Joe Linhard shipped off to Iraq months after graduating from college. That's the time when most kids are "bummin' around" or "figuring things out" or "starting a magazine."
His meditations on his service are totally gripping, and well written 'cause he's smaht (he went to Harvard).
On being responsible for the small town of Diyara on the Shia-Sunni fault line:
"It was like playing the video game SimCity; at age 23, I was given a town and told to make it work. My only guides were creativity and maybe a course I took my sophomore year..."
On Port-O-Potty graffiti:
"I always enjoyed reading the Port-o-Potties, though, because it was there that I really got to understand what other soldiers were thinking.
Our sergeant major forbid anyone from writing on the Port-o-Potties on our forward operating base (FOB), but, in Kuwait, there was a veritable encyclopedia written on the walls. If I'd had a camera, I could have made a coffee-table photo book with everything I saw written, from politics to religion to sex and everything in between.
Marines suck. U.S. ARMY: Uncle Sam Ain't Release Me Yet. Jesus Saves. God is dead. Bush is a terrorist. National Guards is a bunch of nasty girls. If you don't like the Army, no one forced you to sign up. Heil Hitler. You are a racist. Chuck Norris' tears cure cancer; too bad he never cries."
On coming back:
"I know that Iraq was a personal, intense experience that I like to talk about and don't like to talk about. I know that a part of me feels that I will never do anything that important again and a part of me feels I lost something of myself there. I know that I am proud to be a soldier and American."
The whole thing's here.