I never knew that sitting on a bucket could be so enjoyable. But there I was sitting on a bucket in the middle of a frozen lake. Rod in hand, relaxed and enjoying every minute of it. The air around me is fresh and flowing through the trees and if I snap out of my trance I might even be able to catch the Walleye that is nibbling at my minnow.
Sitting there it's hard to believe that last year this time I was either securing a convoy of supplies to Baghdad or conducting a presence patrol outside of An Nasaryia. The dessert doesn't sound like it would be a place that would tease a fisherman with reminders of what they are missing, but you would be surprised.
The Euphrates's River was only a couple miles from base and if you let your sweat run down and sting your eye, then tilt your head sideways you could almost imagine that the murky water was one of our beautiful Minnesota lakes.
On patrols of the area around the river there was the daily sight of a young man holding up a string of fish on the side of the road. He would hold them high in hopes that a car passing by might be intrigued and stop to purchase some. This young man was only a amateur in the fish selling game.
Four hundred yards north of him was a Iraqi police check point where men had stands set up to display their trophy catches. This area was always crowded with people because semi truck drivers would stop there to rest and purchase things from the shops. Truck drivers would line their trucks on the side of the road and sit together under the shade of their rigs and smoke Miami cigarettes together.
Sometimes we would sit in the area for a hour or more. I would watch the men fiddle with the fish at their stands. They would arrange their fish then pour water on them. Then they would rearrange the fish and pour more water on them. This would continue nonstop for the entire hour. As jealous as I was that they could fish when they pleased I could not imagine eating any of those fish.
Most days had a average of at least 120 degree's and you could smell the effect it had on the fish. we would joke about buying the biggest one on the table and putting it under the trailer of one of our commanding officers. This would of been funny until you got picked to remove it.
I wanted to take off all my heavy gear, trade my riffle for a pole and spend the day floating down the river. Clear my head and relax. It's a impossible thing to do there and so easy here. These people could do that every day but some chose instead to spend the day building bombs. Since I've been home when fishing is a option I haven't once thought of building a bomb. I wish they thought more like me. It would of made my job a lot easier over there. The thing is it would of made their lives easier as well. I wish everyone could take the time to appreciate how enjoyable it is to sit on a bucket.
Story by Sgt. Tristin Laveau
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