Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Diary

Would always be carried on the inside of my flak jacket
I was fishing through some of my things in the garage the other month and I happened to find this little black book. It was lightly covered with some sand. The binded edge of the book was taped with an olive drab duct tape. For a moment, it looked unfamiliar to me. Then it hit me, and I literally said out loud, "Oh shit!". It was my combat diary from my first tour in Iraq. It still had some sand on it and looked a little worn. A parachute cord was taped to the binding and I used the length of it to hold or mark a page.

Front binding
As I shuffled through its pages, I saw a lot of things that bought back memories. In the front book binding, I taped a picture of my wife (we weren't married yet at the time) and I on our visit to Disneyland. The picture was dusty and the lamination I put on it had some wear. I'm glad I laminated it. Taped to the back binding, was a picture of my niece, Kymora. She was wearing a blue jumper and light blue knit hat. Dare I say it being a Marine, she is adorable. She's so grown up and busy with selling girl scout cookies, gymnastics, and lacrosse.

Back binding

I shuffled through the beginning parts of the diary. The beginning had some poetry I had written. A lot of it were notes I had written during classes we constantly gave within our company. Classes like clearing a room of hostiles, the handling EPW's (enemy prisoner of war), combat 1st aid, and code encryption. This little black book was partially a book of notes, and partially my diary. I did not keep a good diary. Reading it, they were just a lot of ramblings of a kid stuck in the desert. The beginnings parts were boredom. Why didn't I keep a good diary? It's value to me would mean so much now than I would have ever imagined. I do recall, the time I should have spent writing, I spent sleeping. Sleeping was as valuable as water. It would be hard to come by as we rolled into Iraq. It did bring back memories, and emotions though. The texture of the cover reminded me of the constant struggle I had to keep sand out from between the pages. Sandstorms or even the regular wind made sand appear everywhere. This made it difficult for keeping weapons clean.
Back binding where I wrote the serial # to my M16 and Night Vision Goggles
Orders on our first mission into Iraq

Notes on interpreting arabic writing
How to fire a SMAW (Shoulder Mounted Anti-Tank Weapon)

How to say numbers in arabic

Notes on clearing a room

Its entries were very private. I would find myself cutting off an entry into the diary when another Marine would come by. I was afraid they would read it. They might think "Zoleta's writing his final words". I could take that Marine's hope easily knowing that I may have given up hope by writing my final words. Even now, it's hard to share. What would others think? I don't know. But. it's best to put them in my boots and share our story for no one may ever understand us. Our story may never be told.

Little by little I'll post entries of my diary. It's going to take some courage on my part but give it time and I'll build it up. So check back in regularly to read about some of our stories.

-Semper Fi

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