Wednesday, November 29, 2006

35.....




Today seemed like any other day for a multitude of reasons. Generally on my birthday I am awakened to a warm whispering kiss on my ear from my wife. Then perhaps a rendition of Happy Birthday from my kids and maybe a dinner and a gift in the evening. None of those things are possible right now, given my present location. I am going on my 5th month of being away from all of those things that are familiar to me, and I have quite a long way to go before my life goes back to normal.


Today is a day like any other, that consists of waking, shaving throwing on a uniform that has been worn a few days too many. Grabbing a quick breakfast and heading for the TOC to see whether the night before was uneventful, or uneventful for the patrols. It involves being simultaneously happy about non contact, and feeling guilty about wishing that there were more to be done. Today is a day, just like any other that I wish I were at home doing those things that at any other time I would find to be horribly mundane. Today is a day that I wish I were at home with nothing exciting or out of the ordinary to do.

Today is a day that I would laugh about how little I cared about marking another year on this earth. (My wife has somehow managed to stay 28 for the last several years) I would go about my day just as I would any other day, but the difference would be that I would sit in the comfort of familiar surroundings, loving people, and a landscape that is much more friendly than the one I am presently viewing.

Today I will go about my day just like any other, and tonight when I close my eyes to the darkness I will thank God for what I have. I will thank God for the reason that I have this longing in my heart on my birthday. I'll thank him for the reason that I am happy to celebrate another year on His earth.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Is there hope for Iraq?



I certainly hope so, for the sake of this little guy. People think of all Iraqi's wanting to kill us and maim us, but that isn't the case. The children come up to us in droves when we are on patrol, and they want #2 pencils or chocolate, (which they pronounce shock-uh-lot-uh). This guy here says he wants to come to America.

Maybe some day he can.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Daydreaming...

I was daydreaming earlier today...about not being seperated from my wife. Actually about her being here with me. I imagine her living in the hootch with me, and giving me a kiss as I head out the door. She always reminds me of things when I leave in the morning, whether it is something about an errand, or something we need to do together. I imagine her saying to me...

"Babe, if you patrol today, make sure and put in your Side SAPI plates, I know they're uncomfortable but it makes me feel better when you wear them. Hey! Also you need to put some fresh batteries in your night vision goggles."

Then she would hand me my coffee tumbler and give me a kiss before I headed out the door.

I thought about it so much I decided to photoshop her into my day. Check it out....Photoshop...hee hee.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Veteran's Day: I am feeling so conflicted....

This veteran's day, I am going to ask for the same thing that I asked for last year. Just a little bit of unity among the American People. Just a moment to reflect upon our military, and the great things that the military has accomplished over the years. Today is the birthday of the United States Marine Corps, and there are celebrations and memorials going on all over the country. Today I understand that a Marine Lance Corporal has been posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. That is truly a momentous day....a day for all of us to reflect, and perhaps Veteran's Day is further given it's just due because our military is currently deployed in all corners of the world.

I read today that Al Quaeda is saying that their "mission" is going much better than they anticipated, and that they were "mobilizing" 12,000 members for more evil doing. They also called President Bush the "Most stupid" American President ever. Further, they stated that they were pleased with the Republican defeat in the mid term elections. They claim that the American people have made the right choice. I really hated to hear that, as a Democrat, I don't like the nagging belief that Democrats are cowardly, or have no desire to be patriotic and defend our nation. I would be untruthful though if I said that there are parts of me that would like nothing better than to pack my gear and head home. That is where I came up with the title of this post. I am feeling very conflicted about my purpose, not in our purpose here. I sincerely hope that the Democrats will not make the mistake of saying that we need to pull out of here immediately. Regardless of the impetus for coming here, if we were to leave and allow the infrastructure to crumble, then our legacy would be greatly tainted here. So I want to leave, and I want to stay...it would seem that I am schizophrenic, wouldn't it. Perhaps I ought to expand upon the many personalities.

"Dkelsmith the Soldier"
He relishes the mission, and wants to go forward to the best of his ability to get things done ahead of schedule. He feels hamstrung and constrained by the never-ending list of policies, memoranda, procedure, and checklists. He thinks that when the military was free of the media scrutiny that things were done a lot better. He knows where he would increase the pressure, and he knows exactly what sort of pressure to apply. He thinks that there is no better place for him and his skills than right where he is.

"Dkelsmith the Leader"
He is a lot like the Soldier, but a lot more. He knows what needs to be done, but he realizes the price of what could happen if those plans ever formulate. He doesn't know if the life of even one of the Soldiers in his unit is worth anything that is going on here. More than anything he fears making a decision or action that results in the loss of life or injury. Every time everyone comes home safe and sound from missions he breathes a sigh of relief and prays that this trend will continue.

"Dkelsmith the Father"
He feels consumed with guilt about being gone so much. He thinks about the birthdays he has missed, and the birthdays that he will miss. No Thanksgiving, no Christmas, soccer games, football games, spending time....all those things that "good fathers" do. He tries to explain when his 4 year old demands to know, "Daddy where ARE you?!"

"Dkelsmith the Husband"
Feels guilt about constantly leaving his wife alone to do everything. He gets frustrated because he cannot be there to help with things. He feels left out, yet understands that it cannot be helped. While there is a satisfaction in knowing that his wife can handle things by herself, he doesn't like the fact that she can. Being needed here does pale in comparison to being needed at home.

I am all of these people rolled up into one...and yes, my mind is a confusing mess at time, but I have never wavered in what I was doing. I believe in what I am doing. I am doing the job that my father did before me. I am doing exactly what I dreamed about doing when I was 4 years old. But, Dad made all of this look so much easier. Happy Veterans' Day, Dad. Happy Veteran's Day to all of my brothers and sisters who wear, or ever wore the uniform.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Home is where the heart is.....

Somehow the realization that I am going to be away from home for an extended amount of time is just now hitting me. I am used to the long hours at this point, but every time I talk to my wife and kids or any other members of my family on the phone, I end up wanting "more". The fact that I am roughly 6700 miles away from home is kind of staggering. There are so many things that I want to do back at home, but none are possible now.

The mission is going well...nobody hurt thus far, but still I would give anything for my normal life.