Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Coming home

This deployment is coming to an end, in a few days we will be on a plane back to the United States to rejoin our family and friends and to try to readjust to a certain semblance of what we think life should be. The truth is everything has changed, we collectively have changed. We have changed as people, as an army, as citizens of the United States.  We face uncertainty in nearly every aspect of our lives.  Our families have been without us for a year and we have only two weeks to try to enjoy the extremely limited time we have with them before its back to the daily grind. Two weeks to try to reconnect, although this process can take weeks, months or even years. There is no promise that any of us will return unchanged.  But we collectively have been granted access to something few ever see, or choose to see for that matter. We have bared witness to the atrocities of war. We have thrust ourselves into the midst of chaos in order to do something so important, so visceral, that few will ever understand what it means. We collectively have risked it all and put everything on the line to save our fellow man, regardless of nationality, race, religion or sex.  I for one will reflect on these experiences for decades to come.  And I know my comrades will as well.  I cannot begin to describe the things we’ve seen, felt, or heard. We have lost brothers and colleagues. We have felt the sting of losing someone we tried our hardest to save.  We have cleaned up the blood and reset our equipment in order to go back out and do it again. These people I work with are some of the most dedicated men and women I have ever met. They come from all walks of life and although different in so many aspects, all come together collectively to accomplish this mission. I’m proud to say that I work with some of the most professional people there are. But now we are going home. Were out of this god forsaken country, but we take with us the weight of a thousand missions. To try to dissect them as best we know how.  
                Now I am preparing to jump on a plane and return to a world that I don’t really understand anymore. When I was younger I used to think I had it figured out. The older I get and the more aware I become the more lost I feel. There is a widening gap between service member and civilian, our economy is still struggling, jobs are scarce and I can only sit back and watch as our home slips into a more prevalent ideology of entitlement.  Where we are inundated with political pressures, told how to think and feel, who to vote for because of a political party, and try to voice our intolerance by “liking” a status on Facebook. It’s sickening to me now.  Our youth are hamstringed by a failing education system, the poor are being cast out and pushed aside.  Veterans of these wars are living at an all-time high of homelessness and joblessness. You can’t throw a rock in this country without hitting dozens of heavily medicated veterans. But the general public cares less and less about them and us. For the general public, unless you have something personally invested in these wars they just want to get along with their day.  Without having to be reminded of what these men and women endure on a daily basis. Its unfathomable to them. Thus the widening gap grows. In times of random occurrence we hear “thank you for your service” in an airport, a restaurant, in passing at the realization that you served, although I’m sure most appreciate it. I know when I hear it, it almost sounds forced. Like it’s some sort of requirement to say. It’s become trite and cliché and it just feels fake. I’m sorry if this just hit a little too close to home for some of you reading this but I’m just tired of trying to appease everyone I come across. The truth is that the general American public couldn’t give a shit about us. They want their Starbucks and celebrity gossip and their “16 and pregnant” We are breeding a generation of young people who have no idea what this country is founded on or what its citizens had to go through in order to make this country great and more about what time jersey shore is on. We are losing…we are struggling. Not in some great sense of the word as though every generation has its great struggle.  We are just losing. Losing ground on what we thought was right, what we thought life was supposed to be, and we are becoming very pissed off.  It seems that the more time passes by and the longer im away from the US the angrier I become.  We cannot live in a world where we hold onto the ideals that bitching solves anything, where we believe that things will be taken care of for us. If you want something done, go out and get it done…period.
So in closing, while reading this you might think I’ve become some angry disillusioned man, someone who sees things so much different than the average citizen, well maybe your right. But I can only hope that things someday will change. As for our accomplishments here in Afghanistan, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I will forever hold these experiences close.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Well greetings from Afghanistan!

The news has reported several indiscretions as of late. The Koran burning in the Bagram area to the most recent killings of innocent men women and children by a single soldier in the Kandahar area. Things are rapidly spinning out of control here. There’s so much unrest felt by both sides. We’ve been here so long, but the choice of whether to stay or leave most certainly is out of my control. Were here to support, to help, to try our hardest, amidst most obstacles, to make a difference. I’m pretty damn sure that we are accomplishing that. But when something like this happens it tarnishes our proud name. Its embarrassing. One man made the decision to take the lives of innocents…that’s not a soldier, nor a man in my eyes. But a coward unwilling to delve down into the depths and fight it out like soldiers, with honor. Not only that but he’s putting the lives of his comrades in danger. The single incident of the Koran burning translated to 7 Americans killed in retribution. This has to stop and stop now…
The more and more that I see on Facebook and other social media outlets the more im becoming disenchanted with the average American citizen. I know that sounds bad. I love my home don’t get me wrong but there are so many aggravating factors that have truly made me pull back from society. All it seems I see anymore are posts bashing the president, or something regarding religion and any of the other factors that, although people feel passionately about, seem to cram down our throats twenty four hours a day seven days a week. An opinion is great to have, don’t get me wrong, but voicing said opinion on Facebook is ridiculous. I’m sick and tired of hearing that our president is a Muslim Socialist or some cleverly subdued racist comment. People and politicians have stopped believing in what’s right for the majority and truly only believe in fighting for they’re respective side. Religion infused rhetoric clouds the airwaves. Presidential candidates slinging mud because the opposition believes in something different. I cant stand the religious undertones in every speech given at a podium. What about those of us AMERICANS that don’t believe what you believe? What happens to our voice? What happens when our “Christian Nation” (as it is so eloquently described in every candidates campaign speeches) has people from every walk of life, religion (or they’re lack of), race and sexual orientation? Are you representing the country as a mass or just the selected few? This idea of a “Christian Nation” is false, flat out. Our founding fathers did not create the constitution on any ideas of this. Hell just read it. Now as you read this please don’t misinterpret anything im saying as being “anti” any religion. I have my beliefs as well as every other human being on earth. Im simply saying why cant there be an idea that represents us all equally? Or if such an idea cannot exist than I simply ask this…shut the hell up. If you don’t agree with someone, don’t tell them they’re going to hell, or that they’re stupid or anything else derogatory. Simply shut the hell up. it’s a pretty simple concept. If my views do not represent yours, hey, that’s fine. That is one of the greatest ideals about this country…were free to think whatever we want. But when that hinders another’s point of view, when someone verbally attacks another for they’re beliefs, then I have a problem.
You don’t have to agree with me, but that’s the great part…. Rant complete.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Hey Folks

Just got back to Afghanistan from my way too fast trip home for R & R. It was a long trip, bouncing through Kuwait, Germany, Dallas and finally home. Walking down the escalator in the airport to see my beautiful wife and mother was possibly the best feeling ever. The entire trip home was rather low key, which is exactly how I wanted it. I wanted to spend time with my wife and mom and just relax. Mission accomplished. Wendi has done an amazing job of choosing and setting up the apartment while I was away. Great location and it is perfect for her. Unfortunately I wont be spending too much time in it haha but that’s ok . She’s been so damn busy with everything from work school and all her photo projects I couldn’t be more proud of her. We had our own little Christmas at moms house, I love the fact that im never home on Christmas but we still manage to have our Christmas day routine. It makes me smile every time. Wendi and I spent some quiet time up in a cabin in Idyllwild, and for those few short days I relaxed in peace and quiet with Wendi. No helicopters buzzing over head, no hustle and bustle of the daily grind. It was amazing. We went to Knotts berry farm on a surprise trip in which im an asshole and had to be constantly guessing where we were going. For some reason I cant just get into a car and be taken somewhere. Something in my head has to know where im going and I will guess and guess until I get it. Up to and including factoring the remaining mileage to what is in range. Im an ass…sorry babes. We had a joint birthday party for her and a buddy Jason Medina who owns Dedicated Tattoo in Temecula. A lot of my friends and hers came out that night. It was great to see some old friends and meet some new ones. Unfortunately the deployment gods didn’t smile on me and I had to leave the day before her Birthday and our one year anniversary is on February third. I wanted to be home so bad for those but luck wasn’t on my side. I wish I wasn’t gone for everything, and it always weighs heavy on me. I haven’t been home for my own mothers birthday in 5 years. I hate missing everything important. that’s the one thing that’s hardest for me. I wish I could be there. But we spent our time together and celebrated while we had the chance. Sooner than I would have liked it was time to board that plane and head back to this shitty country for another six months. I hate saying good byes and I do mean loath but this one was especially hard. It kills me every time I say goodbye to my mother and she starts crying. It damn near destroys me. You think leaving loved ones as many times as we’ve done it would get easier over time, well I wish that was the case. The whole drive down to the airport I was dreading what was coming. Wendi and I had some coffee and it was time to board the plane. I cant stand walking away from her. Its horrible. Then once again I was in flight. Headed back the same way I came. The trip back to Kuwait was rather quick maybe 24 hours or so. Then I got stuck in Kuwait for 5 days. There’s is absolutely nothing special about that little holding area and you can only smoke so many cigarettes before your lungs burn. Luckily I was able to find a couple buddies I came in with so that killed the boredom a little. Now im back in Sharana where everything is covered in snow and its freezing cold. Thank you so much Mom and Wendi for everything you did for me while I was home. It was one of the most memorable yet.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Far Removed

Its been some time since ive even wanted to write about anything out here. Its hard to find the silver lining out here when all you see is injuries. Sure your helping and all, but the blood and pain lingers in your aircraft for awhile. Ive been pretty damn good about having a very short term memory but it will always stay with you. The 12 year old boy shot in the face, the soldier riddled with shrapnel, another in uncontrollable convulsions. It takes a toll on us all even if we don’t want to admit it. It stays in the back of your mind, like a suppressed animal clawing to get out of a cage. Its strange, Last deployment I had so much to write about, the people we interacted with on a daily basis, the raids we went on. This time we don’t get those interactions, only when we pick someone up. A quick story of what happened and what they did to help, lasting only a few seconds, then running to jump on the aircraft and do what needs to be done. I think its important to interact with the local populace. Only then can you find out if your work is worth it. You can influence your area either one way or another. Here you find yourself entirely detached and isolated from the fight. I feel like my mission is of great importance but it almost feels as though im just going through the motions. There was so much more the last time around. I truly miss it. Although there was so much bad the last time I never felt more connected to who I was, to my own life. You came to terms with everything in your life and were able to rationalize things down to the simplest form; if you didn’t clean your rifle, it could jam causing the volume of fire to subside allowing them to get off one more round to kills your friend. It was simple, do what is required of you, but not only for you but for your team. There was no politics, no career advancement, no hands in the cookie jar, those things weren’t important out there. I don’t want to sound like im dismissing anything that we do here. As I said before I feel extremely proud of what we do and what we continue to do out here. But there’s a certain aspect that I cant necessarily explain with this one. Maybe a feeling of safety or a misunderstanding of ones mortality, its easy to do especially at 140MPH and 1,000 feet your far from roadside bombs and snipers. We have a few short moments or heart pounding and then we go back to our warm beds and relative safety. Those men out there pound mile after mile, with 80lbs of kit or more, facing whatever it is that comes their way, but together as one cohesive unit…Brothers. I can honestly say I miss that.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Greetings from Afghanistan!

Things have been going ok over here on my side of the world. Weve had busy days and days that yield absolutely nothing. Those days are the good days, it means no one is hurt out there. We spend our days bouncing back and forth between our site in Sharana and another in Orgun E. Orgun E is like a vacation for us, things are much closer, there are far fewer people there and we have a fire pit! We’ve been burning pallets almost every night, im not sure what the exact temperature is but its got to be in the 40’s. Its very relaxing out there, not a light for miles and ive never seen stars like I have out there. The Milky Way is completely visible with the naked eye. It really has a way of making you feel very small. Its hard to believe that we have been gone almost 4 months now, Time is already starting to fly by, which is a great thing.

Things here mission wise have presented everything from injuries that one would expect to see like IED explosion injuries to gun shot wounds. Then on the other hand you see all sort of random things that you just weren’t expecting to see. On my first rotation out in orgun E there was a local woman who was pregnant and seen at the local clinic. The afghan doctor at the clinic pronounced the baby as stillborn and sent the family to the FST (forward surgical team) at Orgun E. They preformed a C section and found a perfectly healthy baby boy.

Were gearing up for a long and cold winter (expecting 2 feet of snow) and if anyone knows me they know I hate the cold, So its just going to be constant and unending complaining coming from me for the next few months haha. But don’t worry ive got plenty of cold weather gear. Ill just be dressed up like the kid off of “A Christmas Story” I hope all of you are safe and well. Enjoy your Halloween and ill be posting something soon.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

dark days

Three years is a long time for anything. But its been almost 3 years since I said goodbye to you. I remember everything from that day. Like a curse that will never go away. Every smell, every drop of sweat, every shot heard over and over again in my head. I blamed myself for so long for what happened. In all reality it should have been me like that. There’s so many things that have happened since that day that made my life a better life. I try to do well by others. It was my second chance. You told me to move to a different spot. 45 seconds difference and who knows. I strive to do the best I can every day. For you, for the guys on the ground. Because I know what they’re going through. I miss you brother, more than you know and thank you Bart

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hi everyone from Afghanistan!

Its been some time since ive been able to update anything on here. Ive since deployed on my second tour of duty but now im here in Afghanistan. it’s a hell of a lot different than my trip to Iraq a few years ago now. Im now a member of 82nd combat aviation brigade “DUSTOFF” were a medevac company of flight medics who will go in and get the guys on the ground, provide medical aid and get them to a FST (forward surgical team) as quickly as possible. Everything I remember about Iraq was nice and flat and hot as hell, which is just not the case. Right now im at a base with an elevation of 7,500 feet. And I felt it everyday until I grew accustomed to it. It was like gaining 150lbs and running up hills. The elevation just sucked all the energy right out of you. it’s a nice long hike from where we live here to where we work. Ive gotten used to it now/ were surrounded by 10,000 foot mountains all around us, and from what I hear its going to be a miserable winter. I hate the cold. We have run a few calls and until recently it was nice and quiet, but unfortunately that calm is over now. Within seconds were sprinting to the helicopter and suiting up as quickly as possible to get out to the guys who need us the most. Within minutes were racing to get to them because every second counts when your injured. it’s a very orchestrated response, everyone knows exactly what needs to be done and we work as one hell of a team in order to get there as fast as possible. We push the helicopter hard and its like a roller coaster as were going in. We pick up the wounded and rush as fast as we can to the FST while myself and the crew chief are working on the patients in the back. Doing everything from IV therapy, intubations, and surgical interventions in order to keep them alive until we can get to the doctors. Your heart is pumping a million miles an hour. You just want to get there, get him to the help he needs. We can do a lot in the back of an aircraft but not everything. When its over and done im resetting my equipment talking to my crew chief going over everything that we did and making sure were good for the next one. I smoke a cigarette and push it out of my head as best I can, and wait…
Ill be posting some pictures soon hopefully
Take care everyone