I've heard this concept before, usually from Vietnam era vets. "Honey, I'm getting together with some of my war buddies tonight. Don't wait up."
The bonding that happens when you are in combat is every bit as big as you might imagine. Think about the late night drinking sessions you had in college where you talked about anything and everything. Add to it the possibility that you might get blowed-up by a random mortar and you have a formula for making some seriously good friends.
Let me tell you about a couple.
Mark K – One of the funniest guys on the planet. Everything that comes out of him mouth cracks me up. He's a proud ex-druggy who joined the Navy and turned his life around. He finally saw the light and switched over to the Army to go to PA school and he works the ER like nobody's business. There is a really short list of people I will miss when I leave and he's near the top.
Rachel G – My new reader and fellow blogger. Everyone needs a Rachel in their life. She's quirky, but in a good way. She has the maturity of a single mother and yet occasionally shows the impulsiveness of an impetuous teenager. I've never seen anyone smile as much.
Marlene A – She makes the list, but just barely. That's my fault. She's an important part of my small group, but she and I never really bonded. At least I can say I gave her her first guitar lessons, and she's really taken to it. In my entire life, I've never met anyone that makes people remark about how beautiful she is. It's uncanny, really. I can't tell you how many times people have come up to me just to tell me how beautiful she is. I will miss how she has to dance whenever she is talking, especially when it's about Puerto Rico.
John W – Surgeon extraordinaire. I have little respect for a lot of surgeons, mostly because I think they show a dangerous lack of humility. John and I talk equally about life and patient care and he is always thoughtful and insightful. Hell, I'd let him do my appendectomy, and there is a very short list of surgeons I can say that about.
And last, but certainly not least…
Jess B – What can I say about my Battle Buddy? We got paired up while processing through Ft. Benning, GA. She's almost been my surrogate wife out here (minus the sex, of course). That didn't stop the rumors, however. We spent so much time together, especially in the beginning of the deployment, that I guess the rumors were inevitable. Bright, intelligent and intrepid. She was not afraid to ask for help learning poker and then she turned around and kicked my (and everyone else's) ass. She's quirky, too. You should see her drool whenever a large black man walks by – odd for a little white Jewish girl from Jersey. In a large group she loves to taunt me (sound familiar, honey – since you aren't here, Jess has taken over your role of keeping me grounded), but in our small group, she is everything you would want in a friend.
These are my war buddies. I'm going to miss them fiercely.