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This blog exists only as an archive. It is a journal that serves as a window into my life as a Marine combat veteran serving in Iraq and Afghanistan; it was written with no filter, no politics and no agenda. Please feel free to follow my journey from beginning to end. Welcome to my life.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Our Humble Home

The sweeeet tent we lived in. MTV Cribs style.
An intense game of chess. We spent the deployment becoming chess, spades, and rubik's cube masters.
Doing some good ol' home cooking. Taking down that damned corn one cob at a time.
Notice our tent area to the left.
Hanging out in my little corner of the tent after a night mission. Notice the cot...I hated that thing. If you sent me any unique care package items, you might see them in there (ie. SOCK MONKEY, CBS sports banner, Camp Randall post card, red chick sunglasses, etc.)

Well, I guess next up would be our actual living area. There's REALLY not a whole lot to write about here... Let's see- no water, no AC, no toilets, occasional power, lots of bugs/mice/cats, and nonstop explosions right outside our front door. Yep, that pretty much sums it up.

We shared a fairly large patrol base with a British unit and some ANP/ANA (Afghan National Police, Army). Those units had been established there for some time, so they were occupying the buildings located there. We, on the other hand, were just thrown in there, so we had to erect squad sized tents with sand bag walls. These aren't the type of tents that were fun to pitch and sleep in in your back yard when you were young. These are miserable, sauna-like, not enough space for a squad and all it's gear substitutions. We had 12 snipers in ours, and if you have ever seen a modern day sniper, you know they have more gear than a NASA mission. Space was a premium.

We made the most of our space, building a 'movie theater' out of wooden pallets and ponchos, complete with benches, a laptop PC stand, and retractable roof for blocking light. At night we could bring the roof down and watch 'The Notebook' underneath a beautiful starry sky. Trust me, that last one actually happened...awkward.

We covered the gravel floor with plywood sheets, which, at first, seemed like a great idea. That is, until we figured out that that lingering smell in our tent was being caused by the decaying mice that we had crushed underneath the wood. Sweet.

We had some combat engineers come out at one point and bring a generator. It was great. We had power for all of 36 hours before it was fried. It takes a lot of juice to power up 120 iPods. We didn't get power for a few weeks after that, but eventually they brought in a bigger generator, that made life awesome. Movie night was back in business, and it started with a 6 night Star Wars I-VI marathon. How nerdy, right?

They gave us standard GI cots to sleep on. Awesome, cots. They'd be sweet if they weren't engineered around a Marine that stands 6'1". Did I mention I'm 6'6". I spend most of my deployment with bruised shins from resting on the metal bar underneath them. Why not just sleep on the floor, you ask? Did I mention the rats, bugs and stray cats? Screw that.

Let's see, what else... Oh yeah, the constant booms. We lived in what often sounded like Stalingrad. It was not uncommon to be woken up by an explosion only 400 yards away that you could feel in your chest. Or to be playing cards in the middle of the day and here a firefight start raging close enough that tracers were snapping over the wall out into nothing. You can ask my sister Sarah about that one, as we were on the phone one night when a British call sign got ambushed only 300 yards outside the front gate, that phone call got awkward real fast.

Me: "yada, yada, yada, so Brett Favre is a traitor" (gun fire erupts)
Sarah: "Jake, is that gunfire"
Me: "ummm, yeah, hold on" ( I look over the HESCO wall, see what looks like a laser light show)
"Don't worry Sarah, you have to believe me, I'm behind a wall and in NO danger"
Sarah: "Jake that sounds really bad"
Me: "It's the Brits, don't worry, most of the shooting is them, this happens all the time, they aren't attacking the base"
Sarah: "ooookay" (fire picks up to insane rate)
Me: "Sis, I better go see what's going on, I'll call you later"

That pretty much sums up our humble abode.


  1. Do you happen to know a 6'3" Marine named SSGT Jones?? He is with 2/7 H&S.

  2. The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 11/07/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

  3. Wow! That all sounds pretty terrible, and yet you make it sound like a walk in the park. Why didn't the cats take care of the mice?