Friday, March 18, 2011

In The Beginning

He wanted the war so badly. It was as if it was a power stronger than water, than air, than life itself. He would later tell me he felt it was his duty; that it was something he trained his whole career for and he needed to do it. So he was stop-lossed by the Army and prepared for the demons of war.

His MOS was that of Bradley gunner, but in Iraq he was a combat medic among other things. I remember him packing the drab green medic’s bag full of trauma supplies. It was done with careful precision but also with some degree of aloofness...as if this was just another job and another day. Lord knows what would lie ahead.

The day he left for Iraq we drove to Fort Riley and prepared to leave him with his unit. I was so proud of him but scared to death. I wondered how long he would be gone and what he would do. I wondered if he would come home the same man. Would he come home home at all?

A year earlier I had excitedly driven to the Kansas City International Airport to pick this man up, my husband I hadn’t seen in a year. Our 18 month old son would run up to him, the first time he likely remembered ever seeing him. After all, he was only 6 months old when his daddy left for Korea the year before.

I thought back to the day he left for ROK and recalled my intense sadness at the prospect of a year without him. We had only been married nine months and we had a little baby. I knew the only thing that would sustain me was the knowledge that in six months, when our son turned one year old, my husband would be home on mid-tour leave.

It was September 2001. A sunny morning and I was headed to work and completely thrilled because my husband would be home soon on leave. It had been almost six months and we were ready to see him!

Then I heard it. I was listening to a radio station out of Kansas City and the news came over the air. Something was terribly wrong in New York City. As it turned out, my husband would be spending his mid-tour leave sitting on the DMZ staring at the North Koreans instead of heading home. It was a sober reality and it was the first time I really felt the gut shattering fear of deployment. I knew then that a war was beginning.

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