(Written 17:47 US Central time 12.12.2005)
After a couple of quiet weeks acclimating to "civilian life" and being the go-between with our deployed chain of command and our home chain of command, I was ready to get some work done. I am usually a person with a purpose or something to do. It stresses me out a little when there is nothing going on or something to accomplish. Still be careful what you ask for.
We heard reports from Iraq about the elections. Just like October the elections were tensely boring and there were no attacks in our area until after the elections. Our camp received a rocket attack on Christmas day, but the majority of our troops had already left.
Meanwhile at the demobilization station, we were ready to receive over 1,500 soldiers before the holidays and try to process them before the holiday shutdown. We made frequent trips to Gulfport to receive the units coming home. We tried hard to vigorously and enthusiastically greet every single soldier coming off the planes. Although it was great to see everyone home and look for people I had not seen since early in the deployment or worked more closely with, it was almost like the end of Return of the King with the continuing endings. Our fellowship was over four thousand and after greeting the first couple hundred, or when it was the fourth consecutive plane in 24 hours of no sleep, it was hard to smile and welcome these guys and girls home. Still, everyone did their part and deserved a warm welcome home.
Our company of Yankees wasn't quite home yet. Everyone else from the brigade was relatively close to home and were released to their families for the holidays. The first sergeant and I were to play surrogate families to the guys in our company, knowing they would be home for good in a week and we would still be here with the next groups.
We have a great group of guys and I am proud of them. We chose to give them options and treat them like the adults and veterans they are. We gave them warnings about alcohol use and decompression and then allowed them to make choices. Thus far they have done a great job and if I am to spend the holidays away from my family, I am glad it is this bunch.
After I caught up on my sleep from the marathon of arriving planes, we spent Christmas Eve playing cards, eating chips, and watching TV. There was some retelling of war stories and sharing plans for homecoming. I stayed up late watching a Sci-Fi marathon of the new Battlestar Galactica. Christmas day I sat in the laundromat washing my uniforms while I called my family at home. We took our group to the casinos in Biloxi after Christmas. I had a good time, I even snuck into watch King Kong. I enjoyed the movie and the special effects. I could not help thinking about my year in Iraq after the movie. Man's quest for fortune, fame, profit, or adventure leaves a long lasting impression on the world. I still do not care to comment whether the reasons for going to Iraq were sound reasons, but like in King Kong, our presence in a foreign environment has had permanent and lasting effects.
The week blew by; we ran around between the administrative buildings, medical buildings, and the gym where they were giving benefits briefings. I spent the majority of my time shuttling all the soldiers between the buildings and ensuring my soldiers has their state-specific requirements met. The first third of the company was done and ready for their last flight of the tour. I shook their hands, some for the last time as their enlistments are up; others I would see again, hopefully in a different capacity. Before bed I received an email from my state Brigade commander supporting my advancement. It is comforting to know my efforts have not gone unnoticed. We received two-thirds more of the company over the next two days. This group was a little bigger and their use of days off was a little more colorful than the last. We allowed them to stay off post and they did a great job checking in.
I had an excellent New Year! Although we went to the same club that we went to last year, I had a completely different experience. Last year we celebrated our last breaths of freedom before we headed off to the desert where we were no longer allowed certain comforts and faced the probability of not coming back. This year we celebrated several things: everyone safely out of Iraq (we still have several soldiers waiting in Kuwait) and beginning a new life with new eyes on the world. With new friends and old, it was a very happy and fulfilling night.
I am not sure I have ever articulated to my audience why I am writing. My evaluation reports have often and repeatedly indicated that I am a "quiet, thoughtful, and professional officer". I had feared that if I did not return from Iraq, my "quiet thoughtfulness" would result in anonymity. That is, no one would really know what I am thinking, how I am feeling or more importantly who I am. My way of dealing with my mortality started off as e-mails principally to my family and co-workers so at least they could see the products of their nurturing and encouragement. What was intended for a small group of people has cascaded beyond the limits of my expectations and intentions. I have received supportive e-mails from around the world and been thanked personally on New Year's by wives of my soldiers.
Looking forward to a new year, and a new beginning, I will continue to write (both prose and poetry) and see who will follow and share my path, my journey.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!posted by Scott | 03:47 Baghdad time | © 1.03.2006
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Feedback from readers: 5
I am moved by what you've written.
Posted by 23/1/06 15:35|
Thank you for your documents
Posted by 13/4/06 13:56|
My name is Carri. I'm a screenwriter in Los Angeles, California doing research for a TV program on the sleeping habits of children all over the world, ages 6 to 12. I'd like to include children from Iraq. I'm wondering if you could help me. I'm specifically looking for information on where children sleep (In the same bedroom with other siblings? On the street? What do their rooms look like? What are their bedtime rituals, specifically as they relate to the war in Iraq? Are children forced to move around a lot? Do they fall asleep to the sound of battle? I’d like to send Iraqi parents (or anyone who works with these children) a questionnaire that better explains what I’m doing. My story is meant to be sweet piece on children, for children, but one that also enlightens them to the lives of other children.
Posted by 20/10/06 01:41|