Newports and Water
I could actually see the heat waves. They danced and vibrated in front of my eyes. At last report the temperature was 120 degrees and rising. Ringlets of salty sweat poured down my face but I was unable to move. I saw a shadow. It was lengthening. No sound could be heard in the sand. There was absolute silence, except for my own breathing. Just as I leveled the steel gray 9MM revolver, the shadow came to life and a coalition soldier emerged from the around the wall. I gave the challenge and waited for the responding password before lowering my weapon. Another scout squad had just emerged from the depths of the desert.
After eight months in the field the routine which was to follow had become second nature. I took note of the five dirty desert camouflaged uniforms and examined their identification cards. As they were admitted into the camp (sorry, I still don’t feel comfortable disclosing the location), I silently handed over one of the three one-liter bottles of water I was allotted each day and a pack of Newports (carried two unopened packs each day just for such an event). No words were spoken. None were necessary. The scout leader, a young Hispanic Corporal, reached for the unexpected treats, nodded his thanks, and proceeded through the entrance to the camp.
I had completed my fourteen hour shift by the time those scouts left. The following afternoon I was helping to unload body bags from the back of a truck. Two of the scouts were resting in the bags. I believe kindness and sacrifice should be automatic. Newports and bottled water…s small sacrifice on my part and perhaps one of the few pleasures those two scouts were able to enjoy.
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