Submitted by: Chris Ruhter, Lead Business Analyst – Mobile App Development, United States Marines (retired)
There was a firefight a few hundred meters off during the night my artillery unit, 1st Battalion, 11th Marines, left Baghdad. It was around the end of April or very early May 2003 when we got the orders to pull out. The Army was coming in and some of the Marine units who had fought and secured the city were going to start going back to Kuwait.
In typical military fashion, we were first told we might get sent home soon, which started numerous rumors and speculation. After another day, we were told we might be there for weeks longer, then the next day we were suddenly ordered to pack our gear and get ready to roll out that night.
The mood changed immediately. We’re trained to pack fast, but there’s an extra burst of speed and enthusiasm whenever we’re heading home even in training. On this day, packing up included a lot of laughing and joking with the knowledge that our combat deployment was coming to an end.
There were still firefights often, and that night was no exception. As we sat on and around our vehicles awaiting our midnight departure, one wall of the base was assaulted. Although it was somewhat close it didn’t worry us. We’d fought pitched and running gun battles from An Nasiryah to Baghdad and developed a sense of when to take cover and when not to. We knew they wouldn’t break through the line with this small attack. We continued sitting around smoking, munching on MRE’s, talking about leaving Baghdad, and watching the green and red tracers ricochet into the dark sky like a light show.
A few of the drivers were taking the opportunity to get some sleep before driving all night and rolled out their sleeping bags on the concrete by their vehicles. One of them, a Sergeant, happened to have laid his bag down by a truck full of rowdy Privates and Lance Corporals, and was quickly doused with a canteen of water. He jumped up cussing and spluttering and ran off to get a towel, but when he came back he noticed something wasn’t right.
There was a hole through the center of his sleeping bag and laying on the cement underneath was a rifle bullet. That shower of water at that time is all that saved him from taking a stray round right in the stomach.
Thinking about stories like that from combat has been a vivid illustration that at some point in life everyone can be lucky or unlucky. Whether it’s you or the person next to you (or across the desk) may just be because of the slightest twist of fate–and that twist could be disguised as something really infuriating!
At some point in life, each of us is in “combat” of one shape or another. At the TMX Finance Family of Companies, we deal with many people who have hit a rough patch during their own “personal” combat. My time in the service gives me the perspective that anyone can run in to unexpected, unlucky circumstances during their personal combat. Maybe it’s a divorce, an unexpected loss, a layoff, or an accident. Sometimes those circumstances actually work out for the better in the long run, but even if they don’t, being able to empathize with people fighting their way through those hard times is always appreciated.
Happy Veterans Day, fellow TitleMax® vets. Thank you for serving with me.