Photo by David Matsuda

Photo by David Matsuda

The old saying “an army travels on its stomach” might be more aptly updated to “an army travels well-caffienated.” Mudhouse may not have Farley’s artistic vibe, or Thinker’s hometown atmosphere, but it’s the place to go for coffee in Camp Taji, Iraq.

May 2008

Going to War

By David Matsuda

Fear caught up with me a little while back.  Not sure how, not sure when.   But I’m in touch with the emotion now.  The trigger could have been the periodic sound of distant artillery, or the numerous close calls.  Maybe it was traveling in a convoy when another vehicle was hit; or when a soldier just a couple of guys away from me was shot in the neck by a sniper.

On my 240th day in Iraq I no longer fought fear, but gave into it.  I decided, in a conceptual but quite emotionally comprehensive way, that I’m already dead.  With that acceptance I’ve taken away the enemies only hold over me:  fear.  If the enemy wants me dead there’s nothing I can do about it.  I will not be held captive on base, kept from negotiations, or from advocating for an Iraqi future that’s no different from my own. 

I’m already dead.  Feels strange to think it, sounds strange to say it, but it has a calming effect.  It’s summoned a bravery, courage and a resolve in me that I didn’t know I had.

The desert has spoken to me as with so many before who have survived its ravages or succumbed to its limitlessness.  And its message is clear.  You are never so alive as when you are close to death.  How alive I feel to be already dead.

Emails From Home 

Thank you View readers for your kind emails.  Here’s a sample of a few; we’ll print more in conjunction with a future article.

•You tipped when you stopped by the coffee shop on your way out of town.  I’m still keeping that dollar bill in my wallet and going to keep it till you come back.

•I don’t know if you remember me, but I worked … on the Hill for years.  I remember you and your family fondly.  I recently started reading your stories in the View.  I enjoy reading them.  Thanks, I’m also appreciative of your service.  And want to thank your family for supporting you.  I too look forward to the day we can visit Iraq as tourists.  Thanks again.

•Thanks for sacrificing yourself and making the world a peaceful place…it matters.

•Thank you for giving us a bit of hope in mankind … it is of such importance [that] you are actually helping both sides.

•I enjoy [your articles]!  Keep up the good work and stay safe.

You can email David Matsuda at




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