Recently came across this video over at the Kitchen Dispatch of the 7th Commando Battery, 29th Commando Regiment Royal Artillery. There is also a link to NPR there you may find interesting.
Watching this I found myself joining in and utterly jamming out as it reminded me of my own deployment to Karmah, Iraq with Kilo 3/3 back in ’07. In those days the company leadership sat outside together late each night as it cooled off. In the darkness illuminated only by the occasional struck match and lit cigars, we would “smoke and joke” for a couple of hours. As the winter months came on we constructed a crude fire place and continued our nightly routine of laughing at each others expense and recounting stories too absurd to be fiction. The only music I remember playing regularly was Journey. We convinced ourselves we would eventually rig loudspeakers to our vehicles. On the night we left the OP for the final time we would play “Don’t Stop Believin'” at full volume throughout Karmah town. We never did it but Iraq would have been that much cooler if we had.
Immersed in a world where the daily weather forecast is partly cloudy with a chance of mortar fire, how troops are able to maintain a sense of humor and camaraderie is often a mystery to regular folks.
Which reminds me of a story my old man told me once.
I don’t recall if it was Korea or Vietnam but he told about a firefight he and some Marines had been in on some forgotten hill. They had lost some buddies in the fight and were trudging back to their bivouac area. Another Marine wrote home to his mother. He was aghast how my father and his men were able to laugh and carry on together when they had just lost some guys. As mothers often do, she immediately wrote her congressman about this deplorable condition. The Congressman in turn did his civic duty and looked in to it.
Eventually my dad’s Commanding Officer inquired of him what in world was so humorous about Marines dying in battle.
The old man didn’t waste much time inviting everyone who didn’t participate in the fight to immediately visit very specific levels of Hades. Laced throughout the mosaic of expletives which was my father’s response was this simple message: “We were laughing because we were alive.”
Seems as good a reason as any to me.