February 26, 2005

MEDALS

I finally got that foot locker open, with the help of the bolt cutters Red 6 borrowed from the unit. Inside was everything my husband sent home from Iraq: 15 books, a couple of presents I had sent, a Gortex jacket and some TA-50, an Iraqi flag, a John Wayne DVD, and the medal my husband was awarded. Thrown in the bottom of the foot locker like an aftersight.

Red 6 wondered the other day why everyone keeps mentioning the s-word whenever they meet him. I've seen him deflect praise several times already, heaping it upon his crew and his men. He doesn't want to talk about his award, because to him it's not that big of a deal. Same as my husband's.

I told him that to civilians, medals and ribbons are very exciting. We will never understand what goes on in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we can understand that "getting a medal means you did something brave." And we're in awe of bravery, because we've never been asked to do anything with our lives that merits medals.

Remember in Karate Kid II when Daniel makes that beautiful display for Mr. Miyagi's Medal of Honor? (I'm telling you, I can relate anything to the Karate Kid...)

Daniel: I made this for you, it's rosewood. I thought it'd be nice to show them off.
Miyagi: Ah, Daniel-san. Thank you for gift. But why show off?
Daniel: Well, you know, it says something about you, winning the Medal of Honor and all that. It says you're brave. I thought it'd be neat.
Miyagi: (Pats Daniel's chest) This say you brave. (Pats medal) This say you lucky.

That's a pretty accurate portrayal of us dumb civilians. Obviously anyone who thinks medals should be shown off has never been awarded one. I fall squarely into that category, and I just tried to explain to Red 6 that he should keep doing what he's been doing: thanking people for noticing and sharing the glory with his men. When someone mentions the s-word, it's just because they're proud of him. We civilians have a lot of pride we want to share with the troops, it's just sometimes we don't know how.

I also mentioned Den Beste's post on heroism to Red 6; I hope he finds time to read it:

Real heroes know that decorations are only given to those who were lucky enough to be heroic while someone important was watching. Real heroes will have seen many other heroic acts which were never acknowledged by anyone, except by the other members of the team. And ultimately that is the only acknowledgement they truly value, for only their teammates really understand what they went through.

A man who brags about his heroism is no hero.

That's what his wife is for! Medals or no, my husband and Red 6 are my heroes.

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WONDER

I guess I'm just at a loss for words today. What can you say when a Marine's remains finally come home from Vietnam?

You know, sometimes I wonder what my life would be like if we hadn't ended up in the military. I'm sure in many ways it would be easier emotionally. I probably wouldn't weep when I read about remains in Vietnam. I probably wouldn't have the vivid dreams I've been having lately, dreams that haunt me all day long. And I most likely wouldn't be living apart from my husband for the 377th day.

But I really wouldn't trade it for anything. I love this life.

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1%

I can't think of anything to add to Joe Galloway's words:

Sgt. First Class David J. Salie of Columbus, Ga., went to serve in Iraq because he believed the cost was worth it, even if part of the payment was his own life. He was 34 years old and had spent almost half his life in the Army. He was part of that tiny, tiny minority of less than 1 percent of Americans who wear the uniform and take the risks to protect and defend the rest of us. He had everything to live for, but gave it all up for his country and another country and people 7,000 miles away.

(Thanks, Bunker.)

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February 23, 2005

ON GOING

It's easy to get caught up in OIF and to forget about OEF. CaliValleyGirl's soldier just left for Afghanistan, so her year is just beginning as ours ends. We must never forget that the war doesn't end when our own soldiers come home.

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FIRST CWB

Kudos to this military wife for recognizing proper casualty notification and military uniform regulations. Although I'm sure she almost had a heart attack, she was able to recognize this as a hoax because she knows her way around the Army. Let's put her in for a CWB!

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February 22, 2005

MOST ARE HOME

Our battalion is home.
I'm in the photo: top row, fourth from the right, waiting for Red 6.

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DULL PAIN

I've been sick as a dog for the past two days, so no blogging. I was just going to check Blackfive before getting back in bed...

Adam of Kim du Toit's Walter-Adam Fund was killed in Iraq.

I donated money to Kim's fund because, heck, snipers are cool. These boys even made it into my "hot" post. I feel for Kim because I know what it's like to have that feeling in your gut, the one where you think it couldn't possibly have hit that close to home.

From the battalion commander's eulogy:

How do you honor such heroes as Clint Gertson and Adam Plumondore? You honor them by telling the stories of their friendship, camaraderie, and fierce bravery. You honor them by continuing to fight to protect the man on your left and right who would lay down his life so that others might live. You honor them by continuing in this noble endeavor providing freedom to a people we do not know or understand the sacrifices that are made – but that is what makes America the greatest nation on earth.

If I know Kim du Toit, he will never let anyone forget SGT Adam Plumondore.

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February 20, 2005

BITTERSWEET

Red 6 is home; I can pick him up in three hours.

Operation Iraqi Freedom II is over:
Red 6 is home.
Greyhawk is home.
Sminklemeyer is home.
The Questing Cat is home.
My favorite reservist is home.


I just want it to be my turn already...

I'm trying to maintain the same optimism and cheer that I had all through the deployment, but it's hard. Everyone else has a sign on their door. There are twelve planes full of soldiers this weekend, and mine isn't even in Kuwait yet.

I keep telling myself that today is for the soldiers, that as I stand there in the gym to pick up Red 6, I am celebrating the safe return of the majority of our brigade. I am going to concentrate on the happy faces in camoflauge, not the giddy wives who surround me. I am going to remind myself that one of my best friends is home today, and that my husband will be following in a few weeks.

Today is a day to be happy. Today is a day to be happy.
(If I keep saying it, maybe the tears will stop rolling down my cheeks.)


UPDATE:

It wasn't so bad. In a way, it was quite exciting: all the soldiers running to grab their kids. Red 6 is doing great, but he's frustrated that many of his soldiers are still back in Iraq. I'm glad to see him.

(Oh yeah, and I got to shake SPC Roby's hand, the infamous corn syrup chugger. Heh.)

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February 18, 2005

BEGINNING OF THE END

I saw my first busload of soldiers arrive home from Iraq today. People were stopping their cars and waving. It was cute.

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February 15, 2005

I DEMAND A RECOUNT

Bunker's right, I shouldn't start counting down: my husband just found out he has to stay 10 days longer than originally planned. Naturally everyone else is still on schedule to return sometime in the next seven days; he'll be back in mid-March.

Sigh.

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DONE

Hooah!

And I'll have to sew the CCB on for my husband. He always tells me he's going to nominate me for the CWB (the Combat Wifeing Badge).

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NOT MURDER

If the story actually happened the way LT Pantano says it did, then I'm about sick and tired of our soldiers and marines getting charged with murder in Iraq. If I may quote State of Fear...

If someone tried to kill you, you did not have the option of averting your eyes or changing the subject. You were forced to deal with that person's behavior. The experience was, in the end, a loss of certain illusions.

The world was not how you wanted it to be.

The world was how it was.

There were bad people in the world. They had to be stopped.

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February 10, 2005

1 ON, 2 OFF

Interesting news:

Under a plan unveiled to Congress on Wednesday, active duty soldiers could expect two years at their home base after a year of deployment. Reservists would see five years of “dwell time” after each year in active duty service, and Guardsmen would have four to five years at home between deployments.

Army Secretary Francis Harvey said that plan likely won’t go into effect until at least 2007, when other major training and force adaptations are complete. Officials want to shift the service to a brigade combat team focus over the next two years, growing from 33 brigades to 44.

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February 09, 2005

IRAQ TV

FX is making a TV show about Iraq. Cool. But unfortunately all they can show is good soldiers doing their job.

But not any and every angle of war is being depicted. One aspect is glaringly absent from most projects: negativity. The U.S. soldier is the hero; his cause is just. Storylines featuring the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal or war protests are no-nos.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: damn those Abu Ghraib soldiers. Because of a handful of dirtbags, every mention of Operation Iraqi Freedom from now on will have some disclaimer about torture at Abu Ghraib. It used to be that every article about the war had that line about the number of troops who had died since Bush waved his Mission Accomplished banner. Now every article has to mention something about Abu Ghraib.

There are plenty of stories that can be told from Iraq without harping on the naked pyramids. Tell a story like SFC Smith's. Tell about 1SG Kasal, shot seven times and still fighting. You want humor? Throw in syrup chugging. You want suspense? Follow the soldiers of 2-2 INF as they kicked in doors in Fallujah. You want drama? Good and decent soldiers are dying all the time, and there's never a dry eye in the house.

Just don't tell me that what people want to see when they turn on a program about Iraq is scandal and unethical behavior. There's plenty of that crap on Nip/Tuck.

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February 05, 2005

YAY!

Congrats to my awesome husband, who made the Captain's List for 2005. He's still got several months until promotion, but at least he's already squared away. Of course, that's because Household 7 takes such good care of him...

MORE TO GROK:

Plus I completely forgot that January brings a pay raise!

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REALIZATION

Reintegration Realization #1

Sarah: I got your foot locker
Sarah: I don't know the combination though
Sarah: do you want me to leave it or open it for you?
husband: oh yeah
husband: I'm not sure where the combo is
husband: you can cut it for all I care
husband: I don't even remember what's in there
Sarah: um, with what?
Sarah: I dont have scissors that good
husband: oh yeah
husband: every army unit has bolt cutters
husband: we lose keys and cut locks all the damn time
Sarah: our house doesnt have bolt cutters
husband: yeah most houses don't

Welcome back to civilization...

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February 03, 2005

HONOR

SFC Paul Ray Smith is the first soldier from OIF to be nominated for the Medal of Honor. His story is a beautiful one.

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February 01, 2005

REAR D

I just have to say that our military community is so wonderful.

Today LTG Sanchez came to talk to us. He and other top dogs in USAREUR spoke about reintegration issues and gave quality information on the return of 1ID. When LTG Sanchez opened up the floor for questions, he even cracked a joke: "Heck, I'll even answer Abu Ghraib questions if you have them." I giggled loudly.

I had a question about the timeline for my husband switching units after the deployment, since he will make the move from armor to finance. LTG Sanchez gave me a good answer, but immediately after the briefing, several people came to follow up on my concerns. The rear detachment lieutenant colonel immediately started asking me how he could help, taking notes on a small pad of paper. The finance major and captain approached me, having recognized my last name and realizing I was talking about their lieutenant. The armor rear detachment commander also approached and made sure that I got the information I needed, and he quipped to the finance major that our armor unit isn't willing to lose a top LT, which was kind. It was amazing. So many people from so high up the chain of command were making sure that I was taken care of.

And the answers I got were very encouraging. I can't wait for my husband to get home from his current mission so I can put his/our worries to rest. I can't speak higher of the treatment I just received. Our Rear D exemplifies "no mission too difficult, no sacrifice too great." They're high speed.

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MISSION

The Questing Cat can see the big picture. He measures his role in Iraq not in individual IEDs but in terms of division-sized cycles. I wish him the best as he returns home.

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