One pet peeve of mine is when people say ‘thank you for your service’ on Memorial Day. Not just no, but NO. Memorial Day belongs to those who have passed. Not the living. Veteran’s Day however, is for all who have donned the uniform- whichever it may be- and done their duty to their country.
I spent 20 years in that uniform, five of them overseas in bad places. Ok, Korea wasn’t too bad, but it was a lot different in the early 90s than it is today. The rest of my time was spent with the Airborne Corps. I narrowly missed going to Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia, and the threat of fighting Russia at one point. When the war on terror began I couldn’t wait. For my sins, I was sent to Afghanistan in October 2002.
I remember the pilot switching the C-17s interior lights to red and telling everyone to don their body armor and helmets as we entered the combat zone. Most of the passengers were office weenies: JAG lawyers, clerks, supply and admin people. Only a handful of combat guys and a LRS team represented the other half- the fighting half- of the Army. To say the least, it began an interesting experience.
Of course, hearing the rockets exploding in the mountains as we deboarded added to the anticipation. This was it. I was finally at war.
It too a few years after I retired to crank out my thoughts on my three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some memories don’t sit well. The VA says I have PTSD, but aside from getting angry fairly quick, I don’t feel it.
A Long Way From Home is the culmination of my time in the desert, along with important stories from a few friends I met along the way. One is (now) Command Sergeant Major Reginald Butler. He was with the 1st Cavalry Division in Baghdad in 04. You might have heard the story- since it was the subject of a book and now a National Geographic mini-series.
I’d like to ask each of you to share this post, or pick up a copy of A Long Way From Home as Veteran’s Day approaches. It helps those of us who did serve as we try to return to normal lives.
War is Hell. Anyone who has ever put on a uniform and purposefully went to where the enemy was intent on killing him can attest to that. But instead of a singular definition of Hell that religion preaches, war is so much more. It is Hell on the families left behind. Hell on the mind and spirit. Hell on the nerves. Hell on coming home and trying to remember where you fit in. Yes, war is Hell. A Long Way From Home is the compilation of my experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2002-2006. It gives first hand accounts of some of the most gruesome fighting and a behind the scenes look at what really went on from various levels of the men and women who fought the war.