...or should I sing "Silent Hallways"?
Yesterday, right before noon, we released our Soldiers here on ADT for premobilization training for the holidays. They will spend the next 12 days at home with their families, or out visiting their friends, or maybe even just hiding away from it all and enjoying what is probably their last moments of peace, quiet, and privacy.
I was anxious for them to leave! I still had some last-minute work to do: paperwork, organizing, phone calls, arranging things. I wanted them out of my office and out of my hallway so I could work in peace and quiet.
But now, today, I want them back. It didn't take me too long yesterday to start wandering the hallways, looking for someone to accomplish a task or just to talk to. My office co-horts (in crime) were nowhere to be found. I kept walking by the computer lab and sneaking a peek inside, hoping to see the Soldiers as they were working on the computers or finishing paperwork. But the lab was empty and dark, all the chairs put up on the tables. There were no sounds of laughter, no shouts of "permission to enter the commander's office to send a fax!", no sounds of footsteps on the stairs and then the slam of the hallway door. Nothing. Just the hum of the air conditioner blowing cold air into an already cold office.
As a commander I am truly blessed with the talent and positive attitudes that I am surrounded with in the Soldiers of the mighty fightin' 211th. As we sat on the floor in a semi-circle yesterday, listening to Santa while he read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and munching on sugar cookies, I looked around at all the faces that had become so familiar to me over the past 2 1/2 months. (Thankfully Santa didn't use PowerPoint!) I still remember 10 October, our official "hit" day, and how very far away 23 December seemed at the time. We had so much work to do...21 days of RTC, multiple classes, paperwork, packing, equipment training, etc. Now, it's done. We've done all that we can do prior to arrival at Ft. Dix and I am confident that all will go well.
I've never been with a unit so prepared to go into a hot zone, not just with the required training, but with the upbeat, professional mental attitude that must go with Soldiers for a successful mission. We have truly become a unit, a family, a band of brothers and sisters, who are ready for anything that Ft. Dix and points beyond can throw at us. Like a true family we have had our squabbles and misunderstandings. But also like a true family, we take care of one another and help each other when necessary.
Many of us have already been deployed. For some of us, this is our second trip down the yellow brick road to Iraq. We have experience and we know, for the most part, what to expect. But we also know that no two deployments are the same, even if you go to the same place. Especially with the new Status of Forces Agreement and other changes in personnel that are already starting to alter the structure of US forces in Iraq. But I am confident that the 211th will adapt and overcome, and face any changes with the same professionalism...and humor...that we have faced problems with since 10 October.
I miss you, 211th. Come back in January safe and sound...and ready.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.