While serving in the US Army I was fortunate enough to spend some time in that blessed belly of the Mid-east, Saudi Arabia. It was a mostly uneventful tour of duty, surprisingly similar in climate and landscaping to my current residence in Las Vegas, NV. One of the duties performed while residing in this infuriating country was providing for the security of several strategically placed patriot missile bases.
One base in particular was very close to the local camel graveyard. It wasn’t fancy or delineated in any way you could recognize. Over one of the rare rises in topography and in the subsequent valley, people just killed and dumped animals. As you may imagine, the smell was quite fierce. Not all of them were camels; there were some goats too. Not every one of the animals was left terribly close to the others either. There didn’t appear to be a whole lot of organization involved.
While patrolling the outside perimeter one day, I had an accident. I wasn’t paying close attention to were I was walking. The smell from the valley was particularly foul this day and I was examining the fence and scouting the horizon, trying to make the task end a little quicker. Such haste and inattention were a mistake. While cresting one of the rare, low hills, I stepped in the carcass of a dead camel.
All of the sudden I was ankle deep in maggot ridden, rotting flesh. As my feet breached the animal’s chest cavity the gases associated with decomposition escaped and I began to dry heave. My desert issue boots were made of soft breathable suede. They were also very absorbent. They quickly absorbed a great deal of dead camel juice and even more dead camel funk. It was not my most proud moment, and certainly isn’t something you will ever see in a recruitment poster. My boots had to be thrown away.