University of Baltimore MFA writing student Lisa M. Van Wormer recalls the day her fellow soldier failed to answer the repeat call of her name. Hear Lisa read the piece on WYPR’s “The Signal” this Friday at 7.
You are about halfway through your year deployment to Iraq at this point, just enough time to make routines and gain a sense of security in the day to day. You are at a satellite site away from the majority of your unit when you hear the news. Once granted permission you are on the next convoy to travel the 40 miles down IED alley to the base that it happened at, to be there for your surviving friends—for roll call. The feeling this day at the base is far different from any other you have experienced. For one, everyone is in full battle rattle (flak vest with shields, Kevlar, slung weapon, eight 30-round magazines), even off guard duty, which is not the norm for this secluded base. Secondly, there’s no milling around or open chatting—the whole base is silent and somber.