"Sharing can be a way of healing. Grief and loss can isolate,
anger even alienate. Shared with others, emotions unite
as we see we aren't alone. We realize others weep with us."
~Susan Wittig Albert

Through our writing, we walk out of the darkness into the light
together, one small step at a time, recording history, educating
America, and we are healing.
~CJ/Todd Dierdorff

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Viva Anonymous!

I have to respond to the couple of recent comment posters that said the blog writing from SGT Mad Dog Tracy cannot be accurate.

I served in the United States Army for six years and I have only been out now for a little over a year. I deployed to Afghanistan twice, the last time in early 2007. At that time, the regulations and screenings were not quite as intrusive as they are now, but they were still quite stupid in my mind. I also flew out from Bagram Air Field. For some reason, the flights kept getting delayed, so every day, we would pack up all our gear (mine was well over 150 pounds -- everything I brought to Afghanistan, accumulated in Afghanistan, and my mission-essential computer equipment) -- hike through the ice and snow, wait in line to get inspected (which was very, very thorough -- drug/bomb dogs, hand searches, etc.) After that, we were sent into the waiting area. After 14+ hours of waiting, we were sent back to our b-huts to try again the next day.

For five days we did this (everyday being re-inspected). The waiting room was designed to hold maybe 50 soldiers and we numbered closer to 300. On top of that, since all our gear was packed, a number of soldiers never changed their uniforms. Our "scent" began to get rather repulsive, considering we were lugging tons of gear around all day and then being jammed into a single room for hours upon hours. I remember being next to an Army LTC who complained about the "damn Fly Boys (Air Force)" not having their heads on straight. An Airman (E2) sitting across from us immediately quipped, "Sir, would you rather humvee it back?" We all chuckled at his quick thinking and, honestly, none of us really blamed the Air Force. The weather was bad and apparently other factors were conspiring to keep us from seeing our wives/husbands/family as soon as we would have liked. Anyway, the flight finally came. We all flew back with our weapons, so I would have to disagree with the comment posters that said that's impossible. Of course, they (our weapons) were all unloaded and we were carefully searched to make sure nobody had any ammo.

We landed in Germany somewhere and, just like SGT Tracy said, we had to line up again to go through security there. At this stage, our unit (10th MTN DIV) did pack up all our weapons which went into the cargo hold for the flight back, but a number of other soldiers from other units were allowed to keep theirs -- and hand carried them all the way home on the flight.

We waited in the terminal for hours until our flight came in to send us to Indianapolis. Once we landed there, the inspections began again. Every bag had to be screened and we were patted down. Almost every soldier carries a Leatherman or pocket knife, and while most of us had packed them in our rucks, a number of soldiers forgot and had them confiscated (along with the occasional fingernail clipper).

Finally, we were on our way back to Fort Drum. Once we landed there, anticipating a quick release to see our waiting family members (my wife had been staying in a hotel for almost two weeks because she expected me back so much sooner -- talk about an expensive hotel stay!) -- we were ushered into another area until to be INSPECTED AGAIN. Yes, we had already landed and were home, but a full pat down and bag search was waiting for us at Fort Drum. Some mandatory suicide prevention and redeployment classes followed, then a long march to the ceremony grounds, and then finally after being on the ground for more than 8 hours, we were released to our family members.

I don't really write this as a complaint -- I was just happy to be back. But I do think that people should understand just how time-consuming and painful the return back home actually is. Based on my experiences, I'd say SGT Tracy's post is absolutely true. Know your facts before you call someone a liar!

I wish to remain Anonymous, please ...

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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