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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.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Two Years Ago Revisited

February 18th is going to mark two years since I was first really affected by war. I certainly didn't enlist into the infantry thinking war was going to be a joke, or that it was going to be full of glory like in the movies, but, I'm not sure I was fully prepared for what it was going to bring.

I figured I'd see death, but on my way over there I didn't look to my left and right on the plane and think about who it may be. Maybe I was caught up in the macho Marine thing- it wasn't going to be any of us, we were just going to go over, kill terrorists, and come home.

Seeing Blake die changed all that instantly. The aftermath of that incident, the immediate, fire blazing, grown men screaming, blood smelling aftermath, flooded me with emotions that I didn't know existed. Unbridled rage, the kind where your vision becomes tinted with red. Shameful relief, the kind that only comes when something terrible happens to someone you know and love, but somehow spares you. An urge to kill- something, anything- that may have been responsible or played a role. And despair, because you know that no matter how hard you try, you will never be the same.

Blake- you lost everything that night. Your future, gone, with a 9-volt current traveling down a thing copper wire. Same goes for your mother and your sister, only they truly know the agony of going on without you. But the rest of us all lost something too- a friend of course, but also our ability to close our eyes and pretend that we're normal. Because none of us, after experiencing what we did, will ever be the same, whether for better or worse.

So tomorrow, Blake, we raise our bottles to you, and if you find your way down to Manhattan Beach this weekend, there will be a shot of tequila with your name on it on the shelf behind the bar.
The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo;
No more on Life's parade shall meet
The brave and fallen few.
On Fame's eternal camping-ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And glory guards, with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead.
- Theodore O'Hara, The Bivouac of the Dead

7 comments:

  1. Thanks for reminding us all about your loss and the dear price you paid during your coming of age.

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  2. In time, the pain of loss will lessen, but Blake will never be forgotten. And his friends will remind those of us who are not part of the Band of Brothers.

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  3. Jake, thank you for sharing this important date with us. Blake and his family are in our prayers today.

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  4. Jake, all I can say is thank you. Also...may God wrap His loving arms around you and Blake's family, and give you some sort of comfort.

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  5. Jake, I'm a former Marine who luckily never heard a shot fired in anger. I just wanted to pass on how thoughtful your blog is, especially in comparison to many of the other milblogs. The sincerity of your writing shows through, and I hope you appreciate how many people follow you with great interest. My belated condolences on the loss of Blake - your posts do him honor.

    P.S. - I'm a Gophers fan, and one of my favorite Gopher football memories is Rhys Lloyd running to get the Axe in 2000. Please don't hold that against me.

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  6. He looks like he was a beautiful person. I thank him for his sacrifice. RIP dear soldier.

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  7. The smile in the pic is endearing but the look in the eyes is pure mischief.
    Life will dull the ache of loss but not fade the memory of a friend.
    Prayers for you and his family.

    GONE BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN!

    Semper Fi Marine.

    Miss Em
    Austell, Ga.

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