Red Fields My feet sink into the Barnestilled soil of my father-in-law's Oklahoma land, reminding me of times before I met his daughter. When I drove along in a tank convoy towards Baghdad at the same pace as a tractor over an unplowed field, we dug foxholes in the sand with every stop we made. My driver and I would have fifteen minutes to dig two foxholes, with e-tools better designed for digging 1'x1' cat-holes. When the sand was soft like the overworked edges of the short-rows of my father-in-law's fields, it was a blessing. We'd dig our holes deep, safe, to plant ourselves into if we came under fire, so we could rise out when the lead rain ended. When the sand was as hard as the unworked ground hiding under the buffalo grass, our e-tools would chink at the surface with every hit; our holes would be shallow, and we'd push the sand up around the perimeter, making a false reservoir of safety, knowing bullets would penetrate the powdered walls if we were ambushed, and our bodies would lie half-exposed in shallow graves, in pools coloring the sand Oklahoma clay. When his daughter was only a pin-up girl in my mind, the sandstorms would erase the foxholes after we left; now I drive my father-in-law's tractor and set the plow into the soil to cultivate his land. Baghdad International The ninety-four left of 3-13 Field Artillery, Red Dragon Battalion, drove over bumps by night, bodies by day; then in the afternoons, they bagged the scrunched, scorched remains from yesterday's artillery fires, clearing their claim of the Baghdad airport. Then they guarded their plot with .50 cals, M-249s, 16s, and 203s, weapons unable to distinguish between civilians and suicide bombers, and futile against the harpy-sized, flesh-eating flies that would invade night and day, every day. Nineteen miles and two days south of Baghdad, four Dragons went to Heaven, at least we presume; their Bibles were recovered. They traveled by means of burning in a Humvee lit up by an Air Force bomb. Three others were medivacted out, detached from the ninety-four as our limbs were detached from our bodies, saved from witnessing the airport by means of shrapnel, bullets, and a Blackhawk; we flew south as the unit continued on the road home. One soldier on a stretcher beside me, his legs had apparently sinned or traveled upward prematurely because they didn't accompany us any longer, nor did what looks my other buddy had. His face now looks as if it were rained on by burning shrapnel, which it was. The ninety-four rose from Baghdad by means of a 747. They returned to what once was home. At least the only other man to go through Hell and arise went straight to Heaven after. They entered another damnation full of divorce decrees, drugs, and broken bank accounts; some brought the death back with them, just as we all brought back our badge, and their families got to go through it too. Few returned to a moment's awkward embrace of a family knowingly never understanding. But each of the ninety-four still had each other until car accidents, drug overdoses, and return deployments began to pick them off like a sniper, one by one. Fort Sill's New Housing Division Military bases name buildings, roads, training areas, and everything else after highly decorated soldiers, retired soldiers, soldiers killed in action, or people the military killed or captured. Geronimo Road can also be found on Fort Sill. I find Robbins Road. His freckles sink down, the color of his lips runs off into his white, opaque skin that sags down like a sheet placed over his face. Subtle red and blue lines, like broken glass that stays intact, show through. A dark worm of red stretches out from his lips down to the gurney at his back. I see him finishing right after me around the track, his gray PT shirt clinging to his heaving chest, his freckles shimmering under sweat. His crimson lips form a smile. I smile back and nod, knowing he didn't make time for max points, but with no heart to tell him he didn't. He trains me on push-ups and sit-ups during the week; on the weekend, if his wife permits, I train him on the run. I turn left onto Oaks Road. He stands guard half out of the top of an armored Humvee. A bomb hits and he is almost severed at the waist. The medics cut off his blood-saturated DCUs, place his intestines back in, and bundle him with bandages. But the bleeding doesn't stop. He makes it onto the Blackhawk but never gets off. I see him in my peripheral standing at attention. I curse his creased, dark green BDUs that make my month-old set look wrinkled and faded, his kiwi boots that outshine mine, which I spent hours on the night before. The platoon sergeant praises him and then steps over to me. After cursing Oaks, I ask him, and he shares his military secrets with me, like he shared his life secrets with his fiancÚ. I turn right onto Rhen Road. He can't be found at first. He took the impact of the bomb. They piece him back together, no gauze or tape necessary, place all that can be found of him into one bag with his dog tags for identification and send him home to his wife and daughters. I see him in his dress blues at the Saint Barbara's Ball; I admire his many rows of ribbons, his tight high-and-tight, the shine of the brass U.S. and cross cannons on his lapel. He is the complete package of military bearing, the NCO on the Army commercials. I watch him smile toward his wife and her return. I don't approach him with the smudge on my brass U.S. I keep searching for my road. Shrapnel pierces my back, weaving through organs and bones, only serrating muscle, leaving me perforated, but intact. My blood strains out of my body, but with several field bandages my blood coagulates. My lungs keep filling with air. My PT shirt clings to my chest after I pump out the max pushups and sit-ups while I await the run. I press my BDUs with an iron and can of spray starch an extra time just before formation. After heating my kiwi with a lighter, I pour it lightly over the toes of my boots, then begin to shine. I remove the smudge off my brass and call my girlfriend to apologize for the fight we had the night before.