“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”
Iâ€™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 itâ€™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 donâ€™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)