Frank Funaro (drummer Cracker and CVB) reminded me of some of the excellent Gallows Humour while we were in Iraq. Here is Frank’s comment:
Oh, and lest we forget… When we were riding around in Iraq in armored vehicles, we all had headsets and microphones on so we could hear each other above the ungodly din these vehicles produce. The 82nd Airborne guys that were in the vehicle that David, Greg and myself were in would pepper us with questions about the band and touring, and music, etc, constantly chattering into our earpieces over the radio. This was to (as we later found out) keep our minds off the fact that at any given moment, it was entirely possible that we would get hit with a roadside bomb. Ok, that was part of their their job, can’t have any civilians gettin’ all panicky in the back of a sealed, 14 ton MRAP. But, here’s the strange thing. Every now and then, apropos of nothing, they would yell BOOM! over the radio. Talk about your professional-grade, industrial strength gallows humor…
And since we are on the topic again. Here are a couple more pieces of gallows humour I overheard in Iraq. The first are normal military variety. The last is of a Deer Skull variety be forewarned.
BTW I am 6 foot tall. Foxx on the far right is really that tall.
First while we were traveling through baghdad by MRAP with soldiers from the 82nd airborne Frank and I must have telegraphed to them that we were okay with the gallows humor. None of the other band guys got this treatment. Once we were faced with two unattended disabled vehicles along the side of a road. The soldiers paused the convoy for a while and got on their comms. I’m not sure how this works but they were talking to Iraqi security or American forces to find out what the deal was with these vehicles. They didn’t want to proceed even though it was unlikely they were bombs. It wasn’t a long pause and eventually someone gave them enough assurances that these vehicles were okay and we proceeded past them. But before we did the soldiers began wagering on which of the two vehicles would explode. Like anyone would be alive to collect on this bet.
“my money is on the mini pickup”
“thats bullshit why would you use a pickup truck there’s no trunk, no place to hide enough explosives”
“it’s good enough for an Iranian shaped charge and stealthier”
The part about the shape charge may have been explained later within the safe confines of BIAP on the way out of the country. No matter how jaded these guys were I don’t think even they wanted to imagine a high velocity ball of molten metal ricocheting around inside a MRAP severing limbs.
I Forget Are klingons Sunnis or Shias?
At another camp I asked one of the Soldiers what he thought of the Sons of Iraq or Sunni Awakening Councils. These were former insurgents who had now switched sides to the US. And they were now on the US payroll. We passed by their checkpoints occasionally.
” What do you mean what do i think? you mean how do i feel about the fact these guys were shooting at me last tour of duty*?”
“yeah something like that”
“well, this is Iraq: The next generation. They’re the Klingons” This was delivered with a disinterested shrug. A sort of “it’s not my fucking job to care” gesture.
Finally at one of the Army airfields in Kuwait right before we went into Iraq I overheard this very fucked up conversation. Basically two young soldiers on there way into Iraq were sitting around talking about what terrible things should happen to US army Major and Psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan. He is the guy who had shot up Fort Hood about 10 days earlier. We were all waiting around next to these pallets that we had piled our gear and duffles on. It was dusty and pretty warm. We were waiting for someone to do some kind of roll call. We would have rather been inside the airconditioned tent that served as the passenger terminal. An older NCO was listening to these two young soldiers. Whether it was the heat or the dust or he was genuinely sick of hearing these kids talk. He stood up and walked over to them.
“You two. Shut the fuck up.”
They looked at him stunned.
“There are probably a lot of guys here that are a lot closer to that shooting and those events than you are. I’m sure they don’t want want to hear your bullshit… besides there is a distinct positive to this event”
“The US Army now has a Psychiatrist with actual combat experience”.