The Hartford Courant  

FALLUJAH, Iraq -- So you want to know what a
foot patrol is like?

Most days, the men from Plainville-based Charlie
Company walk Fallujah. No armored Humvees.
Nothing between them and the city. Maybe a
dozen Marines counting on nobody but each other.

No, there's no way to replicate it, but here's how
you can give it a shot:

Wait for the hottest day of summer, when the heat
is pounding the earth, stealing the air from your
lungs and sweat from your skin.

Put on 82 pounds of gear. Heavy boots. A helmet,
if you've got it. And a backpack jammed with stuff
to make up the balance.

Get three hours of sleep the night before. (You
probably were on post or ran out to a roadside
bomb attack just a few hours before dawn.)

Find a place where it's hunting season, and stalk
around the woods. (Though, unless the woods run
with open sewers and are strewn with rotting
garbage, it would be hard to get the smell right.)

If you don't get hit after a few hours, walk back
home, shoulders cramping, stomach tight from the
weight and the heat and the tension. When you
walk through the door, sweat running in tiny
streams down your body, turn the air conditioner
off, and the lights, too. (The generator got hit by a
As you lie there, recovering in the dark, think about
what it would have been like to have walked under
a thousand black windows where snipers might
hide, in narrow alleys where you brush against the
people, walking past traffic stopped because of
you, the drivers glaring as you pass.

But if you want an even better idea what it's like
for the Marines, do it all over again tomorrow.