Conducting my duty in Iraq was stressful and draining and I often found myself looking for a quiet place to gather my thoughts in order to re-gain my emotional energy. Such a place was just round the corner of the entrance door to our operations room.
It was a set of two benches placed in a corner of our blast-walled compound forming the smoking area.
Some engineer or 'wanna-be' carpenter must have thrown them together with a few nails and some rough timber from pallets.
However, now that they have been placed in the same location for 6 years, baked and bone dry from the sun, barely seeing shade under the torn and dilapidated cam-net, the timbers are close to falling apart. The wood had shrunk under the dry climate barely giving the oversized nails anything to hold on to.
Many a soldier had sat here, smoking away and carving their marks in the edges of the boards. Some say each cut symbolizes a kill of enemy forces, others are the opinion that it must have been the desire to leave one's mark before perishing in combat.
The benches are part of the history of our unit.
I wanted to retrieve them and bring them home, however they were left to the US Forces taking over from us. I miss sitting on those benches. They symbolize peace and quiet, a place where I was able to gather my thoughts and recuperate from the daily stress whilst smoking my pipe. May they give US Soldiers the peace that I found whilst serving in Iraq.
All Images were shot on a Nikon F6 using Kodak TMax400 film.