Tuesday, July 12, 2005


It is now routinely in the 120+ degree range here. It hit 126 the other day, just in time for me to have the day shift on guard duty, spending eight hours in full uniform, body armor, etc. while standing alone in concrete guard towers.

How do you handle the heat? Well, first of all your body does get somewhat used to it. I used to walk out of my house in Boise at the peak of summer when it was 105 and, while wearing shorts and sandals, would think, 'UGH, it's an oven out here.' Well, it wasn't even close. As the days have gotten hotter, our bodies have slowly adjusted.

You also strip everything off you that you possibly can. I've already mentioned that I don't wear my t-shirt or underwear any more. The other day, I stopped wearing my belt, ditched my long army socks for ankle-high running socks, and stopped blousing my pants into my boots, instead tying the drawstrings at the end to make them look bloused but still allow air to get in/out.

You drink water, tons of water. We have a freezer filled with water bottles (although they never stay in there long enough to actually freeze) and most guys bring coolers filled with ice around with them. On that day, Sgt. Briggs was our 'Sergeant of the Guard' and he actually walked around with a cooler full of Kurdish ice cream for everyone.

You do a few things you're not supposed to, like opening up your body armor once in a while to catch a breeze, or maybe leaving your chinstrap unbuckled.

Mostly though, you just accept it. You stop worrying about the sweat running down your back and your butt, don't wipe away all the sweat running down your face and onto your glasses, you just blink more when a rare breeze comes along and doesn't do much more than dry out your eyeballs, and you just don't worry about it. You deal and you don't complain. After all, why would you? It's hot as hell and you're out there for eight hours and whining won't make the day go any faster.

On the plus side though, we're nearing July 15, what I consider the apex of the heat. Our 'terps (interpreters) tell us that August is also ridiculously hot, but mentally at that point, there will be light (or a breeze, or maybe 'cool' 90-degree days, or maybe just plain old hope) just around the corner. Its name is September.
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