Our SECFOR guys from South Carolina were not only the cream of that proud state, but they were funnier than hell to boot. Their original explanations for Afghan phenomena were imaginative and often hilarious.
Many areas of Afghanistan are boulder-strewn. In one place on the J-bad Highway where the passes open up into a mountain-bordered plain, it actually looked like they were boulder farming.
Thousands of large round boulders looked like they had been purposely arranged in rows. I chuckled to myself from the turret of the humvee as we rolled along and I saw these fields of boulders. We would encounter areas in many areas of the country where the fields of boulders were just mind-boggling. Like a carton of bb's scattered on a living room carpet, the thousands of boulders had been there for eons.
SGT Burt Schtickum, (who is still recovering from a torn aorta and resultant valve replacement that he narrowly but miraculously survived,) decided that the fields of large round rocks were, in fact, Taliban eggs. Taliban, SGT Schtickum reasoned, were hatched from these eggs cleverly disguised as rocks in much the same way that killdeer eggs look like pebbles.
These eggs, he maintains, have lain dormant for generations, Godzilla-like; and are activated to spawn by contact with diesel exhaust. Fiendish. As we patrolled, this sage of Afghan naturalism explained, we stirred our own foes with the exhaust plumes belched from our humvees.
It's hard to argue with the sheer Darwinian logic SGT Schtickum applied to the constant supply of Taliban we were presented with.
Here is one of our drives through fields of Taliban eggs. We were on a back road in Kapisa Province when we were suddenly surrounded by scads of them. As you can tell from the quantity of unspawned Taliban, we're in deep over there.
Some day someone will recognize SGT Schtickum's work in this dusty realm where science meets insurgency. The odor of Nobel mixed with diesel exhaust wafts through the air. That will be a proud day.
Keep on keepin' on, Burt. Hope you're 100% soon.
It was my turn to drive. Jacques Pulvier was up in the turret. When we got to the next village and dismounted, he looked like a frosted doughnut. Frosted Jacques; it's a good look for him.