Sunday, June 24, 2007

Riding Off Into The Sunset

Dear Readers,

I'm sorry I haven't posted for a while but there's a pretty good reason. I've been training my replacement. So this will be the last posting I will make while I’m on the ground in Iraq. We’ve been gone from home for almost two years. Our task force has lost a total of 20 soldiers and even more have been wounded and sent stateside for their recovery. The “family” I’ve been with throughout this deployment has almost come to an end. At the current time we have not been told exactly when we’re leaving or arriving due to security reasons but we know it is somewhere in the next few days. Shortly after that, we’ll arrive in the states, and then back to our homes, our families, and our “lives” that we left so long ago.

I’ve spent my entire adult life as a soldier defending the principles America was founded on. My career with the Army has been mixed with different experiences, friends, and memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life. In twenty-two years, this journey has taken me to all seven continents, fifty-six countries, and across cultures only read about in books. I’ve been to places that are considered significant for different reasons throughout history. I’ve lost friends along the way and gained more as life continues.

I’ve been there to witness the worst of atrocities, violence, and behavior that mankind is capable of. I’ve also been there to see the spirit of human “good” in the best and worst of times. I’ve seen people put their differences aside in order to save children, families, neighbors, and countries. I have been there passing through time witnessing and participating in moments of our history that will be remembered, studied, taught to future generations and eventually, forgotten. I’ve witnessed the Challenger explosion, the invasion of Panama and capture of Manuel Noriega, the invasion (and subsequent) liberation of Kuwait, the fall of the Soviet Union, the dismantling of Checkpoint Charlie, the Balkans war, the war in Rwanda, the war for Somalia, the attack on the United States on September 11th, the fall of Saddam Hussein, the global war on terrorism, the miracle of the first generation of children being born into a free Iraq, the deaths of Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and others that have played a poignant part in history. I’ve seen our country endure through the challenges of different administrations. All of these events have happened while I and others like me have remained in the shadows of our history securing your freedoms and liberties.

As I’ve been receiving letters, cards, and messages of encouragement from all of you I cannot thank God enough for blessing me with such wonderful friends and readers. I feel that I’ve entered the “twilight” of my military career with more than I deserve. In my short life, I have seen and done more than most people three times my age.

In closing, I will probably not post for a while once I get back as I will spend my time getting reacquainted with being home, with friends and with family. I will enjoy the last couple of days here turning in equipment, saying goodbye to my rifle, updating phones and addresses in order to try to stay in touch. I will see some of my friends and family but I will make it a point to fade into obscurity as I finish this part of my journey and start another. In time, people will read and remember some of the postings I’ve made, but (like life always is) they will move on with their lives. I will do the same. One of the greatest privileges I’ve ever had has been to be a soldier for the United States. I never want anyone to feel sorry for me being gone from home, going to combat, or suffering as I have because of being a soldier. This is a life I’ve been granted and a duty that I have upheld to the best of my abilities. I’ve kept doing it for as long and as hard as I could because I was compelled to do so. God doesn’t send us where we want to go, he places us where we need to be. Again, I thank you for your prayers and support and wish you and yours well.

Coconut Commando