Sharing a toilet with several hundred other Marines and setting world records at the fastest shower are just some of the factors that you have to accept while on a deployment in Iraq. The temperatures in excess of 110 degrees and the never-ending process of dehydration are everyday occurrences, just another fact of life for Marines. They don’t complain about it, just like they don’t complain about a roll of toilet paper that has been lying on the ground and isn’t exactly what you would call clean or the necessity of burning their poop. They don’t comp0lain for two reasons. One is that it is futile. The only things that will a whining Marine get are an ass-chewing from his superiors and merciless mocking from his peers. The other reason is that whining takes their head out of the game. If you let the weather or living conditions become your preoccupation, you are not paying attention to the enemy. This is the perfect way to have your head blown off. Suck it up, cupcake, you are in the Corps now. Being mentally tough is a job requirement, didn’t your recruiter tell you that? Get over it.
The sandstorms are often seen as a blessing because all the sand in the air blocks the sun and temperatures go down to levels fit for human existence. But sandstorms also reduce visibility and enemy loves that because it gives him the ability to sneak up on our positions.
Operations here are continuous, meaning that there is always something going on. Marines don’t really like to talk about details, because it violates the op-sec and anything they carelessly say may cost Marines’ lives. Back home, you probably won’t be able to shut them up about this op or that, but while in the country, they are very careful about what they say.
When on patrol, Marines cover a lot of ground in their hot and crampy vehicles. This kind of conditions create strong bonds between them. They spend all their time with the same people, sharing everything, from toilets and showers to food and clothes, all while being in danger of getting killed in an instant by an enemy sniper or IED. They talk about home, the birthdays they missed, first steps their babies took without them seeing it, about divorces and breakups. Then they have to shut all of them off and go out on a patrol, trying to rebuild a shattered nation, while playing a giant “Whack-a-Mollie” game with the enemy.
Things rarely go their way even while in the base. They never get their favorite MRE. Their sleeping bags are filled with strange bugs and insects that bite. The newcomers are easy to identify because they jump out of their bags for even the tiniest bugs. The old hands react only to critters that are bigger than their fist, as a rule of a thumb. The rest, they get over it.
The mail will probably be late again, the smell of the unwashed Marines will certainly get worse, resembling a monkey cage in a zoo, but by the end of the day, they know they are doing something worthwhile. The mission is moving forward and that is the only thing important.