Combat and Other Shenanigans: Tales of the Absurd From a Deployment to Iraq. Piers Platt. Create Space Publishing. February 2014. 180 pp. ISBN#: 9781496128676.
Few war stories are both comical and serious, but this one year memoir is unique in both respects. Lieutenant Piers Platt as a cavalry platoon officer attends enough schooling to sink a ship while in Kentucky and then Germany, but he has to receive even more training after he is deployed to Iraq. It’s a soldiers world with gutsy language, pranks for all newcomers, a place where rules are made to be broken, where punishments are handed out and then rescinded hours later, and where one lives fluctuating between constant boredom or ever-looming life-death situations.
Platt’s writing includes a lot of acronyms for military weapons and procedures that are incomprehensible to the average reader and could have had more explanation for non-military readers, but those who have served in Iraq will definitely relate to all of it. The reader isn’t quite sure whether one should be amused or horrified by the deplorable state of the equipment these soldiers rely on for travel, defense and attack while out on missions. Add to that the realistic scenes of killing and coming close to being killed, and the reader realizes how stressed out these men are and their almost desperate need to have plenty of humor to cope with the realities of everyday war.
This story actually takes place at the end of the Iraq war when American soldiers were cleaning up after the major battles and dealing with leftover insurgents who must have missed the memo about the end of the war and were still dropping IEDs and shooting at soldiers, all designed to perpetuate the war that was over but really wasn’t over quite yet.
Platt writes in a uniquely light tone about the idiotic decisions made by “higher-ups” in sending soldiers into deadly areas such as Samarra. Yet he also describes the Iraqi people’s joy and determination when they finally got the opportunity to vote. All in all, what is conveyed most is the unity and powerful friendships that developed between these men who truly “cared” for each other in such an admirable way. That alone is worth the great read provided by Lieutenant Piers Platt! Thank you and all who served with you!