Probably I felt more alive back then and life was much more meaningful.
As I gaze upon the inky black starless sky out of my bedroom window. My thoughts went back to those starry nights...
I trudged across the soft sandy soil of the savanna grassland. I took a deep breath. The pungent smell of the strange savanna thorny flower permeated my lungs. I breathed out, vapour condensing in the cold night air.
My ride, a Mercedes GD290 jeep stood in the distance. The mounted Milan missile launcher stood sentinel against the back drop of the night sky.
Feeling the usual ache on my neck from the weight bearing, I adjusted the rifle sling. The clip of the rifle sling of my M16 clicked as I adjusted the sling. I removed my helmet and ruffled my hair.
Usually, my hair will be soaked with sweat from the heat under the helmet. But in these desert conditions, the 40plus degrees day time heat dried up all moisture from my clothing and webbing. At night the temperature fell to a cold 14 degrees, even less so when riding an open-top jeep.
I dusted sand from my hair and webbing. I could feel sand grinding in my teeth. I pressed the illuminator button on my G-Shock. The displayed glowed an indigo blue. It was 2am in the morning.
"Very good watch." A Thai soldier beside me muttered and pointed at his wrist. I glanced back at him and smiled.
"Yep. " I replied. I would have like to strike a longer conversation. But I knew he knew only this much English.
The drone of a jet engine sounded overhead. I looked up and saw an airliner flying across the night sky. Strobe flashing away in a blob of green and red glows.
"When will I be going home? How are things at home?" I thought.
I took out a photograph from my left breast pocket. A faded old photograph of a girl smiling away next to a fountain. Those were happy and innocent days. The girl that I once knew in college that were no longer in this world...
A tear came to my eye. The loss of her changed me into a different person. I became bitter and aggressive. A far change from the gentle and patient college boy I once was.
"Stars, many, many." The Thai soldier tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to the sky. Awoken from my mourning, I wiped away my tear and smiled.
The stars spread out across the sky. Stars beckoning us with its millions of shimmering lights. I remembered reading somewhere that light left the stars at different times to reach our eye. Probably some of those lights that I saw this night left the stars during happier times.
The Thai soldier and me continued gazing at the night sky. I took out a night vision scope and put it on. Even more stars appeared through the scope, filling out the entire display.
I'll patted the shoulder of my star gazing partner and handed the NVG to him. He put it on and exclaimed in delight. He has never used an NVG before.
The diesel wail of an armoured personnel carrier sounded in the distance. Brought back to reality from our stargazing daze. We ran back towards our vehicles.
I swung open the heavy steel rear door of the GD290, unslung my M16 and placed it first in the jeep. Stepping on the side step, I climbed onto my seat. The diesel engine roared into life as the driver, SH fired up the engine.
In a cloud of sand, our convoy drove off into the desert night and continued with our mission...