Getting High

Nobody ever asks me what really sustained me while I was in Iraq. I figure that’s because my friends and family know I’m just so tough. But the truth is I had moments (sometimes so long that you might call them days) of despair, no different than anyone that has visited the sandbox. I argued the war was unconstitutional. I argued that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. I argued that no one, no military, no amount of anything is ever going to quell the unrest in the middle east. I argued that the thinking that it’s fight them over there or over here is flawed because they don’t have ships to get people across the ocean. I went to some dark places, of that there is no doubt. But, like nearly everyone, I found my strength. I found my hope.

Want to know what I would use to lift me out of despair? The Rocky Mountains. That’s right. Ski resorts in particular. I told myself that if someone made the argument that if we don’t go to Iraq and do what we were doing, then the bad guys would come here, eventually making their way to the ski resorts where they would mess everything up. (And don’t kid yourself, they would ruin them). So to prevent that from happening I would stare despair in the face and happily do my duty. I would wake up before my alarm went off. I would hold my head a little higher. I would focus a little sharper. Mess with the Rockies? Not if I had anything to do with it. There is nothing like them and no replacing them. I can hardly hear the word America without seeing the flag draped against a backdrop of the purple mountain’s majesty. When I see America on a globe, I notice most the bumpy yellow and orange band about three-fourths of the way to the left of the Atlantic.

This is on my mind, because I’m going skiing with my brother this weekend (and a good friend that is currently a company commander in the Marines). And I tell myself that I, me, played at least small part in keeping the mountains open. And that makes me smile.

Advertisements

37 comments

  1. Mike

    That was a moving, honest post. I’ve never been in battle, but my father, a combat veteran from WWII, suffered in silence for decades after the war. Seeing how it affected him, a stoic country boy, made me appreciate what others have been through. Stay strong.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mormon Soprano

    I loved reading your candid thoughts. Very powerful. I hate the war. I agree with all your arguements. But, I’m also so very thankful for your dutiful service. Thank you for also saving “my mountains” (I live in the Rockys) Hope you have fun skiing!

    Like

  3. John Love

    Ok your title was a tad misleading, but I know exactly what you are talking about. I was in Nam, two tours. By the time I left Westpac I had been overseas well over two years. Not all of that in Nam however. Anyway I am from Idaho. I love to be in the woods, I come from a small town in central Idaho, so a few hundred yards was all I needed to be out in it hunting, fishing, whatever! This is what I thought about almost continually after awhile. To be honest some vegetation from Thailand was also used to ease the tension, not that I would know anything about that! I had the similar conversations with myself as you describe. To be blunt, I did not care about the spread of communism from the north, China, or Russia. I only cared that me, my crew, and my pilot were ok. After that it was San Miguel time if we could get it, anything with beer in the title if we couldn’t!

    Like

    • Pete Deakon

      Hey John,

      I can’t compete with your generation. And I am floored by what you wrote. It’s fascinating how we can have never met but one set of circumstances unites us so strongly. Nice. And thanks again for your service.

      Pete

      PS – I promise that you’ll be better off if you forget the word literal when you visit my blog. 🙂

      Like

  4. atimetoshare

    Thank you for your service doesnt seem sufficient for all you have gone through. God gives each one of us that piece of inner strength that helps sustain us and get us through those diffiicult times. I pray that you will continue to rely on him always.

    Like

  5. D. Wallace Peach

    I think more vets need to share these thoughts. I know two veterans who’ve taken up writing since returning. Thank you for your courage overseas and on these pages. Have a great time on the slopes.

    Like

  6. noelleg44

    Thanks for this post, Pete. My son does not talk about his time in Iraq and Afghanistan but I know it was hard. This gives me some insight. When he came home the last time, he was depressed; we helped him buy a wave runner and sent him out on the lake. He spent some long periods zooming around, getting himself wet and cold and us, too, when he zipped by our boat. It helped to exorcize some of the devils besetting him (he’s a mortar man) and he’s pretty square now. My thanks to you for keeping our Rocky Mountains open and free – hopefully forever.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Pete Deakon

      Nice. After my last deployment I took a twenty hour solo car trip. If I had known how effective that alone time behind the wheel would be, I would have done it every time. Again, it’s shocking to see that I’m not the only one who is soothed by something like that. I wonder if people in the business of helping Veterans recommend such things…

      Pete

      Like

  7. Jim Maher

    You just can’t go wrong with the Rocky Mountains. I live in Edmonton, and my family is back in BC, so whenever we go home for a visit we have to drive through Jasper National Park, which is way up there in the Rockies. So beautiful, and I know it sounds cheesy, but the air just better up there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pete Deakon

      Hey Jim,

      Nothin’ cheesy about that at all; it is. You got me thinking. I got my passport (don’t need one to invade a country…) for a recent job interview. Do I even need it for Canada? Anyhow, I think I might take a trip up there. If I’m not skiing, when is the best time? August? (For Jasper).

      Pete

      Like

  8. neurovomit

    I never thought the war in Lebanon 70s and 80s affected me.
    I thought I was just born like that. Whilst I was there as a kid, it was a mixture of fun, extreme fear and sadness and then suddenly arrival in the UK in 83′.
    It’s at this point I totally see your point.
    Coming from war into no war is profound and disturbing.
    Nobody gets it. It’s so difficult to think in terms of daily activities that are not remotely survival related-finding cover, keeping your mouth shut, going inside to avoid shrapnel from the AAA, not looking nervous at the checkpoint and running fast.
    I still haven’t found my Rockys but I now know what the problem is.
    It’s taken a long time to figure it out.

    I was very much against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but always had a deep sympathy for those vets who were traumatised by what they went through and what they had to do. No one deserves to suffer like that and the suicide rate of vets is absolute disgrace.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pete Deakon

      Thank you for taking the time to share. I had never considered this perspective. I have read articles about the effects of our near-constant presence on Iraqi civilians, and you seem to confirm that (what should probably be obvious) they were accurate. War zones are not normal and should be an exception that is only made with the utmost gravity.

      Pete

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Sharing work! January 19, 2015 | The Write Edge Writing Workshop

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s