As of the day this picture was taken, I had been deployed for just over a year. The last time I had seen my son (on R&R) he was 10 days old, now he's almost 5 months. My sweetie, bless her heart, is no longer a single-mom, though I must say that she did a great job while she was. Now I get to learn how to be a dad.
I would like to thank the friends I've made over the last year through this blog, your support has helped me immeasurably and I thank you all for it. My plea is that no one forgets that we still have troops in harm's way and they still need your support. They need to know that there are people back home who still think that what they're doing is good and right, because it is.
Thanks again for all your thoughts and prayers, they DO
make a difference.
*** I had originally titled this post "Hurry Up & Wait", but after writing it I thought I should rename it to something a bit more appropriate ***
It's all over but the flying now. I have officially been replaced. I've turned over my key, my cell phone, my desk, my computer, my responsibilities. I am now excess baggage as far as Iraq is concerned. But that's ok, the military is funny that way. It's the goal of the military to work itself out of a job.
Take Iraq for example - when we accomplish our mission here we will no longer be needed. We're building an Army and taking out the bad guys. Once the Army that we're building is capable of taking out the bad guys without our help, we'll be able to go home. We're working ourselves out of a job.
Anyway, I'd rather not get too deep in thought right now. It's still taking some getting used to to realize that if there's a problem that I'm not the one to fix it. Phones ring and I jump to answer it. People knock on the door to ask for help and I turn to assist. It's tough to give up that responsibility, to not be the go-to guy. I have to keep reminding myself that it's someone else's turn, that it's not my show anymore, that if I see things going a direction that I don't think they should go that it's not my place to adjust their course. It's what I think it's like to drop a kid off at college, you're confident that they'll do well, but it's not in your hands anymore to make sure they do.
So now I just sit and wait. Predicting the next several weeks is fuzzy at best. We have general ideas for when things will occur, but they're all subject to mission requirements. I've learned that when you're in transit you MUST have something to occupy your time that isn't battery operated as the bateries will likely die before you get where you're going. Books fill this void nicely, so does planning. Planning for the future, for things I want to do with my family, people I want to see again, people I don't, places I want to go, clothes I want to wear that aren't ACU patterned, so on and so forth, it's one of those 'set your mind free' kind of things.
Unless something happens that is really interesting and is something that I can share, I likely won't be making another post from here in Iraq. Don't be mistaken though, this doesn't mean that after publishing this post I'm going to go get on a helo out of here, I just think it's a good thing to sort of make a clean break, I think it helps with letting go.
I think I did a bad thing during the handover. Ya see, the new guy bears a striking resemblance to me - same haircut, same glasses, same general features though my face is a bit thinner. The main difference between us is that I'm about 10 inches taller than he is.
I was introducing the new guy to a couple of the people I work with who still have some time here and one of them (we'll call him Bill) commented on how similar we looked. I responded by chuckling and saying, "Yeah, he's my very own 'Mini-Me', haha."
A couple days later my replacement was sitting at my desk (as he should be) so I decided to go for a walk. I ran into a group of people I work with and started chatting with them when Bill walked up and asked, "Hey, where's the new guy?" Before I could answer, someone else who hadn't been introduced to the new guy yet asks, "Who? You mean LT's Mini-Me?" I looked over at Bill who was cringing because the other person had made such a blunder as to call the new guy by his nickname in front of me.
I stood there for a moment trying to comprehend what I had done. People who had never even seen him already knew him as a smaller version of me, as my 'Mini-Me'. With one simple reference to a popular comedy linking my replacement with a bald, pale, pinky-nibbling dwarf, I had set the new guy up for failure. I looked down to aviod making eye contact with anyone and shook my head in disgust at what I had done while doing my best to stifle my laugh which only made matters worse. I fear that I have branded him before he had the chance to brand himself.
1201 - Just heard it on the news, Saddam is guilty and the sentence is death
. I'll post updates as the day goes on. Now where'd I put my kevlar...
1230 - First sound of gunfire. Sounds pretty close.
1315 - Initial celebratory gunfire didn't last long, though I'd be willing to bet that it was only the first round. I bet that when night sets in there will be a lot more, you can't really see tracers so well during the day.
1430 - Still pretty quiet, haven't heard any gunfire in the last couple hours.
1500 - Ambassador Khalizad releases a statement on the verdict. Read it here
1800 - Night fell about a half-hour ago and still no major gunfire. A few pops every now and then, but nothing unusual.
2215 - I've heard a few explosions over the last few hours, but nothing that I'd say is extraordinary. On my end it seems like the heightened security did it's job. Now we just have to see how long until the die-hard knuckleheads start shooting again, but I'm willing to bet that following the verdict that a good portion of the Saddam loyalists will call it quits. I'm hoping that the appeal will be handled quickly and that we'll see this guy swinging from the nearest palmtree sometime soon.
Won uf my Soldjurs cent me ths pikshur and i cudnt stop laffing!
These troops inspired me! ... to post my own picture, but I chickened out. I know, I know, I don't get to have any fun.
And can you believe they're already making T-shirts
What you see here is everything I'll be heading home with. A backpack with a map sack attached, a duffel bag, a laptop bag, and a foot locker (the black case on the bottom). I've moved out of my room into a tent and I'll be living out of these bags until I get home. I won't actually be traveling with the foot locker because I like to travel light so I'll be mailing that right before I roll out. That way I can still pack things up until the last day and my sweetie won't have to try and drag it home from the post office.
The 'go-home' day isn't here yet, but it's quickly approaching. Each day I'm getting more and more out of the operations loop and my replacement is taking over. I find that when the people we work with here go to him for something that I start to feel slighted, but then I remember that this is what's supposed to be happening and that the more it happens the closer I get to going home. It's tough to let go of the leadership position, but I just have to remind myself that letting go here means grabbing hold back home.
The unit that will be replacing my guys has finally landed. The guy who will be my replacement has been here for a while to help get thins set up for when the rest of his unit arrives. Now that they're here we can really start making a transition. It still doesn't feel real to me that I'll be getting out of here for the last time soon. Maybe it will set in when I'm actually on my way back, maybe when I set foot on home soil, maybe when I hug my wife and son, maybe weeks after that. I know in my head that I'm going to be going home soon, I just don't feel it yet.