Thursday, February 09, 2006

Bad Dreams

Sgt. David Weyant has bad dreams. I have bad dreams, too. There’s one where I’m arm wrestling Dick Cheney and he looks into my eyes and says, “Marshall, I am your father.” Then I go, “Nooo!” and wake up in a sweat. But Weyant’s dreams are a bit more serious. He dreams of explosions.

“When you wake up from an explosion dream, your heart’s beating and your ears are ringing,” Weyant said.

He hesitated to call them “recurring” dreams and said he didn’t know what Freud would say about them. I told him I wasn’t a psychiatrist, but I had a pretty good guess why he had the dreams.

Weyant is an IED hunter. He and his team drive around in special vehicles to clear the roads of Iraq from improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. The makeshift bombs are the number one killer of U.S. soldiers in Iraq. If this screwed up war has a front, Weyant’s on it.

If that's not reason enough for the dreams, maybe the fact that they started after he saw one of his friends die from a vehicle-borne IED.

“A lot of guys will admit to having dreams,” Wyant said. “You learn little tricks to get yourself to sleep.”

When I asked Weyant’s buddy, Sgt. Taze Baskerville, if he had any tricks to get to sleep, he held up a large bottle of Tylenol P.M.

“My wife sends them to me,” Baskerville said. “Some of the guys think it’s bad to use pills, but they’re the ones up all night reading or messing around on their computers.”

That night, I talked to a soldier waiting in line for the showers. He had been on a patrol just a week earlier and saw a massive IED, five 155 mm artillery rounds, blow the humvee in front of him in two. Four people died. He said he’d barely slept since that day. He especially felt guilty because, as an IED hunter, he was supposed to clear that IED.

“They keep telling me I should go to the combat stress center,” said the soldier. “But the only way they can help my stress is to tell me I’m going home.”

We both laughed for a bit before we realized how akward it is to have a conversation while wearing only towels.

Their unit is home now, and I hope they're sleeping well.

photo captions: top, Weyant rides shotgun in a buffalo, a special de-mining vehicle adapted for hunting IEDs. bottom, Baskerville climbs the ladder to enter the rear hatch of the buffalo after stopping to check out a possible IED. The vehicle behind Baskerville is a Meerkat, which is essentially a large metal detector.


Blogger Spencer Case said...

I guess I get the priviledge of the first comment. Good post, buddy. The only problem I see is that some people may not like the way you mix silly humor with serious subjects, as in this article, but it works for me.

1:46 AM  
Blogger Sugata Biswas said...

Holly Smith sent me your link. I'm Adam's sister's husband.

Very interesting stuff and really well written. The mix of humor and deadly serious topics works for me. Good luck and stay safe!

10:27 PM  
Blogger Ethan said...

nice- gotta keep it real. sometimes humor is the only way we can cope with such seriousness. keeps us from going crazy.

10:44 AM  

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