E Plurubus Unum, Rex Montis

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Change, and the homebound soldier

I was talking with some friends last night about what we have done over here, comparing to other wars, other branches of service, other jobs (MOS's) and other parts of the coutry in Iraq. We mostly concluded that we have it pretty easy compared to a lot of others. We also concluded that many others do the exact same job we do regardless of job title. We've had some rough patches, but the conversation ended with us all going back to our air-conditioned can's and personal internet. Not too bad at all. We've had our share of hardships, night ops, multiple days living in the hummers or a hole in the ground in the desert.....and the ultimate sacrafices...
This whole conversation spawned from some people that apparently got their feelings hurt (or something) from one of my earlier posts. I had a lot of thoughts on this, but I'll just say the one that stood out the most in my mind. - Laugh about it, comment about it, talk to me about it, but mostly "Grow up."

Now the homebound soldier.
I have written a lot about my thought's on going home and what it will be like. I haven't given nearly as much thought though as to what our families and spouses might be going through. This post is dedicated to the spouses of soldiers.
Continued from "Back in Action."

What are your question's wives? I'll answer to the best of my abilities, and I'm sure my brother will help out as well concidering he is home now and can see both sides a little more clearly.
"Expectations lead to dissapointments"...that is a hard one, but very true. Don't have high lofty expectations, you will only be dissapointed. I have my own expectations and I know everyone does. Just don't try to put each other into the role you think they should fit in.
Unfortunately the military has this problem, they like to, "Prepare you for the worst case scenerio." I say, leave my family alone and don't scare them. If wives believe half of what the military is telling them, then they will be led to believe that their soldier will come home as an untouchable, unemotional, abusive drunk with PTSD. NOT TRUE!!! We can't spend our lives looking at things in "worst case scenerio" mode.

-don't expect your husband to fall right into the role he left
-give him time to adjust
-be flexible
-arguments are NOT a bad thing

Husbands (soldiers)
-be a guest in your own house. Your wife has taken care of everything while you were gone, don't expect to jump right back into the role of "head of the house" or suffer some consequences.
-you have experienced some things that no one will ever understand. However, your wife is your life mate, and if she doesn't understand some of it, what does that say for your marriage?
-talk, you don't have to be a talker or in touch with your feelings, but you NEED to talk

Both of you. You fell in love once, you can fall in love again. Love is an action and not always an emotional thing. I would HIGHLY recommend a book titled "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman (check doesn't sound like a thriller title I know, but I would recommend it for both parties involved. Better yet, read it together. Don't have time guys? Not a reader? Give me a break. It's worth $10 and a couple hours of your time.

I wish everyone the best of luck and God Bless in all your coming home endeavors. May it be everything you hoped for.

Now, everyone, feel free to comment and question away!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Back in action

I haven't thrown up any pictures in a while, so here are a few. None are terribly recent, but anyhow, top to bottom; some of my guys playing chicken, me and guys hanging on the hummer, some buds keeping entertained.
I just got back from a nice R&R pass to a military green zone. It was heaven on earth, and a much deserved, much needed break from "the front." I enjoyed golf, pizza, beer, swimming and complete relaxation. We got to wear "real" clothing again! It feels so different to not be in uniform after almost two years! I actually started to feel like a person again. Not a number.
Military life has a way of making you create your own little shell. A place where you only have to make your mental state function on the barest of information. No higher thinking is usually required. Survival. Not "of the fittest" type. But the essentials. Food, drink, hygiene, job. Of course there is more to it; communication home... Simple joys of mail or growing your own "lawn." But most of life consists of getting your job done, then keeping entertained. No room for higher thinking (hence my blog and journals). Mostly, it is the lack of interaction with non-military and non-military life that creates this wall of emotion, or lack thereof. It was nice to see that I am still me to an extent. The real test will be the months ahead and the mountains to be climbed at home. Regardless, it is a mountain I'm ready to take on!
Well, back to the grind and counting down of these last days...

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Bear with me folks, this is a long one. This topic has long been a favorite of mine and I was waiting for the perfect opportunity. Well it has arrived. My home town paper printed this article.

Having owned guns and been an active hunter for over 60 years, I feel qualified to speak on the subject of guns. Why do I own a gun in the first place? I can think of only three possible reasons: To go hunting, to use for target practice or for self defense. I can’t think of any other reason — can you?
That being the case, why do we gun owners need an assault weapon? Is it just for kicks? Isn’t it time we stepped up and told NRA to take the lead in calling for a ban on the manufacture of all assault weapons?
During World War II, a manufacturer had to have a D.O. (Defense Order) to produce anything for use by the armed forces. If we reissued such a requirement we could put an end to the manufacture or importation of these “toys” and put an end to multiple slayings like Virginia Tech and Columbine. NRA could expand its membership and win over many anti-gun folks by taking this lethal bull by the horns.
-John P. Hansel-

My lengthy response.

I am a soldier from Bemidji, writing from Iraq. This subject is a passionate one for me.
To the author of this article-owning guns and having been an avid hunter does not qualify you to speak on the subject of guns as you yourself have proven. “Assault weapons” have been around for years. Only recently have we seen this kind of violence in our home streets. Perhaps a lack of family values and a degenerate society could be blamed instead of assault rifles. Or we could accept the fact that in life, bad things will happen to good people. Do you really think that the availability of a certain type of firearm has ANYTHING to do with the crime? Need I cite the columbine massacre?
Need I cite the deaths of my friends and fellow soldiers killed here in Iraq? Would banning of home cleaning products used in the building of bombs bring back or prevent deaths? Is there any difference in the terrorists in Iraq or Timothy McVeigh?
“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” This isn’t a new argument. Knee jerk reactions to mass violence are becoming more commonplace. It may sooth people who are looking for a quick fix, but on the contrary, will do more harm than good. There are many arguments here that don’t need to be re-stated. However, I will say that making laws doesn’t reduce crime and can in fact enhance it.
Australia banned all firearms and in the FIRST YEAR ALONE violent crime rates soared upwards of 312%
Are we talking about a full ban on guns? No. But it is an erosion of gun rights that will soon wash them all away. What will be left to future generations if every so often a few rights are taken?
Criminals do not obey laws. “When guns are outlawed, only the outlaws have guns.”
Gun related homicides count for very few deaths in America. Buckets (of water) kill more children than guns ever have. Blunt objects and knives are used in many more murders than guns. Should we ban and register those too?
All the deaths in the Vietnam War combined do not equal the total number of deaths related to drunk driving annually in the U.S. Should we then ban alcohol? We tried that, it didn’t work out so well. I suppose we could ban cars since they are the tools of so much destruction. Maybe if we started enforcing existing laws and exacting penalties on law breakers instead of punishing the masses for the wrongs of a few we would be further along.
Since when have we started treating guns as more than the tools of a crime? Hostile intent creates hostile action. If there is intent, laws or no laws, guns or no guns, there will be a hostile action.
This clip was wonderful, and well worth re-posting
Thank you all who stand up for our rights and God help those that don’t. “The things we do here today, echo in eternity.” As the proverbial little Dutch boy plugging holes in the dam, be it Iraq or America, I hope people will continue to be part of the solution instead of the problem.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

One of "those" days

119 degrees...SO hot. Body soaked in sweat, eyes burning, breath ragged. Drag body armor from truck to can (room). Sit down, let the sweat flow....thank God for AC. Boom boom boom! "Might have 'that' mission tomorrow" "Ya?" "Ya" "Anything else?" Nope, standing by.
Doing paperwork, minding own business. Hear gaggle outside, peek out to see. Mistake, more paperwork... (grunts hate paperwork). Doing paperwork, told to "find vehicle." Where? Who knows. Vehicle found, needs work, must fix it, stock it, fix it, fix it. Oops, out of time, close to done. Meeting. 11pm....oops, mission 4 hours earlier than expected, doh! Get to bed! 4 hours of sleep, get up, finish vehicle. Not fast enough. Mass confusion. Stress building.
Mission starts. Hit IED....BOOOM! What was that? Vehicle behind me. Slight damage. No one hurt. Drive on with mission. Mission is on. Unpredictably shorter than expected. Got some bad guys. Finally.
Get back, vehicles and equipment to turn in. More paperwork! 8pm, finally, things have slowed down. I have taken a shower and washed 2days dirt and stress from my body. Deep breath....typing....relax......

What will tomorrow bring?