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Wrapping Up

My Taiwan notes stopped at a point before the eight consecutive days we spent in the field, and before R&R, so I suppose I have the larger part of it left to cover, although it honestly wasn’t much.

Time and distance have blurred my impressions of the outfield experience. I remember that having wet underwear only an hour into the first mission was a huge morale sapper, but it rained every day after that anyway and somehow was got used to it. The long and short of it is that I got used to the walking, the sweat, the heat, the waiting and, to a lesser extent, the insects and insect repellent. In between that there were the missions. I suppose the matter-of-fact-ness could be taken as a sign that the ASLC was successful in making an infantryman out of me.

I’ve tried hard to conjure up something that was memorable from those eight days, but so far only two things come to mind. One was a long moment of stillness, the other was a moment of delirious accomplishment.

The still moment was when my buddy and I stood sentry on the hillside for about an hour and a half. The sky was heavy, and it rained throughout. From where we stood it was a straight drop down. We could look down into the valley between our hill and the next. There was a pylon about thirty meters behind us, and over our heads, the power lines went to the next hill and into the distance. I remember us being mostly silent throughout the time we were there, and I remember thinking about how rare it was to be comfortable with that silence and share it.

The other moment involved my left shoulder. It was the Matador and me again for a mission that involved scrambling up a muddy hill in driving rain as the sky got darker and the visibility plummeted. After the attack, we had to go down the hill in the dark. Then there was a long march to the next destination. Somehow my left shoulder (of steel) lasted the whole way through. I could feel every step, and every few meters I would think, ‘Stop!’, but I didn’t, and then I found I’d reached the end. So that was painful, and kind of fun.

Other than that, I remember the squelch of wet socks, but the rest is a muddy green blur.

R&R was unfulfilling. It had something to do with the fact that it was two-and-a-half days long. I spent almost all of the time shopping, something I don’t usually do. I ended up buying a lot of clothes though. I think, during R&R, I resigned myself to the fact that my peers’ lists of desires to be fulfilled were limited to spending money, getting stuff, eating food (mostly junk food), and spending money being comfortable in between all those things. Which isn’t bad, as far as things go, except for the spending. I think what was lacking was leisure. There was too much to do, if you weren’t prepared to go off on your own for a day. (Not that we had a single full day of unrestricted ops.) Taipei is a nice place, but R&R wasn’t much.

That about wraps things up, way over time.

Categories: Vagaries Tags: ,
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  1. 21 September 2009 at 7:41 pm

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