Out late one night while attached to a platoon from 101st Airborne we set up near an overpass one klick north of the Alsedrain Mosque.
I never minded sitting around in an up-armoured Humvee…..as long as I wasn’t running low on butts.
At 0330, a white Toyota minivan (the old style where the front doors opened over the tires) drove right into the middle of our cordon.
The platoon pounced and snared six men, cell phones, fake IDs and a few weapons. Bad guys.
As the search commenced, one of their cell phones rang.
Our interpreter picked it up.
“LT” he said, “the Mahdi militia is on the line and they say they have us surrounded and if we don’t let these men go we will be destroyed.”
The Lieutenant lifted his forefinger in the air and twirled it around. In 25 seconds all four Humvee re-formed around the Toyota forming a perfect defensive perimeter. Voodoo 1143 was the north east flank.
As my mind began wondering what was going to happen, fear set in. I was no longer safe behind the door of my vehicle and the plates of my armour, I was exposed. When someone behind me sent up a flare, I almost soiled my pants.
I felt scared. It was hard to move.
First Lieutenant A (1 LT A) from first platoon had the fastest truck in the fleet. When we sent out our sit rep, he and his team were the first to respond. His convoy showed up in a flourish and he came gliding up to our position.
He was just so relaxed. The week before he had hung out with us in our hootch to watch the World Cup so I had seen him relaxed before, but in a battle environment?
The situation grew in intensity then subsided. Nothing ended up happening that night, but I will never forget the stark contrast between my worry and doubt and 1LT A’s ease.
I always thought that I had to be like 1LT A in order to be that relaxed (which would be challenging because 1LT A is 6’3″ with blond hair and I’m a robust 5’9″) until I realised that being relaxed was a type of balance.
Balance is the brilliance behind the creation of our nation.
Photo: armour Down
The founding fathers were wise enough to pick this guy to create the final version of the great seal of the USA.
Look at the talons.
What do you see?
Arrows and an olive branch.
Servicemember, you did the fighting. Now, it’s the peace side.
Begin by being aware of your breathing and practice that awareness daily. Think of it like you did the practice of muzzle awareness down range. You went hot outside the wire, but you armoured Down the second you came back in. Accidental discharges are for FNG (“f——- new guys”), HOOAH.
You work towards that balance and you grow. You get stuck in your head and you do what I did and wonder what someone else has got that you don’t.
Look to the Eagle.
The 13th stanza of the Art of Peace, by founder and creator of the Martial Art Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba is:
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