This will be the final post in this blog.
I'd like to start with a word of thanks. Many of you have thanked me both for my service and for this blog - but I assure you, the encouragement, thoughts and prayers I received from my family, friends, co-workers and many anonymous people and organizations helped to make this a very positive experience. With all my sincerity, thank you all for your support!
If you would have told me I'd lose about 40 lbs and weigh a mere 202 by the time this was over, I would have doubted that seriously. Nobody has called me "skinny" since high school - and I've heard that a few times since I've been back. I'm not sure I like it :-)
This journey started back in Jul, 2008 when I first found out our unit would be mobilized. Even before that, I had de-iced Pam with the thought that I would likely be spending time directly supporting the current war before my retirement. Much planning and thought went into this deployment. I knew it would be important to stay in touch with people and I started this blog in Jan even before I officially went on orders. I’m still on orders and my demobilization date will be 21 Oct 2009. I’ll be back to work at SITA on 1 Oct. I work for a GREAT company.
There were a few surprises along the way – especially the effect of this blog. I did it for family and friends and never expected that is would help a few others out along the way.
For the last 5 months in Afghanistan, we saw no rain. Since I’ve been back in ATL, the rain hasn’t stopped and I’ve not seen the sunshine! It’s a nice change really. Pam mentioned it’s depressing – and I kind of like it. Perspective – it’s different for all of us. I’ve learned to appreciate people’s perspective a lot more.
My homecoming was simply fantastic. I was greeted at the airport by my lovely wife, my children, all my grandchildren and some very special friends. It was a spectacular moment in time. Shelley (my daughter in law) made shirts that said “We support our Chief” and all the grandkids had them on – even Maddie had one on. See the pics here:
David, Janice and Joe Brown, David and Kim Warren, Colleen, Ashley and Maddie were all “friends” that came to greet me at the airport – and for no better reason than they love me – these people are more than “friends” – I think of them as family.
Every day since I have been home has been an adventure. Marcus took care of Big Red while I was gone and not only was it nice and clean, it had a new stereo that sounds great! Jeff and Heidi had RIBS on Sunday for me and we watched FOOTBALL! Pam and I celebrated our missed anniversary with dinner at Chops last night and there are still many things I am looking forward too – like lighting the smoking lamp with Dad, hunting with Marcus, fishing with Al and so much more.
It was great to be back with my church family on Sunday – Bob was there – a prayer warrior for this entire tour – a veteran himself who I know diligently prayed for me daily. I also know many others have been praying for me and the team – this is something I will never forget.
I am truly blessed to have had this opportunity! That’s really the way I see it. It was an opportunity to serve – and I made the most of it. I did my best and I’m very proud of what we did as a team. The separation wasn’t easy for any of us, but knowing that we all did our part to answer our nations call is a very rewarding feeling. I would like to thank each and every member of the team for your contributions to the mission. I would especially like to thank Col Lehman for his leadership and guidance through the entire tour.
I ask just one thing of you. Please never forget the military men and women who are currently engaged in the war on terrorism - and the many who have made the ultimate sacrifice fighting for you and for me. Paul Leslie (senior pastor at McDonough Christian Church) mentioned me in prayer on Sunday, but also noted we lost a church family member on 16 Sep – SFC Shawn McCloskey who was also serving in Afghanistan. Please pray for them and their families. I feel lucky to have served with honor and I am glad God saw fit to return me to my family. Apparently He is not finished with me yet.
I look forward to the next challenge – whatever that may be.