Email from Iraq

“Email from Iraq” was originally published in Stanford Magazine March/April 2004.

About the Essay: Stanford solicited me for their “alumni notes” section. When I told them that I was an infantry officer in the 82nd Airborne Division serving in Iraq, they suggested I write about my experiences for them. I had limited access to email, and our correspondance took weeks. By the time I agreed, they reneged their invitation because they had another veteran alumni. The fact of her being a woman aparently blew my chances out of the water. (her story) Some time later, the editor(s) changed their mind again, and I wrote the essay below.


“Email From Iraq”

I’m always scared before a jump. Paratroopers in films never seem to have any equipment, other than their parachutes. In the 82nd Airborne Division, we have lots of it, and it’s very heavy. It feels even heavier because we jump tired, in the dead of night; because of the heat in the aircraft, the crowding, the wait for the green light, the plane swaying to align itself with the drop zone; and because the guy next to me is always airsick. Just before the jump, my mind often wanders back to the Farm, to the difficult nights I spent massaging lines of code in Sweet Hall, or struggling through the Physics 60 series. I don’t need to be here, but the green light comes on before I take that line of thought to its logical conclusion, and I stumble out the door. (Read more: Original Version|Published Version)