Wow, another year of my life is coming to an end like a chapter in a novel. My year actually started last December when I first came on orders in support of the upcoming mobilization. I had to withdraw from college at that point which sucked but looking back is actually better since I was doing horribly. I was doing more partying than going to classes due to the fact I knew I was coming to Iraq and basically was trying to drown out the thought of coming over here. I was scared. Plain and simple I was scared of the unknown. I didn't know what to expect and not knowing what our mission would be had me on the edge. Fear can be a powerful tool and even a more powerful enemy. I let it be my enemy. Also around this time my future fiance Kristen was trying vigorously to break down the walls surrounding my heart. You see, we were friends than and had been talking since the beginning of November of 2004 about dating. As soon as I found out I was leaving for up to 18 months, I pushed her away emotionally. I shunned her out along with everyone else. I couldnt let anyone get closed to me because surely it would spell disaster. So she dated some loser and I went on my single ways doing what single college guys who belong to a frat do. Party and party some more and if some lady wants to share my bed for the night that was okay. I never led any female on, they knew it would be a one night stand. Then around Christmas my future fiance came back around and we had some serious late night sober talks. It wasnt until New Years Day of this year that she finally tore down the wall around my heart and I finally said yes to her. She knew what she was getting into. At that point I was leaving for Mississippi in less than a month.
I look back now and Mississippi was a blur. I spent the better part of the first year down there training up for our mission and the time flew. Kristen came down to visit me a few times. The first time she drove a better part of 18 hours just to see me for a couple days. Never in a million years would I have expected anyone to drive all the way down there for a chance to see me. As the days down there moved on, I fell more and more in love with her. I knew than that she would be the one. After my 10 days of leave in June where I spent every waking moment possible with her we left for Kuwait. Nothing in this world can prepare you for Kuwait. When you step off the plane in the summer months, it is like you have just walked into an incinerator with the wind feeling like a hair dryer. I could not believe how hot it actually got. I thought, "No wonder the people in this region fight wars all the time, the heat will make you miserable." We spent approximately 2 weeks preparing for the next 12 months of our lives.
I have been in Iraq now since June and I have seen quite a bit of shit. I have had the opportunity to go through an IED incident and actually take a piece of shrapnel to my nose. I am a lucky bastard because it didnt do any real damage, besides you cant make this mug any uglier. I have been through a few mortar and rocket attacks and let me tell you, these insurgents have the worst aim. I have already gone on my leave for my tour in October. It is then, after only 10 short months of dating that I proposed to Kristen when we had our "Christmas in October" with our families. I was nervous but I got through it. And to my delight and surprise she said yes. The wedding is planned for May of 2007.
For my tour in Iraq, this is pretty much the halfway point. We have lost 7 warriors in my unit and I pray we dont lose anymore. It can be rough out there but we have a job to do and it is done with professionalism. When I look to my left and right, at the soldiers who might have my back in a firefight, well, I couldnt ask for a better bunch of soldiers. The year has been long and trying but can now come to a close. Another chapter in my short life has come to a close. I only pray that the first half of 2006 goes by a little quicker so I can get back to my family and more importantly Kristen, my biggest supporter. It takes a special person to voluntarily put themselves through the torture of waiting for your soldier to come home.
"To live is to suffer, to survive, well that defines the meaning of life."
Remember to have a moment of silence for all the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who have paid the ultimate price for freedom.