Friday, July 28, 2006
It’s hot. Across the world we are in the middle of global warming’s throws. Some places are hotter than others apparently. Parts of Europe are experiencing record highs and I saw on the news where California is using power in record numbers in order to escape the heat. People are dying from the heat and are complaining that it is the fault of those who failed to heed the calls from the Al Goreites in the world. If only we would have signed that damn Kyoto Protocol.
Now, as was the case on my first deployment, I can do nothing but laugh at the people who think 100 degrees Fahrenheit is hot (37.7 degrees Celsius for those more refined readers). I understand that not everyone has lived in the desert so I don’t expect those people to understand when I say that 100 degrees is refreshing. As I sat outside the other night when my power was out I thought to myself that “You know Tim it is pretty refreshing right now, I wonder how hot/cool it is?” So I went over to a thermometer and saw that it was 100, and oh what a cool 100 it was.
My first deployment was a far cry from what I am used to now. In 2003 there was nothing in our desert arsenal to provide relief from the overbearing heat. I slept on a cot in a tent in the middle of a southern Iraq desert. We had no AC, no fans, no nothing that was in the least bit comforting. I slept in boxers on three towels placed under each area where my skin touched my cot in order to soak up the sweat throughout the night. Each morning I arose with the sun and flies around 6am because it was too hot to sleep. One morning I stayed in my cot killing flies until 7am and when the hour was said and done I had killed 70 flies. I neatly piled them up and afforded them a proper funeral befitting the greatest of Athenian or Trojan warriors: I burned the hell out of them and sent a message to their compadres that I was no longer going to take their crap. I don’t think they got the message.
In 2003 there was a heat wave in France that killed some thousands of people. We read about it several times in the Stars and Stripes and each time could do nothing but laugh. I know it isn’t funny when people die but when they are dying from 97-degree heat and you are averaging 130 during the day it has to elicit some semblance of a smile. The hottest I saw it get in 2003 was 147 and that was on a thermometer right outside my tent. I wish I had the picture because I know there are going to be some skeptics out there.
With this most recent heat wave spanning the globe I once again am reduced to laughing. Ignorance is bliss they say and it is never truer when one thinks 100-degree weather is unbearable. Soldiers deal with 120 plus heat on a daily basis wearing 40-50 pounds of gear. Our body armor acts as an oven to intensify the heat so that each time we open our vests it is akin to opening the oven door to check on that Thanksgiving turkey. Blasts of heat wash over us and we quickly shut our vests so that our midsections are left alone to bear the brunt of what I like to call “The Body Armor Factor.” The BAF works something like wind chill does in the winter. You know when you hear the weatherman say something like “Well folks it is a cold one today. Your high will be 10 degrees while the low will be –5 with a –18 degree wind chill factor.” Well the same factor works in the desert. It may be 132 outside but inside your body armor it is closer to 150. Anyone want to lose that gut that seems to never go away? Do you have love handles that you would rather your lover never handle again? Sign up for the army and spend a summer wearing body armor. If you still have fat around your midsection after that I fear that you may need to visit your local plastic surgeon.
The great thing about this deployment compared to my first one is the trailers (chews) that we live in. I have my own AC that I control and have showers that I can take at the end of each day. The luxuries of home that some say make us too soft are what keeps us from going insane. I managed one year without a bed, real shower, good chow, AC, unbearable heat, etc. and I am glad that I don’t have to do it again.
So all your Brits and Californians out there take heart! You aren’t the only ones dealing with the heat. There are thousands of soldiers standing with you in your battle against the oppressive nature of God’s most recent wrath upon civilized humankind. I stand with you and say that enough is enough. Everyone join me in telling God that we will no longer stand for this kind of heat. We want San Diego weather and we want it now. This war would be much easier to fight in 70-degree weather. But until that day happens I will strap on a pair and keep my complaining to a minimum and realize that I am only doing this for a year at a time and the Iraqis live here for their whole life. No wonder they are so angry all the time.