch the Blackhawk take off again, heading in the other direction, back to where I know a main base is, and I know that these men and women have done whatever they could to save another life.
I watch this little scene unfold, once every day or two, and I have to shake my head. I have to wonder if we're doing the right thing, have to wonder if we're welcome here in this country. I have to wonder if we're even appreciated for what we're doing, by either side. I have to wonder, every day, if that man serving me food, with the dark skin and the foreign, smiling features, is really hoping that I die from eating whatever it is I'm being served. I have to wonder if that guy that's driving the port-a-john truck is going to swerve and hit me as I walk down the road. I have to wonder if a mortar is going to come flying down, catching me as I sleep, as I eat, as I shower, as I smoke a cigarette, as I go about my daily routine. I wonder every second of every day if I'm going to be on one of those Blackhawks as they fly.