January 27, 2005

AWFUL CLAUSE

CaliValleyGirl's boyfriend is deploying soon, and she voices many of the issues that I remember from this time last year. I must say that there is one clause that I am really starting to hate, one that I have been hearing more and more often: "When my husband was in Iraq the first time..."

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January 23, 2005

COLA

I got excited a few months ago when they raised our Cost Of Living Allowance, but now today I am feeling alarmed:

As the dollar drops against foreign currency, it makes the cost of basing U.S. military personnel in Europe and Asia all the more expensive. For example, every time the euro rises one euro cent in value against the dollar, the dollar increase in salary and benefits for local-national employees at the Navy Exchanges is $187,000 adjusted annually, according to Lt. Cmdr. Lisa Braun, spokeswoman for Navy Region Europe in Naples, Italy.

Get us out of here! Send us all back home so we can spend our dollars in Kansas and Texas instead of on paying Germans to sit on their rumps and be rude to us in the housing office. Let me go home so I can pump my money into Quizno's and Hobby Lobby instead of spending it here. Let our single soldiers drop hundreds of dollars in American clubs and bars instead of being banned from Club New York in Nuremburg because Club New freakin' York doesn't like Americans. Let me take my car in to the Nissan dealer at home so I can stop getting hosed here because our warranty is no good in Europe. Let me tip an American waiter for bringing me my third free refill of Dr. Pepper instead of the German who charged me extra for ketchup.

Wanna solve issues of COLA and ridiculous pay/benefits for local nationals?
Send. Us. Home.

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January 21, 2005

WELL DONE, BUDDY

Red 6 got the Silver Star. And his smile just lights up my heart.

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January 20, 2005

MEMORIAL

ABC wanted to know if there were any military funerals that they could contrast to their coverage of the inauguration. I send a hundred mental middle fingers their way, for today I attended the memorial service for PFC Gunnar Becker.

The soldiers of Becker's company had their own service:

As they approached the memorial to render a final salute, many of his comrades felt compelled to leave a memento. While many leaders left unit coins, the popping of stitches was heard as nametapes and patches were torn from uniforms throughout the chapel, and left on the memorial alongside a toy tank, paper flowers, packs of Camel cigarettes and other personal items.

Today we who stand and wait had ours.

PFC Becker seems like an upstanding guy. He gave away his R&R slot to another soldier whose grandfather was ill. He joined in Army in August 2003, at which point he would have known he'd be heading to a long deployment in the Middle East. He joined anyway. His platoon sergeant said that when he asked Becker why he joined the Army, instead of answering "for the college money" like most do, he said, "I came in to make a difference."

And he did make a difference. One of his friends, in DCUs and crutches, went to the podium and choked back sobs as he spoke of his friend. We all wept. My heart ached as they fired the volleys. PFC Becker will be buried on Saturday at 1530 in South Dakota, on his 20th birthday.

Screw you, ABC, for wanting to politicize our pain.

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January 16, 2005

GUNNAR

Yesterday when I did a search on PFC Gunnar Becker, all I could find was a Wall of Fame entry at his high school. Which he graduated from, incidentally, in 2003. Today there is more information about the young man our battalion lost this week.

Lost soldier lit up their lives, friends say
SD soldier killed in Iraq (his photo: he looks like a little kid...he would've been 20 next week)

His death was an accident, a stupid, infuriating accident. If an insurgent had killed him, I could at least have someone to hate. I feel angry about PFC Becker's death, but there's nowhere to focus my laser beam.

Even as young soldier back in 2003, Becker realized the risk.

He said, "I guess if it costs a couple of people's lives to keep freedom it's probably worth it. That's just the way I am guess."

We'll make sure it was worth it, Gunnar.


(My thoughts on PFC Becker's memorial service here.)

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January 15, 2005

WHAT WOULD IT TAKE?

There are some wives here who are already getting ready for our husbands' return. Others are convinced that, like 1AD before us, our soldiers will be extended past their 13 month target. We have a bad precedent: many in 1AD were already home when they got turned back to Iraq. Even having our soldiers step off the plane isn't a guarantee that they're home, so no one quite knows when to breathe the sigh of relief. And the fact that the elections are supposed to take place a mere two weeks before our transfer of authority is making everyone a little crazy.

What I've been wondering lately is what exactly would have to happen to make the situation bad enough that 1ID would have to stay. Many people have been saying that "if the elections go badly", but how badly would they have to go? How intense the fighting, how widespread the chaos, how dangerous the situation? What would it take to make them hold on to the division?

I'm not getting my hopes oriented in either direction. Before 1ID left, I told myself that I would be happy as long as my husband came home before Tax Day. I still have to keep that target in mind.

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January 14, 2005

ELEVENTH HOUR

Today marks the eleventh month of our deployment. Our battalion just lost its first soldier.

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January 08, 2005

SMOKING

I've never understood the relationship between the Army and smoking. I understand that smoking can alleviate stress, which I suppose is why many people start while they're deployed. But I don't understand how an organization that prides itself on physical fitness can be so full of smokers. But then again, I've never smoked; perhaps I overestimate the effects. Thoughts?

(prompted by this article, only tangentially related)

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January 05, 2005

MISSING

I have to chuckle at the fact that I learned about a new milblogger via an Iraqi blog. Omar pointed out In Iraq for 365, where I found a great post called "From the smells to toilets to flirting, I miss America".

And for the anti-war types who think Iraq was all kite-flying before we got there, check out this sentence:

Logan’s story is both compelling and sad. His uncle was killed by members of Saddam Hussein’s regime for speaking Turkish in Baghdad.

Killed for speaking a foreign language. Remind me again why we shouldn't have invaded Iraq?

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January 04, 2005

GLORY

I have always maintained that I am lucky to be a modern military wife and that the struggles we face are nothing compared to those who have gone before us. In times of fear, I always count my blessings that my husband fights in Iraq instead of on Normandy Beach. I perhaps could have endured WWII though; tonight, after watching Glory, my benchmark is set much higher.

I'm brave, but could I have sent my husband to fight in the Civil War? Could I have endured each excruciating moment, knowing that he was lining up in perfect rows in plain sight of the enemy, drummers and colors nearby? Could I have born the agony of imagining him fighting with a bayonet? I'd like to think that I could have carried that weight, knowing that the cause soldiers fought for then was the same cause we fight for today. But it's hard to say; in an age where supposedly 77% of HMMWVs are up-armored and 100% of men wear armor plates, how can we even fathom rows of men trying to reload their muskets faster than the other guy?

I would hope that I could be as strong as women past. Edith Roosevelt hung a photo of her dead son on her mantel to defy the Germans who sent it to her. I picture her when times get difficult. I'm certain that Civil War women deserve far more respect and admiration than I can guess.

Military wife-ing has gotten progressively easier, no matter what anyone says. Watch Glory and imagine your husband fighting for freedom back then if you don't believe me.

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January 02, 2005

WOW

I've been emailing with a reader lately, and I hope she doesn't mind if I steal her words about love for our soldiers:

Sometimes I feel like a firehose with a knot in it. I have to be careful where I point it 'cause if the knot ever gets untied, I might end up drowning somebody in admiration, gratitude and affection.

That's how I felt when I read this article: They just want to rejoin their friends

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