Thursday, May 10, 2007

Headed to TQ

Okay, so it’s been a little while. One of the major events that has happened since my last update was I went on my first “real” mission.

My first mission was to TQ and it was a long, long drive. I think it took us 19 hours to get there. Keep in mind that most of our driving speeds are slow. We found an IED on the way up and waited a long time with it. The main thing I wanted to get out to my readers isn’t the danger involved in the mission; though it was extremely intense for me. I saw such professionalism in the group of men that do what they do. It was truly inspirational watching and learning from these guys.
It is amazing how the mind is so perceptive when your adrenaline is flowing. We drove several hundred miles. The last fifty or so on a path they had not taken before.

As we drove I could hear the guys calling up anything that looked out of ordinary, then they inspected it and deemed it safe or not. As we came back through the area that night they again called up suspicious things. It is amazing, but even I recalled things that were different about the road than a few hours earlier. A bottle was standing up, now it is lying down. A concrete block is not sitting like it was.

Under normal situations this would be so trivial, but here the bad guys use these things to hide bombs that kill us. Missing these little details could be fatal. There was a family up ahead that went inside as we approached. The lights in the houses are shutting off as we get close. All of these things were amazing to me to watch and more so when you realize most of it was done in the dark. We have such a well trained group of soldiers that it is awesome to be a part of them.

If you have ever read my journals, you know I have high respect for our guys on the gun trucks. You also know I am envious of them at times, not feeling my job here is worthy of compare. Many of my fellow soldiers ask why I don’t wear my combat patch like everyone else. The fact is, I don’t feel I deserve to wear it.

For the most part I sit in an air conditioned office and type away at this computer. Not much combatives required to do that. I am sometimes asked about boards, awards and special details to which I recommend the guys on the guns as I feel they are much more deserving of recognition for their service than I. Don’t get me wrong, I am proud to be here, an American Soldier fighting for the American way of life.

Some of my readers feel it is a bunch of crap; an exaggerated play on patriotism. To those readers I say you just don’t know me. I am an American. I am a soldier. I have no opinion on this war other than when I see the faces of the people that want us here and the faces of children that grow up much too fast. I know that no matter how this war ends, it did some good; even if for a brief moment in the lives of the people we have helped.

Some readers ask if it is worth it. If leaving my family and friends to come interfere in other people’s business, is worth it. I would never begin to say that leaving my family, leaving my children was “worth it”. Worth is synonymous with price and I can never put a price on the time I have lost with my children. None of us can. It is sacrifice. I have sacrificed priceless time with my children to serve my country.

Like those before me, I am choosing to sacrifice the one to serve the many. Do my children hate me for that or think I am a horrible father? I don’t know. Do I think my children will grow up and feel the same need to serve our country, or protest our military for taking mothers and fathers away from their children? I don’t know. I hope that the time I do have with my children is spent instilling the values that I hold dear as a father, as a person, as an American. I hope they see me and see that I fight for what I feel is just and noble, that I respect my parents and my elders. I hope they look at me and see that though I have not always been available to be with them physically, they are strong within my heart. I hope they realize that I always cherish each moment with them and understand that a firm hand is not always the sign of a hard heart. Whether they grow up and want to be like me, their mother, or themselves; I hope they see I love them.