Who are they? What are they made of? Just flesh and blood, like you and me. But, with something inside them you can't name, some kind of drive that only a few have. One minute they are under fire from the enemy in life and death situations. The next they smile at a child that knows only he is hungry and the " American soldier" has given him something to eat, a smile and a pat on the head. Or maybe the soldier has just smiled at a puppy which reminds him of his child's puppy, safe and free in Anytown USA. He has been asked to do things he never thought he could or would do. He has pushed his body to the limit and then pushed again. He has accomplished that which he would have thought un-doable. Then shortly thereafter knelt to pray with his comrades for a successful mission and everyone of them is ok.
Ask them why they do what they do and you will get many answers. Words like Pride, Patriotism, Freedom, Family, Tradition are words you will likely here. I assure you when you pin them down they will say something like "it's just something I have to do, I don't really know why." If you have read my previous post you know about my son's battle buddy, Kody. If not, read it now, this post will make more sense.
Let me tell you about one soldier. Son of a former Marine and barely old enough to shave. At 19 he was one of the first surge paratroopers to enter Baghdad, not in the safe "Green Zone". On the border of the notorious Sadr City. His unit spent their first months kicking in doors, and I might add, kicking "butt" (sorry Chaplins). Patrols that lasted 3 days with little or no sleep. The chow was the wonderful MRE's. You know what? These soldiers were happy to have them! Did they complain about them? Hell yes! Have ever eaten an MRE? Most of these soldiers say "it doesn't taste too bad." But, cardboard tastes good if you put enough ketchup on it! Did they go on? Hell yes! Did they do their job to 110% of their capability? Hell yes, and then some more!
After 13 months this kid of soldier gets the message his father has passed away. He is on his way home, sad as the occasion may be, but home. No more mortars, IED'S. No more patrols where you don't know what is behind the next door or around the next corner. He spends his time at home with his family and lays his Marine father to rest. Now he has to pick up the pieces of his life and go on with his head held high. That's what his father would have said. "I'm in a better place now he would have told him. You have to take care of you now."
He has his ticket back to Fort Bragg, his home base. Home in the US of A. SAFE, HOT SHOWERS AND CHOW! What more could you ask for after what he has been through. Ride it out for a month until his unit gets back. What does this solider do? He requests to go back to his unit, they are still at the Combat Outpost and have a month to do. He gets a ticket, flies 18 hours, grabs some chopper rides and is back with his unit. Would you have done it? Do you have the guts to do it. I have asked myself that question many times since I found out about it.
Did this soldier take the easy way out, Hell no! He's an American soldier, an American Paratrooper, he has pride, faith and a heart that knows no boundaries. This, is what the American soldier is made of. You can't label it, you can't touch it, and you can't put a name on.
So, the next time you see someone in a military uniform, dog gone it, don't be afraid, walk up to them and say, Hi, I just want to thank you for my FREEDOM and keeping my family safe! The next time you go in "Harm's way" I'll be praying for your safe return. Who knows after you say it a couple of times you might just start a new revolution!
I waited to post this until the 2-319th Black Falcons arrived home last week. They are safely on the ground arriving at 0441 Hrs. , 4:41AM, Wednesday , March 19th.
Welcome home! and Thanks!