Boys on Tour; What is your soldier REALLY getting up to?
March 26, 2012
You haven’t heard from your Soldier, Marine or Airman in a few days and are becoming worried. Minimise has been on and off – you know, because casualties are being reported in the news. Rationalising and constantly reminding yourself that Afghanistan is huge, that each company is doing something entirely different and that ‘yours’ is fine, you worry a little bit, anyway. No emails, no texts, no voicemails, nothing on Facebook. What the hell are they up to?
When he cannot get to a phone, it does not mean that he is in danger… he could be
Robbing an empty water tank from the Americans, cutting it in half with a saw, filling it with water from a hose with Chinese Kev, leaving it out in the sun to warm up and taking it in turns to bomb into it from an upturned wooden park bench. He could be having a BBQ with all his friends, using half of an oil drum with a rusty grill stuck over the top of it and cooking up some meat he swapped with the yanks for kit. Steak’s up! He might be playing soldiers yes, I know, but boys NEVER grow up – using those laser quest style vests and guns that deliver a small shock when the targets on the vests are hit. He could even be playing chess for the thirtieth time (and losing) or learning card tricks from a book. If he’s not playing games you can probably find him in the gym that he and his friends made from bits of wood, weights, rope, perhaps a picket in the ceiling as a pull up bar and a spare tyre. Then again he could be watching Top Gun for the twentieth time that tour as it’s the only DVD available. You never know, he might even be writing you a bluey.
If he’s feeling cheeky he possibly just embarrassed a friend by putting a semi-naked picture of his fat wife one of the other boys found lying around on the ‘pig board’ for all to see, but he could just be going through the contents of a local parish welfare package which nearly always contain the same things: toothpaste, a toothbrush, Kleenex tissues and some soap. If he’s living on the edge he might be found reading a two week old newspaper or kicking a rugby ball into the compound barbed wire by accident of course. He may have just been on a stealth mission to steal paraffin from the POL (Petrol Oil and Lubricants) compound so that his heater can run all night in the freezing cold. He’s hiding it in his tent walls and laughing when the other boys are cold all night and can’t figure out why his tent is nice and snug. He may be befriending a mouse that keeps nibbling through his welfare packages, and keeping it as a pet in a makeshift cage.
If he’s out on patrol and has not come back, he may not be in any danger at all. He might simply have sunburn because he spent 13 hours sitting in a field in the blistering heat because one of the Corporals spotted some coloured plastic buried in a track. 12 hours later he is watching the EOD team from Bastion arrive in a chopper who simply walk over, wave a metal detector over the plastic, pick it up with their fingers and throw it away. He never manages to get more than 500m away from camp on patrol that day. For the rest of the evening he can be found taking the piss out of that Corporal.
So just remember. Communication may be down; silence may be starting to kill your morale…. But your soldier is likely to merely be doing one, more or all of the above!