Sunday, November 15, 2009

So Close We Can Taste It

So close we can taste it
I just finished reading the blog of one of our sister units, the 314th Public Affairs Operations Center. The writer was SGM Troy Falardeau, a fine senior NCO whom I’ve known and worked with for years. His blog was entitled “Iraq in the rear view mirror”. As of today, 15 November, they have departed Baghdad. The advance party left earlier in the week, the rest around Veteran’s Day. We’ve shadowed the 314th through their training (we did attend the 21 days of RTC at the same time, although on a 1-day difference in our schedules), deployment and eventually, redeployment. They weren’t that far away from us, either…they were in the IZ or International Zone. Close enough to visit a few times and certainly close enough to call.
They deployed one month before we did, arriving just after the New Year. And now they are gone. What does that mean for us? Simple…it means that we, too, leave soon. In fact, we leave so soon that we can taste the beer and the freedom that comes with not being in Iraq. We can already imagine being back in our homes, on our couches, wearing our civilian clothes, and enjoying life not in Iraq.
Why is it so important for us to be home? Some would say that we just want to be out of a war zone. Not true. The Soldiers of the 211th have served proudly, honorably, and bravely. Living and working in a war zone is hard and we definitely have taken our share of hits. But our time has come and gone and it’s time to hand over the baton to the new unit, the 366th MPAD, from Wichita, Kansas. It’s time for us to sit back on our laurels and look at our accomplishments and see what we did.
What did we do? SFC Burke produced 18 copies of the newspaper, Crossed Sabers. This 28- to 32-page newspaper took a lot of his time, blood, and frustration, but ever y two weeks there it was…an interesting, professional newspaper ready for Soldiers throughout MND-B to read. SGT Soles, SSG Ford, and SPC Johnson produced the daily e-zine, the Daily Charge. Where did the stories for both publications come from? From them and from SGT Risner and SSG Burrell and SFC Burke. (Also, many stories from the outlying BCT PAOs, but this isn’t their blog..!) Those guys were inside and outside the wire, taking photographs and getting interviews and writing stories.
Then there are SGTs Heise, Anderson, Logue, and Fardette…otherwise known as our broadcast section…who put together a radio piece, the Cav Roundup, EVERY WEEKDAY that we were here. And once a week they either wrote, produced, anchored or…sometimes…all three…the First Team Update. Where did those stories come from? From them (and again, the BCT PAOs). They, too, were inside and outside the wire, shooting video, getting interviews, and returning to the office to put it all together.
SPC Ward is our unit clerk…he did the unpopular jobs like paperwork and stocking water. But he always had a smile on his face and he always did a good job. A unit is like any other entity…there is the fun stuff that gets everyone’s attention and then there are the other jobs…jobs that must be done in order for a unit to function. That’s what Ward did…he made us function. Not dysfunctional.
And there are others in our unit who worked elsewhere or on a different shift: 1LT Almodovar, who was our night shift PA rep in the operations center; 1LT Douglas who lived and worked in the IZ and made a lasting impression on the Pan-Arab media; SFC Quebec who was the MND-B media embed coordinator and made a lasting impression on many US and international journalists. And 1LT Sarratt and 1SG Martinez who just did everything else…paperwork, training, meetings, and more paperwork.
Everyone worked their own shifts and schedules and produced their own stories. But together, we made up the 211th MPAD, we kicked some butt and now…we’re ready to be gone.
Each passing day is one day closer to home. Hang in there friends and family…just a few more weeks!

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