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Military Biography: February
The end of January brought about some positive changes at the motor pool. Rooms were started for the NCOs to live in, and being the designer, and builder I designed myself the biggest room. At this point though the building was still in the development stage, and if you remember correctly there were only five walls that were put up. Out of materials and nothing left to do I had to think of something fast otherwise we were doomed to the condemned morgue. So I went on a journey of discovery. I walked all around the base and found a compliment of 16 foot 2X4’s near another motor pool. There was about 90 of them and would be plenty to build the rest of the walls and if I was lucky some form of a roof. I definitely had plenty of plywood left so that wasn’t an issue.
Now all I had to do was figure out how to “acquire” the wood and bring it back to my motor pool. So I grabbed two soldiers (sergeant’s privilege) and the 5 ton truck. I actually waited until ten o’clock and dark fall before going to get the wood. So I instructed my soldiers to get in the truck and meet me near the entrance to the other motor pool. I walked over to the entrance and waited for them to show up in the 5 ton so we could get the wood and get out of there without being caught. I waited maybe for five minutes before they finally showed up.
Once I saw the truck I flashed them with my flashlight signaling where I was, and started walking towards the pile of desperately needed boards. The soldiers backed the 5 ton into position and we started loading it up with the 2 X 4’s. After roughly thirty minutes the boards were safely in the back of the truck with no one in sight. Nobody even walked by, but we did not have the boards safely in our possession. The soldiers got back in the truck and drove it back to our motor pool; I instructed them that I would meet them there.
Once I got back to the motor pool they were already there and standing by, waiting for further instruction. The soldiers were probably just waiting to be released so they could go to bed. When I got to the five ton I opened the connex that was right next to the building I was constructing…the soldiers knew what I wanted without me saying anything. So they started unloading the 2 X 4’s and putting them in the connex. With me helping we had them unloaded and stored within 25 or 30 minutes. After the completion of the mission I sent the soldiers back to their rooms, and I locked the connex. Mission accomplished, I now had a total of 90 sixteen foot 2 X 4’s and could probably finish the rooms.
The next day I got straight to work. At six o’clock in the morning in the beginning of February, even in Iraq, it was cold. The plywood that is left out each night has frost on it each morning. Anyway, I grabbed my saw, hammer, square, and the nails, and got right to wall construction. Right now I have five portions of wall built and standing, but no completed rooms. So I started off by closing off one of the walls. Jake started to try and help me but ended up working on vehicles. I could tell at this point that I would have to complete this building by myself. I measured, cut, and nailed the walls and slowly but surely started getting the building in some semblance of an actual house. Everything I know and knew about house building I had read in a book once, and it was nowhere near enough information. I had the figure it out attitude and I figured it out. Even if I do say so myself I figured it out pretty well. By February fifteenth I had the walls up and the exterior of the building skinned. The power box was installed and had power going to it.
The other sections were getting ready to put the roof on and were building it flat. Ok, they had a one and a half inch rise in roof elevation so they weren’t building them completely flat. It may have been a five degree rise; it could even have been up to ten degrees. Honestly, who builds roofs like that? So needless to say I had a nice little chuckle over the whole ordeal. I often thought, this guy claims to be an expert builder but is building a flat roof when it has been raining? “Let’s see how they like their roofs when they leak huh.”
Regardless of whether or not their roof would leak, I had a meeting to go to. It was a Friday when I got the word. Management was going to split the work force into three different shifts. I had the afternoon shift. “Shit.” I thought to myself “I need to finish these rooms this weekend.” So I started figuring out the roof. I had roughly fifteen 16 foot 2 X 4’s left over and didn’t have the slightest idea how to build the roof with that small number of boards. So I measured the length—27—feet and divided by 2 feet, center on center. I had enough boards to build a roof, sort of. The only way I could do it was by lying down the boards face down and spanning from the back wall to the front wall.
I laid and measured the distance and length that I would need for each boards. I cut each board and started laying them out across the roof. Once they were nailed down I put up the sheets of plywood. If you have never thrown a sheet of 4 X 8 foot sheet of plywood that is ¾ inch thick, you may not understand how hard it is to do by yourself. Regardless of the difficulty I got the boards up and nailed down, by the end of the day Saturday I had a roof. My goal for Sunday was to wire up my light, and my plug-ins.
Since there were no walls up on the inside I drilled holes through the studs to make room for the wiring to my room. By ten o’clock I had power and light, so I decided to make my door, hang it and put up the inside walls. My other peer who by this time was twice as motivated as me, started working on his room and on finishing it up. He worked on it whenever he could, while I was able to focus entirely on finishing my room. By nine o’clock that night I had everything done that I wanted and then some. Only about one quarter of my walls were up and covered, I had a door on, and I had power and light. I also had my bed frame made and a little desk too. So I moved my mattress and my bags into my room. Mine was completely done, sort of, while the other three were works in progress. I stayed that night in my new room that I built. I borrowed an electric heater for another NCO at the motor pool. I built my roof with about a 25 to 30 degree decline and it worked just fine. For the next week I built on the inside of my room until it was near completion by the 25th of February. I ran and installed my internet line and had it operational that night. In the ten days since I stopped visually building the rooms, only one other NCO worked on his room, and he moved in on that date. The other two NCO’s I guess were expecting me to build their rooms as well. I wasn’t going to though. The roof was strong enough for what we needed it for. It was made completely out of 2X4’s and ¾ inch plywood; there was nothing over it and nothing to put over it. We just had to hope for no rain for the rest of the year.
I did everything I thought would help with rain proofing the “barn” we lived in. I bought spray foam and sealed every single crack I could find and even those imaginary ones we all tend to find. On February 26th I discovered that the roof leaked when it started to rain, luckily the water dripped from the peak of the roof and ran down the rafters to finally leak at the foot of my bed. Eventually though, it would start dripping everywhere. I had to do something and fast. In the flash recall of my memory I recalled seeing a tarp somewhere. Where, I couldn’t rapidly remember, nor could I remember how big it was…
I remembered where it was. I put it in a connex insert in the connex a month and a half ago. I grabbed my rain jacket, and threw on my boots wasting no time tying them, and went out to the connex in a hurry. Luckily for me the connex was less than ten feet away. I rummaged through the disgusting disorganization of this connex until I reached the insert. At first glance of the insert, which had no lid, I saw tents, 30 road cones, a heavy electronics tester box, and some other sensitive items that I’m not allowed to discuss, but they were there, and no sign of the tarp.
I did the only thing that I could have done at this point. I started to remove all the other crap in search of my treasure. I also didn’t take the time to neatly remove anything. As soon as something came out of the box it was quickly thrown somewhere else. As Murphy’s Law would have it the doggone tarp was at the very bottom of the box. I quickly snagged it, gave out a mwah hah hah laugh, and turned toward the entrance to the connex.
In my haste to grab the tarp, I unknowingly threw everything that was on top of it in my only path of escape. So shortly after mwah hah hah-ing, I cursed loud enough for it to resonate within the connex. Oh well, just as violently as I removed the items from the insert, I returned them. Five minutes later I was on the roof laying out the tarp and securing it with bricks and sandbags. The tarp wasn’t quite large enough to cover the entire section of roof that I owned but it covered the majority of it. Just as soon as the tarp was unfolded and laid out and secured, it stopped raining.
At this I looked to the sky and spoke directly with God, “Oh come on, this is ridiculous. You can bring on the rain now.”
Apparently He wasn’t listening because it didn’t rain again for three more days.
That evening I received an e-mail message from my wife and one from my dad. My wife said she wanted me to call her. So I did. That night I learned that my wife would be going home to Idaho so she could have help with the kids. The e-mail I received from my dad said that grandma was sick with the cancer and may not make it. I held fast to the idea that she would be fine. I continued to work on various pieces of equipment while my soldiers did other various tasks. I ended February 28th with the fixing of numerous vehicles and thoroughly enjoying my privacy.
Next month I get to turn 30 and discover some terrible news. Join me for the next installment of the Military Biography.
© 2010 by Wesley Cox. All rights reserved. Copying without permission is illegal and will be prosecuted.