22 October 2009

The first thing I noticed was the smell. You know how smells trigger memories better than most other things? Maybe you don't.

Anyway, I had just spent the last fourteen hours or so in the back of a C-17, smelling the oily, greasy smell of jet fuel and hydraulic fluid and the stale smell of body odor, multiplied by 65 men. I thought I would never smell anything worse.

Then the tailgate opened. Burning plastic and probably feces mixed with the previously described smells. Heat from numerous jet exhausts. Unidentifiable other smells. For cryin' out loud, they sprayed the used shower water from 15,000 Infantrymen on the roads to keep down the dust. I don't think I was able to hold an impassive exterior.

Stephens appeared in the door. His face split into a characteristic grin. "Welcome to Afghanistan, Buzz."


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