Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Sergeant Sharon D. Allen

Sergeant Sharon D. Allen, whose great piece "The Circle" I excerpted in "How to Hear a True War Story," recently e-mailed me. She has three pieces in Operation Homecoming, has written a new book and is looking for a publisher. Her blog, with photos and excerpts of her writing, is www.sharondallen.com. As she notes, both Blogs for Bush and True Blue Liberal have linked her work. How many writers can claim the same?

As I wrote in the "True War Story" post, I don't think a specific political position is needed to support the troops or want to hear their stories. The same goes for hearing from civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. As is the case with American civilians, members of the U.S. military have a wide range of opinions on the current conflicts. It's not necessary to agree with every trooper's view on the current situation to support his or her right to speak out. It benefits all of us to hear more firsthand accounts.

That said, personally, I think Sgt. Allen's writing is pretty informative and witty. Here's a sample from her front page:

I came back from Iraq 20 lbs. lighter, slightly skittish to gunfire, with a working knowledge of Kurdish, a Southern Ohio accent, an inverted mime tan, and a 500-page book.

My journalesque collection of columns shows what it's like for an average engineer soldier in Iraq. It explores everything from handwashing uniforms when a sandstorm hits to learning Kurdish while playing volleyball with a Northern Iraqi militia. Dealing with the incredibly frustrating machinations of the Army while dodging bullets. This book explores the human side of the war. Typical Americans in an atypical situation and how they cope with it, by alternately leaning on each other and going off on each other.

From dealing with sand fleas to dealing with the death of a friend, this book records a year in Iraq with the 216th EN BN, a National Guard unit from Ohio. Often lacking necessary supplies, and always lacking creature comforts, these soldiers built and improved forward operating bases for the Iraqi and American militaries during Operation Iraqi Freedom II.

The lessons I learned include:

LESSON 1: HUMAN BEINGS WERE NOT DESIGNED TO BREATHE DIRT.

LESSON 2: DO NOT EXIT A VEHICLE DURING A SANDSTORM.

LESSON 7: IT'S NEVER A GOOD IDEA TO HAVE A SMARTASS FOR A TRANSLATOR.

LESSON 10: MILITARY LOGIC WILL FOREVER ELUDE ME.

LESSON 29: WAY TOO MANY SOLDIERS HAVE NEVER HEARD OF THE A-TEAM.

LESSON 33: A MISSION'S DANGER IS INVERSELY PROPORTIONAL TO HOW HARDCORE IT SOUNDS.

LESSON 49: THERE'S NOTHING QUITE LIKE THE SMELL OF STEAMING SHIT.

LESSON 64: MPS HAVE NO SENSE OF HUMOR WHEN IT COMES TO WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION.

LESSON 74: GOD MOST CERTAINLY HAS A SENSE OF HUMOR.

This site provides some of the columns, essentially cut straight out of my book, and some pictures from Iraq. 100 Things I Learned in Iraq: Lesson 55, Try Not to be Outside When a Chinook Lands is copyrighted but not yet published.

I know other folks know the military blogging community, and the Iraqi and Afghanistan blogging communities, better than I do. Feel free to pass on any other good sites in the comments. May they all keep writing, and may those in dangerous areas stay safe.

(Cross-posted at The Blue Herald)

1 comment:

thepoetryman said...

Some pretty funny stuff from Sergeant Sharon D. Allen. Thank you for sharing my friend.