“No Bare Feet Beyond This Point” (This is a ‘Re-Constructed Old Post.’ No Alcoholic Beverages Were Harmed, Nor Consumed While Operating The Requisite Heavy Machinery For The Successful Completion of This Project)

I grew into manhood in the Sinai Desert: 1977-1980. Missed out on Disco, but it was damn well worth it.

Who needed Disco anyway? I served a ‘higher’–figuratively and literally–‘calling’.

What you may choose to read below is the first installment of a personal history I am determined to write about the men and women I had the honor to know, to love, to work and walk among, and to call ‘Friend’, as we all tried in our way, to bring peace between the Egyptians and the Israelis after the Yom Kippur War of 1973.

Yom Kippur War / 3 Minute History

(Your Humble Author Highly Recommends You Invest Three Minutes Watching This)

Content Credit: Jabzy

The conditions were harsh, the boredom at times mind-numbing. Seventy-five percent of us were under thirty. Almost all of us were Texans. Roughly eighty-five percent of us were male, fourteen percent female, and one percent ‘other.’

We were not actually building anything discernible, tangible, touchable. We were in fact, merely acting as civilian ‘Paid Political Hostages,’ not construction contractors, not U.S. Military Special Forces, not United Nations Representatives.

I suppose a more euphemistic term for us would have been “Observers.” Which, as I recall, was how the U.S. Foreign Service ‘Officially’ referred to us and our mission.

Yet we still preferred ‘Paid Political Hostages’, as it seemed to more accurately and honestly describe how we saw our role there.

But however you referred to us, we ended up ‘constructing’ something immensely more important than bricks and mortar:

The Camp David Accords

Peace! Peace between two enemies who had not known peace since before Moses was a pup, if ever…

This ‘Peace’ would never have come to fruition if not for men and women (and ‘other’) of The Sinai Field Mission.

This paralyzed fact can never be disputed, nor ignored.

Page one from the letter linked below

SFM_Letter

***

Our efforts were not entirely without cost.

Some of us who spent too many years there, went slowly, yet surely insane there…

Lance Marcom was one such man who fell victim to “The SFM Madness.”

(In a ‘Good’ way of course…)

1979 Sinai Field Mission

Excerpt from the article linked above:

A faint laughing snort escaped as I shook my head upon seeing that sign duct-taped to the door of the hooch belonging to some of my fellow drivers:

‘Rocket Tom’, ‘J.R. Mog’, ‘Jet’, and ‘Big Mo’. Big Mo wasn’t a driver per se; I mean he didn’t drive trucks or R&R passenger vehicles: He drove dozers, road graders,  front-end loaders, and the occasional fork lift, although he considered fork-lifts “Too wussy for a Texan named Big Mo” to drive.

I gave the door a hearty knock.

“Enter!”

Opening the door, I was enveloped in a cloud of smoke shoved out by the cold air conditioning.

The contrast from the hot Sinai air shocked my senses, but felt oh, so… inviting. I stepped inside the doorway and paused, giving my eyes a moment to adjust to the subdued lighting in the hooch.

(The sun in Sinai is blindingly bright, and extremely so.)

My ears were loudly and violently assaulted by ZZ Top’s ‘TUSH,’

Blasting from Mog’s Boom Box.

Video Credit: wiieje

***

Seated around an empty cable spool (about three feet in diameter), were three fourths of the usual suspects: Mog, Jet, and Rocket Tom.

“You just gonna stand there, or ya gonna have a seat?” Mog demanded. Then added, “Hey Rocket! Crank down th’ volume on that shit. We dun got us here a ‘special’ guest!”

“ZZ Top ain’t “Shit”, Mog. An’ I ain’t seein’ no ‘special’ guest. I jes’ seein’ Lancer.” Rocket yelled back over ZZ, as he got up, walked over to the box and ‘Turned that “Shit” down’.

Laughter all around. And at my expense. It was just our ‘way,’ our good-natured way–

Crates full of great, and sincere, camaraderie.

None of us took life (nor one another) too seriously.

***

J.R. Mog, was a corpulent, charismatic, boisterous, ‘talks too loud’ Texan who generally had the first (and last) word in any conversation.  

His full, Proper, Official Title was “J. R. Mog, Half-Man, Half-Alligator, Part-Time Hog; Tamer of Wild Women and Other Assorted Interests.”

Or… simply just ‘Mog’ for short (Thank God).

“How y’all?” I said, taking a seat on one of the camel saddles which served as chairs.

Scattered about the tabletop were a couple of small pipes, a chunk of hashish the size of a pregnant golf ball, an overflowing ashtray, three or four empty beer bottles (Amstel), a couple of magazines, a crumpled pack of Marlboros, a Moët & Chandon bottle with a burnt up candle stuck in it, wax coating it all around and down to the top of the table thus cementing it there, and something that looked like it might have been an orange in a former life.

Mog answered, “We just finer ‘n frog hair. Wanna beer? You know where the fridge is.”

“Matter of fact, I do,” I said, getting up and tacking back and forth through the piles of dirty clothes, homemade furniture, shards of beer bottles, and stacked-up cases of Amstel, Heineken, and Tuborg Squash—a heavily carbonated orange soda from Denmark—the best thing on Earth for the morning cotton-mouth most of us suffered more mornings than not.

(May have had something to do with smoking hash and drinking late into the night, but that’s just my theory.)

I returned with a Heineken and sat back down, taking a swig as I did so.

Jet said, “Well, Lancer, now that you’re all settled, we can fire us up a bowl.”

(I had not done anything noteworthy enough up until this point at Sinai Field Mission to warrant a moniker other than my given Christian name).

Using a Buck Knife, Jet proceeded to carve some hash off the golf ball, then mixing the slivers with some tobacco, stuffed one of the pipes and lit it with a Zippo.

We passed the ‘bowl’ around, refilling it a few times here and there, then settled back with our beers.

Jet, the oldest at the table–about thirty—wore a goatee, long brown hair on top of a head that looked a little too big for the rest of his frame. He had a laconic manner, but was not what one could ever call ‘brusque’. He just didn’t say much. He seemed to save his words like cash money is what I’m saying.

Presently, he asked, “Mog, when’s your next run to TA?” (‘TA’ = Tel Aviv).

Mog (who spent words with reckless abandon) replied, “I got the fuckin’ R&R run tomorrow. Shit! Hey Lance, what you got? Wanna trade?”

Mog hated the R&R runs mainly because R&R runs involved taking passengers. He loved driving the trucks into ‘Town’. Two reasons: He loved trucks and he loved to drive trucks very, very fast. Mog was a great driver, but riding with him scared the shit out of me.

“Sure Mog; I’ll trade with ya.”

“Which run you got?” he asked, now slightly wary at my all-too-quick agreement.

“Canal Run.”

See THIS Recent Post:

“Aw Shit No! Forget it,” Mog said loudly.

SFM Basecamp lies roughly thirty ‘klicks’ from the Suez Canal. Every day an R&R vehicle left SFM to rendezvous with the one coming from Cairo. Passengers and mail were exchanged via a small boat. Then continue on to Cairo or back to SFM.

Having ‘The Canal Run’ meant getting off-base only for an hour or two or three, dependent upon how the ‘Sand Storm Gods’ were disposed on any given day.

Going to Tel Aviv meant driving only four hours, checking into the Sheraton and having the rest of the day and night to paint the town red with Per Diem and whatever else one wanted to contribute or muster out of his own purse.  

Mog had an Israeli girlfriend in Tel Aviv, actually she was his fiancée, and he took all the Tel Aviv runs he could get, so he could go see ‘The Little Mama’.

In fact, all the drivers had Israeli girlfriends except Big Mo. His ‘Honey-Co’ was a Big-Boned, Brunette ‘Tall Drank O’ Water,’ Texan Gal, working for SFM, just like the rest of us.

Her moniker was ‘Big Mammu’ and if those two didn’t eventually get united in hellish matrimony, then I say ‘Fuck it.’ There is no hope for the rest of the world. Perfect for each other they were, is all I’m saying.

Rocket Tom was a wiry, slightly nervous-energy type about five-foot ten, with long dark brown hair and a full beard. Even though he was Pure Texan, his accent spoke ‘Tennessee’ to me: Probably genetic since most Texans have Tennessee bones buried somewhere in their family closets.

“Y’all just gettin’ back from the TA?” Rocket drawled in my direction.

“Yeah. Had the Reefer Run. The KP’s unloading her now.”

“Well,” he went on, “I hope y’all brought back some ah that Israeli choc’late milk this time.”

“Sorry Bro; they still fresh out at the market.”

“Well shit-fire!” he yelled, suddenly jumping up to his feet. “How they spec’ us to keep our mo’ral here in the Middle-of-the-Fuckin’-East, Sinai fuckin’ field mission, hot-ass desert without no Goddamn choc’late milk?”

(He did love his chocolate milk, especially after a smoked bowl or two of the hubbly-bubbly, which for us was another word for hashish, although technically, it means the water pipe we sometimes used to smoke it in, often mixed with a sticky sweet Egyptian honey tobacco—very pleasant aroma, that.)

Mog chimed in, “Hell an’ God-awmighty Rocket! Calm the fuck on down Son!  Y’all need to lay off that shit anyhow. I believe you done put on a pound or two just this week, ‘specially round yer middle section there.”

(Rocket Tom weighed about 140 pounds, soaking wet. With-his-boots-on).

Mog continued on the roll he was working himself up to, “Lancers, that reefer truck still got both its mirrors attached?”

Laughter all around.  (Rocket, now sated and satisfied by his outburst, had sat, and ‘calmed-the-fuck-down’…)

I had become notorious with the drivers (and somewhat despised & infamously regarded by the mechanics) for losing the driver’s side swing-out mirrors off four trucks in the past two weeks.

The roads through the desert were quite narrow with no shoulders at all. And in fact, there was usually a sharp drop off which if hit, would cause a fast moving, top heavy, loaded-down truck to flip over. I was cognizant of this and would never give up my half of the road.

No Matter What.

Too often I would encounter an IDF (Israeli Defense Force) truck with some pimple-faced kid, fresh off the Kibbutz at the wheel barreling down upon me from the opposite direction, taking his half of the road from the middle.

Inevitably our mirrors would collide. And violently so. Since SFM’s trucks all had air conditioning, my windows were always rolled up, saving me from being smacked by the mirror as it smashed against the side of the truck.

The IDF guys, well probably not, as their trucks, to my knowledge, did not come with factory air.

“Yeah Mog. She still got both her mirrors.”

“Well, did ya leave any crippled jackasses in yer wake this time?” Mog laughed.

On my very first R&R run to Tel Aviv I was driving our Chevy Van loaded full with twelve passengers, two of whom were high-ranking State Department pukes. I was a bit nervous, and was trying to drive oh so carefully and safely, as I felt my future as a driver depended upon it.

Somewhere just south of Al Arish, we came upon a couple of donkeys in the road.

I started slowing down, but not wanting to hit the brakes too suddenly or too hard, thereby throwing my passengers forward, I misjudged and hit one of the jackasses square in the ass. His hind legs flew out from underneath him and his butt hit the road.

He managed to get back up on his legs, then turned and glared at me as he stumbled off. I drove on down the road as if nothing had happened and saw a Bedouin in my rear view mirror shaking his fist and spewing what I theorized were some choice words at me in Arabic.

“Naw. Overall it was a borin’ trip,” I said. Then added, “Mog, you sure you don’t wanna take my Canal Run tomorrow?”

“Son, you know Goddamn well I don’t. Last time I had that run…”

(Here it comes, another ‘Mog Story’)

“I got stuck for two hours behind a broke-dick-of-a’-Egyptian-lame-ass-broke-down-convoy. They had the whole damn road covered up with their doubya-doubya-two wrecks-on-wheels. Musta been twenny of ‘em. I’m tryin’ to figure out how to get around, but they had the unmitter-grated gall to break down ‘tween two fuckin’ sand dunes…

Nothin’ I could do but set an’ wait ‘em out. I’ll be Goddamn-go-to-Hell if their tow truck finally shows, and she pro-ceeds to break down her own damn self! Jesus, Mary and Yosef!

My passengers goin’ all stupid worryin’ an’ frettin’ they ain’t gonna get to Cairo in time to catch their planes for R&R back to The Land of the Big PX and the All-Night Restaurant.”  

I tells ’em the other vehicle gonna wait there at the crossin’, ‘So why don’t Y’all just shut the fuck up!’”

“Uh… Mog,” Rocket interjected, “There weren’t no USG types in your vehicle, were they?”

“Ah Hell No! Rocket. You know I am always po-lite as pie when those State Department assholes are on-board. Anyways, as I was sayin’, we settin’ there wonderin’ when the next tow truck gonna show, so I call ahead to Mohammad to see if he at the canal yet. Finally managed to get him on the radio and tole him to set tight. I’d get there when I got there.“

A word here about the convoys that travelled through the ‘Buffer Zone’. The Egyptians had nothing but World War Two era Russian trucks and every time they attempted a convoy, they broke down.

Sure as God made Texas, they were gonna break down.

The Israelis, on the other hand, had all-new trucks and tanks, and planes, most of which they got from the U.S. when Nixon bailed them out during the first half of the two-week-long Yom Kippur War when the Egyptians were actually kicking the ever’-lovin’ shit outta their Israeli asses.

There was a massive air-lift of new military hardware to the Israelis so they would not get pushed into the Mediterranean.

Now, I’m not saying the Israelis didn’t deserve credit for ‘winning’ that war in the end, (and some would still call it a ‘draw’), but without the infusion of new equipment from Tricky-Dick and Hank Kissinger, well…

Mog continued, “Well, with nothin’ to do now but wait her out, I went to see if I could find some ‘Gyptian could give me an idee of just how much longer they gonna be blockin’ my road.

After wading through some wearing they jammies and wantin’ baksheesh, I found an officer who spoke some English.

He tole me, ‘No worries. No worries.’ Well, d’rectly here come another ‘gyptian tow truck. Took ‘em another hour to clear the damn road. We got to the canal just ‘bout an hour ‘fore sundown. I swear, I ain’t takin’ no more canal runs. Oh-Fuck-No!”

There was a lot of bullshit talked at SFM, but for the most part, it was what you’d call pretty damn good bullshit (for the most part.)  I enjoyed it terribly.

If you have come with me thus far, then you may be happy to know that there will be is more to this story.

Too much more.

Way too much more.

See Below:

Here,  and Here,  and Here…

Thanks for reading.

–Lancer of Arabia

****

Just a footnote here, as this part actually happened much later in the timeline from the stories reported above.

And Lifted from this post:

The Orphan Benjamin. 

One night, I think it was in late ’78, I was staggering back to my hooch from our little bar. My walk took me through our game room: Two pool tables, a jukebox, shuffle board, ping pong… et cetera. Anyway, just by the exit door there was a table. On this table was a carton of Marlboro’s, a case of Heineken, a ‘doggie bag’ from the galley, and a one hundred dollar bill.

Thinking nothing of it, I just kept tacking on toward my hooch, some fifty meters down the way…

I woke up the next morning and instantly thought of all that unclaimed booty and for just an instant hoped that no one had stolen it.

But then I remembered where I was and knew that would never happen.

We had a brother/sisterhood there in Sinai.

I managed to drag my hung-over ass out of my rack and head in to breakfast in our galley. My trip took me past the table in question. Everything was just as it was the night before; waiting for the rightful owner to sober up and claim.

If I had not already been in love with my ‘Co-SFM’ers till then, I certainly was now. Two hundred folks at SFM, and nary a thief amongst us. I will never forget that minor little memory. It touched me deep.

And then I just went into breakfast. You see? This was not… ‘different’ for us back then!

Shit!

Can’t explain.

Won’t try.

For you see?

We had love.

And respect.

We respected one another.

***

Ponderin’ Just a Little Bit Though,

I’d Venture A Theory:

Our Mutual Respect Partly At Least,

Came From The Fact That

We were Living & Working So Closely Together,

Isolated, For The Most Part, From The Rest Of The World In Such An Isolated And Desolate Place.

However, I Believe The Main Reason Was Because

The Vast Majority of Us Were Texans.

(But of Course, It Is Within The Realm Of Possibility That I may Be Just A Tad Bit Biased)

More Random Memories from the Middle East: Still Sinai

Previously: One  Two

***

The IDF soldier navigated down the hill as Janet got ‘properly’ dressed inside our tent to greet our visitor. I didn’t bother. I figured cut-offs and no shirt just fine. As for him, well he had slightly longish unkempt hair, as was the norm for IDF soldiers back then. Most of them were reservists anyhow. IDF was a mega-weekend-warrior class anyhow. His beret was tucked into his shirt at the shoulder. His olive-drab uniform was dusty. In general, the IDF Army was unkempt, un-kept, un-disciplined and Fucking Ferocious.

Perfect soldiers.

This truth never did escape me. Some respect from me was obviously the ‘order of my day’ here…

I watched him cautiously descend onto the  my beach. The night before I had un-cautiously descended and ascended (ten times), full of false courage brought about by some imbibing and dope. But what the hell! So… I studied his unsteady progress toward me.

As he approached he switched to English, “This is restricted zone,” he said as he pointed with his rifle over his shoulder to what looked to be a military base of some minor proportions.

“Well, It was dark when we got here and I didn’t notice,” I lied.

“You must leave. Now.”

“Something wrong?” Janet said, sticking her head out of our tent.

“Janet, I got this. Go back inside,” I almost barked.

“Fine!” she said. “Gin or Whiskey for breakfast?”

“Back inside!”

“Fine!” she huffed and disappeared inside the tent.

Turning my attention back to the IDF soldier, I asked/said, “So ‘we’ (Meaning US, the U.S. of us), can pay for this ‘wonderful’ base here in Sinai, and you come climbing down from ‘Mount Fucking Sinai’ to inform me that I am not welcome here? Is this correct?”

He laughed at that and proceeded to take a seat on a beer cooler next to our now burnt out campfire. At least this one had a sense of humor.

“I am Jacob,” he said. “And who are you my American Friend?”

“Lance,” I said, cautiously  extending my hand, which he took and shook earnestly. “Would you like some breakfast? We have tuna fish, whiskey, or gin. Your choice.”

Again he laughed. “Coffee?”

“Fraid not. Sorry.”

“I noticed you have some ice in your big cooler. Where did you get it?” (How did he know this?)

“Eilat,” I said.

“Do not drink the water from the melted parts then.”

“Why not?”

“Because it is made with ammonia at the factory in Eilat. Toxic. Do not drink the water.”

“Hell! My man! I drink the water in Cairo.”

“Your funeral then.”

We laughed some more. I was warming up to this guy.

“Seriously though my friend, you cannot remain here.”

“Yeah? Well, we were planning to push south today anyhow. South to Ras Mohammed.”

“Beautiful diving and snorkeling there. Mind the sharks though.”

“The ‘Sharks’ are why we are going.”

“All you Americans… are Cowboys?” he snorted.

“Yep.”

“Okay then. Bonne chance! I take my leave now. Be sure you take yours too. Soon. Shalom.”

“Cheers, and nice to meet you Jacob.”

“Bye,” he said and walked away.

***

“Well, you fucked that up,” Janet said, finally emerging from the tent.

“How so?”

“Now we have to leave this place.”

“Janet, I never intended to stay here more than the one night. I wanna get to Ras.”

“I like it here.”

“Pack your shit. We’re leaving now.”

She ‘packed her shit’ and I schlepped it and the rest up the cliff and loaded our little chariot. Within two hours we were back on the road again, heading south. As we were driving through the Sinai with the mountains on our right, she pulled out her Bible and instructed  invited  demanded of me to ‘turn off that damn noise.’ That ‘noise’ was Bob Marley and I hesitated… for a moment, then saw some seriousness in her brown eyes and acquiesced. She opened her ‘book’ and began to read from Genesis.  I must admit it was fitting, given the time and the place.

We spent some miles in this activity. I smoked some cigarettes and studied the landscape. The Sinai Desert along the coast of the Gulf of Aqaba is wondrous beautiful. As I said, the contrast moved me. Janet’s reading (which she did quite well, I may add) added to the ambiance. This girl had some talents. “In the beginning…”

But, the magic moments could not last (Janet and I had a propensity for combat). We eventually got into an argument about thirty clicks outside of Sharm el Sheik. I was slightly gin-buzzed by this point and in no mood for…

“Stop the fuckin’ car!” She shouted.

“Whaaa?”

“Stop the FUCKING CAR!”

“Shit! What for?!”

“I’m getting out! That is what FOR!”

“Janet, we’re in the middle of a fucking desert in a Muslim / Bedouin country. Are you sure?”

“Yes! Goddamn it! I am sure. Stop the fucking car. I hate you!” (Not entirely sure where this sentiment came from, but it was, I could see, sincere.)

“Fine!” I stopped the car. “Don’t forget your fuckin’ Virginia Slims,” I said as she opened the door, got out and proceeded to ‘march’ down the empty road.

I would have (should have) left her there, but y’all know I could not.

 More to come… Here

Video Credit:

TheCowboy4411

Throw-Back Thursday: “If You Don’t Mine, It Don’t Matter”

There is sand in the Sinai Desert. Lots of sand. There is wind in the Sinai Desert. Lots of wind. There are landmines in the Sinai Desert. Lots of landmines, some dating back to the ’56 war. Most of them are still functional.

When wind and sand collide, the sand moves. In waves. The sand does not respect manmade things. Manmade things such as roads or landmarks, or mine fields. Sand does not care if it inconveniences you. Or puts your life in danger. Sand has no conscience and actually does not give two shits about you or me, or anyone or anything.

Sand is just sand.

These truths about sand were to become blatantly obvious to me one day back in 1978. I was driving my Chevy Van Passenger Vehicle to the Suez Canal to rendezvous with a similar R&R vehicle coming from Cairo. My vehicle was loaded with ten passengers, all very happy to be headed out on R&R. It was my simple job to get them to the rendezvous point so they could take the little boat across the canal, climb into the other van and head on to Cairo and their scheduled flights back to The Real World.

From SFM Base Camp to Suez is about thirty klicks.

untso_map3

SFM Base Camp Located Between
The Giddi and Mitla Passes

Travel time on average, an hour and change, depending on how long the Egyptians wanted to detain me at the check points along the way. I always brought along some packs of Marlboros to provide them when they insisted on ‘baksheesh’. No big deal. I could afford the bribe. Hell, in our little BX (Base Exchange) cigarettes were three bucks a carton.

This particular day back in ’78 was a day after a particularly savage sand storm. The roads to Suez are passable most days. And safe. Off-roading is not safe.

Stay on the pavement.

I can compare it to the line from Apocalypse Now: “Never get out of the boat.”

As I drew closer and closer to the canal the roads began to get more and more difficult to discern. Now mind you, I had made the canal run many, many times, but I am a guy who can get lost in his own hometown of Honey Grove Texas, Population 1800. This is a small town, not too many ways to get lost, unless you are real creative. I am real creative.

I came to a point whereby I just could no longer make out the paved road. I took a turn in the general direction of the canal, hoping to pick up the road again after a few minutes. As I was bumping along I noticed one of those landmine signs:

mines

So did my passengers.

They freaked. I suppose this could be considered a normal reaction. They all started jabbering at once. I invited them to shut the hell up, and then I calmly backed the fuck out of the mine field, carefully retracing my inbound route.

Once I got back to the spot where I had obviously taken a wrong turn, I took the other turn and eventually made it to Suez. Picked up the inbound passengers and didn’t even have any shit to clean up in my vehicle, but I think at least one of my passengers had shit his pants.

Now all I had to do was make it back to Base Camp without any more drama. I gave it fifty-fifty.

postcard

Home, Safe Home

More to come on SFM

Here is a related post.

And another “Hello Minefield In The Sand”

And one more here

Thank You For Your Visit.

Comments always welcomed.

Sinai Field Mission. Or The Story of How Lance Lost His Mind and Later Found it Ferreted Away in His Pocket

This Post is a Continuation of a Promise I made to Me (And to Y’all, Gentle Readers) to write about Sinai Field Mission. For brevity’s sake (The Soul of Wit), I am breaking it down into snippets. To catch the back story, actually the forward story, please go here: No Bare Feet Beyond This Point.

And Here: TA

And Also Here:

My Mine Field

Continue reading

Hello Minefield In The Sand

(Sung to Neil Young’s “Cowgirl in the Sand”)

To an Unfeeling Landmine

So Sorry Neil

This spontaneous post is a follow up to the frivolous one below

***********

Hello Minefield in the Sand

Is this place at your command?

Can I live here just a while?

Can I pass your sweet, sweet style?

Not old enuff now to change my ways

When so many died here

Is this your plan?

It’s the problem with you

That makes me wanna go insane

So many innocent doan wanna play yer game

Hello dead one in the dust

You died because of us

Your band did not begin to rust

I guess it was all the sin I had

To trust a walk that didn’t seem bad

Holding out now, to change some things

Just some water; do that seem strange?

I was hoping that you’d turn bad

Go away now, I’d be not sad

But you hang around…

To kill my kids

You make me feel angry, but not like this

Purple blood on a sand background

With so much about you,

You’ll never be found…

Until you kill someone else.

*********

Too many people die still today from landmines meant to kill combatants in so many older, forgotten wars. 

If You Don’t Mine, It Don’t Matter

 

There is sand in the Sinai Desert. Lots of sand. There is wind in the Sinai Desert. Lots of wind. There are landmines in the Sinai Desert. Lots of landmines, some dating back to the ’56 war. Most of them are still functional.

When wind and sand collide, the sand moves. In waves. The sand does not respect manmade things. Manmade things such as roads or landmarks, or mine fields. Sand does not care if it inconveniences you. Or puts your life in danger. Sand has no conscience and actually does not give two shits about you or me, or anyone or anything.

Sand is just sand.

These truths about sand were to become blatantly obvious to me one day back in 1978. I was driving my Chevy Van Passenger Vehicle to the Suez Canal to rendezvous with a similar R&R vehicle coming from Cairo. My vehicle was loaded with ten passengers, all very happy to be headed out on R&R. It was my simple job to get them to the rendezvous point so they could take the little boat across the canal, climb into the other van and head on to Cairo and their scheduled flights back to The Real World.

From SFM Base Camp to Suez is about thirty klicks.

untso_map3

SFM Base Camp Located Between
The Giddi and Mitla Passes

Travel time on average, an hour and change, depending on how long the Egyptians wanted to detain me at the check points along the way. I always brought along some packs of Marlboros to provide them when they insisted on ‘baksheesh’. No big deal. I could afford the bribe. Hell, in our little BX (Base Exchange) cigarettes were three bucks a carton.

This particular day back in ’78 was a day after a particularly savage sand storm. The roads to Suez are passable most days. And safe. Off-roading is not safe.

Stay on the pavement. I can compare it to the line from Apocalypse Now: “Never get out of the boat.”

As I drew closer and closer to the canal the roads began to get more and more difficult to discern. Now mind you, I had made the canal run many, many times, but I am a guy who can get lost in his own hometown of Honey Grove Texas, Population 1800. This is a small town, not too many ways to get lost, unless you are real creative. I am real creative.

I came to a point whereby I just could no longer make out the paved road. I took a turn in the general direction of the canal, hoping to pick up the road again after a few minutes. As I was bumping along I noticed one of those landmine signs:

mines

So did my passengers.

They freaked. I suppose this could be considered a normal reaction. They all started jabbering at once. I invited them to shut the hell up, and then I calmly backed the fuck out of the mine field, carefully retracing my inbound route.

Once I got back to the spot where I had obviously taken a wrong turn, I took the other turn and eventually made it to Suez. Picked up the inbound passengers and didn’t even have any shit to clean up in my vehicle, but I think at least one of my passengers had shit his pants.

Now all I had to do was make it back to Base Camp without any more drama. I gave it fifty-fifty.

postcard

Home, Safe Home

More to come on SFM

Here is a related post.

Thanks for reading.

“Landmines Bring me Down.”

(I cannot help it if Stevie Fucked Up The Lyric!)

*****

Added Bonus Below!