My (Desert) Me·mo·ran·da

By Clayton S. McCrary

The idea to write down my thoughts came as I realized, after a month in the desert of the Middle East, that this just might be it for me; and I might as well make some light of it. Whatever that meant.

The writing on the front cover says “Memoranda” so that tells me to just jot down your random memory of the day or every two or three days. Keep some sanity by devoting some small amount of time each day making observations about my random and mostly boring time leading up to the excitement of Schwartzkopf’s “left hook” into Iraq and the Republican Guard.

After reading it a few times after the war, I see that I really thought I would make it through the experience to edit and revise those words later. However, it remains unedited to this day.

Friday Jan. 18,1991

0530 MOPP level 2 called in a [expletive] frenzy.Our Platoon Sgt. has everybody “his dogs” looking better than other platoons..

0700 starting our own stand down

1400 overcast weather sucks. Maybe a few pictures of my buddies.

1700 chow as usual looks like dog food.

Sorry for being negative (only thing on my mind right now besides home).

Bombing has gone on all day shaking ground beneath us.

My opinion to my fellow soldiers is only voiced when I feel it’s appropriate.

1900 hrs. On guard again with no word of moving yet.

I had a huge attachment to the little green book in my mind as well as something I physically brought home with me. The thoughts and memories it contains are something that no one else has.

Plus, someone said that I should not have anything from that part of the world upon my return to Germany such as a diary, ammo, souvenirs, body parts, etc.  Apparently, it was  an effort to not contaminate society with some disease as well as possibly have my writings fall into the wrong hands.

I carried the book and pen with me in my cargo pocket. I slept with it in my fart sack. I stared at it in the dark of night with a red lens flashlight. I made sure I always knew where it was, like a wallet full of cash stashed in a secret spot.

The writings really aren’t much to look at. It was about the special secret notes inside that were my own and potentially last thoughts on this earth.

Wednesday january 23, 1991

Not much news,  info is telling us that the weather delays and other sorts of news about 3rd AD being dorked up. Sorry Ed.

Nothing to do but wait and wait.

This is the stupid game everybody has to play and you’re a winner if you make it to the end. A stupid [expletive] game!

Stupid Col. from Brigade tried to make an [expletive] out of me. [Expletive] Platoon Sgt. talks behind my back saying he’s not satisfied. He thinks he is God and usually God is easy to satisfy, but not this one!

Another motivational speech by Platoon Sgt. to let us know that we are all still human.

You’re going to be ok!

Thursday Jan 24,1991

Woke  up and saw the sun! Wow!

I was bored so I got out my trusty fly swatter and set up a POW camp for 40 flies and 3 monarch butterflies.

Yes, I did count them and pulled there wings off for good measure.

Had my mask checked.

Burned a rat the traditional way with diesel fuel and then pissed on it, what a sight!! wish I had my camera!

Got a box from Mom and a letter from Grammy.

Sunday Feb 3,1991

Off to the [expletive] range. The sandstorm from hell came by to see us and then stopped when we returned to camp.

I didn’t fire my weapon, just used a pen to mark the holes. Everything’s dirty again!

A little more cocoa please! Thanks!

Letters from people we don’t know are weird.

Either they want to know how hot or cold it is or they tell us that we are dying soon and it’s the end of the world, so get saved NOW!

Stupid people. We write back anyway for fun.

I stopped writing much after the ground war started since I saw that the conflict overcame the desire to write and I better focus on the “now.”

Thursday Feb 28,1991

Over 25 divisions out of commission, Marines take all of Kuwait, Iraq is encircled by coalition forces. Cease fire in effect 0800 for 48 hours. Not so true since firing in the distance is obvious that word was not passed. We are ready to move to Kuwait or Baghdad, we don’t know.

EPW’s at our camp are slow getting moved to forward camps. They are getting medical attention and are safe with us. They want Saddam dead!

I made no entries after that. I clammed up and tried to forget.

Almost 10 years after returning to society, maybe more, I randomly found myself getting excited to tell my closest friends, or current girlfriend at the time, about a day from back then that I would pick out of the book and start reading like a little kid who couldn’t put down his favorite comic.

Sometimes it would be the actual date of my entry read on the actual day five or 10 or 15 years later. But, it was one of those “I guess you had to be there” moments every time. They didn’t want to understand it or thought I must be silly for doing that. I certainly must have seemed silly to get excited about a journal that I kept in the desert or any journal from any time for that matter. It is usually a private personal thing that you don’t share with people anyway.

The Memoranda book began to feel kind of like making a video or tape recording and then playing it back over and over but the only people who don’t get sick of it are the ones not listening to it. The contents have all kinds of operation orders for missions, real or not, along with various passwords and lat/long coordinates. They seem so familiar that I look at them and there is not much thought or concern when I crack open a specific day in the life of me during the scary moment I call Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

Looking at it makes my curiosity heat up. I am right back there to experience it again. Different thoughts come out even though I may have read the specific scenario many times before. Mentally the best part is revisiting the past and it’s mine. Physically the best part is that the book always stays the same. Of all the things I still own from that time, the clothes, boots and hats, most don’t fit me. However, the little green book still fits me just fine.