If I was Hagar, and I’m not, but as a professional ghost-writer I can pretend I am. I know him so well – reading between the lines in his correspondence, I would say he is beginning to feel weary. In his voice, but my words re-constructed from what I know based on past experiences as well – life in Afghanistan right now could feel something like this:
The last book I bought from Amazon was called 5000 Quiz Questions I bought that book to keep myself alive.
Fatigue is a constant issue where I am, we work 14+ hours most of the time. It frustrates the f*ck out of us that so many people out here (REMFs – REAR ECHELON MOTHER F*CKERS – and PONTIs – PERSONS OF NO TACTICAL IMPORTANCE – mainly) work normal working hours and have quiz nights and coffee f*cking mornings.
(Do they really f*ck coffee? I guess it whiles away the hours? Melons maybe but coffee – I am shocked!)
The biggest battle is on the long transits back from where minutes before we were lifting out, usually under some kind of fire, either covering from the Apache, or from the weapons of the enemy. That brings a surge of adrenaline, which unfortunately wears off eventually usually about the same time as we are approaching our bodies natural low and usually when we are on the mind numbingly boring flight back to base.
I set the aircraft and slump in my armoured seat. Fatigue slowly creeps up through my boots, up my legs and spreads it tentacles into my eyes and ears; the rhythmic throbbing of the blades and the deep rumble of the engines as they speed us along, help to lull us towards the comfort of sleep. Problem is, we fall asleep, the aircraft will eventually crash. Sometimes, if we are carrying troops, they all go to sleep almost as soon as they are off the ground, so it would be easy for every single soul on that cab to be fast asleep, heading back as fast as we can, until the fuel runs out..
So, I bought a quiz book. Now when the fingers of fatigue start to stroke us gently, out comes the book and awake we stay! Although I am pretty crap at quizzes I have found.
When we get back to camp, we stagger back to the block, I run a hot powerful shower and allow the water to wash all the dust and dirt from my hair and body, it is pretty cathartic and cleansing, it helps me prepare for the sleep I so desperately need. When I get into bed; a hard plastic coated foam mattress bunk bed, it feels like heaven. Sometimes I read, sometimes I fall asleep quickly sometimes I lie awake thinking about what has past and what may have been. I try not to think too much about that.
All that said, is what I feeling real fatigue, or is it just a factor of routine and adrenaline come down. I get a guaranteed 8 hours sleep every night (rocket attacks and fire alarm check notwithstanding). What we do out here is simple, dangerous yes, but simple.
Compared to some it’s a short tour. I don’t sleep in a foxhole and I don’t walk over IEDs but I deliver my duty in a different way. Tick, tock, not long now. I miss my family so much…