OKANOGAN — “Iraq has a distinct smell, one that I will never be able to get out of my head,” my father tells me. He claims that he still smells it on some of the things that he brought back, but I don’t smell it anymore. When he returned, the smell was everywhere, like old sweat and dirt from thousands of years ago. I just figured it was the smell of war; a sign that he had gone through some of the most dangerous places on Earth and survived.
Joseph Bryson, my father, is a retired sergeant from the Army National Guard. In the service, he was paid as an E5, and worked as an Intel analyst and truck driver. My father joined the military after being suckered in by my uncle when he was 17. “What are you doing for money this summer? Because, you could go to basic training, make $2,000, and get in shape for next year’s wrestling at the same time.”