Wednesday, December 22, 2004

I'm back in the sand box! I will now be posting to a new blog. The address is www.soldiersparadiseii.blogspot.com I haven't posted yet but will very soon. This email is just to let those readers of my past blog know I am posting again.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

I just got back from being home for the holidays this week. The visits with my family were wonderful! It was so nice to be able to see so many of the people that I love and know that I would not be leaving them to go back to the war, at least not immediately.

There were two real downers to the holiday reunions. Number one I think I am suffering from post dramatic stress disorder. When I first started hearing about this disorder I thought it was a bunch of B.S. but since I have been back I have noticed that I have almost no fuse. I become enraged over the simplest things. It's kind of scarey. At least I have realized that it is happening and I am taking steps to prevent it. The other thing really hit home. About two weeks ago there was a story on the news about a local man killed in Iraq. While that would have been bad enough in and of itself, it really hit home because of the circumstances surounding his life.

This soldier had been deployed to Iraq for some time, and left for the deployment while his wife was pregnant. He returned home for the birth of their son in November, and returned to Iraq four days after he was born. He was seperated from his wife and new son for approximately two months when he was killed by a mortar attack.

Words cannot express the magnitude of the effect the sacrifice this family, and others like it have made for this country has made on me and my family. I could not immagine leaving Joyce and Reid alone to rebuild after my passing. I pray that families going through that have the lord at their side and have the courage to make the best of the worst possible situation.

Friday, December 12, 2003

All I have heard since I got back is how bad it is here, and how much I am gonna wish I was deployed again after being here a while. All of this is coming from soldiers that have never been anywhere, or at least were not in the type of situation I was in. Is it difficult here? Yes, but it is a far cry from being stuck nine thousand miles away from your wife and son sleeping on a cot and brushing the dirt off of your face every morning.

This week Joyce and I decorated our Christmas tree. We both LOVE Christmas and now it means so much more with Reid in the picture! We always get the biggest tree we can fit in the house and put about 40,000 lights on it! It is really pretty. I have been so worn out between work and still trying to tie up the odds and ends of the move that I didn’t really enjoy decorating it as much as I have in times past, but it still meant so much to be putting lights on that tree in front of the bay window in our new home with Reid giggling and watching us from his excesaucer as we sang Christmas carols along with the CD that Joyce had put in.

Joyce has the largest collection of Christmas music of any person I have ever known. Everything from the classics like “the Christmas song” (my personal favorite) to the Oakridge Boy’s Christmas! She would listen to Christmas music year round if I let her, but it can get a little over whelming. We made a deal several years ago that she could not start listening to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving, and she had to stop before New Years. Now I don’t care if she listens to it by herself, but I can only handle so much.

We are going to be making a whirlwind trip home again, and every time we do we promise ourselves we will never do it again. It is a good fifteen hours on the road from here home and another four from home to our Grandparent’s, where we spend every Christmas and Thanksgiving we can. We are leaving on the 22nd and driving straight through! 19 hours, and I am sure I will be bombarded with Christmas music the whole way!!! Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t going to drive nineteen hours straight. We can’t for several reasons. Joyce has been having some serious back problems over the last several months, Reid can’t go more than a couple hours in his car seat with out freaking out, and Willow (our Golden Retriever) has to pee sometimes. We will stay at our friend’s house in LA on the 22nd, probably stop off at her mom’s house on the 23rd, and then make our grand entrance in Dorris California on Christmas Eve.

There is no where else on Earth that I would rather be than at my grandparent’s house for Christmas! I have been there as many Christmases as I could be as far back as I can remember, and Joyce has been the same with her Grandparents. We got really lucky that they live only twelve miles apart!

Reid will have his first Christmas. We will eat Prime Rib and Lobster tails at Joyce’s Grandma’s for Christmas dinner. We will go to the family Christmas party on Christmas eve, where Joyce and I plan on singing “Baby, it’s cold outside” if we get the sheet music to prepare in time, and I will go to sleep on Christmas eve with my love in my arms and my son in arms reach knowing I’m home, and I’m loved and this place could never be as bad as being down range!

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

I have been back in the states now for a little bit more than two weeks. The reunion with my wife and son was both very joyful and stressful at the same time. It took the three of us that left together the better part of two days to get home, and there were many issues along the way. Stupid people drive me nuts, I’ll just leave it at that.

After I got “home”, back to Arizona, I had to go through the “debriefing” process. It took roughly a week. During that week I frantically looked for a house to move my freshly expanded family into. A daunting task if I do say so my self! There is nothing in the area that is reasonably priced, and even the expansive nice houses are few and far between. I did finally decide to lease a home that is considerably farther from work than I would have liked, but for the price it was perfect.

After I signed the lease and finished my debriefing period it was off to pick up my wife and son. I got up at 3:30am to get ready to make the trip from my home to the Tucson airport. I had barely slept any way because of the unnatural amount of anticipation I was experiencing. My friend graciously offered to drive me to the airport at that ungodly hour. I dressed up for the first time in some time. I knew I would have a lot of family there, plus I had to look my best for my honey and my baby. The flights were short and uneventful and I soon found myself in Sacramento, real home! I gathered my back pack and hurried off the plane.

As I descended down the escalator from the terminal I began scanning. I have horrible eye site and refuse to wear glasses so this was an exercise is futility, as I got to the bottom of the escalator I still had not found them and my stomach began to turn with anticipation. I was expecting all of the anxiety to go away at the bottom, but now I have to search the hundreds of people in the lobby for my people. It didn’t take long though. They had seen me coming down and had already began maneuvers to intercept.

I saw the best man in our wedding first. He was pushing a stroller that I was sure held his little girl who is twenty six days older than Reid, and he had that familiar grin draped from ear to ear. As I turned to scan a little more for my wife I saw her. With tears welling up in her eyes she moved forward slowly holding our son. I hugged her for a long time and nothing else mattered, but then there was Reid, and he was wearing a shirt with my picture on it that said welcome home daddy!

Everyday since that day has been a struggle because of everything that is going on. Twenty hour road trips, dealing with movers, and phone companies and so forth and so on, but it has all been enjoyable, because every night I smile while I put my son in his crib and then cuddle up on the couch with my wife before we go to bed. Daddy is home, and loving every minute of it!

Friday, November 07, 2003

Well it is down to it. This is the last entry I will make from my home in the sand box! I am with in days of completing my seventh deployment. I have grown spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. I have made, and lost some extremely good friends. There are several guys who have been integral parts of my life for the last six years and more than likely I will never see them again. Jay, Matt, Take care guys. I hope all of your dreams and aspirations come to fruition!

My son will be six months old shortly after I get back. Reid, I have done all of this so hopefully you wont have to. I am very sorry I have missed this first short period of you life and I pray I never have to miss this much of any part of it in the future. I hope you will grow up proud of what we have done here.

Joyce has put up with me being gone for more than half of our marriage, and more than two thirds of my time in the Army. You are an amazing woman! I love you more than you could ever imagine! I can’t wait to see you in the next couple of weeks. I can’t promise that this won’t happen again, but I will do everything I can to not let it. Thank you for being the support I needed, and the love I would be nothing with out.

This war is far from over and I think it will only get worse before it ends. Many more people will die, so I will continue to pray for the safety of our soldiers, and the welfare of our nation and the well being of all mankind.

As this chapter of my life ends I am not sure what will happen to Soldier’s Paradise, but I do know I will write more about my redeployment and how Joyce, Reid and I are doing when we are together again.

Always remember you cannot make any one else happy if you are not happy yourself! Some one I was once very close to always says something like, “Dance like you’ve never danced before, live every day like it’s you last, and love like you want to be loved!” I’m pretty sure I messed it up but you get the gist!

Catch you on the flipped side!

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Well I think I am down to fingers before I actually get out of here. There have been no set backs so far this time (knock, knock, knock).

Joyce and I have decided to use a moving company. It really isn’t that much more expensive than just renting a truck since the truck is gonna be so much, and it takes all the hassle off of us. Not to mention I won’t have to worry about Joyce, driving our SUV with two cats, an 85 pound Golden Retriever and a five month old little boy. She’ll have to put up with all that and me now…I’ll be driving though.

As I said I want to use my Tuesday post to answer questions I have received. The one I have gotten the most recently is, how can some soldiers be drinking alcohol over here and some aren’t? Well there are several answers to that question. First there are the laws of the land. Alcohol is not illegal in Iraq, but it is in Kuwait. Kuwait is a dry country, and very aggressive in it’s laws to control the populace. No alcohol, no pornography, the even go into clothing laws and what is acceptable and what isn’t. It isn’t as tough as the laws that were imposed on the Afghani’s but along the same lines. Iraq on the other hand ironically is very “Americanized”. Jack Daniels is all over up there from what I have heard, and what ever you want to drink is purchasable at the corner store.

However whether alcohol is legal in the country or not we are all supposed to be under general order number one. I am to this day not exactly sure what that means. Since basic general order number one was, “I will guard everything with in the limits of my post, and quit my post only when properly relieved.”, but now it also means no drinking, no sex, no this, no that, so no one should be drinking, but soldiers are smart even in their stupidity. Soldiers receive alcohol through the mail, they bring it in mouth wash bottles or the like. There are even soldiers out here making it when they can get away with it. I am not a drinker any more so none of that concerns me, and I think it is sad that some soldiers can’t go a couple of months (or a year) with out a drink. I do understand that some people drink to unwind and I know how much that is necessary out here so I guess I understand that.

The bottom line is this: If you want a soldier to do something, tell him not to, and if you don’t want that soldier to do something order him to do exactly that.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Well I set up a schedule for my blog writing and broke it right off the bat. Sorry about that. We had some scheduled maintenance on the network I didn’t know about that knocked out the internet for us for a while.

Things have been crazy here the last few days. I have another departure date. I am supposed to have less than two weeks left in this wonderful country. I’ll believe it when it happens, but if it does I will be home for Thanksgiving and Christmas for the first time in six years!

Some one unplugged the heater. A couple of nights ago it dropped down to 55 degrees! We were freezing and it hasn’t gotten back up over eighty since. I guess we had about thirty minutes of fall…literally. It has made for some dramatic sunsets however. I love clouds and sunsets so I will try and get some good pictures up in the next post. There have been no clouds until now as the sun burns them off too quickly when it is 150 degrees.

People have gone nuts it seems with the drastic temperature change. My work area is a maze of connected tents and going from one tent to another is enough to send a person into shock. You walk into one and there is no change from the temperature outside, the next has the AC going because they have one of those people who is always hot and the last has the heater going because they have the opposite. I am beginning to know what a woman going through “the change” feels. It’s no better in the sleep tent. Every little cubicle has it’s own AC/Heater and they are all set differently, half on heat and half on AC. It’s amazing.

We are still doing PT in our little Army shorts and T-shirts, but it has been cold in the morning, especially when we are all used to sweating just from the walk to the PT area, but I only have five more days of PT left before I leave this wonderful place and I am hoping to leave with out having to dig out my sweats. Just another thing I will have to keep track of and keep clean (yes I am sometimes that lazy, but it’s only five more days).

I am getting short, and soon I will be re-united with my wife and son, even though that is going to be a pain in the butt, but I will keep you abreast of all of those developments while I go through the re-deployment process.

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