The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Brian Castner served three tours of duty in the Middle East, two of them in Iraq as the head of an Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit. Whenever IEDs were discovered, he and his men would lead the way in either disarming the deadly devices or searching through rubble and remains for clues to the bomb-makers’ identities. And when robots and other remote means failed, one technician would suit up and take the Long Walk to disarm the bomb by hand. This lethal game of cat and mouse was, and continues to be, the real war within America’s wars in the Middle East. When Brian returned stateside to his wife and family, he entered an equally inexorable struggle against the enemy within, which he comes to call the “Crazy.”
This thrilling, heartbreaking, stunningly honest book alternates between two harrowing realities: the terror, excitement, and camaraderie of combat, and the lonely battle against the unshakeable fear, anxiety, and survivor guilt that he—like so many veterans—carries inside.
the eastern gate at Eglin Air Force Base are a set of power lines that run up a hill, into the forest, and back through a neighborhood adjoining the base. The three-mile loop up that incline would have been bad, but not epic; no simple slope deserves the name Hill of Woe. But this was Florida—the run was torture because the hill was made of sand. A mile and a half of soft sand uphill. Up we went, in a line, in step and on pace, singing songs to take the mind off burning calves and thighs. We had
across me. She leaned in, and I could feel the warmth of her breasts through my shirt. “You guys deserve to have some fun before you go,” she breathed. The bird touched down at Balad just after the New Year. I was fired less than a month later. My first C-130 ride ever was my flight from Qatar into Iraq. The deployment was still an indistinct dream in my mind until the main lights turned off in the back of the cargo plane. Stark reality suddenly emerged in the form of a dim red glow that
rooftops. Shots from higher ground? An RKG-3 antitank grenade, tossed from the opening crowd? The Iraqi Army and local police were nowhere to be seen. I readjusted my rifle again, and popped open the dust covers on my optical sight. But we had not stopped. Not yet. Men with flat faces of unreadable sternness, walking alongside, began to look into the Humvee windows. Kids moved up, tapped on the door, and then ran off, disappearing into the rabbit warrens. If the attack comes, it will be quick.
After months of deprivation, American excess is overwhelming. Crowds of self-important bustling businessmen. Shrill and impatient advertising that saturates your eyes and ears. Five choices of restaurant, with a hundred menu items each, only a half-minute walk away at all times. In the land you just left, dinners are uniformly brown and served on trays when served at all. I was disoriented by the choice, the lights, the infinite variety of gummy candy that filled an entire wall of the convenience
months on the trail; a line of mushing sled dogs; a flag for their country; a sea of white behind them. And on each chest, a rifle hung, barrel down, stock to the shoulder. A photo mural of our local hockey team, writ large on the side of the arena downtown, a line of young men, jerseys half on, clad in armor and helmeted, each with a rifle, hands on the grips. On an Olympic podium, three competitors, three rifles. It’s in their eyes. They know. They feel the weight of the rifle as well. Those