MY THIRD ARM
I enlisted in the Army at 17. In my first unit in Texas, I was issued an M4 Assault Rifle, which I also had during my deployment overseas. This weapon was my life. My third arm. It went everywhere with me. I knew the ins and outs of it. I was Infantry, so I took it all very seriously, and applied myself with passion.
I remember the first time firing a live round at the shooting range. The way the buttstock recoiled into my shoulders. The smell of gunpowder. The progression I made as I tested the sites to perfection. It also had a 203 attached to it, which is a one-shot grenade launcher. It made me feel even more like a badass.
During deployment, my platoon and I were stationed in an isolated village called Al Gharraf. It was just us and no real chain of command- which gave us leniency to customize our own weapons. I got an ACOG, which is a really good scope to use for the upmost precision. Then I bought a green laser that I mounted on the side for night missions.
While these all seem like fundamentals and just equipment, I will never forget how having it made me feel during my deployment. The power and protection it gave me. The pride of being an Infantry soldier- or “Grunt”- as we called ourselves.
I remember returning from deployment and giving up my weapon. I went to my new barrack that night and lied down. I looked up at the ceiling and felt . . . emptiness. For about a week or so. I would wake up, not be able to find it, and freak out. I felt lost without it since it had been on this perilous journey with me. It had become a life-saving part of me. Who was I without it? Sometimes, I honestly still think that way. Who am I now that I am weaponless and no longer a soldier in war?