Some people call them BDUs (Battle Dress Uniform), some call them utilities, but me, I called them cammies. They were issued to us shortly after the Thanksgiving break. But these cammies were different. They weren't the traditional woodland camouflage uniforms we had been wearing. They were desert camouflage. And I liked them! I liked them a lot. Maybe because it was something different. Maybe because they look like chocolate chip cookies. Or maybe because they were going to help conceal me from the enemy in the desert. Whatever it was, it appealed to me. Not only that, but the floppy cover was a nice touch. "Cover" is another word for hat in the Marine Corps. The Army would call it a boonie hat. Some would wear it cowboy style with both sides curved upward. Some would wear it safari style with only one side curved upward. Others like myself would just wear the sides sagging down naturally like Special Forces. While in the combat zone, however, we would be wearing our helmets, or brain buckets as we called them. You don't want to know why.
The person in these pictures is Lance Corporal Tanner, with the North Carolina coast behind him (left) and inside his room (below). He would become one of my closest friends while deployed. Although we were separated much of the time we were over in the gulf, we shared a common interest, our faith in God.
We had Bible discussions occasionally, sometimes talking about the differences we had in doctrinal beliefs. But we never argued with each other and came to learn from and respect each other. As we got to be close, he said to me one day, "Corporal Lovell, if the meek will inherit the earth, you will certainly be one of them." I never asked him why he thought that, but I always wondered about it. I have to admit, at the time, I didn't really know what meekness was. Meek in the Bible describes people with a "an attitude of humility toward God and gentleness toward people, springing from a recognition that God is in control." (New Illustrated Bible Dictionary). Although weakness and meekness may look similar, they are not the same. Weakness is due to circumstances such as a lack of strength or courage. But meekness is strength and courage under control, coupled with kindness. Is this how he saw me?
It was important to me to spend times like this with friends like LCpl. Tanner. He was a big encouragement to me, and I was a big encouragement to him. We helped each other to deal with stress that was already starting to build up. If not for the discussions we had and prayer, I would probably have lost my mind. We were still waiting on what day we were flying to the Gulf. It would be my first time being outside of the country. What would it be like?
"The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear,
and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown."