I thought I would get back into some story time this week and maybe for the next couple of articles. It is kind of tough to keep these going because it was about this point in the rotation that things really started going poorly for me. I didn’t realize it at the time but my life was starting to spiral out of control and looking back it is really easy to see why. The constant deployments with long periods of separation from my wife were the biggest cause of trouble. Adding to it the constant stress from having people shot at you didn’t help and a general fatigue from watching firsthand the war in Iraq and Afghanistan unravel.
At church Sunday, I spoke to a young lady who was going to welcome her husband home on Monday morning. I have known Luke’s family for several years. I encouraged him and his older brother, Ryan to join the guard instead of joining the active duty Air Force. I was at Luke’s wedding but missed Ryan’s. I gave Ryan his Oath of Service when he enlisted but was out of the military when Luke enlisted. I am very close to their parents as well. Their Dad, Randy has been very influential in my life as well. He is a man of many talents especially when dealing with common household repairs.
So many times I would call Randy late at night with an issue.
“Randy, the water in the sink will not drain.”
“Is the plug in it?” He asked.
“That black thing blocking the hole in the bottom of the sink?”
“Yes, where is it?”
“Under the water in the bottom of the sink.”
“Pull it out and tell me what happens.”
“Hey the water is draining now. Dang that is lucky.”
“Thought so, call me if you have any more troubles.”
Randy is a great friend. His sons are just like him too. The handiness with anything mechanical runs in their DNA. Both sons are mechanics on the C-130, Ryan is a crew chief and Luke works on the inspection dock. Before the holidays, they both deployed to the Middle East and returned on Monday. As I spoke to Luke’s wife, I was naturally so happy for her to be getting him back. This was their first deployment and she seemed to handle it with dignity. It is tough to be apart and I pray that they are able to reconnect with no issues.
Just thinking about him coming back took me back mentally to all five of my returns. Even though it is exciting to be returning home, it is still very stressful. At least it was for me. Sometimes, I don’t deal with change very well and moving from one environment to another is as drastic a change as anyone can go through. One day you are in a war and literally three days later you are in a different world. Two places that have no way to comprehend the other, at home my biggest problem is a clogged sink. Over there the issues are different.
I didn’t plan for this article to go down this path but the words are flowing out so might as well roll with them. This morning I listened to Netanyahu for as long as I could, which wasn’t much. It isn’t that I don’t care, but all I could think of was Colin Powell making the case for war to the United Nations. I am tired of politics. I am tired of the rhetoric. I’m tired of the posturizing and I am tired of all the talk. Honestly, I would love to be a part of a war effort that was committed to total war. I would love to be a part of a war where the elected representatives declare war and the military was allowed to prosecute it with vigor with the only acceptable result was complete unconditional surrender by our enemies. I refuse to be a puppet on a string.
Don’t fool yourself thinking that we fought this type of war in 2001. We didn’t. Don’t begin to think that we fought this war in 2003. We didn’t. We haven’t fought to win since World War II so why does anyone think that it will be different when we go to war with ISIS? It won’t be any different. But we are not alone in fighting a halfhearted war. Israel fights the same way we do, half way with limited action. That is probably because we hold them back and threaten to withdraw our economic and military support.
A total war requires total conviction. In the USA, we are only dedicated to the Kardashians and making more money. But poor guys like Ryan and Luke are caught in the middle, willing to put their lives on the line but being asked to play nice with others. You can’t play nice with others while trying to kill them. Why are we asking them to risk their lives so someone in Washington DC can claim that we are still fighting against terrorism just to get your vote?
Lots of people on Fox News clamor for us to attack ISIS. Everyone on the Republican side of the ticket say that they will deal tough with ISIS and Iran. None of them have the political will to fight a total war. Just as both President Bush’s didn’t have the will to really unleash the military. We should never expect a Marine to be a peacekeeper and it is wrong to ask a Ranger to build a school. They are trained to kill and unless the people in DC are willing to cut them loose, then we need to stay at home. I support a 100 percent pull of out the entire Middle East, right now, immediately. They have nothing we need, they have nothing we want, and there is no reason we should ask Ryan or Luke to die over there. The entire sandbox is a waste of our national attention. We should let them work it out as they desire.
I know you are thinking what about all the Christians that are being murdered by ISIS? I will ask what we should do about the 270 children abducted by Boko Haram last April? Are you willing to ask Ryan or Luke to go and die to free them? What if half of those kids were killed in the rescue? What if Ryan and Luke made the rescue but innocent bystanders died in the raid? Are you willing to send Ryan and Luke to prison for not using more restraint when firing their weapons at an enemy that doesn’t care who it murders? What would you do with the Boko Haram guys that surrender? Let them go, send them to Gitmo or execute them on the spot?
I don’t want anyone to die. I really want peace but if I have to choose between Luke and someone in Nigeria. I choose Luke. If I have to choose between Ryan and some Christian in Syria; I choose Ryan. The argument that is commonly used always starts with fight them here or there. Blah, Blah, Blah. ISIS is not coming over here in mass. They are not raising a million men army like Hitler did. Yes they want to rule to world but they do not have the resources to govern. All they can do is break things. I will include a link in a minute to give you a different perspective but trust me when I say that they are a bunch of thugs and they are destined to fail because they are not in trying to build something. No organization in the history of the world has been successful when it is solely committed to killing, pillaging, and making a mess. Why does anyone think ISIS will be different?
I know this started as story time and developed into a rant. I apologize and am almost embarrassed but it still needs to be said. Maybe not for the good of the nation but for my own good. I learned back in the days of deployment that it is bad to keep things bottled up. It is not healthy to stuff it back down and expect that it will not come out in the future. The past couple of days, I haven’t felt quite right. I can only describe it as a general uneasiness. Nothing as serious as a strong feeling of melancholy or sense of dread but still that is something different that is felt. Sunday, when I spoke to Luke’s wife I felt it intensify significantly. I brushed it off then but it stayed with me since. This morning I looked at my phone when I woke up and I noticed the date. March 3, 2015. It was on or about this day when we first were activated for Iraq in 2003. Three to five days later, we all were on our way to Tabuk kicking off a six month rotation and the start of an two year activation.
Every March since then, I become generally irritable and gloomy. It took me several years before I mentioned it to my wife. I was totally in denial that I could have been affected like that, but it is true. Like clockwork, it is March and my old familiar feeling is back. Not to be worried, it will hang around for a couple of months and by the end of April the feelings will be gone and I will just wake up one morning and think, I’m happy. Knowledge is power and being able to recognize these things really help prevent it from getting more intense.
This story time really didn’t go the way I intended and I am really sorry. Thanks for hanging in there. I will get you a story time in the next article. I wanted to write about daily life in Kuwait in the February 2004. There are some great stories from that rotation that really illustrate how messed up the war was. I am laughing just thinking about them.
Here are the links you can check out and get an inside perspective into life in Mosul and the type of fighter a typical ISIS guy is. It is a long read but it really give you detail that you will never hear on Fox or CNN.
One of the sites I follow is called Carrying the Gun hosted by Don. Don is an Army Officer and was a young Sergeant in 2003. Here is the link to his site. http://carryingthegun.com/2015/02/18/the-magic-of-the-power-coming-back-on/
The article he refers to is from the magazine American Interest. This is the only thing I have read from the magazine so I cannot tell you what their angle is but this article seems to be as factual as anything I have read. It is very long so done think you will be finished in three minutes. http://www.the-american-interest.com/2015/02/02/caliphatalism/?utm_content=buffer9355f&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
Until next time, keep on rockin.