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Sending my son off to war

Posted: Mon Dec 19, 2005 9:36 pm
by Tomahawk Leader
A Guest Column in the Tomahawk Leader:

By Cheryl K. Theiler

Fairbanks, Alaska, mid August, the 172nd Stryker Unit, Fort Wainwright was preparing to deploy to Iraq. Johnny's dad and I, his sister, girlfriend and most importantly, his buddies, who came to say good-bye, were all there.

He had the cable disconnected the day before, stored his truck for the year at the Army facilities and stopped his cell phone service. His buddies were inspecting the equipment and supplies strewn all over the living room floor while Johnny was trying to decide how to pack everything in a small assault pack, duffle bag and the large frame backpack with hydration system; Johnny had grabbed the last one at the PX as he heard the Army issues was, well ... Army issue.

Doug picked up the Kevlar helmet and Johnny showed him how an attachment for the night vision goggles stuck out so he has his men put it on their helmets backwards not to be detected by the enemy when around a corner. Johnny asked me to hand him his armored vest and Jason asked him if he was nuts. Well, I did try to lift it over to him but the weight was overwhelming and Doug came to my rescue. I've read that the average warm weather soldier carries 90 pounds of gear. Johnny was already wearing the digitized camo and Schwarzkopf desert boots.

"Gee," Doug said, "we didn't have all this awesome stuff. Hey, how do you work this?" There were assault gloves and the new towels in dull desert green and sand I picked up for him at Fred Meyers. Jason who is in the Reserves had just gotten orders to deploy to Jabuti, Africa, and was taking a lot of ribbing about that. They all were excitedly talking over one another acting like it was Christmas.

Johnny's dad occasionally forced a smile and his sister, girlfriend and I, just looked on while the boys were busy playing with their toys on the floor. There was no tree and the only ornament was the gold Drill Sergeant trophy Johnny earned at Fort Sill.

He is "over there" now and when we hear from him he tells us not to listen to the news and not to worry and that when they do house-to-house searches in Mosul the Iraqis often want to make them tea or feed them.

I, as his mom, am happy for his young soldiers that 38-year-old SFC Kempen stayed in the Army and is there with them despite having already put his 20 years in. He had air assault training in Honduras, graduated top scout from sniper school, is airborne and most recently spent almost four years as a drill sergeant at Fort Sill, Okla. He is very protective of his men and in spite of already seeing combat they recently told him, "Sarge, we feel safe with you."

Their Iraqi interpreter doubles as their barber and the only payment he will take is American candy for his children. The kids are all over the soldiers and sometimes try to crawl up onto the Stryker vehicles and they use shaving cream to get them off. The soldiers give the kids candy and anything they can think of that would make them happy. He tells me they are returning with stuffed animals to a particularly poor area of Mosul where Iraqi families live in mud huts. At times it must seem a little like Christmas for these Iraqi children.

And no, our Christmas won't be the same without Johnny this year, but we are in this together with many other families, and personally, I am proud we have these stand-up men and women doing this job in the name of freedom.

Re: Sending my son off to war

Posted: Wed Dec 21, 2005 1:03 pm
by 1sg2339
I wish the media would tell the world what you just said. Too many of our soldiers are not given the respect and honor they so deserve. I have 28 plus years with the Army, as a senior NCO I can honostly say only a parent is more protective of our young soldiers then their leaders. Good luck to your son and family.

Re: Sending my son off to war

Posted: Wed Dec 21, 2005 2:47 pm
by Old Scout
My biggest fear is that the anti-war protesters will do the same thing to our troops that they did during Viet-Nam. The more they protested the more encouraged the VC and the North became. They continued fighting long after they would have given up because they knew that our gov. would give in to the protests eventually, pull our troops out and they would win. It is happening again and I fear it will have the same results. More of our Soldiers and Marines killed because the protests are in the long run helping the terrorists.

Re: Sending my son off to war

Posted: Thu Dec 22, 2005 8:33 am
by 1sg2339
Media bias is the biggest problem we have in this country, second,and barely, to politicians doing for themselves versus the good or the people and country. I have friends who have come back from the middle east hurt, shot at and told " Americans do not like you, they send you here to die and laugh at you". They still go back for their second and third tours because they see and understand. Too bad our "liberal society" is so narrow minded. All of the antis need to live in those countries for 6 months, though they wouldn't last 6 weeks, to see what freedom is and how much it is worth. The latest kidnapped people of the freedom church claim that Bush and the war caused them to be taken. WAKE UP, during Saddams rule if they went their would have been executed! Yes, we do not have enough soldiers to do the job fast. The complainers won't enlist or let their children to serve, yet when --it hits the fan, they are the first ones complaining the Govt didn't do enough for them. Sad to think the liberal icon, President Kennedy's quote "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country" has been reversed by his followers. They have become more like Ted Kennedy, wahts in it for me. This country is becoming filled with lazy beggers wanting everyting done for them. Go back to the old ways, if you want something done, then do it, earn a living and quit expecting someone else to earn it for you.