14 May 2009
The Long Road to War
Walking across the tarmac to the chartered jet that would take us to Camp Atterbury. We would not return to Nevada for almost a year.
Following my son's lead, I've chosen to begin a blog detailing the past year and the year that lies ahead as I count down the final days and few short weeks before I head to Iraq. My son is an incredibly gifted and creative writer and animator, and I can only hope to come close to his wit. I'm proud as hell of this kid...hell...."kid"....he's 20 years old now and I wish like hell that I could claim credit for what a fine young man he's turned into, in spite of me, not because of me. In short, he's pretty much "the balls".......but that's another story entirely.
I remember like it was 5 minutes ago, standing in my kitchen after grabbing the afternoon mail. It was a typically beautiful summer day in Reno. Very warm but not too hot. The kind of day best spent on a beach at Lake Tahoe, killing my 5th margarita and watching my girls frolic in the water, instead of staring at a letter from the Commanding General and Command Sergeant Major of the Nevada Army National Guard, "strongly" suggesting that I consider volunteering for duty to Iraq. The wording left me little choice. The news hit me like an all too familiar kick in the crotch. The memories of Afghanistan in 2001 came rushing back into my head like annoying static. I stared at the words on the paper in disbelief. I swore in 2003 that I would never do this again. But what little personal honor I had left compelled me to go. Maybe this was my second chance. Hell, maybe this was my LAST chance to redeem myself and finally put my demons to rest! Everything I had ever stood for, everything I had ever held dear.....words like honor, loyalty, duty, sacrifice, personal integrity...words I had dedicated my life to and lived by....had all been laid to waste by years of selfishness and bitterness. I had kept a dark secret for too long. A secret that had eaten away and continued to eat away at my very soul like a cancer....and I was terminal. Here was my chance at life again. Ironically, I had to go somewhere where I might be killed to find it. Despite suddenly having to confront my own mortality in a very real way, I committed to go. Little did I know that the greatest personal challenges of my life lay in wait like a monster in my closet, waiting to strike, tear my still beating heart from my chest and devour my eternal soul as soon as I closed my eyes. Insurgents with AK-47's and roadside bombs would have nothing on this organ eating, soul devouring bastard!