April 22, 2003: Camp Victory, Kuwait, some 25 miles south of the Iraqi border.
Maybe it was the 110-degree heat. Maybe it was having to wear chemical suits in 110-degree heat. Either way, last April, after three mind-numbing months working at an artillery post in Kuwait, Sgt. First Class Sean M. Tafoya, a former ski instructor from California, seems to have looked at the sea of sand surrounding him and confused Be all that you can be with Ski all that you can see. With the announcement that major combat operations in Iraq were complete, Tafoya strapped on a pair of 2x4's with a roll of Army-issue tape and took the "chairlift" (a Hummer) to the crest of a nearby dune. "Standing on top of the hill, I felt the sensation of a run ready to happen," he explains. "Then I felt the sensation of 'Oops, I'm gonna bust my ass.'" As this series of pictures depicts, an overaggressive hop turn coupled with a disastrous binding blowout dashed all hopes of laying down clean tracks. Tafoya and the rest of the 529th Ordinance Company are due home in January 2004.