I wrote this piece on contract for the army in 2012, between my first and second years of school. I was hired as an embedded journalist for an exercise in Shilo.
A ride in an army truck
Riding in an army truck is an experience I never expected to have, but this morning I add it to my list of accomplishments.
To get into the truck I climb the metal rungs of a ladder to the platform, which is higher than my head. There’s nothing inside but a long bench along each side. The floor is the same green as the rest of the truck and is covered with an uneven layer of dirt. Like the roads, the dirt is so dry it’s almost dust. There’s a bit of a chill this morning, but the predicted rain is holding off so I’m thankful.
We start moving. The first thing I notice is the rattling. It’s mostly noise, but it shakes the truck to. It works its way from the back of the truck, where it’s a loud clattering, through the seats and up your body. I tighten my teeth so they don’t knock against each other.
After a while, the chill seeps into the truck. It creeps down my neck and wraps around my legs, which have fewer layers than the rest of me.
It’s dark, too; light sneaking in past the edges of the canvas covering the end of the truck illuminates the edges of faces closest to it. The rest of the soldiers, those closer to the front of the truck, receive only shadows – a faint hint of light here or there on faces, boots, and weapons.
The truck coming to a stop sways everyone forward, and when it starts again we all lean the other way.
The canvas begins flapping in the wind, and I understand why it’s used: we’re moving pretty fast. Probably better not to watch the ground sliding away.
The truck’s clatter is so loud it’s hard to think of anything else, but some of the soldiers raise their voices above it in a friendly banter. I listen to their conversation until we arrive.