Friday, August 21, 2009

Leif in Desert Camouflage Uniform Circa 1999

I don't know for sure where these photos of Leif in DCUs (desert camouflage uniform were taken. They are the only ones in the pile of photos I found scattered loose in a box of his things. In the others, he is wearing the usual green BDUs (battle dress uniform). To my knowledge, the only time he was in a desert was when they went for the UN exercises in Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan, but this could have been part of a training mission before going overseas. The third photo of him standing with his machine gun and ammo belts over his shoulders, was taken in what appears to be a staging area for moving out, either to the field or to transportation elsewhere. His huge and heavy pack was on the floor near him, but there was a large floor fan in that part of the photo and I cropped it out.

Leif, as an infantry soldier, had to carry an extremely heavy load. I can't remember the exact amount but I think Leif told me that with his pack and his machine gun he was carrying his own weight and he had to be able to march for miles and even to run with that amount of weight on him. The machine gun was considerably heavier than the normal M-16 rifle.

These are also the only photos that show Leif with his face camouflaged. The reason the top of his forehead is isn't made up is because it would have been covered by his helmet or cap.

I can place the photos are pre-2000 because by that time he was shaving his head. He still had hair in 1999.

LIke many of the other army photos of Leif, these originally showed other men in his unit but I don't know who they are and don't have their permission to post their photos.

Posting Leif's photos showing only him makes it possible to focus on him, but in another way it gives a false picture, as though he was always alone. Instead he was often with others and interacting with them.

Leif was a proud soldier and deeply identified himself as a soldier. It wasn't until the last year he was in the army, suffering from asthma and treated as though he were a malingerer and denied the promotion he was due and medals he earned that he became discouraged, depressed and demoralized.

He was the best gunner in the battalion. It should have been his place to shine. He should have been promoted and been able to use his fine leadership abilities. So many times, his hopes and dreams were dashed.

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