They warned you in training that the desert could be cold. Having grown up in Puerto Rico, it was what he feared the most. So he made sure he was an ace at starting a fire and always took the breakfast shift. His biscuits were the legend of the squadron. Fluffy perfect biscuits over a campfire. Grits and butter, oatmeal that didn’t taste like spackle. Flexible yet crispy bacon. Flapjacks on Sundays.

He knew the barest idea the horrors some of his mates saw and perhaps even did themselves. Afghanistan was an unforgiving angry place. It had been as long as the ground could remember such things.

He knew his job was to create a respite. an oasis. Many soldiers reach for a rifle when they think of their weapon of choice, he reached for his grandmother’s cast iron skillet. It was time for the magician to get to work.

June 25, 2017