G.I. Joe

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.