Forgotten Soldiers? (Not if I can help it)

My young Lieutenant: always a smile. . .

When my son Eric was commissioned into the Army, he vowed to defend our nation. He would follow orders to the best of his ability, wherever they might take him. We wiped stray tears and “pinned” his rank onto his uniform jacket.

Then came several months of training, including specialized programs near both coasts. He learned such skills as desert survival, driving a Humvee into and out of a trench, and allowing for wind speed and type of gunpowder when aiming a Paladin self-propelled Howitzer.

How’s that for a resume builder?

Meanwhile he was also obeying orders when he enjoyed them and when he didn’t, taking responsibility for his actions, and generally growing into the kind of officer that our military wants and needs. After Field Artillery school, he and Heather were stationed at Ft. Hood, right here in Texas. They moved into a nice apartment in Killeen.

Eric and an Iraqi colleague handing out school supplies donated by his aunt's third-grade class in Houston.

By mid-July, six months later, Eric was in Iraq, earning everyone’s respect by his cordial and helpful attitude. His unit’s deployment was to be for “no more than 365 days.” No one knew what they would do after all US troops were to be out of Iraq; naturally, we at home hoped the deployment would simply be cut short.

For a while it sounded as if that might be the case, but in November we got word that Eric would be one of about 4,000 soldiers who would remain in Kuwait. Disappointment, quickly followed by adjustment. Head up, shoulders squared.

Apache helicopters escorted the convoy along the road leading to Kuwait.

And so they went, off to an area of Kuwait that makes their camp in Iraq look like a tropical resort by comparison. We keep hearing that all our troops are “home from Iraq.” Even though the Brigade put out word that some units stayed in the Middle East, this information never quite seems to get mentioned on the news. You sometimes hear about our troops in Afghanistan, and indeed they are still seeing conflict. But the news media seem unaware that 4,000 brave men and women remain in Kuwait for another five months or so.

Eric is still following orders, still doing his job and encouraging his men as they do the same. I asked him about these things during his recent R&R leave. Despite the sacrifice of being away from his wife for so long, he likes Army life. He bears the responsibility of leadership with honor and with tremendous class. And he doesn’t want any sympathy or special recognition. It is, he says, what he signed up for. Really, all he asks of us in the States is to just know that his soldiers are still overseas.

So here is my two cents: When you hear people mention that the U.S. war in Iraq is over, please remember that “out of Iraq” does not necessarily mean “home.”

Thanks for reading,
Jan

PS: You are welcome to “Share” on Facebook at the bottom of this post if you are so inclined.
Also, I am linking up with Rachel Anne and our Company Girls friends, as well as with Jen and the Soli Deo Gloria girls.

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22 Responses to Forgotten Soldiers? (Not if I can help it)

  1. Kathy Falley says:

    Jan,thanks for sharing. Deployments are difficult for the whole family. Lori’s best friend Pauline is an Engineer for Lockheed and she tests Apache helicopter parts and develops a better flying machine. She and Lori grew up and went all through school together in Cleburne.
    God Bless you all,
    Kathy Falley

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  2. diane says:

    Eric sounds like exactly the sort of man we need defending our country and helping others around the world. I’m so grateful for the sacrifices our military personnel – and especially their familes – make for us. Count me on on reminding everyone that not all our troops are “home”, that they continue to serve and stand at the ready in the Middle East.

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  3. Katharine says:

    Thanks for sharing, I didn’t realize that was the case, and I will be sharing this with others as well…Blessings on all of you as you wait and pray. And Thank You.

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  4. Thanks for sharing. I appreciate the example of obeying orders whether or not we like them. Thanks for letting me know that there are still soldiers abroad, while many are still not home. I appreciate the sacrifice those families make, which includes you!!

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  5. gail says:

    I pray your son gets home safely.

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  6. Jan says:

    Thank you for the kind comments, friends!

    Like

  7. Great pictures of Eric! I feel so proud of him being one of our soldiers….just the kind of guy you want representing USA and working for peace. You are right, I’m one of those who didn’t really give a whole lot of thought to the remaining troops there, except for the moment that I heard of the small contingency left – I thought “oh those poor people!” Didn’t know that Eric was one of those poor people! Hope the time passes quickly and he will be home soon.

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    • Jan says:

      Hi, Rachel! I’m impressed that you had even heard some of the troops had stayed on. Thanks for the kind words about that son of mine! I’m proud too (in case you couldn’t tell from the post…) 😉 Love ya,
      Jan

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  8. CNN Student News did a story about this this week and invited students to respond in a blog post. I teach 7th grade social studies in an area that has *no* military bases or posts so service is not as “everyday” for them as it was for me, who grew up in a military town. It gave me an opportunity to share what I know about our soldiers who defend us every day of our lives and it gave my students an opportunity to think about something that maybe has never crossed their mind. Many thought that until *all* soldiers are home we should not go ahead with a celebration until they could ALL join in — good for them!!! From the bottom of my heart please thank your son and his wife for their daily sacrifice for my freedom for me and my family.

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    • Jan says:

      Hi, Jenni! Thanks for sharing. That sound like such a great project! The Lord only knows when they will ALL be home, though… I’ll pass your kind words on to Eric & Heather.
      Blessings,
      Jan

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  9. Cindy Gise says:

    Thank you Eric for serving our nation. And come home soon! Jan, thank you for sharing your story. It gives us all reason to be thankful for the unselfish sacrifice of so many.

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    • Jan says:

      It’s good to hear from you, Cindy! And of course, my thanks go to your son… and all our guys’ buddies. What a bond, being Aggie parents, Hellcat 21 parents, AND military parents!
      Blessings!
      Jan

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  10. Janet Macy says:

    Thanks for the reminder.

    Every time I hear someone say “finally the war is over and the troops are coming home”, I just shake my head and wonder. Where did they get that information?

    I live next to Ft Riley in Kansas. I’m a RN and work with several nurses and other hospital staff married to our “soldiers”. We know they aren’t home. We know battles are still being fought. We know. We know because our co-workers and friends are living it every day without their ‘soldier’ – our soldiers and will be for a very long long time. As long as there is a Middle East and as long as we have millitary.

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    • Jan says:

      Janet, Thanks for you perspective. Yes, even when my son’s deployment is over, another brigade will take their place in Kuwait. Meanwhile, other troops are serving in less-quiet areas of the Middle East. Real peace can seem far away.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Thanks to all our brave men and women who serve worldwide. I am proud to be a friend of the family of this fine young man.

    Like

  12. Lynne Gentry says:

    Always knew this boy would make his mama proud. I can’t begin to express my gratitude for Eric’s sacrifice and for that of his precious family. Praying God’s protection.

    Like

  13. I was born on Guam Jan, because my daddy was in Vietnam – Air Force 🙂
    I have the utmost respect for your son & am teaching my children to respect our nation and our soldiers. Thank you for raising a strong man of character & thank him please for his service to our country. We here at the Becton household are so very grateful – we pray for our soldiers on a regular basis – I have 3 little boys who are very impressed with them. We will pray for your son in particular this week! thank you for sharing- God bless!

    Like

  14. Jen says:

    I think your raising of awareness is so important — these soldiers need our prayers and our uplifting. I hope y’all had a wonderful time together when he was home for r&r. Praying he gets home so soon.

    Like

  15. Nancy says:

    Thank you for writing this and for honoring your son’s service, as well as all those who continue to serve in Kuwait. My heart breaks for your mama’s heart. I can only imagine how hard it must be having him so far away. I have a friend who served as a chaplain in Afghanistan, and I prayed continually for he and his unit while they were deployed.

    Please know that I am thankful for his service. Pausing now to pray for him and his fellow soldiers, and for the families back home.

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  16. Just shared this Jan! Thank you for raising the kind of son who wants to serve his country in this way, and for the service your family gives in keeping watch for him at home. Praying for him and his men!

    Like

  17. Pingback: Looking Back: My Top Five of 2012 | Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story

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