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

Sunday, April 24, 2011

written much better then I ever could

Dear all,

We are dying. Not in some philosophical, chronological, "the end comes for all of us sooner or later" sense. Just dying. Sure, it's an occupational hazard, and yeah, you can get killed walking down the street in Anytown, USA. But not like this. Not car bombs that leave craters in the road, not jeering crowds that celebrate your destruction. We thought we had turned the tide, turned the corner, beaten the defensive rush and were headed upfield, striding into the home stretch. But they are still here. They still strive for our demise. It's never been a fair fight, and we haven't always played nice.

But not like this. No one leaves the gate looking to kill, or looking to die. No one wakes up in the morning and says, "I sure hope blowing up a whole group of Iraqis goes well today." You may be worn out, hounded by hours on end of patrols, investigations, emergency responses, guard shifts, but you never wake up and think, 'today's the day we'll kill a whole bunch of 'em.' Theres no "kill 'em all, let God sort 'em out." That's for suckers and cowards, people afraid to delve into the melee and fight it out, to sort it out like soldiers.

They've killed my friends. And not in some heroic fight to defend sovereign territory, not on some suicide mission to extract a prisoner or save a family in distress. Just standing out directing traffic. Just driving downtown to a meeting. Just going to work. All I can think is, "Those poor bastards. Those poor, poor bastards."

And the opposition, they've damned anyone with the gall to actually leave their homes in the morning, because they've killed their own, too. Indiscriminate is one word. "Callous" does not even suffice. What battle cry says "Damn the 8-year-old boy and his little sister if they're in the area! Damn them all!?" What do you say to your men after you've scraped up the scalps of an entire Iraqi family off the road, right next to the shattered bodies of your soldiers, held together only by their shoelaces, body armor or helmets? "We're fighting the good fight?" I don't think so. Were just fighting. And now we're dying.

It's nothing new, not really. I know what that look is now, the one on the faces of WWII soldiers coming back from a patrol, Vietnam vets standing at the Wall. But now it's us. You know the little blurb from Connie Chung that says "Two Coalition Soldiers were killed at a checkpoint today after a car bomb exploded while waiting in line?" And you think, "ah, just two. At least it wasn't like 30. At least it wasn't in a movie theater, or the town square.

Yeah...I changed my mind about that one. When you sit at the memorial service, gazing down at the display: a pair of laced tan combat boots, a hastily printed 8″10″photo, their service rifle, barrel down, their Kevlar helmet set on top of the buttstock, and you hear their friends say, "he talked about his son every night. Hes two. He can hardly talk but his Dad just knew he would be a great linebacker." Or, "his wife is currently commanding a platoon elsewhere in Iraq. She will accompany the body home but has chosen to return to her own flock, to see them home safely though her husband will not join her. Our thoughts go out to their families." WHAT THOUGHTS?! What do you think? What good will you do knowing this? What help will you be, blubbering in the stands, snot drizzling from your nose, wishing you could have known beforehand, wishing you could have stopped it, pleading to God you could have taken their place, taken the suffering for them?

What do you say to the fathers of the men responsible, when you find them relaxing in their homes the next day, preparing for a meal? Should you simply strike them down for having birthed such an abomination? Or has the teeth-shattering punch in the face crunch of seeing a fallen comrade laid to rest sated your lust for blood and revenge?

Resolve, resolute, resolution, resoluteness. You feel ... compelled, to respond. To what? On whom? Why? Will your children someday say, "I'm sure glad Dad died to make Iraq safer?" No. They died standing with their friends, doing their jobs, fulfilling some far-flung, nearly non-existent notion called duty. They died because their friends could've died just as easily, and knowing that ... they would never shirk their duties, never call in sick, never give in to fear, never let down. When you've held a conversation with a man, briefed him on his mission, his objective and reminded him of the potential consequences during the actioning of it, only to hear he never returned, and did not die gracefully, though blessedly quickly, prayerfully painlessly ... you do not breathe the same ever after. Breath is sweet. Sleep is sweeter. Friends are priceless. And you cry. Theres no point, no gain, no benefit, but you are human and you must mourn. It is your nature.

It is also now undeniable, irrevocable, that you will see your mission through. You will strive every day, you will live, though you are not ever again sure why. Ideals ... are so ... far, far away from the burnt stink of charred metal. I, we, must see it through to the end. They have seen every instant, every mission, every chore, every day through, not to its end but to theirs. How can you ever deny, degrade, desecrate their sacrifice and loss with anything less than all you have? Their lives are lost, whether as a gift, laid down at the feet of their friends, or a pointless discard of precious life ... I doubt I'll ever know.

I'm OK, Mom. I'm just a little ... shaken, a little sad. I know this isnt any Divine mission. No God, Allah, Jesus, Buddha or other divinity ever decreed "Go get your body ripped to shreds, it's for the better." This is Man's doing. This is Man's War. And War it is. It is not fair, nor right, nor simple ... nor is it over. I wish the presence of those responsible only to dissipate, to transform into average citizens, fathers, sons and brothers. I don't care about bloodlust, justice or revenge. But they ... they ... will not rest until our souls are wiped from this plane of existence, until we no longer exist in their world. Nothing less suffices. And so we will fight. I will not waiver, nor falter. Many of my fellows will cry for no mercy, no compassion. For those responsible, for those whose goal is destruction purely for effect, death only as a message, for whom killing is a means of communication, I cannot promise we, or I, will give pardon. With all, we will be harsh, and strict, but not unjust, not indiscriminate. And we will not give up. We cannot. Our lives are forever tied to those lost, and we cannot leave them now, as we might have were they still living.

We have ... so little time ... to mourn, so little time to sigh, to breathe, to laugh, to remember. To forget. Every day awaits us, impatient, impending. So now we rise, shunning tears, biting back trembling lips and stifling sobs of grief ... and we walk, shoulder to shoulder ... to the Call of Duty, in tribute to the Fallen.


This is a letter that Sgt John McCary wrote to his mother during his time in Iraq. I love this letter...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

state of the nation

Im writing this a day after the federal government shutdown was adverted, one hour before the dead line. I felt somewhat compelled to write something about this since it directly effected me. I received a text message from a friend stating to check my LES (leave and earnings statement) because their paycheck had already been cut in half. With the shutdown looming this meant that federal employees and more importantly myself would not be paid. We were to report to work without pay for the duration of the government shutdown. We were told that we would be “back paid ” once the funding of the budget was restored. This could have potentially lasted until September. So my question is this…What the hell would we have done with out pay? Granted im sure there would have been some leeway given to us from our renters however that couldn’t have lasted forever. Eventually one would be evicted from their homes or their houses would have been foreclosed. Debt would have sky rocketed, and providing that life essential needs would have been non existent. If a soldier is unable to provide for his or her family, how are they supposed to live? This obviously set off a lot of panic in people. I heard many times that “if they’re not going to pay me then im not coming to work” and I completely agree with that. You are paid for services rendered, and in some instances they work their asses off in order to get that paycheck, which in reality isn’t that much to begin with. My question is this, what would happen if you really didn’t show up for work in the army. You would risk everything, including dishonorable discharge from the military due to failure to follow a direct order to come to work. Now granted this is a severe punishment but not completely out of the picture. It is possible. That’s a scary thought.
I received a text message from a superior yesterday saying that we should all check our LES because of the half pay problem that I was already aware of. At the end of it, it said “thanks to the democrats this is happening”. Im not exactly sure why I reacted this why but it really set something off inside me. I was unusually upset that with the delivery of this pertinent information they decided to throw in they’re two cents about which party was to blame. Ive given up on the idea of democrat or republican in the power struggle. Both sides are equally to blame for this but not only just the two sides but all politicians are to blame for this. Each side presents their own ideologies and is concrete in the fact that they are right and the other “side” is wrong. The problem lies in this, both sides are no longer serving the people. This class warfare is tearing our country apart. Simple discussions spark enormous rage and lashing out and anyone who thinks differently then they do. This is happening on every level. The line is obviously drawn in the sand. When does a party stop serving the people and start focusing on furthering they’re own agendas. Both sides are doing it. Democrats, Republicans, the Tea Party, George Bush, Sarah Palin, Barrack Obama, they all fucking scare the hell out of me. No one seems to be looking out for the best interest of the country as a whole. Only furthering they’re sides political agenda. This will never bring a country together. I fear we are falling apart, and have been for a long time. There is something in the air now that I never felt a few years ago…its palpable. You can feel the tension. So where do we go from here? Do we continue to pick our sides and ignore the bigger picture? Do we stick to our guns, and screw the rest? Or can we ever work together? The sad thing is, im not sure we can…

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

a little bit of an update

Hi everyone,
I know its been some time since I have posted anything, Things have been crazy to say the least. So ill leave you with a little update.

I have finally gotten away from the hell hole known as Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Now don’t get me wrong, ill miss a lot of those people that I met but that place really dragged me down. I was able to increase my knowledge but as I soon found out shortly after I left there could have been a lot more learning going on in that place. Theres no trust in medics there. Everything is run by hospital staff and I fell by the wayside. Medics were not important there. There was no progress being made, in fact it was the opposite. I lost a lot of tactical medical knowledge. But none the less I left, on to bigger and better things. I actually got to go back to being a medic. It was a good experience to show me that I should stay away from those types of postings. I left with no PCS award for my year and a half of hard work there and hardly a thank you from my supervisor…good riddance. Like I said im off to bigger and better things.

I was off to Flight medic school. I packed all of my belongings into a 4 x 8 trailer and off I went for Alabama. That was the furthest I had ever driven by myself. It finally turned out to be a 16 hour drive through thunderstorms, pouring rain and tornados but I made it. I made it to a small base in the middle of no where to learn everything I could about being a flight medic. It was a remote base with very little to do off base. We were staffed in a small run down Econolodge, of course there wasn’t much better in the area so I guess we had to do the best with what we got. As soon as day one started it was “drink through a fire hose”. There was so much information passed to us that it was completely overwhelming. Before I got there I felt I was a pretty damn good medic. That quickly changed as our first day drew to a close. Its not that they made us feel dumb by any means, but it was like going from little league to the majors in about a week. A very sobering experience when your dealing with the reality of a lot of the situations that we will be faced with. Were the only medical authority up there and when everything goes to hell in a handbag you have to know what to do to try to save that persons life. So everyday we started at 0530 and ended at about 5 pm then went back to our rooms and studied in our teams for another few hours. There was so much stress on us but we handled it the best we could. 18 hour days can really get to you after awhile. It was relentless for 26 days. Now 26 days might not sound like a long time to learn the things we learned but it was grueling and challenging but also very rewarding. My job will consist of a lot of different aspects. When a soldier or local national that gets injured on the battle field will be treated by the ground medic by basic medical aid then they call in a “9 line” its basically a call for us to come get him and take him to a higher level of care. We scramble and fly to go get him, often while the fight is still going on. Well fly into a landing zone under fire to get him, package him up and get him on that helicopter and fly him to the right hospital. While in flight we can push medications, and perform medical interventions that normally would only be done by a physician, in hopes that we can save his life. Its high stress but a justified stress if that makes any sense. We graduated with 6 less than we started with, and were awarded our flight wings. Then it was off to North Carolina for my next duty station.

Another 12 hour drive and I arrived in a very different North Carolina then I expected. I knew things were going to be drastically different but little did I know what was ahead of me. I dropped off all my stuff in a storage unit and was met by an old friend from my first duty station. I stayed at his place for the night and was on a plane home the next morning bright and early. I arrived at the airport to see my beautiful fiancé. We were to get married while I was home, nothing big, just small and quick with only a few people. It was absolutely amazing, she looked beautiful and we were married by my best friend at a small winery. I will remember that day for the rest of my life, the way she looked, the way the sun was, the way the wine tasted, the big white flower in her hair. I was on cloud 9.

After my short time at home it was back on a plane and back to Fort Bragg. I started my in processing into the base and my unit. Ill admit I was overwhelmed at first, this place works a lot differently than any other place ive been before. There’s a hell of a lot of pride here. I found an apartment to move into in a nice area away from all the mess of the downtown area, its pretty close to my airfield too. I Started flying not too long later and there’s a lot to know about flying as well. Theres a lot to know and a lot to do, its not just a taxi ride for us, we have to constantly be working while were flying. Soon my wife Wendi arrived here and I couldn’t be happier that she got here.

There’s a road that im on that will be here shortly. In 4 months ill be in Afghanistan for over a year, and its expected to be pretty busy…unfortunately. To be honest I am nervous about this deployment, my last one was a lot different. I lost a great friend on my last one. Now im going to be seeing a lot more…multiple per day. I know its going to be emotionally draining and test everything that I am but I think im up for it. This is what I worked so hard for such a long time. I hope im still as passionate about it toward the end as I am now. I feel awful about leaving my wife but she’s an incredible woman and she will make it through anything.

So there you have it… not too much detail but a lot going on. I hope your all doing well and you should be hearing more from me as the deployment approaches. Time to keep this going for another deployment…