It was 20 years ago today that I first crossed the berm. I was a Soldier in the 1st Infantry Division, Mechanized (Heavy). I was woken up early in the morning by another Soldier already dressed in his chemical suit. I remember feeling quite vulnerable at that moment. "Why didn't this asshole wake me up earlier"! I had been sleeping on the seat of the deuce-and-a-half truck. It was too short and the metal from the seat frames were jabbing my sides but, the tents had been taken down the day prior so we could move forward.
The tanks behind us were gone and, the Artillery was pulling up. I was unsure what to expect but and felt mentally quite un-prepared for what I was moving toward. Looking back today, I didn't need any more training or knowledge for what was going on around me, but at the time I wish I was more certain of the situation. We pulled out to the warnings of, "stay in the tracks of the vehicle ahead of you, we are going through a lot of minefields". The columns of three pulled forward and we were off.
In a short time, we came across our first Iraqi positions. They were abandoned and littered with personal gear. These shallow dug trench lines had been manned by a penal unit. A little further off, I saw piles of boots. "That's fuckin' weird"? The Iraqi commander had taken his Soldiers boots so that they would have difficulty running and would therefore be more incline to fight.
The next line we came to was the Iraqi unit's rear area. I looked to my left as we passed an East German made truck with no canvas on the back. It had equipment piled in the bed and it was burning with a small camp-like fire. As I got right up on it, I saw a helmet top facing towards me at the bedrail. I thought it would be nice to jump out and grab it as a souvenir. We were on the move so this was not doable. Just then I saw that I really did want it anyways for the (previous) owner still had it on his head. "Whoa, that Dudes dead", I mumbled.
This was to be my first naive thought of a dead man on the battlefield. Before the 100 hours was done, I would see hundreds and hundreds more.