What does war sound like?

What does war sound like?

I don’t know. I do know what my experience of briefly coming under fire sounds like…

Like a metal filing cabinet falling on a concrete floor.

Earlier this year I deployed for six months to southern Iraq. I felt fortunate I was going to a base where news of combat or violence was less than in other areas.

Five days after arriving, it was Inauguration Day in the United States – the only day where this Pentagon Airman was glad he wasn’t in the Washington area. I didn’t have to deal with the folks coming to the nation’s capital to watch history unfold. I was content watching it on Armed Forces Network on the little television in my office.

On the television was the newly sworn-in Vice President Joseph Biden shaking hands with Associate Justice John Paul Stevens. As if on cue with the handshake…


A sound filled the building that resembled a metal filing cabinet falling on a concrete floor. A quietness lasted for several long seconds.

People stuck their heads out of their offices and asked each other what that was. A cry of “get down!” filled the building. Airmen hit the deck. After the required time, they donned protective gear and started doing their post-attack duties.

We learned enemy fire did strike about a half-mile away on the surrounding Army compound. Fortunately, the attack did not hurt anyone or damage anything.

I know my experiences don’t even come close to comparing what Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines in contact with the enemy experience daily. During the Air & Space Conference and Technology Symposium, Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz highlighted the heroism of two explosive ordnance disposal Airmen facing danger every day: Senior Airman Danny Williams and Tech. Sgt. (ret.) Matthew Slaydon. (CSAF addresses AFA convention). The Air Force’s “Portraits in Courage” series honors the extraordinary actions of Airmen who have faced and heard war.

This is my experience, though. Thought I’d share it.


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