by Nick Palmisciano We need to step up. All of us....
The Deployed Soldier’s Guide to the 4th of July
By Grin and Barrett
Successfully celebrating special occasions while forward deployed (Iraq or Afghanistan, take your pick) is typically a thing of deliberate ingenuity and will. Unless you are a Brit, Aussie, or German, there are no beer and brats, and the imagination meter needs to pause solidly in the redline. For those bereft of aforementioned imagination, do not despair! As each holiday approaches throughout the year, I will be providing a step by step guide to celebrating U.S. holidays (love me some ‘Merica!) for our deployed personnel. Of course this is just a helpful guide, and in no way the only way to do things….just the best….and most original….because it’s my way…..or the highway…..now I’m just rambling…..too much Sangria….never drink while writing…..stream of consciousness flowing….huh? What?
Okay then, without further ado, the first official guide to surviving and thriving on a deployed Holiday; The fourth of July.
Step One: You need a grill. Any old grill will do. If, perchance, you do not have said grill, then a burn barrel and chicken wire will work just fine. Cut barrel in half, lengthwise, and lay chicken wire over your new grill body. Charcoal is usually found at your local PX trailer, but scrap wood will work in a bind. Cooking oil and gasoline are NOT great ideas for starting this fire, no matter what your NCOIC says.
“Sir, don’t be a pansy, just light the gas…”
Step Two: Get some grub for the new grill. There are certain words that should be forever linked to the concept of NCO resourcefulness. “Acquire,” “Procure,” and “Appropriate” all come to mind. Equip your procurement team with an alibi and an escape plan, but it always makes things easier when you have an NCO willing to put his charm into overdrive and hustle the local DFAC employees out of the goods. Thanks, Glynn, for the burgers, wings, steaks, chips, cookies, and sodas. Your outstanding “procurement” skills are second to none.
Annex 1 to Step Two: Keep a stock of sauces and spices for procured DFAC food….you will need them.
Step Three: Get sponsored! Our office was “sponsored” by the most giving and generous supporter you can imagine, our good friend Emilie. Emilie mother-henned us for over 15 long months in Iraq. With that being said, let me segue for a moment:
Thanks for planting your patriot garden.
Thanks for sending all of those care packages and letters of support.
Thanks for somehow managing to vacuum-seal fresh, homemade pies and send them all the way to Iraq.
Thanks for sending us all the homemade cookies and treats, and the stuff to make our own.
Thanks for sending us two red velvet cakes for our 4th of July celebration, one from scratch and the other from the box, and letting us guess which was which. And thanks for the “office Olympics” games you sent that we played on the 4th. One of our brothers dominated us on that day in doorjamb basketball. That man, our brother, is not with us anymore, but the memories will always live on.
Thanks for sending us the bits and pieces of home that kept our spirits in America while our feet were in Iraq, and kept our hearts high on that 4th of July.
Step Four: Think outside the box in all things. When my wife asked me what I missed the most after the first seven months of deployment, I believe she expected an answer somewhere along the lines of “You baby,” or “Your sweet kiss,” or “The kids, I miss them so much.” While all those things are true, that was not the response I gave (that would have been too cliché anyway!). The response I gave my wife was, “Chili’s Chips and Salsa.” Wow, who says that? But I was honest, and honesty paid off! My wife, the saint that she is, then proceeded to send me six bags of seriously foam-packed Chili’s Chips, and a box with a blender, chili powder, lime juice, dehydrated cilantro, and canned tomatoes. The chips and salsa we enjoyed on the 4th, a dozen of us surrounding a plastic Rubbermaid bowl; each grinning ear to ear, was the best I have ever had.
Step Five: Surround yourself with good people to share in the festivities. This part is the easiest, for they will already be all around you. It is a given that deployed Soldiers miss their families, friends and neighbors during the holidays, but God has granted the Soldier this. You will spend your time with the best people that the world has to offer. Your holiday will be spent among the heroes – The Brave, The Selfless, The Loyal, The Honorable.
Okay, so this step by step guide to the deployed 4th of July is as much a trip down memory lane as it is a guide. I confess that as I write this I am overcome with a longing, a nostalgia that is hard to describe and even harder to define; A longing to be back with my brothers, sharing our own brand of suck, making the most of a bad and lonely situation. For out of these moments, when the rest of the world is enjoying the joy and laze of the Holiday, our bond is strengthened and purified. We are not only celebrating the 4th of July, we are living the history it represents.
Today I salute you, my brothers and sisters far from home, and thank you for embodying this Holiday that we celebrate. For being the true standard bearers of liberty and freedom, and for keeping watch while we celebrate here at home.
Have a funny story about a 4th of July deployment? Have a supporter you’d like to thank? Use the comments below to tell your story and thank your supporter. Happy 4th of July!