Saturday, March 17, 2007

17 March and Dread

I shot my first deer when I was 16, on a hunting trip to my grandfather and uncle's place in Sylacauga, Alabama. It took longer than it should, because I was so hesitant to shoot, when I should have. I saw deer on several occasions, but I shot my first deer when- and I swear this is the complete truth- one walked so close to the tree I leaned against, that I shot it from the hip.

Half a lifetime later, I got out of active duty, and found myself with two and a half months before I could resume my college education. I used those months to hang out in the woods with friends, living in a cabin, hunting deer. I was more successful in those months than I had been in my entire previous life of hunting. I took more deer, I took more deer in a day, I took running deer, I took deer at the longest range, and I took the largest deer I had ever harvested. Sure, I spent a lot of time out in the woods, but it wasn't just that. I had learned not to hesitate.

Our SF daddies have been replaced in the camp, and we have already had a chance to see how the new ODA will behave under fire. And they hesitate. It's not entirely their fault, I suppose. Many of them are inexperienced, either with no deployments, or no deployments as SF.

Sparky, one of two senior sergeants left from the last group, said goodbye to the mortars a few minutes ago. After shaking all our hands, he said, "Be careful.'' He looked around, meeting our eyes. "You hear me? Be careful."

Sparky often would hang out with us in the 81 pit. He didn't hesitate to shoot- I've seen him hang rounds so fast, the mortar sounded like a semi-automatic. After he walked out, Sergeant Liddy told us Sparky had asked how long we had left here.

"I told him 5 weeks," Liddy said. "He shook his head, and said, 'that's a long time'."


HollyB said...

I agree, Be careful.
We all want you home safe and sound.
I'm so sorry I missed your call y'day. But I hope you enjoyed having J all to yourself.

J.R.Shirley said...

It was great talking to him. Sorry I missed you, though. :-)