Monday, May 30, 2016

Special Memorial Day Feature: "Mobag" by the Editor

Steven Wittenberg Gordon
Dedicated to my brothers and sisters in arms:  "All gave some.  Some gave all."

Every square inch is precious.
Flight suit,
Battledress uniform,
Flight gloves, work gloves,
Garrison rank--captain,
Garrison rank--major (in case I get promoted),
Underclothes, socks,
Black tees, brown tees, one civie tee,
Boot polish, tennis shoes,
Glasses, glasses, glasses, glasses,
Sunglasses, prescription sunglasses,
Disposable contacts (three-month supply),
Toiletries, mirror (for shaving and signaling)
Emergency book (something funny by Wodehouse),
Dog tags (name, rank, number, Jew Jew Jew
God keep me from being captured),
Yarmulke, prayer book,
Chewing gum, tissues, wet wipes, hand sanitizer,
Photo of my wife, my son, my little baby girl.
Every square inch is precious.

Poet's Notes:  I served as a United States Air Force flight surgeon from 2000 to 2005.  Every airman (and presumably every member of the military) is required to have a "grab-and-go" mobility bag or "mobag" prepared at all times to be used in case of a last minute or emergency deployment.  I used mine only once--on September 11, 2001.  

Space in the bag was limited, and careful planning was required in order to pack a mobag properly.  The contents of mine reflect not only what I though was necessary but what I thought was important.  My biggest fear was breaking my only pair of glasses, thereby rendering myself completely useless.  Hence, a substantial portion of my mobag and a full three lines of the twenty-line poem was devoted to corrective lenses.  

My next biggest fear was not death but capture.  As a Jew, I knew my experience would be unpleasant if I were to be captured by our jihadist enemies.  I favor my Irish mother in appearance, so I could have "passed" for a gentile, and I debated whether or not to indicate my religion on my dog tags.  In the end, I decided to label myself a Jew--defiantly and proudly.  The yarmulke and prayer book would have been concealed deep in the bag and used only in secret.  Open use of such items would have violated General Order One and even possession of them probably did too.

As for my "emergency book," one might infer that, as a physician, it would be a medical manual of some sort.  For me, however, I wanted to be prepared for the long periods of boredom that occur during most deployments--the "hurry up and wait" or "HUAW" with which everyone in the military is familiar.  I chose an omnibus by P. G. Wodehouse.  I wound up reading it years later after I left the service.  A review may be found here:

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