Location: Homestead Air Reserve Base, Headquarters, Special Operation Command South
Mission: Operation UNIFIED RESPONSE
Another 12 hour shift, the night shift no less.
It's been weeks now since I've had a day off. One day runs into the next. I'm tired and there is no end in sight. Grrr!
But even on the worst of evenings nothing compares to the images I see on the maze of screens in front me. The suffering is on a scale that defies the imagination. The sad part is that the reports, regardless of how heartbreaking, have become boring and routine.
It's quite natural actually, this ability to become numb to even the worst that life has to offer. No, not the night shift, I'll get over that when I get a good solid 8 hours of sleep. I'm talking about the human ability to neatly file away images that we'd rather not remember.
It's not the first time I've been involved in one of these types of operations. Probably won't be the last. The last time I was on a Humanitarian Relief mission was back in April, 1991...
I was the Company Commo Sergeant for Company A, 1st of the 10th Special Forces Group and we were the first element on the ground for Joint Task Force Alpha, and on April 6th we departed by helicopter for Camp One at Isikverin. I'll never forget that scene stamped into my memory as we circled the camp. It looked like Woodstock, only bigger. Tents and tarps were everywhere, a literal sea of people. They told us the camp was big, but before then I didn't have a frame of reference for what 100,000 campers looked like.
When we hit the ground I immediately got to work establishing communications with HQ. I was used to HF communications, think of it as a CB radio on steroids, but we actually got an open channel on a satellite! Life was good.
The first snafu was that they gave us new devices to send digital reports with, but failed to give us the cable that went from the digital data device to the radio. We had every other cable under the sun, but not the one we needed. I opened up the manual and found the specs for the cables we did have, and was able to jerry rig two of them together by crossing over the transmit and receive lines. It would have been a lot easier with a multi-meter, but a flashlight and a couple of copper wires did the trick just as well.
Like today as I sit hear waiting for my shift to end, it didn't take long before boredom set in. Sending in the reports of deaths in the camp was just another task. Like I said, you get used to it after a while. You have to or it will drive you insane.
The boredom didn't last long though. Some idiot stepped on my best medium gain antenna, and I was back repairing stuff with the wrong tools, cannibalizing my equipment to get one to work. Grrr!
The things in life that make us angry at any particular moment is always relatively trivial it seems. Doesn't mean that they don't drive us nuts at the time, but they are in fact only relatively important.
I guess God knew what He was doing when He made us. The ability to become numb to the greater mess that surrounds us is a blessing. Anyone who has ever worked where death becomes routine knows exactly what I'm talking about. If we couldn't get past the bigger picture long enough to allow our own petty complaints to get to us, we'd probably lose our minds.
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