Monday, December 27, 2004

It's Time To Go

Well, it is the eve of my deployment, and my troops and I are ready. It is not clear if all of them know exactly what they are getting into, but as one of their leaders, I know they've been trained.

We all got to spend Christmas with our families, and that was a pleasant surprise from Uncle Sam. You see, when I was on active duty, my wife and I were married for only 6 weeks before I deployed for Desert Shield/Storm #1. I signed into Ft. Bragg on Aug. 1st as a brand new 2nd Lt., and Kuwait was invaded on the 2nd. I was instructed not to move my wife to town because I would not be there long myself. That was how we spent our first Christmas.

The next year, after being home for about eight months, I received a no-notice deployment to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and that is how we spent our second Christmas. Thus, we have three ornaments that say "our first Christmas." So, you can understand why I was skeptical about getting to spend this Christmas with my family. I'm glad I lost that bet.

We are scheduled to fly into the theater of operation and receive more training before we go to our duty positions in Iraq. I will probably be off the net for a few weeks. Even though we've known of this deployment for months now, it still comes as a shock that I'm getting ready to leave.

My wife is overwhelmed with feelings of abandonment, even with all of the family and friends she has to assist her. She really is a remarkable woman, and I do thank God every day that she is part of my life. My boys, 8yrs, 4yrs, and 9 weeks - all have different perspectives. The 8 yr old believes he knows how difficult it will be without dad around, but I can't believe that he really has a grasp on the reality of the situation. The 4 year old is pretty much oblivious, but his energy in everything he does is contagious and just makes me laugh. The baby is doing all that a baby should do and will be a hand full for my wife while I'm gone.

My story is not that unique, and I'm sure that every soldier young or old has a story of what toll serving our country takes on family and friends. I will continue the blog and give my views on what I see as well as stories I hear. I'll write as soon as I can.

Editor's Notes: I had lunch with the soldier and his family last week. His humility and sense of duty are evident and inspiring. He will depart at 21:20 on 29 December. And he is correct that his wife is an amazing woman - strong, beautiful, smart, and steady.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Training Days

I had a great Thanksgiving with my family. Our newborn son is doing great, my wife is adjusting well to me being gone, and our older two boys seem to be doing fine as well. I get home from time to time; it all depends on our training schedule, which changes daily.

Things at Ft. Bragg are going well - same old Army, hurry up and wait. I'm towing the line and trying not to ruffle any feathers. The Army has activated a reserve unit to process all of us through (most of whom have never deployed), and they are teaching us how to do things that they have no real experience in doing. It is not their fault. It is just the way the Army does things, and since I've deployed numerous times before and have been there recently, I have a little different perspective on what my troops need to know. We just have to check this block and get on with the deployment.

I visited with some of my active duty friends who were stationed here with me when I was on active duty. One, a Commander now in the 82nd Airborne, is trying to get me a pass to ride along on an upcoming jump. I won't get to exit the plane with them, but it feels good to be around the Whoa crowd again.

My unit is projected to complete the training here around Dec 20th, and we are fair game to leave after that. The tentative plan is to have a break during Christmas and have wheels up sometime shortly after we return. That would make sense -- so you know what that means-- yep, it won't happen that way, I fully expect to get a call on Dec 24 saying we are leaving the next day. Ha Ha!

Hope all are doing well and you are gearing up to have a great Holiday!

Let's Get Started

Welcome to the Triad's newest web log. I am Patrick Eakes, not the soldier. The soldier will send me his notes via email for me to post to this blog. I will post his emails in full, only editing spelling and/or punctuation. Initially, these posts will originate from Fort Bragg during training, then Iraq during deployment.

The soldier is a close friend and in the NC National Guard Reserve. He formerly served in the US Army and has participated in multiple combat situations, including Desert Storm. The soldier is a first-rate leader and motivator, and he maintains one of the most positive and charming attitudes I have ever seen.

The soldier will give a candid view of his life and mission in Iraq. Our hope is that you will enjoy an unfiltered look into his experiences. Please visit regularly and post your comments and questions as they arise.