Five hours, nineteen minutes.

I've been playing a variation along a childhood game for the last six hours that I would prefer not to be playing. I can remember participating in a modified version of 'I'm going to grandmother's house and taking a _blank_' on a debate trip some years ago. This time it is more like 'I'm going to a potential war zone and I'm taking a _blank_.' This job takes some nasty forms on occasion, this is one of them.
Went into work today to pick up plane tickets, orders, service record and a good two dozen handshakes.
No, don't mind going.
Yes, I am nuts.
Yeah, I'll be careful.

Found out the people on the USS Cole that were killed, well the majority of them, were in the galley eating lunch. Gallows humor has it that now Navy food has killed someone. We joke like that to deny that it Could Have Been One of Us. We joke like that to deny mortality. We joke like that because you have to sometimes.
I wonder sometimes if the people that yell the loudest about sanctions, disbanding the military, disarmament and other causes understand what it is like to watch your friends get waxed in senseless ways. Dying because of unrecoverable flight regimes, terrorists, bad parts, stupid accidents and their own lunacy. Whether or not they appreciate the fact that some of us 'warmongers' don't hate the supposed enemy. That we're doing a job so that they have the right to say what they want when they want. I understand that some of the things the American government does are wrong, immoral and plain icky. I go, because it is my job, because despite the fact that I might disagree with pseudo_intellectuals making a stand against certain nasty aspects of American foreign policy, I respect them. These are the people that will shape the next phase of the United States' relationships with the rest of the world. If no one goes, if no one makes the mistakes, if no one saves the lives and if no one dies, nothing is learned. We lose. Everything around us that we have worked and fought for in the past loses. I for one, never want to see that happen.

Four hours, fifty-one minutes.