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Sunday, November 25, 2012

144th ASMC and Iraq... Part Four (Bye, Bye, USA... Hello Kuwait)

The most satisfying part of the pre-deployment phase, was when it was over.  Knowing we had fulfilled all the nonsense the Army required of us prior to shipping out to a combat zone.  It was November 2005, our whole company was ready to get on with our wartime mission and eventually get back to our families and lives back home in the states.  We had to complete a few weeks of training at Camp Bullis near Fort Sam Houston prior to shipping overseas.  Between the training in and around Fort Bliss and Camp Bullis we had an opportunity to go home for nearly a week.  It was a breath of fresh air, for me it would only be a couple months before I returned on my mid-tour leave, with a baby on the way I would be allowed to go home after her birth, albeit a month after the baby arrived.  This visit would be when we said our final goodbyes with out homeland below our feet.  After the training in Camp Bullis, we would be headed straight to Kuwait, with the eventual destination of war-torn Iraq. 

Ireland Layover
As I mentioned, this was without a doubt the best moment of the pre-deployment phase.  We were finally going to deploy and complete the mission that was laid out before us months ago.  There still was some uncertainty as to what we would be doing, but we knew our tight little medical company would be split into several teams to be placed in various locations throughout Iraq.  As far as the locations, we had no immediate reliable intel on what the locations were truly like, if there had been recent or many attacks, or how volatile the world we were walking into might be.  Fortunately, it would be a pretty benign atmosphere for most of us, for at least half the year we spent with "boots on ground."  As it should have been considering that the majority of us did not have missions that were likely to take us "outside the wire" and into uncertain circumstances in what could be unfriendly parts of Iraq. 

Kuwait awaited, one long flight with a nice short layover in Shannon, Ireland.  I mention Ireland in my book, it was simply a beautiful place from the views I had behind the large windows of the airport.  I need to go to that country sometime in the future, guess I will add that to the bucket list.  As beautiful as Ireland was, we would soon be in the desert, some of the Army facilities, are plopped perfectly in sparse desert lands of the Kuwaiti nation.  In stark contrast to the greenery of Ireland, we were about ready to drop landing gear into Kuwait City, which is full of life, then be bussed straight into the nether region of Kuwait.  It was an interesting couple of days, from Texas to Ireland, to Kuwait.  From the freedom of the USA, to the frailty of the Middle East.  But it was "mission go" time and the time was ripe for the taking, and there was plenty of time to be had, 12 months of it.

Below is a trimmed excerpt from my book, Combat Support "The True Burden Of Sacrifice." This piece never made print as I nixed it on my way to shrinking the overall length of the book.

Friday, November 25, 2005

            Today we encountered our first experience with Soldiers involved in an IED attack.  Luckily for them it blew up 25 meters in front of them, and besides being a bit shaken over the experience, the only problems they had were headaches.  The fact that they are going home in a week also may have played into the things they were feeling during that near miss. 
            Of course our young friend came in for his daily dressing change, modern medicine is great, his burns are healing, but it will take months to replace the skin he lost.  So we will continue to change his dressing and monitor him for signs of infection.  Infection is the complication that will kill burn victims.  If not prevented or caught early, with the significance of his injury he could run the risk of death from infection.  Let’s just hope we can continue to clean it sufficiently and keep any infection away.
             We are starting to get into the groove of things, everyone here is working their butts off and as the Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge, I couldn’t be happier or more pleased with how everyone on this team has jelled and stepped up to the plate to do what it takes to make this a successful mission.  I just hope that it will continue for the next 12 months.
            Shannon and the kids had a nice Thanksgiving, everything went well and I am glad to hear that they are all doing fine.  Shannon told me that her mother (surrogate) is going to move down to live with her when she has the baby, which is good news, she can use all the help she can get.  I miss them all and as always can’t wait to be reunited.  Good night from Camp Scania, Iraq.
            I still remember the encounter with our first combat casualties.  I was awakened late at night and told that the casualties were on their way in.  We expected the worse, as it turns out there was no serious injuries and the initial high wore off once the casualties arrived and there was no immediate cause for rapid action on our part.
Shannon’s surrogate mother is Kathy Crow, a woman that was nice enough to take Shannon in when her biological parents seemed to have little role in her life.  It takes a special person to welcome a near total stranger into your home and then treat them as one of your own.  That is how Grandma Crow is, she has been that way with Shannon and although she was initially concerned about the relationship Shannon started with an active Army Soldier she eventually warmed to my antisocial ways and welcomed me into the family also.  It was a welcome relief to know there was that little bit of extra help as the due date for our fourth child neared.  It is sacrifices like that that again show the all encompassing sacrifice of not just the Soldier, but the individuals that are involved in the Soldier’s life also.

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