If you have ever spent a night in a barracks or in a military tent with at least ten other men in it you’ll have some idea of what I am talking about. The night is never silent, there is always someone snoring softly or someone rustling about.
Last night those soft but ever present sounds was a noisy din, a cacophony conspiring to keep me awake. The calm of the night outside the tents thin canvas walls is perforated by the sharp staccato of machine gun fire at random intervals on some range or test fire pit. Occasionally convoys of MRAPs or other heavy equipment roar down the road their engines sounding like jets. Then there is the actual Air Force cargo jets landing and taking off. A little piece of advice, if you ever have the opportunity to purchase a piece of property for cheap near a military runway pass it up. These things start off sounding like a jet and then right before these behemoth jumbo jets take off or land they kick their jets into high gear and it sounds like a space shuttle is blasting off right outside your tent.
Thats just the noises outside the tent, inside the tent there is a guy sleeping five or six cots down from me who sounds like he has the swine flu, every couple minutes he coughs or wheezes reminding me that I could get sick before making it home. The tent I am staying in has twenty soldiers sleeping in it, everyone on a different sleep schedule so there is always someone rustling about. I drew the unlucky straw and the guy sleeping on the cot next to mine in the tent I am sleeping in snored. I say snored but that is actually an understatement, he sounded like someone with a misfiring chain saw trying to cut down an entire forest. A few times I became concerned that he might actually drown in his own nostrils, but I never got that lucky. His snoring was so loud that it actually drowned out the roar of the jets landing and taking off.
Needless to say sleep did not come to me easily last night. Finally after an hour I fished around in the bottom of my rucksack until I found my ear plugs, even with them in I could still hear the ragged snoring of the man next to me. Eventually the night took mercy on my and I drifted off into the land of winking, blinking and nod…