Yes, Will is home. He arrived home on the 26th. They had been delayed a few times so the dates kept changing.
Police, sheriff departments and the highway patrol in each town they passed through escorted them for a time before they hit the towns, through them and beyond.
He called me from Pecos and said they picked up an escort of bikers who rode in front and back of their buses. The bikers were also a big part of the deployment ceremony. If you look at the vests these men wear, almost all of them have patches from the units they served with. Most are Viet Nam vets. They know what it felt like to come home and be disrespected for their service and they do everything they can to make it different for our soldiers now. I have the utmost admiration and appreciation for them.
When they got to Midland, the highway patrol had closed off part of the highway so the buses could get out to the armory together.
The sheriff’s posse mounted patrol escorted the buses the final leg to the armory.
They got in sooner than Will thought they would so I missed the entry of the unit.
Cross Country played for them at the deployment ceremony and again for their return. They’re a very good band and are wonderful about supporting the troops. Pizza Hut furnished pizza and some other groups had nachos, plus free drinks for everyone.
This is the way our troops should be treated. Regardless of how they serve, they are heroes. We have an all volunteer army. The National Guard makes up a tremendous percentage of our fighting force, so they are no longer the “weekend warriors.”
Now that this is over, I can share some things that I hesitated to put in words before.
As a mother, prayers went up daily to put a shield of protection around Will and his unit and all of our service people. Sometimes he would cross my mind at unexpected times and I started praying. In his emails, aside from the one where he sent me the pictures of the truck that got blown up, he never said anything about being hit. I now know they were hit several times.
His unit had been there before and his sergeant told me where they were going was secure and he was going to make sure Will was his shadow. Nothing was going to happen to him. It made me feel better, but in the back of my mind, I knew the truth. This is war. No one is safe. I had to trust God to take care of him.
Will was in charge of the armory. While he was there he designed some storage racks and built them to improve his job. He did a lot of weapons repair also, so he set things up to make the job more efficient. His CO was so impressed with the system, he always brought visiting officers by to show it to them. They often asked if Will could build one for their units. I told him he ought to patent the designs and find a way to manufacture them.
When Will went to Baghdad, it was to discuss new routes. Our leadership wanted the convoys to avoid the safer highways and roads that went through villages and take more remote routes. This decision was to build good will with the natives by not inconveniencing them with the convoys raising dust in their villages. The problem with the remote routes is it’s very easy to plant IEDs without being seen. Many times natives will report it if they see the bombs being planted. The second blow came when the leadership transferred their Marines to Afghanistan. So, their security forces that were sweeping the routes to keep the convoys safe were gone. They had some left to travel with the convoys, but basically that amounted to additional guns after they were attacked instead of preventing attacks.
I asked Will what they were going to do.
“Hope we don’t get hit.”
Hope is a wonderful word. It makes everyone feel warm and fuzzy and it is the one thing we cling to in the hard times. Hope isn’t very good armor, however. That was proven when their replacement forces arrived and they were running their first mission. They got hit and one of the soldiers died.
I felt relatively secure before these changes. Afterwards, I was a ball of nerves.
Will had some very bad news when he came home on leave in June.
He still had to get through until August and it hit him pretty hard. I had several talks with him about keeping his head where it belonged. He couldn’t afford to lose focus and not pay attention to what was going on.
The news seldom mentions anything about the soldiers anymore, which may be a good thing. What little I saw of CNN was zoomed in on important things like addict celebrities overdosing.
Typical of Will, he is dealing with it the best way he knows how. He’s moving on with his life. He’ll probably go to school for some kind of computer training, so he can get a good job.
He is quite a remarkable young man. He is the easiest-going of my boys. When he gets to a problem he figures it out and goes on. I have never seen him really mad, but I’m sure he’s got some of my temper when he gets pushed far enough.
He re-enlisted for another six years two hours before he got on the plane to come home on leave so they would have more money for the house.
He’s relaxing now. He’s on leave until September 28 and then he goes back on active duty until the end of February. Then he’ll start checking into an IT school.
As for me. I feel like I’ve been in a car wreck. When the wreck is actually happening, I just do what needs to be done to survive. Afterwards, everything just completely drains and I go to pieces.
My two-minutes-to-cry rule didn’t kick in this time, but it’s getting better. I am so thankful he is home safe. My heart breaks for the journey he has in front of him, but only he can make it. I can only be there for him.
In the meantime, I write. He encourages me to write. I was going to cancel the Denver conference for various reasons, but he said I needed to go and maybe I do. Just as he has his own journey, so have I. We support each other and we know the best days are ahead of us.
Thank you, Lord for bringing my boy and all these other men home. They have some wounded, but they are home.
Thank all of you for the support and prayers through this.
As the song says, God is great, beer is good and people are crazy. Luckily, all of you are the good crazy.