Search This Blog

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

144th ASMC and Iraq... Part Two

Preparing for deployment is certainly the worst part of the big picture of serving overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, at least for the National Guard.  It takes a few weeks of preparing in state, then re-locating to a pre-deployment site and spending a couple months there, mostly sitting on your ass, waiting to deploy to serve in the capacity you have trained and prepared for your entire career.  Now, that isn't to say you aren't prepared, but I know in my case, and I bitched about it in my journal and to my chain of command, that it was a gross injustice of scheduling on the training site's part.  Now, this may just be "the way it is," but you know what, when you are leaving your family for a year "boots on ground," well, it is kind of hard to take spending three months of pre-deployment training away from the family to actually only do 6 weeks of training.  Maybe I am exaggerating a little, but I certainly know we spent a good two weeks, a day here, a day there, of doing absolutely nothing.  Either way, that was then, but there are Guardsmen that have done five or six tours, and each time, they had to do pre-deployment training. 

So, the time building up to the deployment was literally stress free, not sure why, but it was almost as nothing was going to happen, like I wasn't getting ready to tear free of my family for the better part of fifteen months.  But I was, in early August of 2005 the 144th ASMC had it's official federal activation, a small ceremony in Springville, Utah, little fanfare, a short time later, we would be gone, flying out of the Salt Lake International Airport, en route to Fort Bliss, Texas for a process I soon won't forgive my Army for making me go through.  But, as we said then, "check the box," all the training needed to be done.  And we completed it, mostly with motivation and to the best of our ability.  We were taught tactics as if we were military police, like we would be going door to door and operating in close quarters combat.  It was, when we trained, fun, for the most part, but the sitting around frustrated me to no end. 

Now I am getting into the portion of my military career that is covered in pretty good detail in my book.  Pre-deployment, deployment, and the post-deployment time frame.  I will not go into too much detail about the Iraq deployment, but will post selected excerpts from my book throughout the next few blog posts.  Then I will move on to the present and where I am in the here and now with my continuing military career.

Part of the first journal entry in what turned out to be a word document nearly 250 pages long:

Saturday, August13, 2005
Tears, heartache, and sorrow are the three words that come to mind to describe today. Saying goodbye to the ones I love is, without a doubt, the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with in my life so far. Although I still feel that, in the end, this will be one of the proudest experiences of my life, I still feel that sinking feeling when reflecting on this morning. I was happy to see some friends, Al and Cindy, with their kids, Matt and Walt, and of course Rod (my co-worker from Tooele and fellow 144th soldier, because he was going, too), Nikki, and their little girl.

0420 hrs

I wake up and the full realization of today’s events begins to unfold. I couldn’t really focus and think about the upcoming goodbye without tears welling in my eyes. For most of the morning I shook them off, but I knew when the moment arrived it would be difficult. All of the kids, Dylan, Destiny, and Dakota, were up and ready to go on time. We left the house, picked up our family and my wife’s friend of many years, Doris, and drove to the Air National Guard Base without any consequence.

0600 hr

Formation, final accountability for our journey to the unknown. OK, I’m being a little dramatic, but hell, this is a big deal. There are no guarantees when entering a hostile country and situation—but we aren’t there yet. A few words from various high rollers in the Utah Guard, and the waiting began; our flight was scheduled to leave at 0900 hrs. For the next hour-plus we sat and talked, while through our minds ran the constant thoughts of missing each other for this extended period of time. There were pictures, words of comfort and of course, that sinking feeling in my heart.

0800 hrs

We exit the building we’d been waiting in and make our way to a grassy area across the road from the fight line. The waterworks start; Dakota tells me she doesn’t want me to go. Why did she wait until now? Because she’s four years old, of course. I can’t contain the emotions that have been building in me for weeks. I cry, grab my kids, hug them and struggle to say I love them with the strain of emotion coursing from my mouth. I love them more than I probably will ever be able to explain. I tend to avoid emotional issues due to my inability to control emotions at times, and I apologize to my loved ones for that. This buildup to deployment might have been easier had I been talking to my wife and kids, working up to this point, and for that, Shannon, Dylan, Destiny, and Dakota, I apologize from the deepest part of my heart. I love you all beyond any comprehension of the word and will forever.

Barnes and Noble Link
Amazon Link
Smashwords Link

No comments:

Post a Comment