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We had a one-eyed tank gunner supporting our unit. She lost an eye at Tikrit, Iraq skirmishing there with the Mujahidin. She was on the battlefield and went home every night to tuck in the perimeter truck fort. She was a battlefield loss—an injured soldier who’s sent back home to convalesce—who chose to stay with her people and unit instead. 

She could be seen leaning against her tank smoking a cig and sipping a TAB soft drink in the evenings—who can still find TAB and why would anyone want to drink it?! 

“Black market,” she would say with a wink. No, thanks; nobody could stomach them.

A tanker is all she ever wanted to be and she was awfully proud of the fact that her dad was a tanker in Vietnam (M60A) for a decade. I bet pop is as proud as she is and as proud as one can be. The M60 battle tank is the Hughes power that runs with the infantry. She felt like a king (queen) up in the turret watching soldiers scurry away from the 60-ton beast — it was just too hard not to.

tank gunner
(U.S. Army photo)

Sadly, her husband was killed in Tikrit. They offered to transfer her. “No,” she declared. She wanted to stay with the other lover in her life — her beastly tank.  She stood in the evenings sipping, puffing, and scanning half the sky with her one good eye. 

Her tank was supporting an infantry company. It was hit by an anti-tank rocket much to all’s chagrin. Her own tank got hit and destroyed over a year later, also there in Tikrit. She wanted to be with the last thing she loved there in the city. There was a request to leave her tank engine’s hull there, marking the center of the town. America; Feel the dedication; feel the love. 

With her good eye, Claire, puffing her cigarette and sipping her TAB, batted one huge, sincere eye and from the north winked Sirius, the dog star. 

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George Hand

Master Sergeant US Army (ret) from the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, The Delta Force. In service, he maintained a high level of proficiency in 6 foreign languages. Post military, George worked as a subcontracter for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on the nuclear test site north of Las Vegas Nevada for 16 years. Currently, George works as an Intelligence Analyst and street operative in the fight against human trafficking. A master cabinet-grade woodworker and master photographer, George is a man of diverse interests and broad talents.