Time To Speak...just A LittleI stumbled across this group tonight. Its almost as if by design that I found it. You see in late 2003 I deployed to Iraq and stayed in country until 2005. What I brought home was just something I thought was mine alone, but some of your stories have inspired me to write one of mine. I haven't talked about these things, they're hard to put into words, but I'll try to keep some order to these thoughts.
Upon our arrival in Iraq at the end of 2003 we moved straight into Baghdad and ran Ops out of BIAP. I was Platoon Sargeant in a Sapper Unit and we jumped right into the fight. Almost immediately we lost a great kid. He was a Soldier and an man by all definition, but a kid to me and it was like a punch to the gut. Before we left the States we had a feeling of invincibility, however, the swiftness and violence that killed this young man brought about a sense of morality that shook our whole Company.
Over the next 14 months we saw combat and were hit with attacks of IED's, sniper, mortor fire, car bombs and anything else they could come up with. I never got over the death of my young Soldier, even though we lost eight more great Soldiers over the course of that year. All of them equally important and loved. The details of that year are forever etched in my mind and I will always be able to see the faces of not only my Soldiers, but those faces of Haji as well. The range of emotions covered everything from happiness to terror.
I came home in March of 2005 to a world I didn't remember. One that didn't make sense anymore. The names of my Soldiers were written on my wall and in my heart, but no one knew them except me. I was alone, out of the Unit, by myself and everyone around me was conducting life as usual. I was lost and anxious, hypersensitive to every sound and smell. There was no structure to the daily routine. There was no routine! Simple tasks proved to much to bare. To drive down the streets at home was more than a challenge. I wanted to stay in the middle of the road, 25 meters behind the car in front of me, the proper combat patrol interval. Each time a car pulled in front of me I backed off to the proper interval, despite the honking of horns to speed up and get in my lane. I was losing it! At night I would drink myself to sleep, otherwise I would find myself outside Ramadi, kneeling along the side of the road, holding my best friend's hand while he took his last breath. Something happened to me over there. I didn't care about death anymore except for my Soldier's. If something happened to me, I saw how it worked and it was usually over quickly, but I feared for my Soldiers everyday. That concern was hard to let go of when I came home. Most of us went our separate ways and integrated back into the civilian world. We tried to stay in touch, but the transition was hard and we lost track of each other. It was hard to hold a job, because the crisis's at the office were hardly crisis's. I found myself asking the obvious questions, "Are you going home tonight, will you eat supper and sleep in a warm bed? Because if so and no one is shooting at you, then its not a crisis!" People would look at me as if I was from outerspace and I rotated from one job to another. What was wrong with me? I was always the guy everyone liked. Fun to be around, joking and kind to everyone. Now I was just angry and an ***.
The years passed by and I made the transition into civilian life. My friends like me again and even some of my family. Ha.
It feels good to get some of this off my chest and I apologize for what seems like rambling. It has taken me almost eight years to unload what seems like such petty personal crap. Not the loss of my Soldiers, that will forever be significant, but my stupid reaction to life when I came home. I was a leader of men, but I couldn't lead myself home. I have found some joy in life again and laugh more each day. I've started my own business, because its hard to not get along with the boss when he is me. Things are getting better and I don't regret a thing. God bless all of you who have served and thank you for the sacrifices you have made. And thanks for giving me the forum to ramble.