Going to Afghanistan

I took a trip to Texas just before Christmas on Southwest Airlines. Southwest is the one that doesn’t assign seating and you get a number based on when you check in. I’m usually lucky if I check in 40 minutes before the flight – and that’s only because you must check in 30 minutes early or you won’t be able to check in at all….

Anyway, I ended up in a middle seat of course. The way it works when there are only middles left is you look for the smallest people. So I picked a seat with a couple of young guys on either side. During the course of the flight I was a little irritated at the guy – Justin, sitting to my left at the window. You see, I was in a generally cranky mood and he was listening to some tinny techno-music without headphones and chewing (as in tobacco). I got the better of myself and decided he was doing nothing wrong and I was just being a cranky bitch.

He offered me his in-flight snack and then struck up a conversation.  He asked me what it was like to be a business person.  He asked me what the deal was with the United States and politics.  He asked me about a bunch of other stuff.

I asked him what he did and he said he was a Marine – 6 months into it.  His specialty – tanks.  I said, “Are you going to be deployed?”. His answer, “Afghanistan, and I’m scared shitless.”

During the course of the conversation I found out that he will be deployed for 7 months and living in an M1 Abrams tank with 3 other Marines full time.  The benefits of the M1 are that they are very fast and can target and fire while moving.  The dangers are three fold:

1. The rear end is thin – susceptible to rocket attack.

2. They will not withstand a targeted bomb from an airplane.

3. Armor piercing bullets – fired from a rifle – these will penetrate 13 inches of armor and the M1 has about 5 inches. So in fact, an armor piercing bullet can go right through a tank – or bounce around on the inside.

Justin – 18 or 19 years old, having to think about so overtly getting in harms way. This is insane.

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~ by JT on January 5, 2010.

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