In Iraq, the time and date seemed to disappear. The only time I am worried about it is when I need to be ready for a mission or when I’ve been sitting in the Stryker for an extended period, and I need to get out and stretch my legs.
As of late, things have been somewhat consistent: do a mission and then relax and wait for further guidance. My days consist of a waking early and going to bed late at night.
However, this is not to say the other soldiers around me are not working around the clock.
Lately, it seems like as soon as I get a hold of the communication problem, the issue comes right back of late at night when I’m finally about to get some sleep. For instance, I spent the whole day at the motor pool working on the truck’s cleaning wires, fixing radios, adjusting equipment, making all the second platoon’s trucks ready to go without a hiccup. Not so easy, I was running around like a mad man.
The biggest task so far is making sure that radio checks and communication devices have the right time or read the proper code. One of my favorite lines so now it is, “If it doesn’t read green, green, there is going to be steam. “ I get everything done; all the trunks are absolute without a doubt ready to make their push outside the wire.
I pack up my gear and stumble back to the barracks. I look at my wristwatch, and it reads 0001. I finally finished -after 15 hours. I was drained from everything and ready to get some shut- eye.
I walked in the door, lay my bag down, and hurry to get ready for bed. I jumped in bed and quickly started counting sheep. “Hardt, wake up. We need you to come to the trucks and look at something.” I peeked over my covers and see two guys wearing full kit looking like the world has come to an end. “What in the world, could you all have done to the trucks in two hours?” The two soldiers laughed and then turned around quickly, disappearing outside the door.
I gather up my stuff and out the door, I go, not realizing that my shirt is on backward, as well as my shorts. I did, however, put my socks on the right way as well as my shoes.
I make it to the truck, and their stands what seems to be everyone except their mommas. I hang my head and instinctively walk to the back of the Stryker that everyone seems to be staying away from as if the truck has some infectious disease.
I jumped in and sit down, wipe my eyes and began the process of troubleshooting. After two minutes of mind-boggling the troubleshooting. I finally found the problem-nothing. It helps if you turn on the radio. When you want to use it. I jump out of the truck and glance over at the soldiers patiently awaiting the word. “Roger, guys, your truck is REDCON ONE.” One of the soldiers asks: “Hardt, what was the problem?” “Well, sometimes it’s the little things that can make the big things not work.” “That’s cool, Hardt, way to fix that quickly.” I look at the group of men, laugh and then walk away. I have learned that answering the problem right away makes no difference because as soon as the men load the truck, they forget everything and focus
mainly on the job at hand. I know I do.
My chain of command understands the complexity that comes with keeping everything up, until they let me focus on these issues, instead of getting caught up in all the other stuff I enjoy what I do even if I do not get enough sleep. I know that without good communication things could get ugly.