His sedan cruises along Interstate 10, heading towards Tucson. Somewhere out his driver side window is the Mexico border, while the good old USofA stretches for miles to the north on his passenger side. He’s surrounded by the serene beauty of the New Mexico desert, not a single man made structure in sight save for the hardball road he is on and the occasional exit sign. The tan and burnt orange soil is interspersed by patches of scrub brush and short, prickly bushes. Striking red rock formations sit in the distance backlit by a bright, blue sky. Why is the sky blue? Because God loves the Infantry, that’s why. He sighs. Those days are behind him now, in his rearview, as it were. His branch detail time done, his tracks pinned on, he makes his way towards Fort Huachuca to begin the second leg of his career in military intelligence school.
The scenery really is beautiful. He’s glad he can appreciate it. He never thought he would be able to enjoy a desert after his first deployment, yet here he is finding solace in one, even if it’s happening at eighty miles an hour. The isolation is comforting as well. He checks his mirrors again. Nope, not a single car behind him. None in front of him either. It’s been that way for the better part of an hour. Good, he could use some alone time.
One catch. The problem with isolated serenity is there’s no fucking bathrooms.
The command post is packed with the junior leadership teams from both Bravo companies.
That’s how the higher ups had decided to match them for the duration of the transition period, by their phonetic alphabet designators. So Alpha Company of this battalion matched with Alpha of that battalion, and so on and so forth, until the entire 1st Cavalry Division and 3rd Infantry Division had counterparts with which they would learn from over the next four weeks.
Four weeks. Incredibly close and impossibly far. Now is when the nerves reemerge. He can see it, and if he can’t see it he can sense it amongst his men. His fellow platoon leader’s men. Everyone who had been on Forward Operating Base War Eagle for the last eleven months. Hell, he felt them. Four weeks left until their one year deployment was over. Thirty days and a wake up until they could catch that big, beautiful bitch (also known as a civilian airliner) home to the states. More specifically, home to Texas. The land of Shiner Bock. Twelve hour smoked brisket. All the blonde hair, blue eyed University of Texas coeds one could hope for packed onto a little strip of debauchery known as Austin’s Sixth Street. He can’t wait to get there. He also can’t stand the thought of buying the farm now when they are so close. It keeps him up almost every night, or at least on the nights that sheer exhaustion doesn’t force him to sleep. He lies awake praying, no begging God to let the men of Bandit Company, himself included, get home alive and unharmed. Just four weeks to go.