War is, in fact a nasty, dirty business. People you never met are perfectly willing to kill YOU, personally. And in some of the most unpleasant manners imaginable. Life as a Soldier is . . . demeaning, demanding and desperate. There are no 'Rest Stops' or other amenities. Often times you'll eat your crackers sitting on the corpse of a recent enemy, or even a friend.
There's no pity, no civility, no decency in it. You'll find chunks of humans hanging in trees or smeared on the pavement. You find yourself hiding in a hole with a ripe corpse, you may flop down to avoid machine gun fire and land belly first in a grisly pile of gore that was a young man not long before. You may be stealthily moving through the woods at night, and suddenly your boot finds some slippery ball of some other guy's guts. Battlefields stink, of shit, and rotten meat, and of blood, fresh and dried, burnt flesh and rubber, diesel and hot metal, wood and weeds. You may find yourself working through a sewer system, 'sanitary' or storm, matters little, it'll be dark, damp, and filthy. The stinks are indescribable. Oftentimes, in an urban area, you'll be forced to crawl through god knows what, in a dark and confined pipe . . . you'll be consumed with the fear of the pipe wall collapsing, leaving you entombed, to die slowly.
Sometimes you'll be advancing on your enemy's position and have your buddy's brains spattered over your face. High velocity bullets do that, the skull explodes. Other times some poor bastard will be crawling along in his own guts, trailing out behind all purpley and stringy. Another time you might be the one to try to administer First Aid to a guy you know, a guy from your squad.
One look will tell you it's hopeless, but his eyes beg for you to try. So you do. He asks that you stay with him, but you're afraid they have this spot 'zero'ed' and you want to get the hell off the dime as quick as you can. Your call. If you do and he dies with company and what little peace that gives him, you may be next. Or not. It's a crazy crap shoot. You just don't know.
Soldiers have trouble with bodily functions, sometimes you can't shit at all, and other times, you can't stop. I went once 22 days without taking a crap, and when I finally did, it hurt like hell. Fear, stress, the bad food, all that. Once you hit the bush, there's no regular meals; 'C' rations in my day, eaten cold . . . if you got 'em. GI Crackers and GI peanut butter. Guaranteed to dam up a Goose. Water comes where you find it - strain it through a sock, throw the pills in it, swish it around, hold your nose and shut your yes and drink. Kind of like swiggin' Mom's laundry water.
Every Soldier must have a spade, trowel, some digging implement. As soon he stops, he scrapes out a shallow pit for himself, piling the spoil in front of his position. As soon as he's able, he digs it deeper, again reserving the dirt for his berm. This goes on as long as he's on that spot. When the word comes to move, he just leaves it and is ready to it all again a hundred yards down the road. So a round point spade with a short, sturdy handle works well, sometimes a square point shovel will work, depending on the soil. Sometimes it takes a pick and mattock, which you won't likely have.
A good field knife is a blessing. One with a thick blade and a full tang. I like Carbon Steel 'cause it's easier to sharpen. There won't be many Close Quarters Knife fights, at least with the enemy; so pretty fighting knives are just decorations. And weight. Don't carry any more than you need.
The guys in the Sandbox and the rocks, carry every damn thing imaginable and end up humping 100#'s or more.
Water's heavy and you need it, nobody's perfected powdered water yet. Two canteens minimum, I kept a two quart canteen in my ruck, in addition to the two on the belt. Camelback's work, but water's still heavy. If you're planning on eating MRE's you'll need a lot of water, that shit's DRY. Vitamins, Allergy pills, IFAK, gotta haves. Have your glasses on a headband, so you won't lose them too soon. Hard candy, like Jolly Ranchers is good. Tea Bags . . . tea has more caffeine than coffee. TP is good, or n equivalent substitute, keep it dry, in a zip lock bag. Mash a half roll flat.
Have clothes to suit the weather. Sturdy pants and boots, have extra socks. Alternate daily. Gloves, hat, shemagh if you like, they come in handy at times. Or a good yard square bandana, like Cowboys use, Get some women's 'Knee Highs' to wear in cold weather, Panyhose is good, too. Layer in winter. Wool is warmest, even when wet, but wool's heavy, too. Fleece is nice to have.
You're gonna sleep and fight in the same clothes, eat, shit and die in the same clothes, so be prepared for that. You'll stink like a Polecat, and itch and have lots of little friends everywhere you never knew existed. Soldierin's a bitch, buddy, does this Republic matter that much to you? No matter, if they win, they win it all. You get worked to death or just plain shot. You don't really have
a choice in this, do you? Well, yeah, I guess you do. If your life is more valuable than your daughter's innocence; your son's life, your wife's safety, then, I suppose you can crawl back into the truck and 'guard the duffel bags'.
So, all my brave hearties, speak as you will of marching forth to crush the enemies of the Republic, of Christ, of whatever god you name, but know that all I've said above . . . and worse, will find you out, at one time or another.