I've always considered it an obligation of the civilian to look unflinchingly at what our soldiers go through. Reading books like House to House: An Epic Memoir of War by SSG David Bellavia (w/ John R. Bruning) is a way of doing that, a way of understanding what we're asking of them. If it's too much for us to watch from the sidelines, then we shouldn't be asking it.
"Blood flows over my left hand and I lose my grip on his hair. His head snaps back against the floor. In an instant, his fists are pummeling me. I rock from his counterblows. He lands one on my injured jaw and the pain nearly blinds me. He connects with my nose, and blood and snot pour down my throat. I spit blood between my teeth and scream with him. The two of us sound like caged dogs locked in a death match. We are."
On the night of November 10, 2004, a U.S. Army infantry squad under Staff Sergeant David Bellavia entered the heart of the city of Fallujah and plunged into one of the most sustained and savage urban battles in the history of American men at arms.
With Third Platoon, Alpha Company, part of the Army's Task Force 2/2, Bellavia and his men confronted an enemy who had had weeks to prepare, booby-trapping houses, arranging ambushes, rigging entire city blocks as explosives-laden kill zones, and even stocking up on atropine, a steroid that pumps up fighters in the equivalent of a long-lasting crack high. Entering one house, alone, Bellavia faced the fight of his life against six insurgents, using every weapon at his disposal, including a knife. It is the stuff of legend and the chief reason he is one of the great heroes of the Iraq War.
Bringing to searing life the terrifying intimacy of hand-to-hand infantry combat, House to House is far more than just another war story. Populated by an indelibly drawn cast of characters, from a fearless corporal who happens to be a Bush-hating liberal to an inspirational sergeant-major who became the author's own lost father figure, it develops the intensely close relationships that form between soldiers under fire. Their friendships, tested in brutal combat, would never be quite the same. Not all of them would make it out of the city alive. What happened to them in their bloody embrace with America's most implacable enemy is a harrowing, unforgettable story of triumph, tragedy, and the resiliency of the human spirit.
A timeless portrait of the U.S. infantryman's courage, House to House is a soldier's memoir that is destined to rank with the finest personal accounts of men at war.
April 9, 2004
Diyala Providence, Iraq
Dust cakes our faces, invades our sinuses, and stings our eyes. The heat bakes the moisture from us with utter relentlessness. Our body temperatures hover at a hundred and three. Our ears ring. On the edge of heat ehaustion, we get dizzy as our stomachs heave.
We have the spastic shit, with stabs of pain as our guts liquefy thanks to the menagerie of local bacteria. Inside our base's filty outhouses, swarms of flies crawl over us. Without ventilation, those outhouses are furnaces, pungent with the acrid smell of well-cooked urine.
All this, and we get shot at, too.
Welcome to the infantry. This is our day, our job. It sucks, and we hate it, but we endure for two reasons. First, there is nobility and purpose in our lives. We are America's warrior class. We protect; we avenge. Second, every moment in the infantry is a test. If we measure up to the worst days, such as this one, it proves we stand a breed apart from all other men.
That's a little more than one paragraph. (Thanks to our lovely sponsor for being flexible on that point.) I wanted to include the others because, as a writer myself, I'm fascinated with the differences between the way men and women think, and I think this need to prove oneself in this way and to take pride in it is pretty uniquely male.
The nature of soldiering brings ultra-intensity to every emotion, especially in combat. We love, hate, and respect one another all at the same time, because the alternative is the bland oblivion of death.
Would you keep reading?
Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following: Grab your current readOpen to a random pageShare two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! To see what others are sharing on the Teaser Tuesdays, check the comments at: http://adailyrhythm.com/
Share the first paragraph (or a few) from a book you are reading. Here's the link: Bibliophile By The Sea