My husband has been home for just over a month from an IA deployment. As a relatively new navy wife, we pcs-ed to shore duty before I experienced an underway deployment. So an IA deployment to Iraq was going to be my initiation. Ack! And while his original orders were to sit on a FOB behind a computer screen, somewhere along the way that turned into conducting raids and rounding up bad guys in some of the worst sections of Baghdad. Just a tad different from anything I had pictured in my mind's eye when I thought of what marrying a sailor would entail.
But last night we finally got around to watching two items on our list of things to watch, both Iraq related.
I figured the day after would be a perfect time to sit down and write my first post (and thankfully our sleeping son must agree).
My husband ended up with a pretty transient team so he spent some time at quite a few COPs around Baghdad. It was always a struggle to find out which one he was at without outright saying/asking and I would search for all that I could about the ones he lived in once I knew their name. My searches for COP Apache led me to the movie Gunner Palace. I wanted to see something he had seen and ended up ordering it. I never did get around to watching it all the way through before he came home, but as soon as he saw the dvd he was pretty interested in watching it. I told him I really wanted to watch Bad Voodoo's War with him also.
I was already very curious to see how he would feel about seeing these war related movies. And one Thursday I went upstairs to do something productive and ended up remembering Spousebuzz BlogTalkRadio was going to have an episode with Bad Voodoo's War's filmmaker Deborah Scranton. Listening to airforcewife talk about how AFG wasn't ready to watch these things made me wonder if my husband would change his mind after starting either of these two pieces.
But I didn't want to stare at him like a science experiment or ask even a small fraction of the seemingly hundreds of curious minds want to know questions I have swimming in my head. A difficult balance to be sure.
We watched Gunner Palace first. And Seadaddy was just in shock at what they went driving around Adhamiya back in 2003. He seriously had to pause it and wrap his head around sitting in a open humvee, being completely exposed to the enemy. The Shock & Awe campaign took on new meaning to someone who couldn't imagine doing what he did back then under the condition those soldiers experienced.
It was great to sit there next to him. As he pointed out streets that he had been on. As he said "oh that's checkpoint blahblahblah." "That must be route gobbledygook." To have him right there telling me yes as I asked if the markets were really still lining the streets and bustling with people and food. To have him pause it and tell me they went into a house directly behind that group of trees right before he left while on a joint mission with their replacements. To talk about the 'terps they worked with. And to hear him talk about the Iraqis training at Old Mod and War Eagle. To have him compare and contrast what he saw and experienced to what we were watching.
He did like Bad Voodoo's War. Other than a few scenes of the same route he took to his refit camp, there was little similar in their story. But there were definitely things he identified with and took notice of. He felt the pain of having a broken down humvee in the middle of the road and sitting around waiting all day in the heat. Being attached to the 82nd Airborne, he talked about understanding how an infantryman would not enjoy running convoys. Hearing about wives/girlfriends needing breaks or ending relationships is definitely a subject that will not go unnoticed or without flavorful comments from my husband. But Bad Voodoo's War delved more into the subjects than Gunner Palace. And I think that made it more emotional. I know I still wiped away tears this third time watching it.
It was weird. That was my husband's overall feeling after we were done. He wasn't uncomfortable really, but it was definitely weird to see that place he left not so long ago from the comfort of our couch.
Just to know that my eyes were seeing some of the things he saw was meaningful to me. I know I will never truly understand his experience, but some small insight is something I am tremendously grateful for. And the chance for opening up a dialogue is also nice. Although I must admit my comfort level of communicating about the deployment isn't where I would like it to be.
Since the baby has decided I have spent enough time here, I just wanted to close this by asking what are your preferences/experiences with watching reality based war related movies/videos? Do you want to know as much as he'll let you or do you want to keep it fully removed? Do you press for details or do you let him/her open up on their own timeframe? And one particular thing I have struggled with, do you allow guy time with friends to talk about the deployment or do you get jealous/insulted/bothered/MAD he will share with other people things he doesn't share with you?