The men sleep well outside of Baghdad. It is late in the morning of April 7, and Colbert is sitting in the sun behind his Humvee, staring at the grass, which in the center of the encampment is more than a meter tall. Like everyone else, Colbert is required to wear his helmet and flak vest at all times, unless he is underneath the cammie nets by his Humvee. There are times like today—when the sky is clear, the sun is shining and enemy mortars are only falling about once every couple hours—that the requirement to always wear a helmet and flak vest seems a crime. Some Marines routinely flout the rule, but not Colbert. Suddenly, he stands up, throwing his helmet down, ripping off his flak vest and stripping down to his T-shirt. “You know what?” he announces. “I’m going to run through that field waving my arms like I’m an airplane.”
Colbert runs through the grass, making jet sounds, banks into a loose turn and flies back to his Humvee. He quickly dons his gear. “Better now,” he says, strapping his helmet on again.