News & Articles

How to Party in a Combat Zone

by Artistic Apprentice Katherine Marshall

In his interview with Steppenwolf, playwright Donald Margulies suggests that combat photojournalists, like soldiers, struggle to reconcile everyday life with the dangers of their profession. Like the characters in TIME STANDS STILL, the soldiers below have tried to bring a little domestic normalcy into a world defined by violence. DIY Warrant Officer 1 Brook Turner was accustomed to the lush greens of Hawaii and Oregon before being posted in Baghdad, Iraq. He purchased sod from the locals and despite the challenge of 125 degree heat, he maintained the appearance of a 3 x 7 foot yard. He cut the grass with scissors and watered the patch three times a day from five-gallon jugs. Turner’s yard provided a celebrated distraction from the war and endless sand surrounding him and his fellow soldiers. RAP IT UP The Middle East is the new front line… of the rap music industry. Soldiers are producing and distributing new music, some as a way to honor fallen soldiers. Like the Bronx-born variety, rap from soldiers deployed overseas can be provocative and controversial. U.S. Army Specialist Marc Hall, for example, was incarcerated and threatened with extradition back to Iraq to face a court martial after a violent rap song protesting the “stop-loss” policy was posted on his website. Under the controversial policy, soldiers who were scheduled to leave service were kept on active duty at the military’s discretion. After a brief stay in jail, Hall was discharged from the military. No matter the risks, these underground rappers are providing a compelling new outlet for the realities of war. REALIZING YOUR RACHEL RAY It probably took more than Rachael Ray’s signature “30 minutes,” but Staff Sergeant Taylor and Sergeant Paulin still whipped up home cooked meals daily for their fellow troops. Before they arrived, the kitchen only served two meals a day. They both used their cooking know-how to serve three meals a day out of a mobile kitchen trailer. On Fridays, they would even cook made-to-order steaks. Despite the inconvenience of food in the bag ingredients, they produced consistently good meals one day at a time. BATHTUB GIN A dedicated Marine—we’ll call him Gunnery Sergeant Everyman—saw action up Baghdad Highway in the very initial stages of the war and continued to return to Iraq for four more tours. Unlike previous military operations, alcohol was strictly prohibited on any of the military posts in Iraq out of respect for local customs. So, in the finest Marine Corps tradition, his wife back home adapted and overcame. Care packages are commonplace in-country, and customs was only cursorily inspecting them in order to get the packages to the troops quickly. Mrs. Everyman decided to take advantage of the situation. With a straight edge, the safety seals were removed on several bottles of mouthwash. Listerine morphed into Jim Beam, green fluoride rinse was replaced with vodka with food coloring and that bottle of plaque remover was transformed into cinnamon schnapps. Some two-sided tape secured the safety seals back in place and plastic bottles insured their safe transport. Every mail-call his fellow Marines would ask, “Hey Gunny, how’s that oral hygiene coming?” to see if the makeshift underground bar was open.