This image sums up how I, and most other male soldiers on operations, I imagine, felt about what we wanted and needed.
Unfortunately, the enormous, sexy mother-lover figure wasn’t there to cradle us amid the explosions and bullets, so we had to make do with trudging to one of the fly invested portable toilets or shit boxes to knock one out and try and escape the drudgery of it all.
If I could count the number of minutes and hours spent on tour thinking about naked women and conjuring wildly erotic scenarios, I’d most likely be surprised that I managed to get much else done.
Out in Afghanistan during my 2009 tour, soldiers who were hit by improvised explosive devices sometimes called out for their mothers before dying, a phenomenon that isn’t rare in war. It seems both pathetic and totally understandable. I don’t think many of us could confidently claim we wouldn’t do the same.
Soldiery forces you to toughen up, but you can never toughen up enough and escape a more vulnerable side of your nature, which, one way or the other, seems to assert itself–either on the battlefield or when you return.