Here is a very basic rundown of a few of the folks I work with. These are the ones that have left the largest impression on me and are the ones that I communicate with most often while here. I don't really have their permission to be writing about them so I am using anonymous initials to describe them, and staying away from anything too personal that I have learned about them.
Sergeant A: A really fresh faced kid we affectionately call “Mouth”. I have had the pleasure of serving with this loudmouth for all three of my deployments to the Middle East. He is from the middle of nowhere Kansas, but he is what we refer to as a “Guard Bum”, a guy who is in the National Guard and volunteers for 90-150 day deployments, then lives off that money for several months, then deploys again. Some people make a lifestyle out of it. Shrug. Anyway I first met Mouth when he was 18 in Qatar. He noodles for fun and he was once in coma for two weeks after a car accident. He is an extremely hard worker. He makes every day slightly more interesting than it should be. He’s a very animated storyteller and he also thoroughly enjoys pissing me off. I really like the guy, he is one of my favorite people that I’ve ever met in the military, although we bicker constantly.
Segeant B: A rough, tough tattooed guy with a buzzed head and really intense brown eyes. This guy is seriously the kind of guy you believe when he says he has killed people (he hasn’t; I asked). He is from a rough part of San Diego and he’s been through a lot in his short life, I think. He’s a genuinely nice guy, but do not cross him, because holy crap, he might actually kill you. He really likes to fight and this has gotten him into a bit of trouble in the past. He says he is big on treating women respectfully but is also a self professed “player”, which doesn’t really jive, but he has a way of making it seem like it should and I think he is pretty good at making ladies see things his way. He owns a pit bull and really likes restoring cars. I think he is the most interesting person I’ve met here, I am frightened and completely intrigued by him.
Sergeant C: The kind of guy I hope is still single when I turn 30. Well, his kind anyway, this one is engaged. Sergeant C is a really nice guy from PA. He walks with really slow, high knee steps, like Woody from Toy Story. He is usually really friendly but sometimes really cranky, I never know quite the response I am going to get when I smile and wave at him. I think he misses his fiancee a lot. He is a paramedic back home and told me he grew up fast, at a very young age. I think he's seen some pretty horrible things. He is the kind of guy you would want to rescue you though, he has that levelheadedness/compassionate combo that is so important in people that save lives for a living (or on the side). He looks like the kind of guy your mom and dad would want you to marry but let me tell you, this guy has a surprising potty mouth. He has a really distinct laugh that doesn’t sound like it matches his physical appearance, which almost always makes me laugh when he laughs.
Sergeant D: I went to tech school with Sergeant D in Wichita Falls, TX in 2002! I walked onto the bus my very first day here in Iraq and I hear “Hi, Liz.” Huh? It’s Sergeant D! (When I knew him he was Airman D, not a Sergeant, obviously). Sergeant D was one of my buddies that I used to break all the rules with in tech school. He was married then, not anymore. He is a really sarcastic, smart fellow who checks up on online news regularly and is really into economics. We see a lot of things the same way and have been known to exchange a few knowing glances (not about economics). He has a very dry, off the wall sense of humor and jokes a lot about the sound of freedom ringing over head whenever the jets take off. He is a random guy from a random base and didn’t come with any troops from home, sometimes I feel a little sad for him because that has got to get lonely.
Sergeant E: A fiery red head from Michigan, yet he seems like he should be from Texas or Mississippi or something. He’s really into sweet tea and biscuits and gravy. He’s really goofy and jerks around a lot when he talks. He has knocked entire computers over while telling stories. He’s hilarious. He will bend over backward for you, and does really nice, thoughtful things for people. He also knows his stuff and is a go-to guy. He tells a lot of stories with really interesting eye contact methods, so you can’t really tell if he just decided to start telling the story he WAS just telling you to the person sitting next to you. Every day he gets cheesecake at the chow hall and he always gives me exactly one bite of it. It’s one of the rituals I am going to miss most from here.
Airman F: An intensely blue eyed Mormon. The Mormon also reminds me of a strange little brother that I never had. The Mormon put his Mormon lifestyle on hold while he served a one year tour in Korea and really let loose. Now he’s back to being Mormon and he has a good Mormon girlfriend who has never seen a rated R movie and who has never cussed in her life. I think he is really into “meek” girls. I am basically the antithesis of “meekness”. I think that really pisses him off. I know because he spent a full hour describing my personality flaws to me, telling me I need to be nicer. Whatever. I’m plenty nice. It’s just that he likes meek girls and I am not meek. He also reminds me of what my mother’s father would look like as a 21 year old. He’s a neoconservative, but a really nice, well behaved guy though.
Airman G: A quiet farm boy from Iowa. Wait, I take that back. A really sarcastic farm boy from Iowa. This guy is deceiving. I thought he was a quiet gentle giant for the first 4 weeks I was here. I didn’t hear a peep out of him. Suddenly, over the course of several emails discussing a potential Ammo volleyball tourney, he flipped out of his shell and became hilariously sarcastic. He is my resident arch nemesis here in Iraq. Once he stole my Honey Nut Cheerios and hid them in the ceiling amongst mouse turds. He drives a ’72 GMC with no heat and one speaker. He’s married to a really sweet looking girl who is six months pregnant with a baby girl, who he plans to dress in flannel to keep potential suitors away. I think he is going to make a phenomenal father. We go for runs together. He once dry heaved and almost puked by the DFAC and came back to defeat me by nearly 100 yards in a dead sprint. He moves fast for his size.
As my time here winds down, I honestly am really going to miss these folks, plus a handful of others. I was writing home about my upcoming readjustment back to civilian life, and I told my parents that I was kind of hoping this trip would be just so awful, and I would hate my time here SO much, that getting out of the guard in September would be a piece of cake and I wouldn't look back. Unfortunately, despit a lot of BS and other general crappiness, this trip reaffirmed that which I actually love about the guard: the opportunity to meet and befriend total characters, the kind you wouldn't normally be friends with back in real life.