Week 5 Journals
I have begun working on making my first podcast. I don’t have any experience in GarageBand, but I’ve worked with iMovie before. Since they are both Apple programs, I didn’t think it would be too hard to figure out. But, I’m nervous about it because there is a lot of noise in the clips I have from him because we were at Starbucks. But when I asked him to tell me the story again in the studio, he brushed right over it! He told me a similar and equally great story, but I still would like to have him come into the studio and retell me some of the stories from the first interview again.
The topic I focused on in this podcast was the first time the war felt real to him. I thought it was a really interesting story: he was on night watch in Kuwait before they invaded Iraq. His platoon sergeant handed him his night goggles and told him to “enjoy the fireworks”; he put them on, looked up and saw a stream of tomahawk missiles flying across the sky toward Baghdad.
Tomahawks are generally about 18 feet long, 2,900 pounds. It soars through the air followed closely by a tail of fire, then smoke. To see these flying across the air like giant shooting stars would leave me speechless and scared. It left a big impression on Warren as well. The thought that went through his head: “I guess this is real."
I had my second interview with Aaron and also he got his pictures taken by Shawn McAfee. I learned something really interesting from Aaron’s second interview. He was talking about how the Iraqi people eat. When they have a meal, they have all the food in a large vat and grab from it with their hands, and if they are done with a piece of food, they throw it back in. Safe to say that the Army members had their own section where they would eat the food. It made me realize how hard it must have been for him to be thrust into such a different culture. I never really thought about that part of being in the Army, but I bet that’s one of the main struggles.
As of right now, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with the project but I don’t think that it’s unachievable.
I am starting to get plenty of material, but every time we meet, it seems like Todd and I find some new aspect of being a veteran that people don’t understand. I continue to see myself as a younger version of Raley. He perfectly articulates why veterans feel uncomfortable when thanked. We don’t know what to say. Todd points out that although we appreciate the concern and the gesture, the person doesn’t know why they are thanking the vet. They don’t understand what they are thankful for or what it meant to serve in the military.
Another topic that was discussed today was the need almost every veteran feels to return and experience their service again. I feel this all the time. I still feel I could serve and when things get hectic, it is natural for me to wish to be overseas again. Todd said he felt this way too. Overseas there is one main objective. Get home. After that, you have food prepared for you, you have someone doing your laundry (in the later years of the war), you don’t have to worry about money, you don’t have to worry about picking out clothes to wear or whether you need to buy new ones.
But at the same time, it is the same freedom a prisoner enjoys. I know with these new found freedoms, all I did was wonder what was going on at home. In the end, the simplicity is an illusion, because for every menial task performed for me was met with a feeling I was missing out on everything going on at home. That feeling has never left me. That ‘wish I could go back’ feeling is no different than anyone looking back on any of the “good old days.”
I had planned to meet with Michael after one of my classes to fill out some paperwork. I was surprised when I found he wasn’t alone. For the first time, I got to meet his wife. I knew he had a family, but he hadn’t talked much about them. I got the chance to explain to his wife about the project and what it involves. It was a short meeting, as planned, but I’m glad I got to talk to someone else about Michael to see what she could tell me.
As college kids are well aware of, dorm rooms are not ideal living conditions.
You’re thrown into a 10 by 15-foot with all your belongings and another person with all his junk. It’s cramped, smelly, too hot, too cold and dark. It couldn’t get any worse, could it?
For Dustin, and many members of the military, it did get worse. While overseas, Dustin lived in a containerized housing unit (CHU), which is basically a 10 by 20-foot shipping container. But instead of just one roommate, he had three others, and all of their belongings. That sounds very cramped.
So it’s just barely more space than a standard dorm room with two extra people, much hotter temperatures and you’re getting shot at. Dorm room conditions don’t sound as harsh anymore.
Although Mark trained as a Fire Support Specialist, most of his time in Iraq was spent as Military Police (MP). He worked as a guard on a TIF (Theater Internment Facility) on FOB (Forward Operating Base) Cropper, a TIF (known as Camp Cropper) that held some of the worst enemy prisoners of war, including Saddam Hussein up until his execution in 2006. In 2007, the population of Camp Cropper was reported as 3,300 - about ¼ the size of UW Oshkosh. Mark said his 12-15 hour shifts on the TIF tested every bit of his mental strength.
Today we shared our first podcast with the class. I had to redo my podcast three times. The first one I recorded I said “warrior and students” and it should have been ‘warriors and students.” Grace wanted me to add a outro to my podcast. She texted Adam to ask him what kind of car he drives to add to the outro so it fit my intro. The second time I recorded my podcast Grace said that I was reading too formally. She told me it was fine if I wanted to use that one or I could record it again. I decided to record it again. I had to wait till after spring break because I got a bad cold and cough. Although it can be a lot of work to have to keep recording and editing the podcast, I am glad that I did record it for a third time. It sounded much better. Now I just have to add the music, intro and outro to make my first podcast complete. I didn’t get to work on my paper over spring break like I wanted to. I had to work a lot of hours because I work at Oaks Candy and it was very busy for Easter. I also decided that I wanted to rest and didn’t want to worry so much about school. That way when I get back I’ll have a clear mind to get back to work. I started working on my story on Easter Sunday because that was the only day I had off. It took me awhile to think of a lead. I ended up adding a few things to my original lead to make it feel like you were actually standing at the edge of the lake. I have a 1,300 word story done but it needs to be about 2,000 words. So I am going in to Grace’s office so she can look at what I got so far for my first draft.
I haven’t been able to meet with Kat for a few weeks now. We have tried to get together, but life happens. Next time I see her though, we are going to have so much to talk about! I can’t wait to get together with her and talk about the rest of her story so I can start writing. I also need to get pictures of her experience to add to my story. We are going to get together on Monday during Spring Break, so we will have a lot of time to catch up! Questions have been brewing in my mind since the last time we met. I’m really excited to hear about her experience on the ship. I know she won’t be able to tell me what she did exactly, but I am going to ask a lot of questions until I have the understanding that I want to get to. I need to be able to write this article about her experience, so I need to know what I’m talking about. There will be missing information because I won’t be able to come right out and say what she did, but I think that is going to add to the value of the story. I don’t know how yet, but I am going to figure it out.
"Difficult to push for more"
During a follow up interview with Myles, I asked him to expand on what he knew about his uncle’s tour in Vietnam and what he knew about his friend who was killed in action in Afghanistan.
Myles is friendly guy, has a great sense of humor and is genuinely easy to talk to. He usually is an open person, at least when it comes to surface level things. When discussing certain topics, such as his duties or logistical things, he openly describes his experiences in great detail. But when these harder topics were brought up, he becomes much more reserved.
I noticed that there was a hint of sadness in his eyes when he talked about his uncle and his friend. When talking about his uncle, he kept reiterating that his time in Vietnam is ‘not something he likes to talk about.’ I don’t know if he became melancholy because he wishes his uncle would be able to share his experiences with him more, so he could relate and feel a sense of commonality. It could have also been because he understands that there are just some things veterans don’t want to talk about and don’t want to remember.
For Myles, his would be the memory of his friend passing away. He became uncomfortable almost immediately when he was brought up, especially when I asked him how it felt to see his casket being carried onto a plane. He didn’t make as much eye contact during this segment and kept fidgeting with his nails.
I found it perplexing that when he spoke about his ordeal of being in an IED explosion, he rambled, giving me a step by step process of what that was like. But when he discusses things that happened to others, especially injury or death, he nearly shuts down.
I could tell right away that he didn’t want to go into as much detail as he did his other stories, and I understood why, so I found it difficult push for more.
Nick Brewer interviewing in one of his favorite shirts that says, "Some people are alive simply because it's illegal to kill them
I had my second interview with Nick and we also had our pictures taken together. Nick and I were supposed to wear nicer clothes for the photos, but neither of us managed to. Both of us were rushed that day and had forgotten to change before showing up. Nick was wearing a shirt that said “Some people are alive simply because it’s illegal to kill them” and I was wearing a sweatshirt. Grace wanted absolutely nothing to do with Nick’s shirt and just shook her head at me. We did do some photos together, but we will have to do more photos in the near future. I also got Nick to talk a little bit more about what he did while he was deployed. There are a few things, I’m not sure exactly what, that he said he absolutely will not talk about. I, of course, want to know these things, but at the same time, feel as though I can’t pry too much.