If Eric hadn’t “hurt” his back I’d never been sent to Dwyer to live out my days as a Fobbit. And had I not gotten addicted to that sweet adrenaline rush you can only find sweeping into and finding an IED in the back of some possibly genius probably oblivious goat fuckers yard, I wouldn’t have minded it. But that’s how it works. You don’t get this job assigned, you volunteer for it, and we prefer you to have a combat deployment before we let you in. You sign up to do this shit for your own reasons, I use the policeman versus fireman analogy… You know where being a Marine is like being a policeman, but going EOD is becoming a fireman, never the bad guy. Mybrother-in-law is a career fireman, he says you always know when you want the police around, but when you don’t know what to do you call the fire department; that’s EOD. Truth is, that may be as much bullshit as the reasons politicians give for being in this war to begin with. I don’t know why I went EOD, I suppose it’s because the idea of going back to a work bench after roaming Al Anbar behind a .50 cal was about as pleasant as the extreme constipation I lived through after that deployment. (After a week without a shit I had to drink this elixir they called the green monster) Apparently my sensitive body gets “culture shock” who’da thunk it.

So I went EOD, begged my way on that first deployment and took every IED Eric would let me, and that was almost all of them. So, after Doc Wood, Butler, the “Allamo”… Adam Perkins and Dave Lyons… after Eric shit on me, I was stuck at Dwyer knowing the only way to get back into the shit was to work my ass off.
Dwyer was a firm base, a FOB, a goddam paradise in Hell and I hated that fucking place. I’d lived with men, both male and female, but Dwyer was a bunch of brass wearing ooh-rahhing mouth breathers with nothing more to do after their 9-5 than order shit off amazon and occupy the bench press for 2 fucking hours a day. I hated Dwyer. Cheatum was our platoon commander, he was the only EOD tech dedicated to Dwyer. Everyone else, three other two man teams were on route clearance to Marjah and back. Now that was a sweet gig, they rarely got shot at, they were working very few IEDs and are great chow 2/3s of the time.. And showered, but I wouldn’t fuckin hated it. I didn’t go EOD to “not work.” By the time Eric and I got to Dwyer the only reserve team left was Sutter and smith. She was alright, they only female Marine EOD tech in country, one of only s few in the corps and, with this deployment, one of the most combat experienced. She was a weirds botch though, and always a bitch. Her sense of humor was nonexistent and her social skills mimicked that of a yapping squirrel. Still, she was one of us, and we were the rest, those that chose to do Gods work.
At Dwyer EOD had secured a large set of tents, AC and generators near the southern edge of tr FOB, the large berm keeping us safe was just a few hundred yards away and the we had plenty of trucks to drive to the chow hall and showers. We had games, Internet and did I mention AC? We had it fucking made, and I hated it. Cheatum spent most of the time reading through reports sent in by the teams working north in Marjah and south through the Helmand River Valley. My AO was the busiest, we worked the most IEDs and got in the most shit. When I was at Amir we were hungrier and the tali’s liked it. I quickly realized that the only way I’d get back to work would be to impress Cheatum, show him I had carried out team on my back and that I was worthy of sending back out. I worked tirelessly. I took doc on ruc marches, I lifted and ran constantly. At night I’d come in the COC with Cheatum. I’d read through the reports sent in and get so ducking pissed when id see A report from Chase and Justin. I’d think to myself, why didn’t they let me stay in my AO. You get that way, you love your AO, every goddamn mud hut and shitty footbridge. You knew, you’d made it your bitch and no one else fucks your bitch. But there was Justin and Chase, walking all over my bitch, digging into her sandy flesh, working IEDs all over her and sending reports daily. I hated the thought of it.
Shortly after arriving in Dwyer I went to the chow hall with Doc. I hated the chow hall worse than Chase and Justin’s reports. The chow wa ms the antithesis of my being. Everyone there was oblivious to the fact we were in a war zone. They wore 8 point covers and got haircuts. They wore toward cami’s and shinny insignia. They were fucking disgusting. Like any red blooded American with something to say I decided to protest. I wore my frog gear. The same dirty stinky, bloody frog gear I’d put one my second week in Afghanistan. I didn’t get my hair cut and shaved every few days. I rolled my sleeves and wet my dirty hair just enough to use the 5 month old dirt in it to spike it straight up. Fuck em. Fuck those Fobbit assholes.
As we walked into the chow hall I knew there’d be trouble, I think I craved it, just an opportunity to tell these sorry pukes why I despised them so. We washed out hands and walked through the chow line… Nothing yet. We walked towards the tables and there they set, the only thing in existence that could take my mind off the hate discontent I felt for being at Dwyer.. WMs, female Marines, Liberals inadvertent gift of gender equality, females in combat. I moved quick. Doc and I sat down right in front of them. They were instantly intrigued. It was if they could smell the combat I’d seen in my blood. They knew I was in from the shit and they probably craved it as much as I did. We began your run of the mill flirting, couldn’t tell you what was said, just that I was smiling for the first time since the last IED I’d worked with Chase and Justin. That’s when it happened. From two tables away a well kept Sgt Major in pressed cami’s yelled out like a proud rooster at sun up, “hey Marine.. Come here” I knew this was it, my moment of confrontation. Sgt Jones wearing only the Patch from my plate carrier and a smile. I looked over the WMs shoulder made eye contact still sporting my flirtatious grin and nodded. Then looked back at the WMs and with full confidence said, “in sorry I’ve got to go talk to that asshole, but will you be around tomorrow?” Then I stood, walked around to that Sgt Maj. I walked up till my nuts almost rested on his shoulder, went to parade rest and stood there. He started in. “Hey Marine, when’s the last time you got a hair cut? Why aren’t you wearing a proper Cami top, do you realize where you are?” God love him, I couldn’t have scripted it better myself, teed me up like bubba Watkins at the only Masters that ever mattered to a UGA fan, without skipping a beat I responded, yes Sgt Maj we are in a war zone. 50 clicks from where Adam was killed, 8 more from where I drug Butler out of a shit infested canal and threw him on a bird… I apologize for my appearance, I’ve only been here a day or two and haven’t left my tent but to come here and get chow.” The look on his face was epic. He was pissed, so mad, but he knew he had nothing. He took a moment to gather the wit he’d brought back from his time in the drill field and responded, “well… This is a FOB, get your hair cut before you come back I here. Who are you, who do you belong to?” I knew I had him. “Sgt Jones, First EOD company”  I responded. He ended the conversation with an arrogant gesture and “carry on” I walked back to my table smiled at the WMs, grabbed my trash and told them, “ladies, I’ll see you all tomorrow, I’ve got to go tell my boss he’ll be receiving an ass chewing on my behalf tomorrow.”
After that day, I showered, shaved, got my haircut and wore clean cami’s. I still did what I could though, I wore black shorts to the gym instead of green. We were quasi authorized to. Kind of, MARSOC and recon wore black shorts and during our workin Shelstad let us as well. One day while trying to workout in the gym, an air conditioned half shell in the center of base, I head some god awful notice come from the bench press. It was 3 jacked up Marines wearing flamboyant deployment skivy shirts; obviously on roids. Their shirts said it all, I never understood what 1st Supply Batallion had to do with fighter jets and an upright English bulldog wearing combat gear wielding a .50 cal at the hip. But hat was their workd, their deployment. They’d go home 20lbs heavier, we’d loose all muscle tone and look malnourished. They’d come home and party for 3 weeks, we’d spend the first week wanting touché alone and the following months visiting th graves of all the men we’d sent home early. They’d rack their deployment up as bragging rights, we’d dread the next work up around the corner. They weren’t us, and we weren’t them.
So I reverted to working out at our little EOD compound. There we had a handful of Dumbbells and, in true EOD fashion, some homemade pullies, ropes, bars, and benches. I flipped tires, ran sprints, dug deep into the origins of what is now crosscut and found myself in battle shape quickly. It was about this time the rumors started. Could we finally be taking Safaar Bazaar? My entire time on Dwyer, a handful of weeks, I had work a few range calls where our convention ordnance had failed, and a post blast on the north bound desert route to Marjah. I need IEDs in my life. There was a haphazard IED training lane a few hundred yards from our tents they had been largely left alone. That was my opportuntiy to show Cheatum I was worth sending back out, that I shouldn’t be punished for Eric’s sins, and that I was good at this EOD thing. I worked tirelessly to construct IED scenarios identical to those I had encountered the first 3-1/2 months of my deployment. Then I took it to the next level, I made a handful of the dozens of IEDs in the lane function an 1/4lb TNT charge 50 yards from the lane. We brought Marine and Army units, mostly mounted convoy’s and some route clearance platoons, into our compound. I gave them a PowerPoint class on how to identify an IED, the basics of their construction, and then took them to my lane to practically apply the sweeping techniques I taught them. It worked.
Thanks in part to Eric quitting, and too many EOD techs getting killed and injured, we had sent Sutter’s team south to Dheli to cover for Justin and Chase, who were in my AO covering for us. This left only, Eric, myself and Cheatum as dedicated EOD for the entire airbase at Dwyer and the surrounding routes. We were well understaffed as the airbase itself rated 6 EOD techs. But I had won Cheatum over, he knew where I neede to be, south, in the shit, working IEDs and doing my goddam job.
Finally, an opportuntiy arose. Each EOD team used an “internet in a briefcase” called a V-SAT, to send reports on every IED we worked. We used these reports to keep up with enemy tactics and to learn from the successes, and unfortunately failures, of other EOD teams in our area. Brian Smith and Chendo Mesa were working the southern most AO, the one just south of where I had worked. Their AO was the back door. For a hundred flick south of their AO was a desert and only a few towns, one being Safaar Bazaar, that were largely left alone from US or ISAF forces. We knew early in our deployment that Safaar Bazaar was a hot bed for the enemy but we didn’t have enough Marknes in country to secure the existing AO and take Safaar bazaar at the same time. This made the AO Brian and Chendo worked incredibly valuable, and dangerous. Their V-SAT had gone down, and due to its security classification, to send them one meant I had to escort it. I had my chance to go work, little did I know, I had more “work” waiting on me than I wanted…