April 15, 2009


Army: UR doin it wrong

(My compliments to Chuck; I totally stole his joke.)

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April 07, 2009


In addition to SpouseBUZZ Live and my husband having to work over the weekend, we were also mentally dealing with this: A Lot Can Change In 36 Hours.

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March 14, 2009


I have been out of my element this week, so I was grateful that Laughing Wolf called me last night to invite me to the opening of the movie Brothers At War.

When I saw this trailer two weeks ago, I groaned. I feared another Hollywood movie that made soldiers look like dupes and sadists. But when I saw that Soldiers' Angels was backing the movie, I told my husband that it had the seal of approval and that we ought to go see it.

We attended the premiere tonight with director Jake Rademacher, his brothers, and Gary Sinise. It was such a good movie...and I'm not just saying that because I want a non-anti-war movie to do well. It was laugh-out-loud funny in parts, sad in other parts, and above all it was real. Plus it avoided all the typical maudlin crap that most war movies have: the inner angst, the "we did not fight the enemy; we fought ourselves" voice-overs, or the sniveling soldiers who make me look like an emotional Rambo.

I can't recommend the movie enough.

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March 13, 2009


I followed the heated discussion at SpouseBUZZ over the change in policy to allow the media to photograph our returning fallen at Dover.

Chuck Z found the first example of complete insensitivity.

I hope this is not a taste of boorishness to come.

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March 11, 2009


I have been surprised at how many people were shocked that I shared an ultrasound room. Is it because it's a military hospital? I've never tried to have a baby anywhere else. But there's always been more than one person in the room when I've been there for an ultrasound, just never someone so loud and obnoxious. None of you readers who had babies on other installations had to double-up on ultrasound rooms?

Oh, and I totally called it: I've already had two people tell me that yesterday's news was good. One was even excited about it. Wow.

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March 07, 2009


The first thing my husband did was quote Raising Arizona with a big grin on his face: "When there was no crawdad to be found, we ate sand." "You ate sand?" I smiled back. "We ate SAND," he finished.

He told me was that SERE was so much worse than he ever imagined. I said that I had been crying and worrying about him all week. His response: "You definitely should have been."

The thing about SERE is that everyone is supposed to go in fresh. My husband can't tell me a lot what he went through without revealing the confidential parts of the course, but suffice it to say that the few things that he was allowed to tell me me were plain awful. And I know there are more things that he can't explain in mere words even if he could, things I will never be able to understand.

He said he came away from the training with so much respect for people like John McCain. My husband spent a few days as a simulated prisoner, and he said it was enough to make you wish you were dead. He said he cannot imagine how POWs survived for years on end in a real prison, with real guards and real solitary confinement and real torture.

One facet of the desperation they felt can be summed up by a story he told. During the evasion part, my husband was lucky enough to happen upon a snake. He killed it and then carried the dead snake with him until the next day when they could safely make a fire and eat it. But the saddest part was when he said that he was so miserable from the weather that he didn't even notice how starving he was. And he was starving enough that he lost more than 20 pounds in one week.

But he's been in a good mood since the moment I saw him grinning at me. I suppose liberation from such an ordeal must make you happy in so many ways.

Me, I had trouble falling asleep last night and woke up very early this morning, listening to him breathe -- and hack and cough, since his weakened condition has made him sicker than I've ever seen him -- and just being so thankful that he's home, and thankful that the whole thing was simulated.

All I could think about all week was how wives of real POWs could bear it. I couldn't bear one week of agony, knowing that somewhere out there my husband was being mistreated...by paid professionals who only mean to teach the soldiers valuable lessons. I don't know how ladies in the past woke up every morning knowing that their husbands were truly being tortured.

And his hands. His poor hands, destroyed from clawing his way through thorn bushes under a new moon in the pouring rain to evade the enemy. Every time I see them, it's a reminder of all he went through.

But he survived. He returned with honor. And I'm very proud of him.

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March 01, 2009


I don't know if I can take this. My heart hurts:

When I wrote the other day about bearing my burden while my husband is at SERE, I had no idea that the scales would tip towards him so quickly. He has begun his last week of the class, which means he's at the "practical application" point of survival, evasion, resistance, and escape. And my heart hurts so bad for him because it's been pouring rain. Just pouring. And they're forecasting snow for tomorrow.

I know my husband is a tough guy and that he'll figure out how to get through this week, but there is nothing that hurts me more than the thought of him suffering. I've sat here all weekend in my warm house with my electric blanket, and the sound of the unrelenting rain is just killing me.

It makes me cry to picture him trying to survive outside in this weather. It is a far heavier burden than anything happening to me.

The sound of that rain is just paralyzing me. It makes me sick. It makes me want to go find where is he is rescue him.

I can't stop worrying about him.

It's a different form of the agony of the unknown that we feel when we stand and wait.

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February 16, 2009


I dropped my husband off for SERE school this morning. I was cold just sitting in the car for 30 minutes; I shudder to think how cold it will be for them outside during the escape and evade parts.

Yesterday, a friend asked me what in the heck SERE even is. There was a CNN Presents about it some years back. From the article:

What goes on at the school is three weeks of "stress inoculation" via a course the Army calls Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape, or SERE. The school provides a realistic setting for soldiers to learn how to live off the land if they are cut off from friendly forces. Students also learn how to evade the enemy and escape if hunted down and finally how to resist if captured, imprisoned and tortured.
Much of the school's training is classified. But Chief Warrant Officer Mike Durant credits the training for helping him survive 10 days in captivity in 1993 when the Black Hawk helicopter he was piloting was shot down in Mogadishu, Somalia.
To prepare commandos who are at high risk of capture, the course includes sleep deprivation and food deprivation -- severe enough that, over the course of survival school, a student typically drops 15 pounds.

The article has photos of guys eating worms and being taken prisoner. The last photo breaks my heart.

I can hardly bear the thought of someone hurting my husband, even in training. This is going to be a long three weeks for my heart...and his poor body.

He got out of the car and loaded himself up with at least 50 lbs of gear. And as I looked at him, "three words went through my mind endlessly, repeating themselves like a broken record: 'You're so cool. You're so cool. You're so cool.'"

It was harder for me to let him go this morning than it was last year when he deployed.

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February 13, 2009


Sis B wrote a great post about not opening Dover up to the press. She wrote it after having an email discussion with Dave, in which he said:

But with respect to you and to the father (whose piece I did read), I think we have gone far too far in making war "yours" and not far enough in showing how it is "ours." Soldiers in uniform fight and sacrifice for all of us, and when they die, they have died for all of us. They have died for us whether we're honest enough to face it or not.

This can't be allowed to be exclusively a burden for the friends and families directly affected. Down that road lives the casual, lazy, flag-waving, yellow-ribbon-on-the-SUV form of war, the kind of war that's always someone else's problem and abstracted from most people's daily life, as if it's a cable channel we can choose to watch or ignore.

In her blog post, Sis B followed Dave's thoughts with this:

I would love for the burden of these wars to not be carried by us and us alone. I get pissed at the yellow magnet status symbols attached to the bumpers of cars owned by people who forget what Memorial Day means. I'm just really not sure how to bring the realities of all of this home to those who don't care. [...]

I suppose I would feel differently about the coffin photos if the general American public truly cared about our servicemembers and our families the rest of the time. If they paid attention to the news. If they could locate Iraq or Afghanistan or Iran or in some cases, the United States, on a map. But most of them can't and they don't, and quite frankly, I don't want to be made to share with them something as sacred as our fallen warriors coming home.

Sis B did a 180 on her feelings about whether or not the public should have access to the coffins. In reading this exchange, I was reminded that I have done a 180 in how I want the rest of the country to feel about us being at war.

Though I have never been as fervent as many of my fellow milspouses, I too used to lament that the rest of the country isn't behind the war effort. I thought it sure would be nice to live in the time of war bonds and rubber drives and maximum societal giving-a-crap. I wanted a new Why We Fight. I wanted people to care more about Iraq than American Idol, and I rued the fact that people didn't ask my husband about his deployment and that I often had to field asinine questions. I thought the grass was greener when everyone thought of the war as "ours."

Until I read Liberal Fascism.

The most shocking and heart-stopping chapter of this book, for me, was the chapter on Woodrow Wilson, specifically the section "Wilson's Fascist Police State" (pg 106). That changed everything for me, truly. I saw what happened when giving-a-crap became a top-down effort instead of a grassroots one. And I saw that most of what I had thought was sincere patriotism and caring about the war was actually manipulation and fearmongering by the Wilson administration and government agencies.

Sorry for the extensive quoting, but there are too many fascinating things in this chapter. Quotes such as:

More important than socializing industry was nationalizing the people for the war effort. "Woe be to the man or group of men that seeks to stand in our way, " Wilson threatened in June 1917. Harking back to his belief that "leaders of men" must manipulate the passions of the masses, he approved and supervised one of the first truly Orwellian propaganda efforts in Western history (109).

One of [George Creel, the head of the Committee on Public Information]'s greatest ideas [...] was the creation of an army of nearly a hundred thousand "Four Minute Men." Each was equipped and trained by the CPI to deliver a four-minute speech at town meetings, in restaurants, in theaters -- anyplace they could get an audience -- to spread the word that the "very future of democracy" was at stake (110).

[Clarence Darrow said], "Any man who refuses to back the President in this crisis is worse than a traitor." Darrow's expert legal opinion, it may surprise modern liberals to know, was that once Congress had decided on war, the right to question that decision evaporated entirely [...]. Once the bullets fly, citizens lose the right to even discuss the issue, publicly or privately; "acquiescence on the part of the citizen becomes a duty" (111).

But nothing that happened under the mad reign of Joe McCarthy remotely compares with what Wilson and his fellow progressives foisted on America. Under the Espionage Act of June 1917 and the Sedition Act of May 1918, any criticism of the government, even in your own home, could earn you a prison sentence [...]. In Wisconsin a state official got two and a half years for criticizing a Red Cross fund-raising drive. A Hollywood producer received a ten year stint in jail for making a film that depicted British troops committing atrocities during the American Revolution. One man was brought to trial for explaining in his own home why he didn't want to buy Liberty Bonds (114).

Hard numbers are difficult to come by, but it has been estimated that some 175,000 Americans were arrested for failing to demonstrate their patriotism in one way or another. All were punished, many went to jail (117).

In 1919, at a Victory Loan pageant, a man refused to stand for the national anthem. When "The Star-Spangled Banner" ended, a furious sailor shot the "disloyal" man three times in the back. When the man fell, the Washington Post reported, "the crowd burst into cheering and handclapping." Another man who refused to rise for the national anthem at a baseball game was beaten by the fans in the bleachers. In February 1919 a jury in Hammond, Indiana, took two minutes to acquit a man who had murdered an immigrant for yelling, "To Hell with the United States" (116).

The rationing and price-fixing of the "economic dictatorship" required Americans to make great sacrifices, including the various "meatless" and "wheatless" days common to all of the industrialized war economies in the first half of the twentieth century. [...] Americans were deluged with patriotic volunteers knocking on their doors to sign this pledge or that oath not only to be patriotic but to abstain from this or that "luxury." [...] "Supper, " [Herbert Hoover] complained, "is one of the worst pieces of extravagance that we have in this country."

And I could go on and on. That chapter blew my mind. The things that were done in the name of patriotism or supporting the war effort were incredible and, yes, fascistic. People cared about WWI at the point of a gun or under fear of retribution from their neighbors or government. I simply do not want to live in that kind of society.

After having read that book, I have completely changed my mind about how I previously faulted President Bush for not making the case to get the public behind the war effort. I am proud to live in a country where you're allowed to not give a hoot about the war. I'm glad there aren't organized men checking to make sure we all have that yellow ribbon on our SUVs, because then it loses all meaning. I'd rather have some airheaded people casually slap on on their own car than make it a question of your patriotism not to have one. Or get beaten at a baseball game for not having one.

I asked my husband about this, and he said that he doesn't want any tickertape parades or any recognition of any kind. If anything, he said, he'd simply like for Americans to recognize the progress that Iraq has made, not anything he's done.

I no longer worry one ounce whether other Americans think about the troops; I just relish the fact that they have the right and the freedom to not give a darn. And I think of the American Revolution and how a few men stood together and changed the entire course of human history, while everyone around them thought it would be easier to just stay British.

Let Americans watch their Rock of Love; my husband will do his job regardless. And if that means his death, he would give his life for his principles and his country whether anyone noticed or not.

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January 16, 2009


I can't believe my husband has almost been home for a month.

I also can't believe that he will deploy again in about 25 weeks, and he came home with a training schedule last night showing that he will be gone for nine of those weeks. So much for dwell time. We now have this ridiculous calendar which is an overlay of his training and my fertility.

Also, I've been chuckling that my husband's branch is supposed to alternate between a combat deployment and a non-combat one. His combat one was Iraq; his upcoming non-combat one is being attached to the Navy SEALs in Afghanistan. Cuz that makes total sense.

But now we can't stop saying it in that voice. You know the one I mean.

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January 13, 2009


I can't really say most of the things my husband learned on his last deployment. Actually, I don't even know the half of it, as I don't have the clearance. I do know that my husband sat at a computer for 12 hours a day for 7 months and read every report that came down the wire. His knowledge will fade with time, but a month ago, I'd venture to say that he knew more about Iraq than anyone but a handful of other people in this world. He knew everything, secret and otherwise. He can name mayors and provinces and minutiae that will make you laugh because it sounds like blabbity-blah. He is a genius and I adore the man.

Whenever a civilian asks what my husband does, our standard joke is that it's "the Peace Corps with guns." But that's too simplistic, and I might stop describing his job that way. His job is not the Peace Corps; his job is to be a force multiplier for the military. I think that's an interesting distinction.

We had a neat talk the other day about someone not grokking his career field. There are people even within Civil Affairs who think that their tasks are the end-goal. There are people who think that how many goats they vaccinated and how many school supplies they dropped off are their accomplishments. My husband, however, always takes a long-term, big-picture view of the world. The goal is not vaccinated goats but whether helping that goatherd made Special Forces' job easier and thus helped advance the cause of defeating our enemies. The healthy goats are the means, not the end.

It's a fascinating way to look at his job, and sadly it takes a confident person to accept that role. Civil Affairs as a branch doesn't want to see itself as just a tool for Special Forces. Some in the branch look askance at my husband when his briefings show the Civil Affairs work as Phase 2 and what SF built out of their work as Phase 3. They want to feel like their role is important. It certainly is, but only if it helps get us closer to the bad guy.

Happy, healthy goats in Afghanistan shouldn't be our goal; winning should.

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December 31, 2008


So today I have to say goodbye to my husband again. It's just for the weekend -- he's flying home alone to see his family -- but I hate the idea of saying goodbye again so soon, of eating and sleeping alone, all that. Ugh, and I get to do it again next month when he goes to SERE school.

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December 19, 2008


I got a call that they were arriving early, so I raced out of the house at 4:25. Guess what? More delays. We just got home, at 10:45.


But the look on my husband's face when Charlie tackled him in the kitchen was priceless.

On Tuesday, my husband apparently told his roommate in Iraq, "Do you know what this is?" His buddy said, "Your uniform?" My husband said, "The uniform my wife's gonna peel off of me tonight."

Yeah, three days later, he's still wearing that exact same uniform. Ewww.

We solved the mystery of where he's been all week. The story is too horrible and annoying to repeat.

But it doesn't matter anymore.

He's home.

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When my husband finally gets home, we will have a big mystery solved. The Mystery of Where He's Been All Week. Because I have no idea.

I keep calling people to give them updates -- my mom, his mom, friends -- and they want to know what's going on. They keep asking me questions that I simply don't know the answer to. They want me to speculate; I have learned it does no good to speculate about the Army. All I know is the one-line sentence I keep getting from the FRG: "We are meeting at the company area at ___ o'clock." Period.

I have no idea where he has been. I don't know if he was flying commercial or military. I don't know what he's been eating, what he's been wearing (he sure didn't have an extra week's worth of clothes in his ruck), where he's been sleeping. I don't know why none of the soldiers in the company have called home. I don't know if my husband has been getting this same hurry-up-and-wait treatment. I don't know if the delays have been due to weather or plane malfunction or what.

I wonder if he is hungry. I wonder if he gets on planes and gets back off of them, or if he's been sitting in the same room the whole week. I wonder if he's getting enough sleep, if he has a book to read, or if he has been as jittery as I've been.

I wonder if he's wondering what I've been thinking all week.

I can't wait to see him and give him a big hug. And I hope to solve the mystery in the car on the way home!

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With no new info this morning, I came down with a case of the screwits. I put no effort into looking nice: didn't shower, just threw on some clothes and went out to run my errands. And the morning was not going well. Fifteen minutes in line behind some guy buying a coat with no price tag using a tax-exempt number. Went to the military pharmacy -- 10 minutes to find a parking space -- and found 40 people in line ahead of me. Nevermind. And then the phone rang.

My husband is crossing the Atlantic as we speak.

Several people told me not to believe any info I have until it comes from my husband's mouth. Well, that's all fine and dandy except none of us in the unit have heard from our husbands since Monday. The only info we have is the official stuff. So I will head to pick up my husband at the designated time tonight and just hope that it's right. And that it doesn't change again.

It's not like things can get any worse, right?

Oh yeah, and I have to go back to work in the morning. I am trying to get out of that one.

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December 18, 2008


No news is good news, right?

So I got in the shower, shaved my legs, put on nice-smelling lotion, got out fancy underpants, and was just putting on the outfit I was going to pick my husband up in when the 1SG's wife called and said they did not get on the flight, that they have been completely scratched from the flight list, and that now we don't even know which day they are coming home, much less a time.

I was supposed to pick him up three hours from now.

This really, really sucks.

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December 17, 2008


We had a new ETA for late tonight, so I ran some errands today and started getting excited. I came home to a new message on my machine saying that this timeline is also not happening anymore. The husband is stuck in Europe, waiting on his next leg of the journey. Maybe tomorrow will be our lucky day. Right? This is excruciating.

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December 15, 2008


Aw, crap.
I just KNEW it was too good to be true.
Just got word that the husband's return has been delayed.

Man.....now there's no excuse for not washing the dog or cleaning the carpet.

Posted by Sarah at 08:44 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

December 10, 2008


My husband has moved on, from where he was to where he will be. He is still In Country, but he is making progress towards home.

I keep finding myself doing the opposite of what I did with the tortillas earlier this year: every time I hear a deadline, I rejoice that it's after my husband's return. My husband gets home before our milk expires. He gets home before the movie I rented is due. He gets home soon.

God willing and the Creek don't rise, as they say around here.

(And in answer to the couple of questions I've gotten about what actually constitutes a "single digit midget': less than 10 days.)

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December 05, 2008


I had my FRG meeting tonight. The ladies were nice. I love our Rear D commander.

And we have a return date.

The end was so much harder for me last time. Last time, my husband was one of the last people home. I watched all my friends and neighbors welcome their husbands home three weeks before I did. That was rough. Last time my husband came home with a whole brigade, so there were ceremonies and fanfare. This time it's just a handful of families, and since all my friends are imaginary, it doesn't matter like it did last time. I honestly haven't been thinking about it. Even when Sis B's husband came home yesterday, it still didn't feel like my turn was coming up.

Even when I heard the dates and started talking about the return process -- where to pick him up, what he will need to do afterwards, when block leave starts -- it didn't really sink in.

But since I was on post, I had decided to make a stop at the Class Six: the husband has put in his booze request. And as I circled the store shopping, I started thinking that soon we would be drinking that booze together.

And then shit just got real: I am a few days away from being a single digit midget.

Couldn't wipe the grin off my face in that Class Six.

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November 22, 2008



I sent an email to my husband asking him what his thoughts were on Victory in Iraq Day. He hasn't gotten back to me, so I don't have his opinion on the matter yet.

But Michael Yon's opinion counts for a lot in my book, and the fact that he left Iraq and headed to Afghanistan, saying, "The war is over and we won," well, I think that means something.

Check out Gateway Pundit's graphs, and definitely head to Zombie Time.

So today I quote from Bill Whittle's Victory:

"America bring democracy, whiskey and sexy!" said that unknown Iraqi man. This is not a trivial statement. He is saying that for the first time in thirty years, he will have his own chance for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I thought his English was dead-on.

I hope these people stagger out into the sunlight of real freedom with a willingness to do those two simple things that seem to work so well: work hard, and trust each other. I think they will. They started civilization. They have earned, and well deserve, the chance to enjoy the fruits of it once again.

I hope they will resist the temptation to let oil revenues steer their future. It is not, in fact, a blessing. They are about to start to reap the benefits of the wealth of their nation. I hope they have the wisdom to channel that wealth into their people, into their education, their technical and artistic skill that was once so well represented in the cradle of law and good government. I hope for world-renowned universities in Baghdad and in An-Nasiriyah, producing respected scholars and scientists. I hope for productive farms in the Tigris-Euphrates valley, feeding the millions of the entire region, just as there were thousands of years ago. I hope for high-tech factories in Basra and Tikrit, textile mills in Kirkuk and cell-phone design firms in Mosul. And above all I hope they have the courage to read and study history, and to implement a system that looks something like the ones that allow these daily miracles in the West.

I hope that some day they might be able to forgive us the pain we had to cause them to get rid of that devil, that threat, and his evil toys. Many already do. I hope, and believe, that many more will do so in the years to come. We are still so very, very early in this long and difficult process. But perhaps, some day, they will be able to see that not only Iraqis died for a free Iraq. Americans died. Britons died. Australians and Poles and many others put their lives on the line as well. It would be arrogant and vile to expect gratitude, but I do hope, I deeply hope, that they will be able to understand why we did what we did and how much it cost us, in those poor, shattered homes across America and Great Britain.

And I have one final wish, which I know seems very unlikely, but which I will share anyway.

I fervently hope that someday, perhaps decades from now, Iraq will have a really top-notch soccer team. I hope that one day, they will get to the final round of the World Cup, and when they do, I hope it is Team USA they play for the championship.

I hope that the Americans play a tough, aggressive, masterful game, that they use all of the speed and skill and power at their command. And then I want to sit there watching TV as an old man, and watch the faces on the Iraqi people when the game is over, because I want to see that the most relieved and joyous they can conceive of being, is the day that tiny Iraq got out on that soccer field and kicked our ass.

Posted by Sarah at 04:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 11, 2008



We are soldiers.
We are soldiers in the United States Army.
We are trained to be all we can be.

We fight for the freedom of many citizens of the United States.
We are all ready to meet our fates.

We all volunteer to defend the red, white and blue.
Not only the flag, but for the citizens of our great country too.

Since our country's birth for all these years,
we have been trained to be the best on Earth.

Many times we have went to war.
We will be involved in many more.

Generation by generation soldiers continue to enlist.
Some of us will got to war and definitely be missed.

Some soldiers will return and some won't.
Those who do not, we won't forget and we hope you don't.

Many of us are going to Iraq.
Some of us won't be coming back.

We have loved ones we are leaving behind.
They will always be in our prayers, hearts and mind.

If we don't make it home safely at the end of the war,
just remember we died defending the beliefs of those of many more.

---PFC Gunnar Becker, 22 Jan 1985--15 Jan 2005

Posted by Sarah at 09:34 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 28, 2008


This deployment has been easy. Regular contact, a cushy job, and a short-ish tour. So easy, in fact, that when the phone rang unexpectedly at 4 AM last month, there was no thought in my mind that something had happened to my husband. I have managed to avoid much anticipatory grief this time around.

But we lost a team leader in Afghanistan.

I attended the memorial service today. I had never met this soldier and neither had my husband, but I think we would've liked him. Actually, I know we would've liked him based on one thing that was mentioned during the service: his nickname for his wife was Sparta 6.

When you sit there in a memorial service, and you look at all the photos of the soldier and hear the eulogies, you can't help but imagine what people would say about your own husband. How would they describe him? What photos capture who he is? Would a fellow soldier swallow back tears while speaking about my husband?

I had managed to avoid thinking about my husband's mortality too much this time around. But today was a reminder that he will be leaving again next year, likely as a team leader. He will be back in the thick of things.

You know, it does horrible things to your heart to sit back on the homefront and watch other people's husbands die...


The Bandaids On Our Hearts

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October 25, 2008


The Girl's husband is home from his 15 months in Iraq.

You know, she's probably gonna hate me for saying this, but I really enjoyed her husband's deployment. Since she's still stuck in Germany, we mainly communicated by IM. We chatted probably every other day, sometimes for hours.

We got to know each other better through those IMs than we ever did when we lived on the same post. I told her things I've never told anyone before and never plan to tell anyone again.

Her husband's deployment was good for our friendship.

But I'm still glad he's home.

Posted by Sarah at 07:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 07, 2008


I'm just not ready for this conversation;
I do much better on a take-home test...
  -- Jude

SpouseBUZZ Live went well this weekend. As usual, I hate everything that comes out of my mouth. But I'm probably just overreacting.

Liveblog of Panel I
Liveblog of Panel II

I had fun, I stayed up way too late both nights, and there wasn't nearly enough time.

Oh, and there was a knitter clicking away in the crowd. I almost broke my neck leaping over chairs and bags to run to her.

Posted by Sarah at 03:17 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 28, 2008


I got to see my favorite mug in the whole wide world last night, for the first time in 3 1/2 months.


My man can dimple.
And he thinks he's Rick James, which cracks me up.

I told him that, up against that white wall, he looked like he was making a martyrdom video. Which prompted him to tie a sock around his head and start waving a book in the air. The man is hilarious.

Oh, and "show me your dimples" was followed by "show me your boobies." Snort.

Posted by Sarah at 10:15 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

July 20, 2008


There's just too much to say about this article, and most of what I want to say will make me sound mean. I'll limit myself to a few points: As wars lengthen, toll on military families mounts

If the burden sounds heavier than what families bore in the longest wars of the 20th century World War II and Vietnam that's because it is, at least in some ways. What makes today's wars distinctive is the deployment pattern two, three, sometimes four overseas stints of 12 or 15 months. In the past, that kind of schedule was virtually unheard of.

Honestly, I'd rather my husband do all the time he's done in Iraq than do one tour in either WWII or Vietnam. I can't help but think of Easy Company from Band of Brothers. They were only deployed for a year, but that year included D-Day, Market Garden, and Bastogne. No way. I'll take two years in Iraq over that one year in Europe anyday.

"Infidelity is huge on both sides a wife is lonely, she looks for attention and finds it easier to cheat," she said. "It does make even the most sound marriages second-guess."

Um, no it doesn't. Speak for yourself, honey.

"Deployments don't help in strengthening a marriage, but they do not have to kill marriages," [Col. Ronald Crews, one of several chaplains called from the reserves to help with family counseling] said. "That's a choice a couple has to make."

Again, speak for yourself, Chaplain. I know a few wives who've said that deployment strengthened their relationship; CVG even called deployment "couples therapy." I really disagree that separation can't strengthen you.

When my husband left, I posted "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" on my site. To me, that is the perfect deployment poem. My husband is the roaming foot of the compass, and I the fixed foot that hearkens after him. Our love is the "gold to aery thinness beat" and we don't need "eyes, lips, and hands" to remind us that we're still in love. And our relationship is just as strong, even though deployment "doth remove those things which elemented it."

I don't need my husband in my house to know that I love him. I also don't need him here to know that I oughtn't cheat on him, or to strengthen the bond that exists between us.

But then again, we don't have "dull sublunary lovers' love."

[article via LMT]

Posted by Sarah at 02:46 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

July 08, 2008


My husband's been gone for two months now. I asked him yesterday how this deployment compares to the last one. I wondered if, even though this one is shorter, it might drag because the adrenaline level isn't nearly as high. But he said that it's definitely not dragging; there's always something hanging over his head, and 14 hours a day, 7 days a week, isn't long enough to get it all done. We joke that this is his life,


because all he does is remind people to turn their paperwork in. Heh.

I told him that from my end, this time feels really different. Last time we had 18 phonecalls in 13 months, and during one of them, at the height of Najaf, he was so overworked that he fell asleep on the phone! But now we get to talk quite frequently. I don't worry about him being in danger at all; I only worry that he's bored or lonely. It just feels like a really long business trip this time, or like he's gone alone to an Army school. It's almost embarrassing how easy and safe it feels this time. Other wives will see what I mean when I reveal that I don't even take my cell phone with me a lot of the time. It's just too easy this time.

However, the husband seems to be impressing his unit so much that they've remarked that they want to make much better use of him next time. He may even get to go on that super awesome deployment that he wanted to go on this time. So I guess this deployment can be easy and embarrassing, and next fall he can do more exciting stuff again.

Ours is definitely a Donut of Hope this time around.

Posted by Sarah at 09:04 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 07, 2008


This is a huge deal, right?

The last major remnant of Saddam Hussein's nuclear program - a huge stockpile of concentrated natural uranium - reached a Canadian port Saturday to complete a secret U.S. operation that included a two-week airlift from Baghdad and a ship voyage crossing two oceans.

The removal of 550 metric tons of "yellowcake" - the seed material for higher-grade nuclear enrichment - was a significant step toward closing the books on Saddam's nuclear legacy. It also brought relief to U.S. and Iraqi authorities who had worried the cache would reach insurgents or smugglers crossing to Iran to aid its nuclear ambitions.
The deal culminated more than a year of intense diplomatic and military initiatives - kept hushed in fear of ambushes or attacks once the convoys were under way: first carrying 3,500 barrels by road to Baghdad, then on 37 military flights to the Indian Ocean atoll of Diego Garcia and finally aboard a U.S.-flagged ship for a 8,500-mile trip to Montreal.

It's not the Joe Wilson/Bush Lied yellowcake, but it's still a big deal that it was there and that they secreted it out, right? I mean, what a feat! I love hearing about these secret missions after the fact.

(Via Instapundit via Conservative Grapevine)

Posted by Sarah at 08:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 08, 2008


I didn't read the full text of The McCain Doctrines when it came out, so I read it this morning. And this part just struck me:

A LOT OF McCAINS fellow veterans in Washington seem confounded by what they see as his obvious failure to absorb the lessons of Vietnam. Jack Murtha, the Pennsylvania congressman and decorated Vietnam vet who became an early and outspoken critic of the war, told me that watching Iraq unfold convinced him, for the first time, that American troops could never have prevailed in Vietnam, no matter how long they stayed. These kinds of wars cannot be won militarily, he said flatly. Another Democratic congressman with a Purple Heart, Mike Thompson of California, told me that promises of victory in Iraq sounded painfully familiar. When I was in Vietnam, the members of Congress knew that we werent going to be there forever, that we would have to redeploy, and in the time between when they knew that and when we redeployed, a lot of boys were injured and killed, Thompson said. I think Senator McCain has been an outstanding public servant, but I think hes wrong on this.

In McCains mind, however, there is a different kind of symmetry linking Vietnam and Iraq. Talking to him about it, you come to understand that he has, indeed, applied lessons from the first war to the second but they are the lessons that he learned not in combat or in the Hanoi Hilton but in the pages of the books he read at the National War College in the 1970s. To McCain, the first four years of the Iraq war, as prosecuted by the Bush administration, seem strikingly similar to the years in Vietnam before Creighton Abrams arrived on the scene.

I think it's pretty darned amazing that he can set aside his emotional attachment to Vietnam and look at it scholarly and theoretically. And after I read this segment, I did notice that it seems people like Kerry,Murtha, etc. still feel the emotions of Vietnam while John McCain has tried to study it, like one would study ancient military battles.

I just thought that was really interesting.

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May 18, 2008


I heard a joke the other day. It seems that Bush and the Pope were fishing when the Pope's hat flew off. One of the secret service agents was getting ready to dive into the water to retrieve the hat when Bush stopped him. Bush calmly got out of the boat, walked on the water and retrieved the Pope's hat. The Pope was inpressed. The next day's headline in the NYT was "Bush Can't Swim."

Remember when they ran this headline: "As violence falls in Iraq, cemetery workers feel the pinch"? Now that's spin. There's something remarkable about being able to take something so positive and twist it into a negative.

Apparently they just did it to McCain too. I am speechless:

There is a feeling among some of McCains fellow veterans that his break with them on Iraq can be traced, at least partly, to his markedly different experience in Vietnam. McCains comrades in the Senate will not talk about this publicly. They are wary of seeming to denigrate McCains service, marked by his legendary endurance in a Hanoi prison camp, when in fact they remain, to this day, in awe of it. And yet in private discussions with friends and colleagues, some of them have pointed out that McCain, who was shot down and captured in 1967, spent the worst and most costly years of the war sealed away, both from the rice paddies of Indochina and from the outside world. During those years, McCain did not share the disillusioning and morally jarring experiences of soldiers like Kerry, Webb and Hagel, who found themselves unable to recognize their enemy in the confusion of the jungle; he never underwent the conversion that caused Kerry, for one, to toss away some of his war decorations during a protest at the Capitol. Whatever anger McCain felt remained focused on his captors, not on his own superiors back in Washington.

McCain doesn't understand Vietnam because he spent the whole time being beaten and locked up in a tiger cage instead of celebrating Christmas in Cambodia with a magical hat.

You have to be effing kidding me.

Not all of McCains fellow veterans subscribe to the theory [...] But some suspect that whatever lesson McCain took away from his time in Vietnam, it was not the one that stayed with his colleagues who were in country during those years that some wars simply cant be won on the battlefield, no matter how long you fight them, no matter how many soldiers you send there to die.

Oh gosh, John McCain learned the wrong things in Vietnam. See, we all had this life changing experience that was supposed to make us hate war and hate the US. But John McCain won't play by the rules. He was too busy being locked up with people who took their oaths seriously, who bolstered each other and knew that their countrymen were looking for them and would rescue them someday. He was too busy refusing the Vietcong's offer to release him. And he was too busy saluting the flag, a makeshift flag that Mike Christian sewed out of handkerchiefs, despite the massive beating he got for doing it.

Poor John McCain...he learned to love his country during Vietnam instead of hating it.

What a stupid man.

Posted by Sarah at 09:54 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 12, 2008


So my husband's single friend came over for dinner tonight, and he asked how I was doing, both with the deployment and with the baby situation. And during the course of chatting, I mentioned the miscarriage, and I also asked him if I could put him down on my list of people to call should I have to endure a casualty notification.

He started to panic and said that we'd better change the subject. I couldn't figure out why, until he said, "I'm afraid you're going to start crying and I don't really know how to handle that."

I laughed and said I hope he doesn't think I'm that fragile. I told him that I haven't cried even once since my husband left and that I'm really feeling quite good and normal.

I'm not sure he believed me.

Really, I'm fine. I'm like creepy fine. I keep waiting for the shoe to drop, but I don't feel sad at all. I'm sure at some point I will get a little weepy, especially if hormones start kicking in, but I don't feel bad at all right now.

But apparently it took me two weeks to cry last time, so I guess I have another seven days.

But also like last time, I just don't suffer.

Posted by Sarah at 09:28 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 10, 2008


Rose Michelle wrote a post called If It Weren't For War...

I dare say, I would probably be living the same boring day over and over. Waking each day, dreading what was to come from a mundane job, same relentless chores, and never ending errands. I'd probably live next to the same people for 20 years and never know their name, drive the same route every day never seeing the beauty around me.

If it weren't for war, I'm never have married an American hero, be inspired by those around me or treasure the littlest moments such as making dinner with my husband or dancing on the porch in the moonlight. Maybe they're right, it sounds like such a horrible life!

If it weren't for war...

It reminds me of when I wrote this:

Today I started thinking that if 9/11 hadn't happened, my life would be quite different. My husband was slated to join the Army for four years of Finance. My guess is that he would've completed his commitment and taken his business mind elsewhere for more money. Certainly he wouldn't have stayed in and chosen to learn Farsi. We'd probably be somewhere in the Midwest, working and living like most of our peers.

If it weren't for war, I wouldn't know how precious my husband is. I wouldn't relish every day with him. I wouldn't be as proud of him as I was every time he got a perfect score on a Farsi quiz. I wouldn't cherish every moment with him, knowing there will be months and years of our lives apart. I wouldn't have such good Perspective, knowing that dirty laundry on the floor or dribbles of pee on the toilet rim means that at least he's home and safe.

I wouldn't have read so many books about the Middle East. I wouldn't know Iraqi geography. I wouldn't crochet squares for Hand-Crafted Comfort. I wouldn't write so many letters.

My life would be less immediate, less fulfilling, less lived.

Posted by Sarah at 08:41 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 08, 2008


I just heard from my husband; he made it to Kuwait. Naturally, they got bumped from heading into Iraq and will be staying there and wasting a few days, which makes you wonder why they had to leave the US in such a rush if they're just gonna sit around, but that's the Army. He sounds good. He said Kuwait looks a whole lot different than it did back in 2004.

I told him I keep forgetting that he's gone, and every time I read a good blog post or article, I forget that I can't show it to him when he gets home.

I'm anxious for a mailing address.

Posted by Sarah at 12:00 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

May 07, 2008


My plans for this week were perfect until my husband's deployment kept getting moved forward. Once that happened, I had to make a very unusual and difficult choice: Do you accept an invitation to the White House on the day your husband is supposed to deploy? Any other invitation in the world, you obviously turn down. But the White House? That's big. That gives you pause.

I asked around, and the general consensus was that other wives would not go to the White House. But I still had to decide for myself. I had a talk with my husband about my choice, and what he said blew my mind. He said, "The White House is the White House, and obviously that's a big deal. But what I think is really important is that you go spend time with your friends, people who love you. You don't have anyone here in town to take care of you while I'm gone, and when else are you going to get the chance to be with your good friends? If they're coming in from all over the country, then you need to go be with people who care about you."

And he was right.

It was so exciting to be able to take this photo on Tuesday:


But it honestly means so much more to me to have taken this one:


I spent the day surrounded by people who lift my spirits, who make me happy, and who grok what I am going through. They cracked me up and helped me forget my sorrow. And they reminded me of how lucky I am to have them in my life.

My husband was right: I really did need this.

I raced home right after the event and had six hours to spend with my husband before I dropped him off at his unit headquarters to deploy. And we felt good, no tears at all. Just a supplication for me to have "Spartan courage" and for him to "come back with his shield or on it." A quick kiss goodbye, and that was that.

And so the deployment begins.

Posted by Sarah at 04:12 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

May 04, 2008


The last time my husband deployed, I spent the day before he left sewing new rank on since he got promoted that day. I wish I could tell you what I spent yesterday doing, but it's majorly opsec. It's such a good story and really freaking weird, but alas. Curse my husband's new security clearance!

I wrote about his packing headaches at SpouseBUZZ.

And we've been getting ourselves properly pumped up on dorkosterone before he leaves. I started reading Gates of Fire again. Tonight we're watching his favorite movie: Miracle. And last night we went with his Farsi class buddies to Hooters so he could get his fill of beer and ogling chicks before he leaves.

I feel pretty good this time. I don't feel scared: his job will be low-key. I don't feel bad about the length: we did longer pre-R&R last time than his entire deployment will be this time. And I feel optimistic about our chances with the fertility treatments too.

I just feel a smidge sad that my best friend is leaving me for the rest of 2008.
At least I have Charlie this time.

Posted by Sarah at 01:30 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

May 03, 2008


OK, this stopped being funny. My husband's deployment got moved forward again.

Posted by Sarah at 11:35 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 28, 2008


I kept this Butterfly post in the back of my mind for a long time, knowing I'd reference it later because it mirrors my situation.

But this is not all that dissimilar to the incident that happened in the fall. Back then, I complained I couldn't cry about it. This time I cried and cried. This difference this time I think has to do with the fact that I do not think of him as being in all that dangerous of place, well, at least compared to where he was. At his last assignment, I think I had an enormous barrier in place to deal with this kind of thing. But once he took the new assignment, and I settled in to the day-to-day officeness of it all, I let that wall down.

Whenever people like my husband's grandma or his friend's wife started to get that worried look as they hugged my husband for the last time, he just smiled at them and reassuringly said, "If I told anyone in the Army where I am going, what I will be doing, and how long I will be there, no one would feel sorry for me. So you don't need to worry about me; I have an enviable deployment!"

His last deployment, not so much.

I wonder how this time will be different. Last time, the only experience I knew was weeks without contact, no phones at his location, two intense trips to Najaf, every third week living off the FOB, and no hot food for the first six months. His deployment was on the rough(er) end of the spectrum, but I don't remember feeling overly scared. It just was what it was; it was the only deployment I knew.

And sometimes now I get worried because this one is even more relaxed. I don't feel nervous or scared at all about his leaving. I don't feel like he's preparing for war this time. But then my mind plays tricks on me and I start to wonder what if something happens like happened to Butterfly Wife, where the husband's "day-to-day officeness" is interrupted by danger? Honestly, I have thought more than once how stupid it would feel if my husband were killed on his "easy" deployment instead of his prior hard one. But stuff like that happens, even to soldiers with the jobbiest jobs.

I hope he spends the entire time bored out of his mind.

And close to a phone.

Posted by Sarah at 04:49 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

April 27, 2008


I'm often dismayed and annoyed with TV storylines involving the GWOT; they usually involve soldiers who kill innocents, loot Iraq, and blame it all on the war. Friday's Numb3ers was no exception.

One of the main characters of the show got out of the Army to join the FBI. In this episode, the FBI was searching for a Marine whose family had been kidnapped because he wouldn't give his fellow Marines the whereabouts of $1 million stolen in Iraq. (Yep, it's the Three Kings storyline again.) Here's the conversation they had:

Marine: They're gonna kill my family. If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. Force recon taught me that.

FBI: Playing the "bad war badass" is not going to get your family back.

Marine: What do you know about bad wars? Chasing bin Laden in '01 don't compare to what's going on now.

FBI: Yeah, I've heard the stories.

Marine: (mocking) You've heard the stories. Talk to me when you've seen woman and children blown up by a 50-cal, or a school after a mortar attack, or a man tortured by your own guys until he begs you to kill him. You fought the bad war when it was good.

This seemed like Hollywood bullcrap to me, so I had a long talk with my husband about it. In his experience, he has never heard conversations like this about Afghanistan being a "good war" but Iraq being a "bad war." And 50-cal bullets work in Afghanistan too; I am sure some soldier in Afghanistan has made a kill that bothers him. This just smelled like projection to me: someone in Hollywood thinks Afghanistan is more justified than Iraq and writes that dialogue into the script.

Heck, everyone in Hollywood is projecting. I can't even list how many episodes of shows like Cold Case, Law & Order, CSI, Without a Trace, etc, have plotlines that seem like stereotypes gone horribly wrong. Everyone has PTSD, and the number of people who return from Iraq and murder their recruiter, journalists, or other soldiers from their platoon who are about to blow the whistle on cover-ups of massive Iraqi murders, well, it's just staggering. If this had happened even once, I think we'd have heard of it in the past seven years. It's all Hollywood exaggeration, and sadly they're exaggerating our soldiers and Marines into killers, thieves, and mental cases.

Later on in the show, thankfully this exchange happens between the two FBI agents:

Colby: What Porter said about me fighting the good war, there's truth to that. When I got pulled out of the field by military intelligence, I left a lot of guys behind.

David: And a lot of them went to Iraq...

Colby: I read the names in the papers, guys I knew, I heard about friends who came home messed up physically and messed up in the head

David: Where I grew up, people were messed up by a lot of things, a lot of it out of their control. It didn't make them any less culpable for their actions.

They're talking about the context of crime, but this point can be extended much further. War is ugly. But so is rape, abuse, incest, drugs, and a host of other things that people are exposed to on a daily basis. Soldiers watch their friends get killed, but sometimes in this messed-up world we live in, children watch their parents get killed. Wives watch their husbands murdered in front of them. Life is not only brutal on the battlefield.

Last night I finished reading The Airman and the Carpenter. The NJ state executioner thought Hauptmann was innocent, but he had to pull the switch anyway. I had never thought about executioners before, but I'm sure on occasion they have to take a life they're not comfortable with taking. But they do it. Does it haunt them? I don't know; we never hear about executioner PTSD. Nor do we hear about doctor PTSD, though I'm certain the ER is a horrifying place to work. I bet they see more people dying in a week than my husband did in an entire year. But they're not portrayed on TV as mental cases who are going to kill their fellow doctors for money.

I've been holding in a complaint for a long time because it is a delicate subject, but I'm going to air it now. There are people out there with PTSD, and they need help. I am glad that there is awareness and that they can get the help they deserve. I know it's real. But there's a nagging part of me that rues the fact that the more emphasis we put on PTSD -- the more we talk about detection and diagnosis and how widespread it is -- the more civilians expect that everyone who's been deployed is messed up in the head. And the more of these storylines we're going to get on movies and TV, which just reinforces civilians' belief that everyone has PTSD.

My husband reminded me of the time we went to The Mariners' Museum and his cousin asked cautiously if he would be OK sitting in on the video presentation of the battle of the USS Monitor because it had simulated cannon fire. It was nice of her to be concerned, but my husband just had to chuckle. He had been jittery for the first few weeks of being home, but by then he had been home for two and a half years. But she knew about PTSD and thought it affected everyone who's been deployed. She was worried about my husband and wouldn't accept his reassurance. She kept asking me if he was OK, no I mean really, is he OK, you can tell me.

Yes, he's OK. Most people are. Some do have PTSD, but most of them won't go on to murder or pillage. They need to see a doctor; what they don't need is Hollywood making them out to be ticking time bombs on every TV show and movie ever made about Iraq.

Why can't we have any storylines where someone comes home from Iraq and then sacrifices to save a life? That's happened, you know. Or where someone survives a murder attempt and helps bring the killer to justice, as Airman King did?

There's heroism among returning servicemembers. But for some reason that never makes it into TV plots.

Posted by Sarah at 10:24 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

April 24, 2008


The last time my husband left, it was buying shampoo that made me realize he was leaving. This time it was tortillas.

I pack lunches for my husband to eat at work, and usually I make him wraps. As I bought a ten-pack of tortillas today, I realized that that's all he'll need. There are about ten more work days until he's gone.

Boy, that hit me like a ton of bricks. It snuck up on me fast. The shampoo realization came four months ahead of time. This time I've been a lot more distracted.

Posted by Sarah at 01:37 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

March 28, 2008


How do you know you're not in regular Army anymore? The husband gets reprimanded for wearing his hair too short.

Also, my husband said that he has some reading to do before he deploys. I said that it was fine, that we could sit together and read quietly. But he said that my idea wouldn't work because the reading he has to do is classified documents that he cannot take home from work. I replied that there were ways around this, you know. Just stuff the papers in your pants and socks. If it's good enough for Sandy Berger, it's good enough for us, right?

Posted by Sarah at 07:33 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 23, 2008


Ask and ye shall receive. Nope, not a baby, a deployment.

He's now leaving, and relatively quickly. Not on that perfect assignment I wrote about, but on a different one. (Months ago my husband warned me that I wasn't going to like leaving "regular Army" because I wouldn't be able to blog about anything he's doing. I am starting to see that this is true. I am a blabbermouth at heart, and his top secret clearance is killing me.)

You know, I sat on that Rear D info for weeks. I couldn't bring myself to write about it because we didn't want to accept it as our fate. Finally, I decided that I had to put it in print and make it real. Ha. Two days later, the whole thing was moot. I can't help but think about one of my mom's friends. It seems that my mom bumps into her every time our story changes. First my husband was leaving right away, then his timeline got bumped way back, then it was Rear D, and now we're back to leaving. I bet my mom's civilian friend can't believe that we get jerked around like this, but it's true. This is how the military operates. When my husband asked me if I was OK with finding out so suddenly, I just waved him off with a hand. I am really quite used to this, actually. And when another solder looked at me with care and concern at the ball the other day and asked how I was dealing with my husband's sudden departure, I think I freaked him out with my nonchalance. His eyes got big when I waved him off too. But seriously, this is his job, this is what he's in the Army to do, and we wouldn't be here if it bothered me. A soldier's job is to soldier.

So he goes in the field this week, comes back, we have some block leave, and he's outta here. Lickety split. And he's an "operator" now (I think that is the squirrelliest label ever, so I use it all the time, like White irony), so it's not one of those 15-month deployments. He'll be home in early 2009.

This deployment junkie is getting her fix.

Posted by Sarah at 09:37 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

March 22, 2008


Man, my husband's friend has some sweet toys. Look what we got to do today.


We did some pistol shooting first. I was no good with the .357 Sig, but I did better with the 9mm Beretta. I think I improved a little from my first trip to the range back in October, especially after I tried a different placement for my left hand. It made the kick a lot more manageable. But the real fun was the AR-15.


I look awkward as all get-out in this picture, I think, but I actually was pretty darned proud of myself here. (I want to submit this to the Army and see if they'll let me deploy. Not bad for my very first try.)


But I don't look nearly as good as my smokin' hot husband.


Overall, I was a lot more comfortable this time around. I had fun and improved my meager skills. And the rifle was a lot of fun, though my shoulder is already feeling it.

I'm looking forward to going back. Good thing my husband has a single buddy who's happy to exchange ammo for a home-cooked meal.

Posted by Sarah at 11:06 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

March 20, 2008


I didn't forget today's anniversary; I just didn't really know what to say. But at our brigade ball tonight, I bowed my head and thought of Heidi and Debey when we toasted our fallen comrades.

Posted by Sarah at 10:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


I just finished that previous post about being happy for the things I have and not dwelling on what I don't have, and then I went over to SpouseBUZZ and read AirForceWife's latest post.

I am just weeping.

I think I am pretty good at keeping life in perspective, at trying to see the positive in things. But I am not drinking-wine-off-the-floor good.

I love that story and I won't soon forget it.

Posted by Sarah at 01:23 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 12, 2008


ButterflyWife found a CNN article called Troops, families changed by 5 years of war. All of the stories are about changes for the worse: death, divorce, injury, depression. I thought I would like to add how my family's life has changed for the better.

I've been thinking about this ever since they were talking on the radio about how 9/11 changed people's lives. I blogged:

Today I started thinking that if 9/11 hadn't happened, my life would be quite different. My husband was slated to join the Army for four years of Finance. My guess is that he would've completed his commitment and taken his business mind elsewhere for more money. Certainly he wouldn't have stayed in and chosen to learn Farsi. We'd probably be somewhere in the Midwest, working and living like most of our peers.

I'm pretty sure my husband wouldn't be in the Army today if it weren't for Iraq. We also wouldn't be reading so many books on Iran and Arabs, there probably wouldn't be a SpouseBUZZ, and I never would've met any of my best friends.

Andi wrote a good post on the fifth anniversary of the Operation Iraqi Freedom. The story is a story of strength, of resolve, of commitment. That is what has changed in my life, for the better. Without Iraq, my husband's job would just be a job. Instead, it is more like a calling. In the CNN article, they talk about a chaplain:

When Etter himself returned on leave to Pennsylvania to officiate at the funeral of a close friend, he turned to his wife and said he wanted to go home.

"I said, `OK, get in the car. Let's go home,"' said Jodi Etter. "And you said, 'No, my home in Iraq. I just want to go home."'

When his tour was over, and he went with his wife to buy furniture for their new house in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, he had to remind himself that it was important to her -- even if it seemed trivial to him after the war.

I think they mean for this story to be a bad thing, but I don't see it that way. Our troops are invested in Iraq. They live their lives for a serious purpose, so yes, furniture is going to seem trivial. That's called Perspective. And my husband says all the time that he wants to return to Iraq to see this thing through. As an Army wife, you make a choice: when your husband says he'd rather be in Iraq on Valentine's Day, you can either be selfish and resent him, or you can be proud that your husband has such convictions and deeply cares about both the future of the US and the future of Iraq. I'm impressed that my husband would rather be "stuck hear n Irak" than safe and snug at home, and I'm proud of him for putting his country ahead of his family.

That's how we've changed in the past five years. If you'd asked me as a teen what the height of romance is, never in a million years would I have come up with the answer "having your husband wish he were in Iraq every Valentine's Day." But it is. Iraq has matured us, as a couple and as individuals. We read more, we think more, and we love more.

The chaplain goes on to say:

Now executive director of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Veterans Affairs, Etter says a deployment is like a magnifying glass.

"Personalities that are strong become stronger," he says. "Personalities which are weaker are made to become weaker."

We are better for having been to war.

Posted by Sarah at 08:25 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

March 11, 2008


I have never hated the Army as much as I hate them right now.

The time my husband got turned down for Civil Affairs because Finance wouldn't release him comes close, but even then I was more sad than mad.

I can't explain many of the details, but Civil Affairs units go to more places than Iraq and Afghanistan. And one of the places they're going, it would be the perfect assignment for my husband. He is more qualified to go there than anyone else who is going there. But the Army is so fracking stupid that they don't consider merit in placing people. They just deal 'em out like a deck of cards and let the chips fall where they may. So they end up with Arabic speakers going to Afghanistan, French speakers going to Iraq, and Farsi speakers staying home on Rear fricking D.

Today was already a really disappointing day, but this just sealed the deal. I don't know whether I want to scream or cry. Or puke.

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March 09, 2008


My husband has been home from Iraq for three years. Three years. It's embarrassing to type that. I've had him to myself for three years. Not by choice, of course, but what can you say? "I promise he volunteered to go and traded orders with a guy for a case of beer, but it fell through. I swear we haven't been ducking it; he even changed branches so he'd be able to go back." But it still sounds incredible that he's been home so long.

I wrote today at SpouseBUZZ that I can't remember my husband's homecoming day. I was camped out in my archives, trying desperately to remember what I was doing before he got home, but I have no idea. I do know what I was feeling though, since I carried on Tim's tradition and gave a peek at the end to CaliValleyGirl.

Reading that hurts a little though, because I miss that feeling.

I love having my husband home. I need to have my husband home if we're ever going to successfully have a baby. But three years on, I miss the deployment feelings. I miss the sense of connectedness, of purpose, of conviction. It probably sounds strange, but I miss the feeling of sacrifice, of knowing that I've given up being with someone I love for the good of our country. Honestly, for me, the deployment feeling hurts, but it's a good hurt, a deep and satisfying pain. And I haven't felt it in three years. I feel ashamed that I've lived too ordinary of a life for three years.

I'm ready to do it again. I knew it was coming, and I was ready for it, waiting for it, starting to yearn for it. My husband finished his language class and was waiting for his assignment. He was worried that he might get sent to Iraq even though he'd studied Farsi and wanted to go to Afghanistan.

So we never imagined the assignment he got: Rear D.

For civilian readers, the Rear Detachment is the one guy the unit leaves behind to man the phones and take care of the homefront. He's the liason between the deployed unit and the families. He works his butt off back at home to take care of unit affairs.

My husband is being left behind while his unit deploys.

One would think that this would be welcomed news for the Rear D family. If my husband had only been home 12 months since his deployment, I might enjoy this assignment a little too. But three years later, I can't believe this is what we'll be doing. I can't believe my husband doesn't get to do what he's longed to do since the day he came home -- go back and help some more -- and I can't believe I don't get to satisfy my unnatural craving for deployment feelings.

We're just so stunned that this is the hand we've been dealt.

Some guys have already spent enough time in Iraq to last them a lifetime. When it's all said and done, my husband will have been home for more than four years before he finally gets his chance to go again and do what he loves.

Despite our best efforts, we're watching history pass us by.

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February 26, 2008


Yep, we're invested.

Sitting on a bunk in Bravo Company's outpost, Staff Sgt. Corey Hollister noted the irony that, even as the debate in America remained bizarrely unaffected by the reality around him, "It's really military personnel and their families who don't want [the Army] to leave Iraq."

My husband is frustrated that he could've spent six months learning Farsi only to deploy to Iraq (where no one speaks Farsi). He would've rather learned Arabic then. He wants to be able to communicate with the people, wants to read as many books as he can about Sunnis and Shiites and Arab culture, wants to get another chance to participate in this war. Not for the killing but for the cultural cross-pollination.

And indeed, there's cross-pollination:

Officers in the Grand Army of the Tigris, as one of its senior officers calls the American force, dine with local elders at "goat grabs," greet them with "man-kisses," and routinely punctuate their own conversations with the casual "insha'allah." The vernacular has even followed the Army home: In the halls of the Pentagon, where nearly every Army officer has served at least two tours in Iraq, officers ask whether this or that official has "wasta"Iraqi shorthand for "influence" or "pull," though with a slightly more corrupt tinge.

It's the military families that don't want to leave Iraq because they are the ones who've become invested. They're the ones who are getting steeped in this culture and looking for ways to make it compatible with ours. And they're the ones who understand the little picture as well as the big one.

My husband has always said that Iraq has way more than a problem between Sunnis and Shiites, because even in all-Shiite villages, there are still feuds. Between this group and that, this clan and that, this cousin's branch and that, this side of the street and that. Put two Iraqis in a room together, and they'll find something to divide them. So I got a kick out of this:

This much was evident at a gathering of 20 local elders, where a young captain named Palmer Phillips cajoled and corralled sheiks three times his age. "Hey," Phillips admonished the feuding tribal leaders, "There can't be anymore of this Dulaimi versus Assawi action going on."

The soldiers on the ground are working with the nuances and getting physically and emotionally invested in the outcome. Really, really invested. And they don't want to fail. But most of all they don't want to be sent home before they have a chance to succeed.

Read the whole article.


Also read Gordon Alanko's Reconstructing Relationships. "Juggling kittens" indeed.

Posted by Sarah at 10:49 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

February 18, 2008


I made a list of things to say
But all I really want to say
All I really want to say is
Hold her and keep her strong
While I'm away from here
    --R.E.M. Green Album

The other day, my husband asked me how I think I'll feel when the next deployment rolls around. And I wondered why he'd asked; he said softly, "Well, you know, nothing's been the same since Sean Sims." And he's right.

I've given up with the pretending too. When I'm quiet for too long and he asks me what I'm thinking, I've given up lying. "I'm thinking about what happens if you die," I now answer. And it's awful how often the thoughts creep in. It is so sick, this anticipatory grief. He's right here beside me, and it's weird that sometimes I can't even enjoy him because I'm planning for some imaginary future that I hope never comes.

And I wasn't like this before. He's right; nothing's been the same.
Sacrifice is no longer theoretical when you've watched someone live with it for years.

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February 15, 2008


An update (er, kinda non-update) on our family's current military situation over at SpouseBUZZ.

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February 13, 2008


Chuck Z is on the warpath...

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February 08, 2008


Yes, we're still feeling the effects of our lovely OCONUS move.

We paid off our first car while my husband was in Iraq. The lienholder mailed us a letter saying to complete the title, we needed to go to our local DMV. Um, our local DMV was a bunch of Germans working on post in the pseudo-licensing office. The German lady looked at my documents and shrugged. I think I remember her saying at the time that we might run into problems later down the road.

We sure did. But that was nearly four years ago, and I didn't think much of it.

We moved back to the US and reregistered our cars in our state of record. By mail. That car has not been back in Missouri since we bought it back in 2002. Which meant the problem was never noticed...until today. We went to register our cars in our new state, and our lien was never shown as lifted.

So now what? How do I undo a problem that was created four years ago, and 1000 miles away? And through the fricking DMV, of all headaches.

What an unnecessary pain in the neck it was to live in Germany.

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January 23, 2008


My husband got his score on his oral exam today. He got a 3. No one else in the entire language program, in any of the languages, even Spanish, got a 3. He was the only one to score so high.

He is embarrassed that I am posting this, but I am tickled pink. Now let's just hope he can do as well on the written exam in two weeks.

And tomorrow he jumps out of an airplane. What a life he leads!

Posted by Sarah at 07:52 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

January 14, 2008


In three weeks, my husband joins the Army. No, really. For the past year and a half (two and a half if you ask him; he doesn't consider his time in Finance to be "the Army") he has been in Army schools. Life has been super easy on us. But all that changes in three weeks: he'll get assigned to a battalion and then find out which continent he's deploying to and when. Life's about to get interesting again.

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January 11, 2008


Last night on SpouseBUZZ Talk Radio, Andi and AirForceWife interviewed two military wives: Stephanie from She Who Waits and Elaine, a Vietnam-era Army wife. It was so interesting to hear what life was like for the "waiting wives" of Vietnam.

My favorite story was when Elaine said that, because she has epilepsy, the doctor told her that she could inform the Army of her condition and her husband wouldn't have to go overseas. Elaine said she went home from the doctor and never told her husband the info. She knew he was a soldier and she wasn't going to be the one to prevent him from doing his job. What a lady!

If you want to listen to the archive, it will be available here at Blog Talk Radio.

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December 18, 2007


Did you know that on July 9, 1776, the newly-written Declaration of Independence was read to a crowd in New York City? Page 137 of the excellent book 1776 (which I bought on recommendation from Neal Boortz) says:

The formal readings concluded, a great mob of cheering, shouting soldiers and townspeople stormed down Broadway to Bowling Green, where, with ropes and bars, they pulled down the gilded lead statue of George III on his colossal horse. In their fury the crowd hacked off the sovereign's head, severed the nose, clipped the laurels that wreathed the head, and mounted what remained of the head on a spike outside a tavern.

Now that sounds wonderfully familiar. I got such a kick out of the parallel with Baghdad. However, the Saddam statue was melted down and made into a memorial for the 4th Infantry Division. That's a lovely end to a brutal dictator's ode to himself. But the warmonger in me likes what happened to the George III statue:

Much of the lead from the rest of the statue would later be, as reported, melted down for bullets "to assimilate with the brains of our infatuated adversaries."

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November 27, 2007


I am loving Butterfly Wife's R&R posts. Just loving them. They make me remember my own R&R and smile. If you've ever had an R&R, I highly recommend heading to her blog and just scrolling. I am sure it will sound familiar.

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November 14, 2007


We have a lot of wounded from this war, which I've sometimes heard mentioned as a bad thing. But we have the wounded because we don't have as many who are dead.

Like SPC Channing Moss, who got impaled by a live RPG and lived.


I don't think you'll hear him complain that we have too many wounded from this war. He's just happy not to be one of the other statistics.

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November 02, 2007


I've been meaning to write my post on Valour-IT for a few days now. I've also been meaning to wash my hair and eat something other than breakfast cereal. Alas, I have failed at a lot of things lately.

Read here about the Valour-IT fundraiser.

Posted by Sarah at 03:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 12, 2007


RagingMom berates us as a country for not having any patience:

Some years ago, I had a conversation with a friend of mine, a World War II veteran, in which he described his decision to put the cow-milking business on hiatus to enlist in the Marine Corps. He would leave town on the train to Chicago and not come home for over three years.

Can you imagine that? Better yet, can you imagine being his mother, never once getting to even speak to him in three years? Three years, waiting day to day for casualty lists to be published, for the awful sight of two uniformed men on your porch, never knowing where your child is or if he is alive, or whole.

The headlines wouldnt have helped.


And yet, people endured this. Even when MacArthur abandoned the Philippines, the failure of Operation Market Garden, the horrible casualties in the Ardennes and Iwo Jima, even when it was not clear at all that we were winning this war, one thing had to be clear: that we could not afford to lose it, either.

And this perspective from someone who will soon have all three of her sons in Iraq.

We are indeed an instant gratification culture. I want a baby right now. People want to graduate from college and have the house of their dreams and two new cars right away. We want the war to be over right now. I find it to be one of the worst American habits. We all need to get over this feeling; not everything can be fast-food style.

I have been working on it myself a lot lately. Patience. Long term perspective.

Kudos to RagingMom; she has perspective in spades.

Posted by Sarah at 01:41 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

October 04, 2007


Here we go again!


The first of December probably won't be covered with snow in North Carolina, but it will be full of milspouses as we converge on Fayetteville.

And we'll have a lovely view of the Eiffel Tower from our venue. No, seriously.

If you're anywhere near Fort Bragg, I encourage you to come out for this event. You can read all the details about registering at SpouseBUZZ.

I already have two attendees staying at my house...

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September 30, 2007


A certain Silver Star recipient former tanker Indian type is in the car headed our direction. It's been two years since we've seen him, so it should be a good day. Too cool.

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September 11, 2007


I just heard Herman Cain on the radio, asking callers to call in and say where they were on 9/11/01 and how it changed their lives. I started thinking about what I'd say if I called in. I've said all this stuff before on the blog, but it's worth summarizing today.

On 9/11/01 I was a stupid kid who didn't know a thing about the world. I hated politics, put my fingers in my ears any time someone mentioned Israel, and was shockingly naive about how deep the world's hatred for my country ran. I was at school that day and was annoyed that my fellow classmates all wanted to go home; I thought they all just wanted an excuse for a day off. New York was 800 miles away, so there was no reason we couldn't continue with our lessons. I was engaged to a guy in Army ROTC, and the severity of 9/11 still didn't sink in. In short, I was a complete idiot.

Today I started thinking that if 9/11 hadn't happened, my life would be quite different. My husband was slated to join the Army for four years of Finance. My guess is that he would've completed his commitment and taken his business mind elsewhere for more money. Certainly he wouldn't have stayed in and chosen to learn Farsi. We'd probably be somewhere in the Midwest, working and living like most of our peers.

Although I was too obtuse and self-absorbed to realize it at the time, 9/11 changed everything for me.

And 9/11 changed the blogging world too. Early in the morning of 9/11/01, Steven den Beste wrote a post about online gambling. Guess what he posted on the rest of the week, and more or less for the rest of his blogging career. If it weren't for the path that he and others like him forged, I might still be sitting with my fingers in my ears.

Without 9/11, I never would've learned to think.

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September 07, 2007


The husband and I had a talk tonight, about going to war, about being left behind, about duty, honor, and glory. I shed a tear, we shared an embrace...and then we watched 300. It is such a fitting thing, to watch 300. And nothing gets to me like Queen Gorgo's speech:

I am not here to represent Leonidas; his actions speak louder than my words ever could. I am here for all those voices which cannot be heard: mothers, daughters, fathers, sons - three hundred families that bleed for our rights, and for the very principles this room was built upon. We are at war, gentlemen. We must send the entire Spartan army to aid our king in the preservation of not just ourselves, but of our children. Send the army for the preservation of liberty. Send it for justice. Send it for law and order. Send it for reason. But most importantly, send our army for hope - hope that a king and his men have not been wasted to the pages of history - that their courage bonds us together, that we are made stronger by their actions, and that your choices today reflect their bravery.

We are made stronger by their actions.

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Miss Ladybug writes a nice post explaining her take on an article about why we need the draft. She does a good job of explaining her side. I have one thing to add about this part in the original article:

Consequently, we have a severe talent deficiency in the military, which the draft would remedy immediately. While Americas bravest are in the military, Americas brightest are not. Allow me to build a squad of the five brightest students from MIT and Caltech and promise them patrols on the highways connecting Baghdad and Fallujah, and Ill bet that in six months they could render IEDs about as effective as a Just Say No campaign at a Grateful Dead show.

First of all, my husband just whooped MIT's butt at that Fast Money MBA Challenge, and he went to a state school and chose to be in the Army. So I'm thinking he could do just as well at "patrols on the highways" as Ivy Leaguers could. Hell, he would do better since he wants to be there instead of being forced to be there; I don't care how smart you were at school, if you don't have the drive and desire to apply your brain power to a problem, you ain't gonna fix it either.

But secondly, and here's my real contribution, smarter doesn't always make you a better soldier. My husband likes to tell one anecdote: The guy in their company with the highest ASVAB score, so presumably the smartest soldier, was the one my husband had to put in jail in Iraq. The best soldier they had, the one everyone wanted to work with, was the old gangbanger.

There are plenty of smart people in the military; I'd rather talk to Jack Army about the Middle East than anyone at Caltech. But book smarts isn't always what the Army needs, especially if it's been forced to be there. Somehow I get a little giggle imagining this Marine corporal trying to organize a squad of drafted Ivy Leaguers. I'm not sure it'd go as swimmingly as he thinks it would.

Posted by Sarah at 08:07 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

September 06, 2007


Families Cracking Under War Pressure


Love My Tanker does a good job of fisking this article. I will just point out a few things, less diplomatically than she does.

"I don't know one military family that is still together or anything like they were before the Soldier in the family went to war," 30-year-old Mylinda, whose husband was among the first Marines to be deployed in Iraq, told AFP.

We're still together and exactly the same as we were before. Only better. My husband has matured as a man, as a leader, and as a citizen. He is a far better person for having been to war because he now understands things that most of us only know from books. If he's changed at all, it's for the better. Me too, for I had to spend a year being self-reliant, not whiny, and strong.

"Now, you have boy scouts fighting over there. They get kids out of high school, put them in boot camp and then send them to fight.

"When they get out, all they know how to do is kill someone."

Yes, my husband now knows how to kill someone. He also knows how to talk to people about electricity, gas shortages, getting along with their neighbors, and training to be soldiers themselves. Because he went to war, he changed career paths and now is learning to speak their language so he can continue to talk to them about how to make their countries better. Talk to them. If he was just going to kill them, he wouldn't need to waste six months learning to speak their language.

My husband is a better person because he's been to war, and we're a stronger couple because of it. Better. Maybe you could interview someone like us next time.


FbL points out that this article got picked up at Islam Online under the title "Unseen American Victims of Iraq." Great.

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August 28, 2007


This article needs no introduction. Just go read it.
My Cousin Frankie

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August 26, 2007


A man affectionately called "Grandpa Rambo" is deploying to Iraq. He's been trying to get there for two years. His wife's reaction is so cute; it reminds me of that old couple on the airplane:

Hornes wife Sydney West, also a public defender, said he gave her no advance notice of his decision to re-enlist, and she wasnt surprised that he opted for a combat job over anything else, including putting his legal background to use.

I wouldnt think hed want to go over there to write wills, she told the newspaper. If he gets back alive, Im going to kill him.

But here's how this feel-good article ended:

As for those who might call him irresponsible for heading off to combat with two children at home, Horne said: I cant think of a better example to set for them.

Good for Grandpa Rambo for answering that question the only way you can. Irresponsible? About half of people in Iraq and Afghanistan right now have children. Are we really suggesting that everyone in the armed forces is irresponsible for putting their country before their children? We wouldn't have an Army if that were the case.

Can we please stop hiding anti-military sentiment behind nonsense phrases like "As for those who might call him" (blank)? You call him that, weinery reporter, or give a full quote where he addresses the topic. Stop hiding your bias behind phrases like "some people think."

(Thanks to Conservative Grapevine for the link.)

Posted by Sarah at 09:31 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 20, 2007


CaliValleyGirl found a great article on Iraq translated from German. It's quite long, but worth the read. And, as she says, it's even-handed. It starts with

Ramadi is an irritating contradiction of almost everything the world thinks it knows about Iraq -- it is proof that the US military is more successful than the world wants to believe. Ramadi demonstrates that large parts of Iraq -- not just Anbar Province, but also many other rural areas along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers -- are essentially pacified today. This is news the world doesn't hear: Ramadi, long a hotbed of unrest, a city that once formed the southwestern tip of the notorious "Sunni Triangle," is now telling a different story, a story of Americans who came here as liberators, became hated occupiers and are now the protectors of Iraqi reconstruction.

and gets both better and worse from there. Please go read it.

Posted by Sarah at 07:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


I know everyone's BS detector is running on high after Scott Beauchamp, so maybe I'm treading heavily. But I'm puzzled by a Newsweek article on MSNBC today. The reporter's cousin just came home from Iraq, so a homecoming article was in order. It seemed like an ordinary tale of happiness and relief until she delineated her family's fears during the previous year. And then this odd paragraph appeared:

Id read reports of some female soldiers allegedly being raped by Iraqi insurgentssome 50 to 75 rapes, according to The New York Times. Alexia assured us that several male soldiers had volunteered to walk her home after she stood post at night. But that reassurance still couldnt erase the images of assaults, bombs and corpses.

In the quiet words of the Virgin Mary...come again?

A google search of "raped by insurgent" brought nothing but tales from Sierra Leone. A search of "raped by Iraqi" brought horrible tales from Iraqi women, and a hit on Jessica Lynch. But aside from her, do you know of any story of a captured female coalition soldier who was raped? Who are these 50-75 women and how are they getting raped in Iraq? Getting raped by an insurgent means getting caught and captured, and I don't remember hearing about this. Please point me in the direction of the stories if I have missed them, but for now I remain completely puzzled.

My husband also pointed out that an escort on the way home from the guard tower wouldn't exactly prevent insurgent rape. Soldier-on-soldier crime, perhaps, but surely these insurgents are not scaling the walls and raping American females on duty. Something is just not right here.

I also find it hard to believe there are heat-of-the-battle rapes going on in Iraq, where females are getting raped while their male counterparts are too busy firing at the bad guys. We certainly would've heard of this, right? It's the anti-war left's dream story.

If you can find this Times article or any leads on such rape stories, please let me know. Until then, I'm having a hard time believing insurgents are raping our female soldiers and getting away with it.

Posted by Sarah at 12:27 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

July 25, 2007


You know, I talk a good talk about our family's role in the GWOT, but I know we haven't even begun to sacrifice. My husband's been gone once, over two years ago. I had no one to worry about but myself, and I lived on the most supportive post in the military. My husband is almost certainly guaranteed to get a piece of the action in his new unit, but for a long time now I really have been a chairborne war cheerleader.

I'm a few days late in noticing this news, but Butterfly Wife's husband has volunteered to stay for another rotation in Iraq. Without coming home in between. I don't even know how his sanity can handle that, but I guess his pseudonym isn't Jack Bauer for nothin'.

Many days I feel like the country has gone completely bonkers, but then I remember that there really are people of such high caliber around me. What can we even say to this butterfly family except thank you...and you rule.

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July 24, 2007


This from Jules Crittenden struck me:

I realized with all this examination of post-traumatic stress and how much of it there is, and whether its normal or not, I didnt describe what a mild, walking combat reaction case is like.

Its like this. Being totally wired for months upon years. Like crank, so that you dont fall asleep as much as pass out and you dont wake up as much as become alert. Thinking about different aspects of combat the way some people think about sex, compulsively, repeatedly in the course of the day, while going about your business, holding down a job, acting relatively normal but still freaking people out when you talk about it. Small flashbacks-lite, triggered by various events. In my case, accelerating up the highway, like going on an armored assault, with all the emotions, thoughts and memories, on my way to the various places that took me. More adrenaline then, and other adrenaline bursts at odd times. Thinking about the dead, at least once a day, in a number of different ways, when alone. Seeing their faces, and studying a face to catch the moment when life exited it. Choking up or sometimes sobbing at both expected and unexpected times, and learning to control that. Wishing you were back there. Preferring the company of people who know what that is like. Recognizing in a glance or a word that you both know the same secret, without having to say much about it.

I never had nightmares like some friends did, and in fact have never once dreamt of it. It didnt haunt me, not even the dead, not even when I felt the need to ask some of them their forgiveness. I was fortunate that way, in part maybe because I wrote about it, had plenty of opportunities to talk about it, because that is part of what I do. Over the third and fourth year, most of it significantly subsided, though parts can and do periodically come up. I never felt traumatized as much as I felt I had a great deal to think about, not least the startling discovery that I had enjoyed myself, and also that I had been fundamentally rewired, and had somewhat different perspectives and focus in various matters. As one friend put it, there was life before, and life after. Not good or bad, just different.

And there you have it.

This sounds familiar to me. Especially the "thinking about combat" thing. Sometimes when my husband's quiet, I'll ask what he's thinking about. Usually it will be trivial, but on a couple of occasions he's launched into a thought about how if they'd only turned his tank right instead of going straight on that day back in April, he'd've been more useful to the battle. Three years after the event, he still replays it in his mind and thinks of ways he could've done more.

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July 13, 2007


The brother visit is going swimmingly. He just graduated college and is looking for a Big Boy Job, so he's content to sit around all day with me watching South Park and eating trail mix. Easy entertainment.

My husband was supposed to jump this morning, so the brother and I were going to head out to the St. Mere Eglise Drop Zone to watch. (Do they really not see how disturbing that name is? Talk about inauspicious. Husband and I were trying to come up with other examples: Omaha Beach Water Park, etc.) Anyway, I thought watching the jump would be the coolest thing you can do in this town, but naturally the Army didn't cooperate with my tourist plans. The husband got up at 3:30 for a 9:00 jump -- let's hear it for Hurry Up And Wait -- and then called shortly after 8:00 to say they'd run out of parachutes so he wasn't jumping today. So there goes my good idea.

Looks like more South Park for us.

Posted by Sarah at 08:36 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 09, 2007


Last night's episode of Army Wives was much better, in my opinion. It really reminded me of military life and hit on several issues that Army families have to deal with, from the wife fixing a clog in the sink to the tug in a soldier's heart between his job and his family. I wrote about my experiences with a soldier's heart over at SpouseBUZZ.

Posted by Sarah at 01:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 06, 2007


Last night I finished reading Under the Sabers: The Unwritten Code of Army Wives. It was a fascinating book and a very compelling story. I now understand where a lot of the material for the TV show Army Wives is coming from, and I got a lot out of the book. But I can't help but feel that the title is a misnomer. Even the new title -- Army Wives: The Unwritten Code of Military Marriage -- doesn't quite fix the problem.

The book traces the lives of different Army couples from right before 9/11 to the start of OIF. It centers heavily on the five murders at Fort Bragg in the summer of 2002. In this sense, it's more like Fayetteville's In Cold Blood than just a book about Army wives. It's the story of gruesome murder, with information and insight on the military intertwined.

I came away from the book with the same feeling as when I read While They're At War. There may be some valuable insight into the military in the book, but the stories themselves are quite atypical. The average Army wife isn't an active anti-war protestor, nor does she get stabbed and burned alive by her husband. The average Army wife just takes care of her kids and her household while her husband is away. Most of what she overcomes is molehills, but it's a minefield of molehills spread out over years. But I guess that doesn't sell books. These fantastical stories are a vehicle to give people a peek at military life, but it seems a bit dangerous to me to name a book about murder, adultery, and horror as the "code of military marriage."

I liked the book, don't get me wrong. But just like Truman Capote's tome shouldn't be used as a guidebook to visiting Kansas, neither should this book be all you know about military life.

Posted by Sarah at 09:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 25, 2007


So far I have been a fan of the Army Wives TV show. I think they do a decent job of portraying what our lives are like. But last night's episode didn't sit well with me at all.

In a nutshell, there was a situation where a sergeant took the lieutenant colonel's husband hostage because he was mad about events that happened in Afghanistan. It wasn't the hostage situation that I thought was bad; it was the events in Afghanistan.

According to this story, a "patrol" (no idea how many soldiers) was ambushed and was heavily outnumbered. This guy, the hostage taker, was wounded by shrapnel, so they left him in the Afghan village to be taken care of by the locals and went back to the FOB for reenforcements. But "because of the heat", they couldn't get back to rescue him for days, so the Afghan family took care of him. Once he was rescued, he vowed to come back and help the family. So this sergeant, his lieutenant colonel, and three other soldiers went back to the village to take medical supplies and food, only to find that 12 "heavily-armed" insurgents were burning down the house and raping the 10-year-old daughter in the middle of the street. Because they were outnumbered 12 to 5, and because "the Rules of Engagement are clear: do not interfere with civilian affairs", the lieutenant colonel told them to maintain their positions and stay hidden while they watched a child get raped and murdered.

OK, where to begin. I know I am not a soldier, and I know neither I nor my husband can possibly know all of the strange circumstances that arise in battle. But I cannot imagine any situation of any kind where a unit would leave a wounded soldier behind in an Afghan household. Period. And not for days on end because of the heat! It also seems ridiculous that a lieutenant colonel would roll around Kandahar with a four-man team. My husband's LTC had an entire platoon of entourage at all times, at least 20 men. It seems a bit of a stretch to me that anyone besides Special Forces types are going anywhere in our war zones with only five people! I just don't think that's realistic. So they would've never been outnumbered if they'd taken a proper number of soldiers on this mission.

Finally, the Rules of Engagement thing is not exactly the way my husband describes it. He quoted me a common rule of thumb: a unit might be authorized to use deadly force in circumstances where there is loss of "life, limb, or eyesight." He thinks the rape of a 10 year old in broad daylight would be grounds for a fight, especially if this child belongs to a family who is a known supporter of the American military operation. Again we go back to them being outnumbered 12 to 5, which I don't see ever happening, but my husband did say that in times when you might be extremely outnumbered, there might be cause to not intervene. But this whole "do not interfere with civilian affairs" thing was junk to him because, as he quipped, all al Qaeda types are civilians, so not intervening in civilian matters would apply to everything!

Yeah, yeah, Sarah, all this is just details. But this is the stuff that matters, in my opinion. Most of the people who don't like Army Wives are saying they don't like it because officers don't hang out with enlisted, because you wouldn't get a citation for not mowing on your first day in housing, because a female officer wouldn't be dancing drunk in a jody bar. They think all that stuff gives us a bad impression to civilian viewers.

What about the civilian viewers who now think that American soldiers will sit back and watch a 10 year old get raped and murdered? That our Rules of Engagement won't let us step in and prevent insurgents from killing an innocent family and burning their home? That we are married to men who sit by and do nothing while vile insurgents ruin people's lives? That's a far more dangerous picture to paint for civilians than whether we have all-rank tea parties.

Posted by Sarah at 01:53 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

June 18, 2007


After the Milblogs Conference, CaliValleyGirl wrote:

Since my boyfriend/fianc has returned, I have distanced myself from the Milblogging community. Not really on purpose, but just because once my soldier returned I wanted to celebrate his being home, act like we were a normal couple, doing normal couple things
When he was deployed I knew everything that was going on, the names of operations, the areas of operations, how things were going in these areas. I would check the names of fallen soldiers and read about their lives. I read milblogs religiously. I sought out new connections, searching for degrees of separation. I lived and breathed the war on terror. And I was shocked, shocked I tell you, that other people didnt share my fervor in following all things combat related.

I often complain that war is too distant from the general public. Because of the deployments, soldiers clock-in and then clock-out of the war. They arent in war mode the whole time. And consequently their families arent in war mode. I complain about the general public lacking the passion to fight this war, but I realize that I am just as much part of that problem. As soon as my boyfriend came back, I clocked-out.

Over the weekend, I realized that if you arent a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem. I had subconsciously become one of those people who lives as if we arent at war. And part of me thought that in 2 years things might be over in Iraq and Afghanistan, and my fianc wont be deploying again. That this war doesnt really directly affect me anymore. Over the weekend I realized that I hope my fianc deploys again in 2 years. Because if he doesnt deploy, it means that we have given up.

I can completely understand her feelings here. And I applaud her for expressing them so honestly; when I tried to bring this up once on SpouseBUZZ, it didn't work out so well.

I still spend roughly the same time online as I did when my husband was deployed, but the hunger for frontline stories isn't as deep as it was when he was gone. Back then I needed to feel connected to Iraq in a different way than I do now. And while I am just as emotionally invested in the outcome of the war, I know that I too am half-clocked out. Or at least enjoying the idea that I have the luxury of being half-clocked out until next year.

But I am trying to reconnect with what I've let go since March 2005. So I offer some military reads today.

Read this day in the life of Greyhawk.
Read this old Matt Sanchez story if you missed it.
And read this encounter with a suicide bomber from Tadpole.

Posted by Sarah at 03:23 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 16, 2007



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June 14, 2007


Happy Birthday, Army!

Last night we watched the movie The Great Raid. As a wife, I find watching movies like that extremely sobering, for there's no way to feel sorry about 15 month OIF deployments once you've imagined your husband a Bataan Death March POW. There's nothin' like a healthy dose of Perspective.

Posted by Sarah at 08:13 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 11, 2007


The other day ArmyWifeToddlerMom let down her hair and griped about the media. She mentioned that Ben Affleck was on the TV and the news station labeled him "political activist", to which I commented

What I find delicious is when actors like Ben Affleck -- people who, at worst, dropped out of high school or, at best, attended a few college classes -- act like they know so much more than the stupid, downtrodden, brainwashed soldiers -- people who, at worst, dropped out of high school but got a GED or, more often than not, attended a few college classes. Why exactly is Ben Affleck's opinion on foreign affairs considered more valuable than an Army specialist's? They have nearly the same schooling, but the specialist has actually done more in the real world...

This morning I found a post from one such specialist, working in the real world. He's seen more in his Fifteen Months and Counting than Ben Affleck has in his whole life.

Posted by Sarah at 08:28 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 06, 2007



At the edge of the cliffs, the wind is a smack, and D-day becomes wildly clear:
climbing that cutting edge into the bullets.
-- John Vinocur


photos taken by Sarah
Normandy, France 1999

Posted by Sarah at 01:04 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 05, 2007


Our old neighbor was an Army dentist, and I asked him once if there was any difference in having soldiers for patients. He said he loved having soldier patients, because they never argue or complain. He said most of the time they fall asleep in the chair and he can do all his dental work without issue.

I love that soldiers can sleep anywhere, eat anything, and be happy doing whatever it takes. My husband can sit in the hottest, loudest, most cramped airplane seat and be fine, because it's still more comfortable than a tank.

I love soldiers more than anything, which is why I got such a kick out of Lemon Stand's post about soldiers eating in an Air Force chow hall.

I can totally imagine their faces. I love it.

Posted by Sarah at 01:26 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 04, 2007


I just found a great post from a Marine's girlfriend over at Loquita's Blog. At this point, he is talking about getting out because he doesn't want to put her through a deployment. This bothers her.

I don't want LT to make a decision about staying in the Marine Corps based on not wanting to put me through the lack of work-life balance inherent in the military lifestyle - intense training schedules, never-ending and always inconvenient or last-minute (or both) changes to those schedules, and of course deployments.
Maybe I've just become too invested in my mil-spouse persona, and I don't want to give up the feeling of having a shared bond with others... And as ashamed as I am to admit it, I'd go so far as to say I don't want to give up on this new kind of clique that I'm eligible to be a member of.

And who would LT be if he wasn't a Marine? How will my view of him change, and what will our life be like post-USMC? I don't even know for sure what career or profession he would end up in. He talks about becoming a firefighter or a police officer. But how would he or I know if those jobs are any more conducive to maintaining a good work-life balance? At this point, I've adjusted to the military thing, I've found support through reading blogs online, and I'm not anxious to go through any more big changes...

I can completely relate to this feeling. When my husband applied for Civil Affairs the first time and didn't get in, he decided he would get out of the Army. And I cried. Oh how I cried. And tried to pretend I wasn't crying, because it's his job and his choice to make, and I didn't want him to stay in just so his wife would stop crying.

Often we hear about wives who urge their husbands to get out of the military. But it's something entirely different to urge your husband to stay in. You can emotionally blackmail someone to stop doing what he loves, but how do you make him keep doing something you want him to do...without the blackmail?

I was so scared, lying there in the dark that night, talking about getting out. What would we do? Where would we go? All we've ever known together has been the Army, and I was terrified about getting out. Terrified about finding another job, devastated about letting go of retiring at 42, and scared to death that he'd get another job only to find he hated the civilian world even more than he hated Army Finance.

But how could I make him stay? I wasn't the one doing an unsatisfying job. I wasn't the one who felt betrayed by the Army because I'd offered to make myself more useful only to have them brush me off. I wasn't the one who ultimately had to choose.

Luckily, he wasn't at the point where he could get out quickly. Luckily he still owed the Army another three years after that fateful night, and he managed to find his way into Civil Affairs a year later. And he's happy again.

But could I have really let him get out? I don't really like to think about that. If the situation came up again, we'd discuss again.

And I'd cry. Oh how I'd cry.

Posted by Sarah at 12:57 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 29, 2007


Peter Collier at OpinionJournal writes

The New York Times, which featured Abu Ghraib on its front page for 32 consecutive days, put the story of Dunham's Medal of Honor on the third page of section B.

He goes on to share with us some of the stories of past Medal of Honor recipients. Even if you've never followed a single link I've ever posted here, I want you to go read this article.

A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man, indeed.

Posted by Sarah at 01:21 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 28, 2007


This evening we went to a nice local Memorial Day service. Actually, we almost didn't make it. I thought I knew which park it was at, but I was mistaken. We drove around for a long time trying to figure out where it was in town. I nearly gave up, but the last place we looked was correct. My husband teased me that I was ready to cut and run.

The ceremony was simple but nice. A local 8th grader read a lovely essay he wrote for the VFW's Patriot's Pen essay contest. And there's something completely humbling about being in the presence of POWs. I got choked up every time I looked at their group.

This year I don't quite have anything poetic to say about Memorial Day. But that doesn't mean that certain families haven't been on my mind all day long. This year I'll leave the poetry to PFC Becker:

We are soldiers.
We are soldiers in the United States Army.
We are trained to be all we can be.

We fight for the freedom of many citizens of the United States.
We are all ready to meet our fates.

We all volunteer to defend the red, white and blue.
Not only the flag, but for the citizens of our great country too.

Since our country's birth for all these years,
we have been trained to be the best on Earth.

Many times we have went to war.
We will be involved in many more.

Generation by generation soldiers continue to enlist.
Some of us will got to war and definitely be missed.

Some soldiers will return and some won't.
Those who do not, we won't forget and we hope you don't.

Many of us are going to Iraq.
Some of us won't be coming back.

We have loved ones we are leaving behind.
They will always be in our prayers, hearts and mind.

If we don't make it home safely at the end of the war,
just remember we died defending the beliefs of those of many more.

---PFC Gunnar Becker, November 2003

Posted by Sarah at 06:34 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


I think MSN did a pretty good job on this comprehensive article on military pay and benefits.

Posted by Sarah at 07:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 20, 2007


I almost didn't want to go see Spiderman 3 because of the crappy behavior of the lead actors. Nothing says "hype our movie" like the actors talking about how much they resented having to make a third one. God forbid you have to be in a movie that people actually want to go see. How tragic. Sheesh, I was almost too annoyed to go. The older I get, the less I can stomach celebrities.

But we were treated to a real class act when Billy Blanks showed up at SpouseBUZZ Live. He acted like the military spouse audience was the celebrity, which was downright touching. He was super-nice, and I hope he knows how much we appreciated his visit.

Posted by Sarah at 11:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 17, 2007


Yesterday I read about how Prince Harry will not be deploying to Iraq, and I really felt bad for the guy. He's trained and prepared with his unit, and now he has to watch his unit leave without him. Any true soldier would find that heartbreaking.

But today I heard that other British families are ticked off about the revelation, saying that Harry is no more indespensible than their sons are.

I too have come to this conclusion, that my husband's life is no more valuable than anyone else's in the military. If I believe this war needs to be fought, I cannot in good faith keep my husband from the battlefield. If he doesn't go, someone else will be sent in his place; just because that person doesn't share my bed doesn't mean he doesn't share a bed with someone else whose heart breaks to see him go.

That said, I think the Prince Harry situation is an entirely different issue altogether. To my understanding, no one is saying that Prince Harry's life is more valuable than any other soldier's. What they are saying is that Prince Harry puts his unit in danger. Apparently they've determined there's a $678,000 bounty on Harry's head. He's so high profile that he endangers the soldiers around him, a fact which is not lost on jokesters who've bought the I'm Harry t-shirt. If my husband could somehow put his soldiers' lives in jeopardy, then and only then would I say he shouldn't deploy.

Harry appears ready to sacrifice for his country. But right now the biggest sacrifice he can make is to stand aside and let his unit deploy without him. The Brits should try to understand this.


Tammi has thoughts on Harry too.

Posted by Sarah at 04:09 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 10, 2007


At the Milblogs Conference, a gentleman from Free Republic told the story of standing outside the White House Correspondents' Dinner with a posterboard showing Cindy Sheehan and SFC Paul Smith. Everyone could place Sheehan, but only one journalist knew who in the heck Paul Smith was.

We have different priorities in the milblog community. We know who Paul Smith is. We know who Jason Dunham is. And we all know who Robert Stokley is.

Several bloggers have written about meeting Mr. Stokley this weekend, and it seems most of the exchanges went like this:

AWTM: "I am so sorry for the loss of your Son."

And I stood in front of Mr. Stokley with tears in my eyes. And much to my amazement, he grabs my hand.

Robert Stokely: "I need to thank all of you bloggers for giving me my life back, I have to be strong for my family, I need to be the rock, and you folks have given me a place where I can talk about Mike, and I do not have to be that rock...."

And I stood there in tears in front of Mr. Stokely absolutely at a loss, and feeling ashamed of them.

AWTM: "I need to thank you, because Mike gave all, and your family has really sacrificed more than most of us will ever feel."

Robert Stokely, then wrapped his arms around me and gave me a huge hug.

Milbloggers all know who Robert and Mike Stokley are; I wish everyone knew.

I spoke on my panel this weekend about an article I saw in our local paper. It turns out that one soldier who's been killed in Iraq was a high school friend of a local reporter. So this soldier was front page news, complete with high school photos and a glowing report of his life. I told the audience that every soldier -- fallen or still with us -- deserves the same pedestal. I don't want the war to only hit home when a journalist loses a friend; they all are front page news. Everyone should names like Smith, Dunham and Stokley.

Please take a few minutes to listen to what Mr. Stokley had to say at the Milblogs Conference. It will take your breath away. And if you don't know much about Paul Smith or Jason Dunham, make sure you read about them too. If there's anything the milblog community can do and do well, it's educating the general public about Someone You Should Know. We want names like Smith, Dunham, and Stokley to replace names like Hilton, Spears, and Lohan. Pass the word.

Posted by Sarah at 08:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 04, 2007


I'm leaving for Washington DC in a couple of hours. I have no idea what my blogging capabilities will be this weekend because, despite the fact that the whole weekend will be dedicated to blogging, I remain possibly the only milblogger who doesn't own a laptop. But I'm sure I will return with stories and photos.

CaliValleyGirl said she's been having a hard time explaining to non-internet-obsessed people what the Milblogs Conference exactly is. She said she told them to imagine a Beanie Babies collectors convention, a gathering of folks with an esoteric hobby. I say it feels like a high school reunion of people you didn't go to high school with. Either way, I expect it to be awesome.

If you're so inclined, you can find info on the webcast and liveblogging here.

Posted by Sarah at 08:03 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 12, 2007


I started watching War in Europe tonight, and I realized I had never before heard Roosevelt's Washington's Birthday Speech as the US entered WWII. Boy, how I wish I could hear this speech today. The whole thing is awesome, but this was the part I heard on the movie:

We know now that if we lose this war it will be generations or even centuries before our conception of democracy can live again. And we can lose this war only if use slow up our effort or if we waste our ammunition sniping at each other.

Here are three high purposes for every American:

1. We shall not stop work for a single day. If any dispute arises we shall keep on working while the dispute is solved by mediation, or conciliation or arbitration -- until the war is won.

2. We shall not demand special gains or special privileges or special advantages for any one group or occupation.

3. We shall give up conveniences and modify the routine of our lives if our country asks us to do so. We will do it cheerfully, remembering that the common enemy seeks to destroy every home and every freedom in every part of our land.

This generation of Americans has come to realize, with a present and personal realization, that there is something larger and more important than the life of any individual or of any individual group -- something for which a man will sacrifice, and gladly sacrifice, not only his pleasures, not only his goods, not only his associations with those he loves, but his life itself. In time of crisis when the future is in the balance, we come to understand, with full recognition and devotion, what this nation is and what we owe to it.

And Roosevelt discussed the flypaper strategy long before Andrew Sullivan:

Those Americans who believed that we could live under the illusion of isolationism wanted the American eagle to imitate the tactics of the ostrich. Now, many of those same people, afraid that we may be sticking our necks out, want our national bird to be turned into a turtle. But we prefer to retain the eagle as it is -- flying high and striking hard.

I know I speak for the mass of the American people when I say that we reject the turtle policy and will continue increasingly the policy of carrying the war to the enemy in distant lands and distant waters -- as far away as possible from our own home grounds.

But imagine anyone accepting this from today's president:

Your Government has unmistakable confidence in your ability to hear the worst, without flinching or losing heart. You must, in turn, have complete confidence that your Government is keeping nothing from you except information that will help the enemy in his attempt to destroy us. In a democracy there is always a solemn pact of truth between government and the people, but there must also always be a full use of discretion, and that word "discretion" applies to the critics of government as well.

This is war. The American people want to know, and will be told, the general trend of how the war is going. But they do not wish to help the enemy any more than our fighting forces do, and they will pay little attention to the rumor-mongers and the poison peddlers in our midst.

Posted by Sarah at 04:09 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Deployments have been extended to 15 months. I understand this. I know why it has to be done and why it makes sense. I consider us lucky that we even have deployment "ends", unlike in WWII when they fought until they were dead or the war ended, whichever came first. I know all of these things logically, and I accept them as a consequence of war. But. I know what my husband was like after 13 months of non-stop work. I heard his voice around the ninth month, right before R&R, when he sounded robotic and detached. I felt his monotony and f*ck-it attitude in every conversation we had. That's a long time to be at war. I feel sorry for these soldiers who will have to ball up and tough it out.

Posted by Sarah at 01:39 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

April 07, 2007


See, here's an example of what I wrote about yesterday. Yes, there are some drawbacks to the current body armor. But it takes time to pinpoint the problems and come up with solutions, to test out the solutions, and to implement them. For pete's sake, we didn't know what the shortcomings of the original IBA would be until they were actually used in theater! But now they've improved upon it, namely to make it lighter, change weight distribution, and even supply a quick release to instantly remove the armor in case of drowning or fire. That's brilliant and applicable, but the only way we knew we needed it was to let the original design run for a while. Nothing is perfect the first time around, but that Time article acted like the Army has given up on trying to improve the situation. Army's broken, guess that's it. That's absurd: they're constantly working to make life better for our warriors. Remember...Civil War soldiers had $175 worth of gear, OIF's have $17,000. But people act like our government is shortchanging our troops or throwing them to the wolves. They're working on it, dangit. It took seven years to design and build the LM, right?, a lunar module that had never been seen before. Well, IBA is a new concept too, and it will take time and effort to get it right.

Grr, I get so worked up over this stuff. Deep breaths.

Posted by Sarah at 10:22 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 06, 2007


"America's Broken Down Army" is a completely disheartening article. I could fisk just about every paragraph in the thing, but the fact that it was even written makes me want to cry. I will say a couple of things.

"For us, it's just another series of never-ending deployments, and for many, including me, there is only one answer to thatshow me the door out," wrote an officer in a private e-mail to Congressman Steve Rothman of New Jersey.

If Time had asked my husband for his opinion, they'd've gotten the exact opposite answer. He's looking for the door in, trying to figure out how he can be more useful to the Army.

"Their wives are saying, I know you're proud of what you're doing, but we've got to get out of here," says Barry McCaffrey, a retired four-star general.

If McCaffrey had asked me, he would've gotten the exact opposite answer again. I am so proud of what my husband is doing, and I am doing everything I can to help him get closer to the fight.

After training to fire the artillery's big guns at foes 15 miles away, his unit is pulling infantry duty. "I love the Army," the 12-year veteran, a native of Columbus, Ohio, says, "but I hate this war."

No one in the Army is doing what they trained to do in AIT or OBC, save 11Bs and 19Ws. And everyone hates this war. My husband hates this war. But he still thinks we have to fight it.

Three weeks before his enlistment was up last year, the Army ordered him to Iraq for a second tour. He had been planning to live with his wife in Chicago and attend film school by now. Instead, Santopoalo stalks Sunni insurgents through the palm groves. "You start to think about what life could besitting on a beach drinking a Corona," he says. "That's when it affects you."

My husband and I had two very different reactions to this quote. My husband said that this is the most normal feeling in the world. All soldiers wish they were relaxing and drinking beer, all the time. He's leaving for the field this weekend, and he says he knows all week he will wish he were at home in his recliner. That's what soldiers do: dream of relaxing. My reaction is the same reaction I have whenever I think of my own husband deploying: our life is not worth more than anyone else's. If my husband doesn't deploy, someone else will. Someone has to do the job, and we have never once thought that we've already done our time and now it's time for someone else to do it. Until this war is over, it is ours to fight.

I could go on and on about this article, about how they mischaracterize the Blue to Green program as the Army "cannibalizing" the Air Force, or how they beat that eternal dead horse that is uparmored HMMWVs. Their own figures make the argument that the Army is doing everything a lumbering bureaucracy can do to make this better:

A World War II G.I. wore gear worth $175, in today's dollars. By Vietnam, it cost about $1,500. Today it's about $17,000. [...] The Army said at the start of the war it would need 235 armored humvees; the number is 18,000 todayand each time the Army improves the armor on the truck, the insurgents improve their IEDs. The Army has packed on all the armor a humvee's transmission and axles can carry, so the military is rushing to buy 7,774 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles for an estimated $8.4 billionmore than $1 million each. Their V-shaped undercarriage is designed to deflect blasts from the soldiers on board.

Yes, the Army thought OIF, this one stage of the Global War on Terrorism (oops, can't say that), wouldn't last so long. So freaking sue them. Whiny microwave, drive-thru culture...you can't have everything you want as fast as you want it. This is a war. War sucks. People have to fight in it and they have to die in it. Forgive my lack of empathy, but I just finished reading a book on Sherman's march in the Civil War, and I have a hard time shedding tears that we've got to let more folks with GEDs in the Army to meet recruiting goals. Union men in the Civil War fought for years on end with no employer benefits waiting for them back home, fought to end the slavery of other men; they were in no danger of becoming slaves themselves. Today we fight an enemy who wishes all of us to submit, to become slaves to shariah. Forgive me if I don't care if you have a marijuana bust on your record or a low ASVAB, so long as you want to help us fight this long and awful war.

Is the Army broken? Maybe it wouldn't seem that way if we didn't constantly harp on it. Men in WWII parachuted all over kingdom come and were lucky to have a weapon and a cricket when they landed. Patton didn't have enough gas to advance his Third Army. But Americans didn't sit around and harp about how broken-down we were. They didn't gripe about how soldiers on the beaches of Normandy didn't have kevlar and uparmored landing crafts. They fought with the Army they had and didn't write four-page articles on how doomed they were.

Anyone with an ounce of perspective knows that war sucks and nothing is ever perfect. There's nothing wrong with striving to do better, but this constant naysaying and tearing down of our military is a bunch of baloney. I'm tired of hearing how crappy our Army is and how awful life is for everyone involved. We don't even know the meaning of the word crappy.

Posted by Sarah at 12:56 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

March 15, 2007


Registration is underway for the Milblogs Conference! If you are planning to attend, please make sure you go register!

Posted by Sarah at 12:04 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 10, 2007


If you're already excited about the release of the movie 300, or if you don't know what the heck it is, you should read Victor Davis Hanson's review of the movie. Me, I'm excited. We haven't seen a movie in the theater since Superman returned, but we might have to make an exception for this one.

Posted by Sarah at 10:17 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 08, 2007


Two good links I found on JackArmy:

First, some dorks tried to call recruiters and trick them into being so desperate as to let gays or druggies into the Army. Didn't work.

Second, a medic wrote about his reasons for joining the Army:

I digress a little, but people say only the bottom of the barrel go to the military but I definitely don't think that's true. A lot of my friends from college have joined because college life just wasn't for them and they're all smart kids (none of us scored lower than 99 on the ASVAB). I went to college for awhile myself, but both ran out of money (College is expensive!) and decided that it was far too dumbed down and ... hands-off to be enjoyable. I wasn't satisfied with half-sleeping in a classroom while the professor rambled on about stuff I didn't care at all about just so in 4 years I could take my $100,000 debt and get a reasonable job (which a college degree doesn't even guarantee these days). Some of us just want to do something that matters. Being a college student hardly accomplished anything -- I'd rather be out there fighting for something that shows results. Saving people from gunshot wounds, giving people gunshot wounds or leading others to do the same.

Posted by Sarah at 10:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 07, 2007


I've really become a big Neal Boortz fan, and his remarks about how the problems at Walter Reed will be everyone's problems if we have government health care hit home with me. We in the military have this government health care, and we truly understand the meaning of the phrase "you get what you pay for." I have never had any truly bad experiences with our health care system, but even the day-to-day dealings are what we'd all face under a nationalized plan. It takes at least six weeks to get a doctor's appointment, for anything whatsoever. And when it takes that long, it doesn't pay to be picky about which doctor you see, so I've never seen the same doctor more than once...except for the one in Germany whom everyone hated so her schedule was always open. It also routinely takes over an hour of waiting in line to get prescriptions filled. And records are constantly getting lost. It took me two months to request records from my hometown doctor, and then once the records finally arrived, you guess it, six weeks to get an appointment.

Boortz is right: this is what we'd all do if we had government health care. Yeah, we in the military don't pay for it, but when you don't pay, you also have no grounds to complain about being treated poorly.


JackArmy has great thoughts on the matter.

Posted by Sarah at 08:39 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

February 27, 2007


I heard on the TV over the weekend that the cadre from West Point visited the writers of 24 and asked them to tone it down because they were having a hard time convincing cadets that torture is not the way. I'm struck by how sad our education system must be if the teachers at West Point can't educate their students and instead have to resort to trying to change Jack Bauer. And how hopeless the students must be.

So I looked up more info on this story and got completely sucked into this New Yorker article: WHATEVER IT TAKES The politics of the man behind 24.

Posted by Sarah at 07:50 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

February 12, 2007


When I took a US history class in college, I remember reading tons of firsthand sources, letters and the like from the different time periods. We had a separate textbook of just these firsthand sources. So I find it odd that the new president of Harvard, a war historian, seems to be arguing that we should dissuade people from relying on firsthand sources in order to understand the war in Iraq. Why would a war historian not want people to pay attention to blogs and emails and YouTube videos from soldiers and Marines who are currently fighting this war? Surely this war historian doesn't think that letters from the Civil War are just propaganda and "war porn" that need to be downplayed, so it's ridiculous to ignore modern firsthand sources of war. Apparently she's just against the idea because war historians like herself haven't had time to cherrypick these sources and weed out the ones that make Americans feel that fighting the War on Terrorism is a good thing. Nothing like a war historian with an agenda to brighten my day.


Read this analysis by Sean Lawson.

Posted by Sarah at 02:50 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 09, 2007


Found an old post from an Air Force wife where she encountered Extreme Snottiness from other wives:

As I was paying for my groceries I heard "you would think the commander's wife would put a little more thought into her appearance before leaving the house."

I looked around and realized they were talking about me.

Thank heavens my husband will never be a traditional commander because of his switch to CA. I haven't worn make-up in two years, except for that one day at SpouseBUZZ Live. And I wear so many track suits I chould be in a Wes Anderson movie. Today I have on courderoy pants covered in drips of baby blue paint. They used to belong to my dad 15 years ago. I think the paint came from his boat or something. A beauty queen, I am not.

Posted by Sarah at 01:38 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Just a quick post about the MilBlog conference.


I will be attending with the illustrious CaliValleyGirl, and I'll be speaking on the "All in the Family" panel at the event, in the company of Some Soldier's Mom and ArmyWifeToddlerMom. I have no idea what substance I'll bring to the panel, seeing as my blog has devolved into into the fated make-up and houseplants, or in my case, Charlie and having a baby. I'm finding it hard lately to get worked up enough over Pelosi's jet or Arkin's diarrhea of the mouth to bore you with thoughts you can certainly read better elsewhere. But I'll do my best to appear legit in Washington.

So if you're in the area, or anywhere near the eastern half of the country, come on out and meet us! More info on the Milblog Conference webpage.

Posted by Sarah at 08:45 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 29, 2007


I just found this Army wife's blog post and it made my fingers itch to write:

I was told the other day that Hubble's ultimate mission is to come home to me (actually the choice of words was "come home to his mother" but we're not going there today). I had to bite my tongue. That is not the ultimate mission. It is to succeed, to better, to save, to secure. I know he can do all that. After all, I married him.

He did not enter the service to fulfill the mission of coming home to me. We both well know that there is a chance he may make the ultimate sacrifice. That is something we've come to terms with. There IS a war and there ARE people depending on him.

My husband is freaking out that when it comes time to get his Civil Affairs assignment, he'll get South America or something. We have no idea if this is even something to worry about, but I've seen the Army do dumber things. (I met a soldier on our post in Germany who was an Algerian-born fluent Arabic speaker...and he was on Rear D while the rest of the post was deployed to Iraq. The Army is anything but logical sometimes, but I digress.) My husband wants desperately to be put to good use to support the Global War on Terrorism because, like kd's husband, his mission is "to succeed, to better, to save, to secure."

The meaning of life is not Avoid Death. The meaning of life is to use your life for meaning.

Not everyone in the United States sees meaning in what we're doing in Iraq. I attribute this to many things. AWTM remarked that "people are much too busy watching American Idol/Dancing with the Stars and Deal or No Deal to bother researching world Events." I also fault the Bush administration for not helping Americans see what's really going on. But some people, like my husband, want to do what they think is right, no matter how many people the polls say are backing them.

As den Beste put it,

Honor comes from inside. An honorable man is true to himself and his own ideals, and he lives and acts according to those ideals no matter what anyone else says. It doesn't matter if that makes him respected or despised, for honor is not based on peer opinion.

And an honorable man will, if necessary, die for honor, die for what's right. There are issues worth dying for, and issues worth killing for. These things are not done lightly, but when they must be done an honorable man does not shy from his duty, even if he has to face it alone. It is more important what you stand for than who you stand with.

Honor is not and cannot be "multilateral". When you stand up for what's right, you may stand with many others, but each of those others stands there because of his honor. Each makes that decision for himself, and every one decides unilaterally.

If you compromise your honor in the name of "unity", or of "harmony" (or "alliance", or "multilateralism"), then you have lost your honor and have sold it cheaply. But if you are willing to do that, you never really had any honor to begin with.

I admire kd's husband's honor and sense of duty despite the naysayers around him. And I admire my husband for taking a job that will take him closer to the fight.

And I pray they don't give him South America. We'd have another ukulele incident for certain.

Posted by Sarah at 11:46 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 22, 2007


Matt Sanchez has written a great article about the anti-military attitude he's encountered at Columbia. My favorite part:

For the academics, joining the Corps over attending an Ivy League school was an obvious sign of desperation.

Were we desperate? Our platoon "heavy hat," Staff Sgt. Forde, never once mentioned he was named the best tanker in the Corps two years in a row. But my professors at Columbia always mention the books they and their colleagues have written and often assign those books, as graded papers, so we all have to mention them, too. Who is desperate?

(Found via SandGram)

Posted by Sarah at 08:39 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 20, 2007


If I could sum up how the Army has given my life more meaning than I ever thought possible when I agreed to marry that ol' cadet, this is what I'd say: Perspective.

Posted by Sarah at 09:15 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 11, 2007


This has been the hardest blog secret to keep ever. I was dying for her to post something about it so I could put up a big blog hooray. But apparently telling people in her Real Life was important for some reason, like they couldn't just read it on the internet like the rest of us (wink). CaliValleyGirl-friend is now CaliValleyFiance

Posted by Sarah at 02:56 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 10, 2007


Remember this summer when our travel voucher got all messed up and the Army paid us about $600 too much? That overpayment finally got found and corrected in November. But they did it again this time! And WAY more than $600. My husband just sighed and said, "More interest to be made." OK, Army, we'll keep your two grand for you for a while.

Ah, Finance. It's good to be away from you.

Posted by Sarah at 11:01 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 09, 2007


I just watched Shootout: Return to Fallujah on the History Channel. This episode chronicled one soldier I know -- CPT Sean Sims -- and many soldiers I was amazed I had never heard of.

I've read so many stories of heroism online, but there's something completely different about reading it and hearing it from the soldiers themselves. I love the way soldiers can talk about grenades going off and appear more calm than I was last night when a Coke fell out of the fridge and sprayed in circles around the kitchen. There's something just so powerful about hearing that when a guy who was dragging his wounded buddy to safety got shot in the shoulder, he simply switched his grip to the other hand and continued to care for his friend. There's something about seeing these men talk about each other with awe, and sometimes a few quivers in the voice, that doesn't come across online.

There's something humbling about watching a single man sustain a firefight alone that makes me so damned proud to know that I even lived in the same town as him once.

God, I love these men.

Posted by Sarah at 09:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 08, 2007


I have been completely spoiled for the past four and a half years.

The entire time my husband has been in the Army, we've lived extremely close to his work. Most places have been walking distance; the last one was at least biking distance. So every day he's been in the Army, he's made three trips into work: PT, pre-lunch, and post-lunch. We've eaten breakfast and lunch together most of our married life.

Today he went to work for the first day before PT and won't be back until close of business.

I keep telling myself that normal husbands and daddies don't get to come home for lunch. My dad never did. I also keep telling myself that now that he won't break up my day, I will have more uninterrupted time for big sewing projects. But I'm still not taking this been-gone-for-11-hours thing well.

Neither is the dog.

Posted by Sarah at 04:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 26, 2006


Hahahahaha! All ACU wearers have to go right now and see this photo at Jack Army!

Posted by Sarah at 03:37 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 11, 2006


The waves of PCS nausea are starting to wash over me.

My husband still doesn't have orders, but we're about 95% sure things will work themselves out soon. His control branch has been changed on his ORB to Civil Affairs, but we're waiting for that to trickle into orders. However, it was enough to put a silly grin on my husband's face, since he's been waiting for this day for over a year. Still, we might be the only couple in the history of Armydom who PCSes without orders. It could happen.

We leave on Wednesday, move in our house on Thursday, get our household goods on Friday, and get cable and internet on Saturday. What does your week look like?

Posted by Sarah at 01:27 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 10, 2006


Political Critic posts a reaction to the Iraq Study Group. In it, he says

The ISG's second point focuses on the training of the Iraqi military, which should be the main focus. Unfortunately, the Iraqi military has not been trained properly for the 3+ years that we've been there and that is not addressed. Apparently, the ISG believes that all of a sudden the Iraqi military will get trained exponentially faster and before the American forces leave. The report is correct to focus on the training, but makes no mention of how to stop the corruption, infiltration, and safety issues that they face.

I think this is an easy complaint to make -- "the Iraqi military has not been trained properly" -- but proposals on how to be more efficient are hard to come by.

I've spent a lot of time around soldiers who've been to Iraq, and I've heard lots of stories about training Iraqi soldiers. That was one of the primary missions of my husband's brigade as far back as early 2004. Everywhere they went, Iraqis went with them. Everything they did, Iraqis were involved. I hate when politicians say that we'd be able to pull out of Iraq if we'd just concentrate on training Iraqis. We've been doing that since day one.

However, training Iraqis is not just a matter of teaching them to shoot and how to go on raids. Heck, I've heard that's nothing to sneeze at in and of itself: when you're trying to teach someone who thinks that bullets go wherever Allah wills them to go, it can apparently be a pain in the neck to get them to aim. And that's the larger point of training Iraqis: you're teaching culture as much as military training.

I heard a story about the Iraqi police, who proudly bragged that they had taken a suspect into their station and beaten him all night long. They were proud, telling the Americans because they thought that they had done something good. Look, we're keeping order! The Americans didn't know what to do except shake their head and try to explain why this was not a good thing.

In order to teach someone to stand up and fight for his own country, you have to teach him to love his country above everything else. How do you teach that? All the target practice in the world can't stop "corruption, infiltration, and safety issues." You can't teach Iraqis to be Americans, to all of a sudden erase decades (centuries?) of ingrained tribalism and mores and have them care about the same things we care about. It's like we're looking at this through the lens of our own history: settlers came to the US and learned to live in religious harmony and value freedom and democracy over everything, so why can't you? If we just teach them to use a rifle, then they'll rise up like colonial Americans did, right? But it's not that simple. We can't force them to want the same things early Americans wanted. That's the problem with this so-called Bush Doctrine, which was a noble idea because we Americans have been taught from birth that all men want to live free. But unfortunately we tried to free people who think sharia is the way to go. Just teaching them to raid a house and hunt for IEDs is not going to fix the underlying issues in their society.

I think this talk of training Iraqis has been grossly oversimplified in every discussion I've ever heard about it, except for the soldiers who've actually had to try to do it.

Posted by Sarah at 10:20 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

December 05, 2006


What happens when they pack you out for a PCS is that invariably you will start to have desires for belongings you haven't looked at in years. The minute your stuff goes in boxes, you'll find yourself saying something like, "Honey, remember that Korean woman I taught English to five years ago? No? Well, when we get home I'll show you a picture. Oh wait. Nevermind." All of a sudden you'll have indescribable urges to look up the Whiskey Rebellion in your old history textbook, a book you haven't touched in ten years. It never fails, every PCS.

I miss my stuff already.

Oooh, and we had female movers. Heavenly. Male movers want you out of their way so they can do their job as quickly as possible. Female movers ask you questions about how you want something packed, whether you actually meant to leave this item out to take with you, and so on. All my worries dissipated when women walked through the front door.

Posted by Sarah at 07:45 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 18, 2006


I just came across photos of PFC Gunnar Becker's headstone. It's beautiful, and so fitting. I love it, Debey. The tank is so cool. And I'd like to think that his friends are leaving him Mt. Dew and whiskey...maybe to wash down that bug he ate!

Posted by Sarah at 12:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 17, 2006


CaliValleyGirl sent me an email today, asking me if we know anything else about the craziness that is my husband's next assignment. She said,

Man, you know, it's strange...part of me almost misses the deployment...don't get me wrong, it sucked...however, I felt like I was part of something bigger. You know? The ups and downs, but I was in it together with all these other families. I felt more a part of the military...I miss that.

I think that life during deployment feels more precious than life out of it. I didn't think OIF II was that bad for me. I have no memory of how I passed the time though; my husband's been in the field two days now and I'm bored out of my mind. But when we're facing deployment, I think we try to find the silver lining as best we can. We relish the tight community that develops between those on the homefront and feel a part of something big and meaningful. And, on a more practical level, we come up with all these things we will accomplish when they're gone: next year I'll lose weight because I won't cook as well, I'll make those two quilts I've been talking about for years, I'll read all those books, I'll fly to L.A. to visit CaliValleyGirl, and so on. We convince ourselves that the year will go by fast because we'll be so busy. And then, when he gets home, we'll start a family. Everything will be perfect, because we've convinced ourselves that it's all working out according to plan.

But that's not what's happening now. My husband found out that his switch went through. He originally had made a scratch-my-back deal with his branch manager that she'd let him leave if he took this slot in the deploying unit that no one else wanted. We were all set to do that, when he got word that he's going directly to Civil Affairs training. No more deployment for us.

ArmyWifeToddlerMom always says that when you're on the outside looking in, people think that reintegration is just jumping up and down with a handmade sign and life is all flowers and sausages. But for the people going through it, it's not always that simple. That's how I feel today about this non-deployment. I would never say that making a quilt or reading a book is better than (or even comparable to) having my husband living in the house with me, but I had psyched myself up with all the ways I would get through next year, and it's just strange to turn all those thoughts off all of a sudden.

And the family thing, the family thing is killing me.

I heard my husband tell his mom on the phone the other day that we just had our hearts set on having a baby "like a normal couple." The way he phrased it, "like a normal couple," broke my heart. I want that so bad, and I thought it was within reach. He'd come home from deployment and have time where he was stuck in school and not going anywhere. And we'd be together for the entire pregnancy and birth. Like a normal couple. Unlike nearly every other Army wife I know who has done it alone. We had found a way to control our destiny, if only for a while.

And now, now he starts training a year early. And we're not ready to be parents just yet. Our options have now become 1) go for it before we're ready, or 2) take the chance of doing it apart. I don't like either of those options.

Civil Affairs most likely means more deployments in our future. We're fine with that, but we just wanted to get a leg up on the Army, one last stint of normalcy before he gives his life over to the whims of current events. And I find myself extremely disappointed.

I'm disappointed that my husband isn't deploying. Try explaining that complex emotion to family and friends.

So I milked all that patriotic praise out of you guys earlier this month, and apparently we don't deserve it at this time. My husband isn't going anywhere just yet.

Which is a good thing. Just a different thing.

Posted by Sarah at 05:25 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


Deskmerc keeps asking what Finance officers could possibly be doing in the field. I ask the same question every time he goes. Seriously, they play with fake money and pretend to pay contractors and stuff, while getting "mortared." I know, I know.

The last time he went out, he told me a great story. They were getting "attacked" and he and another hooah guy ran out and started "shooting" at the enemy, hamming it up with some m-f words as they valiantly, and fakely, fought back. And the officer in charge of the exercise told them to watch their mouths.

Remember: Horrific, deplorable violence is OK, as long as people don't say any naughty words.

Posted by Sarah at 05:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 13, 2006


Do you know the story of Joe and Tommy?

To the eye, Bloody Omaha is just a sandy beach.

No white crosses, no huge memorial, no visible signs of those who sacrificed themselves and fought for freedom. No sign of those who fell for it.

Yet I remember "Joe" and "Tommy", heroes with no names but so many faces, who came here one day, fighters for a just cause, in a liberation army.

I was told about them, I read books about them, I saw pictures of them, and I watched interviews and movies. I heard their stories. The Joe and Tommy who got through this, told me about their brothers who didn't.

And they show me why they didn't fall in vain.

One day in July, standing on the sand of bloody Omaha a long time ago, I learned about Joe and Tommy. I learned that my own Grand Pa' and Grand Ma' once hid Joe, whose plane had been shot down, in their attic, to save him from Fritz. I learned that Fritz could have killed Joe and my grand parents for that. I learned that Fritz killed and imprisoned a lot of people because they weren't like him or just because they didn't think like him and disagreed with him. And I learned that Joe and Tommy came to stop Fritz acting like this and send him back to his country.

I know I wanted to thank Joe and Tommy for that.

Who wouldn't?

So I guess I asked: "And where is Joe now? Where is Tommy?"

My parents probably answered that they were gone, back home long before I was born. Joe and Tommy didn't come to conquer like Fritz did, you know, hence they went back to their own countries. That's why, since I wasn't born when Joe and Tommy shed their blood to make sure I would come to life free in a free land, I learned about them by my father and mother, many years later.

And that's why I couldn't thank Joe and Tommy, like I wanted.

I know that today, there are fathers and mothers in Kosovo telling their kids about Joe and Tommy. I know there will be others tomorrow in Iraq.

I don't know if there are memorials to Joe and Tommy in Kosovo today and I don't know if there will be in Iraq tomorrow.

But I know that as long as I and other kids born free in a liberated land, here, in Kosovo or in Iraq, remember them, the fallen Joe and Tommy will live forever.

I know a fallen Tommy; his name is Sean Sims.
His own son lost him two years ago today.
But may he live forever in the hearts of kids born free in Iraq.


Posted by Sarah at 07:49 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 09, 2006


I wanted to wait and write this post when we know for sure whats going on. But as the weeks rolled by, I realized that this is the Army, and were never going to know for sure whats going on. So I will tell you what I know today, and well see what tomorrow brings.

Last spring I wrote a proud post about my husband answering the call for active duty Civil Affairs. We had begun to plan our life around this decision, because we considered it a done deal: they were desperate for people, my husbands language proficiency score was forty points higher than they were looking for, and he had recommendations and award citations all stating that, yes, he does in fact walk on water and should be considered for the job. That made the two-line form-letter rejection email he got in May a crushing blow.

We had just been back in the US for a couple of days, and my husband was completely depressed. He tried to find out why he had been rejected, but just ended up with more form letters. And he didnt want me to post anything about it because he was embarrassed. I was just angry. I couldnt understand why the Army would make such a stupid decision: they had someone who was begging to learn Arabic and deploy as much as they needed, and they turned their back on him. We figured the only thing that made sense was that Finance wouldnt release him from their grasp, which just made me madder. Which is more important, winning this war or running a cash cage? Neither of us could understand. He started talking about getting out of the Army, which naturally threw me into a panic. Our homecoming from Germany was not what we expected.

Fast forward to September, when my husbands branch manager came to speak to the captains course. She explained that the Finance branch is dwindling fast, and since theyre overflowing with extra captains, maybe some of them might consider the new and exciting field ofCivil Affairs. My husband was stunned and outraged. When he finally sat down with his branch manager, he explained that he had already tried to leave for Civil Affairs. And she explained that Finance had blocked him; his packet never even made it onto a Civil Affairs desk. Information that wouldve been nice to know in May, before he tore himself into knots thinking that maybe he couldve used one more recommendation letter! So he asked if he could have another shot at Civil Affairs. As of yesterday, this looks promising. Were still trying to figure out the exact schedule, but it looks like it might finally happen.

But in the meantime

Since there are far more Finance captains than jobs, everyone in his course is getting farmed out to random taskings. He and another soldier were assigned jobs at the same post, but my husband got a Finance job and this other guy was assigned to a unit thats deploying to Iraq in December.

My husband came home and asked me if he could trade assignments with the guy.

Every time I think I couldn't be prouder of my husband, he does something to amaze me. This other soldier just returned from a deployment, and my husband doesn't think it's fair that this guy should do another so soon when my husband hasn't been since OIF II. But there's more to his decision than just equality of downrangedness: my husband thinks that the War on Terror is important, and he has an emotional investment in the future of Iraq.

Our old neighbor in Germany was all set to get out of the Army when he got stop-lossed and deployed. He couldve been quite bitter about it, but instead he sent out an email that really grabbed me by the heart. In it he said, In Texas, people thank you for serving in the Armed Forces all of the time. I know they do not mean thanks for living in Germany, drinking beer, and eating bratwurst. When it is all said and done I will be able to look them straight in the eye and know I have done my part.

My husband also doesnt think that people are thanking him for cashing social security checks for German widows so they can hide the income from their government, which was what he spent a lot of time doing in Germany. He wants his service to mean more than that. He wants to do anything he can to help our country win this war. He gets personal satisfaction and meaning from doing a job that matters in the world, and right now he thinks he could matter more on a deployment.

So he asked my permission. And I granted it.

Most people Ive told this story to think were certifiably insane. But the truth is, everyone reading this knows how we feel about this War on Terror. And if we feel that way, we cant let some other family fight it for us. Morally, I cant support the war but hope someone elses husband will go fight it. And I think we need the best and brightest soldiers out there doing the job if were going to winand you all know I think my soldier is the absolute best and brightest!

So my husband traded assignments with this guy, in exchange for a case of Budweiser Select. I told him Im contacting Anheuser-Busch, because they should know that a man agreed to spend a year in Iraq for a case of their beer.

And then he got an email yesterday saying that hes going to Afghanistan, not Iraq.

At this point, Im throwing my hands in the air and giving up. He may or may not switch from Finance to Civil Affairs. He may or may not go to either Iraq or Afghanistan at the end of this year or beginning of next year. He got another email saying he could start Civil Affairs training in May, which is smackdab in the middle of when hes supposed to be in Iraq. Or Afghanistan.

Were going house-hunting this weekend. Hopefully well find something and move me into it before my husband goes wherever hes going to do whatever it is hes doing. Im getting the hang of this Army thing and just taking it as it comes.

More when we know it, faithful readers.

Posted by Sarah at 08:04 AM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

November 08, 2006


Please go read this comment from Chuck Ziegenfuss. He was the inspiration behind Project Valour-IT, which provides voice-activated laptops to wounded troops. The comment he posted was remarkable for its insight into how he deals with his wounds. And then donate to Valour-IT if you're so moved.

Posted by Sarah at 07:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


There's a monument up in Iraq to honor the fallen soldiers from my husband's old brigade. Just take a moment to look at the pictures and absorb this statement: "This is a very special place on Forward Operating Base Warhorse. No one is allowed to walk on the grass and the grass is watered daily." There are names on there of men I never met but think of all the time: Ludlam, Rosales, Kondor, Kenny, Prewitt, Sims, and Becker.

Posted by Sarah at 09:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 31, 2006


Since my husband is the smartest man I know (go on, Erin, tell 'em what a genius he is), I have been seething today about what John Kerry said. I kept trying to think of something ba-zing to pimpslap him with, but other than a list of all the soldiers I know and how smart they are, I wasn't coming up with anything. Turns out I don't need to, because others have done the job for me. Head over to Michelle Malkin's to watch Kerry look like an elitist douche and then read all the hatemail that's pouring in.

And what Kerry said -- You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you dont, you get stuck in Iraq. -- ain't exactly the most eloquent sentence I've ever heard. Good thing he spent top-dollar on that prissy degree of his.

Posted by Sarah at 12:22 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

October 30, 2006


Watch this video on the good news from Iraq. It reminds me of why we could still use Tim behind a keyboard.

Posted by Sarah at 09:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 26, 2006


I just heard about these Active Duty servicemembers who are speaking out against the war. Whatever, that's their business. But I do take issue with one thing the ringleader, SGT Liam Madden, says:

The goal is to have 2,000 names on the Appeal for Redress list when the messages are delivered to members of Congress in January.

"I think that's easily attainable," he said. "There's a seed of dissent in the military against this policy, and a core of people who are acting."

He doesn't believe many military personnel are politically opposed to the war, he said. But, he said, he believes a continuing cycle of redeployment has worn the patience of the troops.

"As far as widespread disapproval of the occupation of Iraq, I know no one likes being deployed over and over again and being away from their families for months at a time," Madden said.

Because of that, "I'm pretty sure there's a base of support" for the appeal to Congress, he said.

I'm not sure I really like the idea that he plans to get more signatures just because people don't want to deploy. If someone honestly thinks that we shouldn't be in Iraq, then he should sign this petition. But someone who just doesn't want to do his job (i.e. deploy where the military says to) shouldn't be lumped in the same category. Most soldiers and marines are growing weary from on-a-year-off-a-year, but they aren't the same as those who are anti-war.

One thing I found humorous was the quote from Madden's mother:

The clashing philosophies expressed by antiwar activists and the administration on Wednesday may ring familiar for Madden, who found himself in friendly debates with his mother, a supporter of using force against tyranny.

"We were direct opposites for a long time," said Oona Madden, a former restaurant owner in Bellows Falls. "I did support the war and still do to some extent. I don't buy into everything Liam tells me, but I support what he's doing -- as long as he covers his butt."

It's not too often you find an anti-war marine with a pro-war mama!

Posted by Sarah at 06:03 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Darned Cardinals and their darned seven-game NLCS series and their darned rain delays. Now I've got a major dilemma on my hands.

This weekend I'll be at the SpouseBUZZ conference at Fort Hood. I'm very excited about participating in this panel, and I know it will be fun to meet fellow bloggers and hear their stories. But I also know that half my mind will be focused on the darned World Series.

Of course, that's not as bad as my friend from college, who had a wedding to attend last Saturday. She spent most of the reception with her face pressed against the reception hall window, trying to see the TV in the bar across the street! She says it should be illegal for people to get married during the World Series or March Madness.

I'd love for the Cardinals to just go ahead and win the thing, but I can't stand the thought of them winning the World Series while I'm 1000 miles away from my favorite Cards fan.

Anyway, if you're in the Fort Hood area and would like to say hi, I'll be at the SpouseBUZZ conference on Saturday. Should be a fun time. And let's pray for torrents of rain so the rest of the series gets postponed until next week.

Posted by Sarah at 09:50 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 23, 2006


I wrote before about how much I love the stained glass window in the chapel on our old post. Now, according to my old neighbor, they're getting rid of it and designing a new one. I hope they keep the old one intact and put it somewhere else. For whatever reason, that window touches my heart in a way I can't describe.


Posted by Sarah at 11:22 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

October 22, 2006


A thread worth reading:
Iraq Was a Worthy Mistake
Ace's response to Goldberg
The comments are worth a glance too.

Posted by Sarah at 09:31 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 15, 2006


I've got a story that might freak you out -- it's certainly a bit more intense than what you'll find in "Humor in Uniform" -- but someone somewhere out there will understand this story and think it's funny.

I ordered some photos online from our digital camera before I realized I forgot to order one that I wanted. I decided to take the one photo to Walmart with me and just print it off of that Kodak machine. So I grabbed my husband's thumb drive and saved the photo. Piece of cake, right? Well, those photo machines work by searching the thumb drive for all photo files. So there I am at the store and the Kodak machine is asking me which photo I want. It's afternoon on a Sunday, so the Walmart is swarming with people, and I'm about to have a heart attack.

Because, you see, I had saved it to my husband's thumb drive from Iraq.

So there I was in Walmart, on the very big, very public Kodak machine, frantically scrolling through photos of dead insurgents trying to find the stinkin' picture of our dog.

Could've died of embarrassment.

[Disclaimer: Before anyone gets too freaked out by this story, I must point out that these weren't "trophy photos." One of my husband's tasks in Iraq was to document anything that happened to his platoon while they were out on patrol. He had to take these photos back to battalion so they could cross-reference them against high-value targets and known troublemakers.]

Posted by Sarah at 08:35 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

October 09, 2006


We haven't seen the movie Jarhead in our household, but we do gleefully work the phrase "I hear their bombs and I'm afraid" into conversation as often as we can. I've had zero interest in seeing the movie, until I read this review at Cold Fury. If you've already seen the movie, definitely go over and read both the review and the comments.

Oh, and how ridiculous was it when I saw a soldier on Law and Order call another soldier a "jarhead"? Sheesh, google could've helped them avoid that bonehead script gaff.

Posted by Sarah at 08:15 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 18, 2006


Chances are if you're a military spouse you know what Military.com is. Well, did you know that they host milblogs? And did you know that Andi from Andi's World got the great idea to urge them to host a spouse blog?

Andi approached me a while back to ask if I'd contribute. I'm in good company with some other familiar military spouse names -- Air Force Wife, AWTM, Homefront Six, Most Certainly Not, My Life as a Military Spouse and Molly Pitcher -- and a handful of other folks who are new to blogging. There's even a dude involved!

Anyway, I know a lot of Army spouses from our old post read this blog, and I know other folks have come here in the past looking for information on deployment (that's you, Terri and CaliValleyGirl). I just want to point out that this new milspouse blog at Military.com intends to be a wealth of spouse information. I recommend that you check it out and contribute to the dialogue.


It's called SpouseBUZZ, located at www.spousebuzz.com
Check it out.

Posted by Sarah at 11:06 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 08, 2006


At the doctor today (another speedy and awesome visit), I was reminded of the ABCD's of skin cancer detection. I listened to the lecture and thanked the doctor, but what I really wanted to say was, "Thanks, dude, but we had AFN."

Posted by Sarah at 02:30 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

September 07, 2006


We got orders yesterday. It's official: we're going somewhere hooah.

Posted by Sarah at 10:44 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 01, 2006


My husband is pretty sure he knows what his next job will be. But there were a few weeks in there where he was confused, so he decided to turn to the assignment officer who might be able to help him. Know who it turned out to be? MAJ Patti.

Of all the people in the Army, a blog spouse needed help from another blog spouse. The world is a small place.

Posted by Sarah at 11:04 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 18, 2006


As of today, we're here because we want to be.

Last night, my husband and I realized that today is his four year anniversary of being in the Army. If he had wanted to get out, he would've skipped this course and we would've coasted the rest of our time in Germany until today. And today we would've been civilians.

It's strange to think about, really. But it's also kinda fun to know that we're now here not because of an obligation he made when he was 19, but because he chose to stay. Pretty cool.

And I couldn't help but remember CaliValley's rant...

And the misery we endured when my husband couldn't start the Army right away. How poor we were then! But it makes where we are four years later all the sweeter. The Army's been good to us.

Posted by Sarah at 07:27 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 13, 2006


So two nights ago, I had the strange realization that my husband could deploy again in the near future. When he returned from Iraq in March 2005, the thought of the next deployment seemed far off. He moved to Finance, where there was no chance of him deploying with that particular unit. Then we were coming here for two courses, with obviously no deployments either. We still don't know where we're moving in December, but the other night as we were getting ready for bed, I suddenly had the thought that he could go to a deploying unit. Oh yeah, deployment. It was a strange realization that's hard to put into words: it wasn't fear, sadness, or anxiety; it was just a feeling of "oh yeah, I forgot that was a possibility." So, yeah, I forgot that was a possibility. We've been extremely lucky so far that he's only gone once, so we'll just have to wait and see what's in store for us at the next duty station. Wherever that is. Seriously, can we find out soon? The movers will be back before we know it.

Posted by Sarah at 03:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 01, 2006


John Kerry Proposes Universal Coverage by 2012. Cold Fury calls it "health care with all the compassion of the IRS, all the efficiency of the Post Office, and all the competence of the DMV." We here in the Army have some of that good ol' free health care. I called the health clinic because I need one of those yearly woman appointments; it's not life-or-death, but it's a health care need. I called in the beginning of July and they said they could make me an appointment for 4 August. Then they called me today and said that the doctor won't be there on Friday and we'll have to reschedule for 28 August. Yep, it's free, but it's taking me two months to get seen. I'm just sayin'.

Posted by Sarah at 04:06 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 14, 2006


Remember a few weeks ago when I wrote about being squeaky? Something funny just happened. My husband tried to settle his travel pay when we got here, and Finance mailed us a letter saying we owe the government $800. That certainly wasn't right, so he went in and tried to fix it. They came back with another letter that said that the Army owes us $600. That's not right either since we got a travel advance; in actuality the Army owes us about $50. My husband understands how this stuff works, so he went in and walked the Finance person through it. She called DFAS and they all agreed that the Army owes us something like $63. So a few days later we get a direct deposit for $675. Ha! My husband said that the system will work itself out eventually and take the money back, so it's not worth his time to go back in to the office and try to get the correct amount. In the meantime, he put the money in our money market so we can at least milk a little interest off it!

The government does the best they can, but their best is an idiot.

Posted by Sarah at 06:14 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 20, 2006


Many people who work for the Army in certain aspects -- finance, housing, health clinic come to mind -- hate their jobs because if someone's in their office, he's probably mad. My husband realized this when he started working in Finance: it used to frustrate him that people always came in guns blazing, so he and I have always tried to be extra understanding and extra benefit-of-the-doubt-giving in these offices. But we're slowly learning the lesson of the squeaky wheel.

The first thing my husband did when we got our cell phones was to go in to Inbound Transportation and give them our phone number. They assured us that they would call us when our household goods arrived. It's been two and a half weeks since then, and we've started getting antsy. Eleven days on an air mattress can do that do you. So my husband went by their office today to see what was going on. Our stuff has been here since 6 June, but "they didn't have our phone number." My husband watched someone write it down on a paper in our file on 2 June, but apparently that paper is lost and no one in Transportation seemed to care that much. And it gets worse: they are so busy that they can't deliver our stuff until 5 July. So we'll live in this city for six months, and our stuff will languish in storage for a month of it because they lost our phone number.

And I knew I had a bad feeling about it. Some of our friends got their stuff two weeks ago, and I knew that our stuff couldn't be this far behind. But I didn't want to be the guns-blazing type who goes into Transportation every day and demands her stuff. I figured that I would give them their space since they assured us they'd call. Silly me.

Two years ago my friend's husband didn't get his reenlistment bonus. He politely pointed this out to Finance three times, each time to no avail, and his bonus came a full year late. My husband joked that he hates when soldiers go straight to IG with asinine complaints, but my friend's husband sure would've gotten service faster if he'd headed straight to the top instead of putting faith in the system. If he'd come in guns blazing, someone would've helped him. The squeaky wheel tactic works.

I want to be an understanding and cooperative family, especially if we're staying in this system for another 16 years. But I am already tired of getting screwed over. There are medical appointments if you bark loud enough. Reenlistment bonuses come when you shout. And your household goods get delivered a month earlier if you pester Transportation.

From now on, I guess I'm squeaky.

Posted by Sarah at 07:19 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 14, 2006



Posted by Sarah at 07:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 09, 2006


The first time we moved together, away from our college town and to our first duty station, the first move of many to come, my husband surprised me by bringing along our Tom Petty CD and playing "Time to Move On" as we headed off. We've continued to do this every time we drive to our new post, and every time I cry as we leave the old. That is, every time until now. I honestly can't say that I was sad to leave Germany; the only thing I miss so far is Erin, Kelly, and The Girl, and I've talked to one of them on the phone about every three days anyway! (Also, can I just say how wonderful it feels to have three friends who seem to miss me as much as I miss them?)

It was time to move on, and I'm so glad we did.

I love our new post. I realized that I've never been around basic trainees before. It wasn't so obvious at Knox, and there were none in Germany, but since this post is almost exclusively a training post, I've found it seems everyone is a private. And I love it. I drive around with this stupid grin on my face because I'm constantly passing formation, duffel packing, pugil sticks, bayonet training, and other extremely cute things. I love when a pack of trainees is standing in formation outside the Shopette, all clutching their AAFES bags of goodies. I even love the way the gate guards welcome us to the post every day: "Victory starts here."

But I realized yesterday as I was moving stuff out of our hotel that living off post will be a completely different experience for me. This is the first time I won't constantly be surrounded by Army. I realized I won't wake to the sound of PT, and I will have to make a special effort to drive onto post to ogle at basic trainees. For many wives, moving off post comes as a relief, but it saddens me. I love on post.

Posted by Sarah at 09:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Over the weekend, we caught Markos Zuniga on Tim Russert. Overall I thought he did a good job of presenting his side without making me want to smash the TV, but there was one thing he said that really didn't sit right with me. Russert asked Kos about his military service, and he had this to say (clip here):

I think one of the tragedies of the war right now is that so many people like me, people who came from lower socioeconomic status, from the barrios or the ghettos or the trailer parks or low income areas use the military, which is a very colorblind society, very meritocratic, use the military as a way to build their self esteem, to grow as a human being, and to learn very valuable life skills, and come out of it with money for college. And this is what I did, and it was very effective in helping me get to where I am today. I would not be the person I am today without my military service -- I'm extremely proud of it -- and it just pains me to see how many lower income people now do not view the military as an option because, clearly, join the military, get shipped to Iraq: it's not a very attractive proposition.

Our nation has a military in order to defend the US and fight her wars. That's the whole point of a military. I hate when people act like the military should be a place where they can get free college or some extra cash for one weekend a month and not have to do any of the hard work. The military is not a summer camp where you get to know yourself and then get free college. Kos should've known that back when he joined right before the first Gulf War. The military is serious business, and anyone who joins thinking he can reap all the benefits without any of the risks is a jerk. The US doesn't front millions of dollars so some kid from the barrio can find himself. He has to fight when called to, so if he doesn't want to fight, he needs to find someone else to finance his maturation process. Period. It irks me that Kos acts like the US is oppressing low income kids because they can't have their college and eat it too. If you're not prepared to fight, the military is not for you ever, even in peacetime.

Posted by Sarah at 08:18 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


I've been thinking a lot about Bunker lately. It's been a year since he passed away, and I still miss him very much. I think about him often when something exciting happens in the news, so he was one of my first thoughts yesterday. He would've been so excited about Zarqawi's death. I just wish I had baking utensils or flour and eggs, for I surely would relish a "Suck it, Zarqawi" cake right about now. Maybe I can make a belated one...

Posted by Sarah at 07:58 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 11, 2006


I was thinking more about that AFN commercial and I found a military compensation calculator that lets you see the equivalent civilian income that relates to the same standard of living you live at in the military. It doesn't work well for overseas because they don't add anything for housing, but try it with the CONUS average and see where you're at. Heck, this is the main reason we're not getting out of the Army anytime soon.

Posted by Sarah at 12:55 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 08, 2006


I suppose today is a milestone of sorts, though I don't really know how exactly it should be celebrated. My husband returned from Iraq one year ago today. I feel blessed that I've had him for 12 consecutive months without another deployment on the horizon; that's something to cherish in today's military. And that's all I have to say about that.

Posted by Sarah at 12:58 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 06, 2006


Several people have asked what's next for our family. We should PCS back to the US in about two months. We'll enjoy some hard-earned vacation time in the Midwest before we drive out to South Carolina for my husband's career course.

However, the finance career course might all be for naught, since my husband has answered the call for Civil Affairs officers. The active Army currently only provides 4% of CA soldiers, with the reserves pulling the majority of the weight. However, with changing needs of the Army, there has been a call for officers to volunteer to change their functional area to Civil Affairs. My husband has submitted his packet, so we should find out this summer if he's been accepted.

We've told very few people about his decision, and the ones we have told typically reply with "Wow, you two must like being apart." My husband hopes to be selected for either Arabic or Farsi training, which of course will mean that he'll be more valuable in the Middle East than in garrison. But it's what he really wants to do, and I couldn't be prouder. If someone has to be a Civil Affairs officer, I'd rather have the most capable person I know on the front lines.

So keep your fingers crossed that he gets selected for an exciting and important duty. And I'll keep my fingers crossed that he doesn't spend the remaining 16 years of his career away from home!

Posted by Sarah at 10:45 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 03, 2006


My husband's report date for the next big adventure is in exactly three months. That means that our aval date should be in two months. We're leaving Germany in two months. We don't have orders yet, so the only thing I'm working on regarding the move is panic. If I sit and think about it for too long, I start to feel like I'm going to throw up.

But I could never have written a better blog post about moving than Erin did.

(And I don't know how she and Kelly get away with making fun of me all the time: they're both just as neurotic as I am!)

Posted by Sarah at 07:25 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 14, 2006


CaliValleyGirl is closing in on a week until her soldier returns from Afghanistan. His unit was featured in the Stars and Stripes this weekend. I can't wait to read about their homecoming on her blog.

Posted by Sarah at 01:14 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 10, 2006


I wrote yesterday about how I couldn't believe my husband left for Iraq two years ago. Gunnar Becker's mom can't believe it's been that long either: she sent me an article about her son I hadn't seen yet. No one in the battalion has forgotten Gunnar.

Posted by Sarah at 08:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 09, 2006


My husband and I had the following conversation last night:

Me: On Tuesday it will be a full year since you left for Iraq.
Him: Two years.
Me: Huh?
Him: Two years.
Me: Oh, right. Dang. (Pause) Daaaang.

I can't believe how time has flown. He's right: he left on Valentine's Day two years ago, and it'll be a full year in March since he's been home. My Swedish friend and I were talking over the weekend about how easy it is to lose track of time when you no longer measure your life in school grades. Once you get out of school, time is a big blur. Even something as monumental as a year of deployment got all mixed up in my head.

I can't believe he left two years ago. I remember it so vividly...

Posted by Sarah at 09:26 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 05, 2006


Since September 11, I've had a handful of war dreams. Sometimes I'm a soldier, sometimes I'm a civilian, and last night I was a frightened wife being escorted through a battle by her husband's soldiers. Whenever I have one of these dreams, I jolt awake in a panic. It always takes me a while to calm down enough to go back to sleep. I can't help but wonder how real soldiers are affected by these dreams: I dream of a war I've never been in; they dream of real situations they've faced. I hope their dreams don't haunt them like mine do...but I think that's too much to hope for.

Posted by Sarah at 08:21 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 01, 2006


Reader Glen pointed out a blog post that really made me smile. It's a wonderful story of a husband's love for his wife, a love that keeps them strong deployment after deployment.

Posted by Sarah at 01:12 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 09, 2006


LGF points to two views about the recent study showing many deaths in Iraq could've been prevented with more body armor: on the one hand, writers at the left-wing site Daily Kos are wringing their hands and blaming bureaucracy, and on the other hand soldiers are saying that the armor they already wear is sufficiently clunky and cumbersome and that more armor would make them less effective. R1 voiced the soldier side:

The armor I wore was a big improvement over any other armor I've seen before. But it was still hot, heavy, and contributed to heat and fatigue casualties. So what's better? Losing one man to a gun shot wound or losing five to heat stroke?

The other night my husband and I caught an episode of that show Over There. The plot in a nutshell was that the Americans had captured an insurgent who knew information about where stolen missles were. At the end of the episode, the insurgent agrees to tell the Special Forces officer where the missles are (on a farm) as long as the Americans promise not to kill the farmer and his family. Long dramatic pause as the officer promises...cut to the next scene of the farmer feeding his goats and his farm getting blown to bits from an air strike.

Naturally, I got wrapped up in the moral dilemma of the issue. Why would the director of this show have the officer promise and then just blow up the farm? What was the underlying agenda behind this move? I turned to my husband and asked him, "Would that really happen?", meaning would someone be able to so easily renege on a promise like that and just blow up a family of civilians. The answer I got was not what I expected...

My husband said the scene was complete horse manure because you don't just call in air strikes on some random farm where you think there might be missles just because some prisoner told you so. He said Iraqis were notorious for lying about weapons caches: they'd have a beef with a neighbor and then run to the Americans claiming the neighbor was a terrorist just to get him in trouble. Husband said what would really happen would be that they'd raid the farm looking for the missles. If you just aerial bomb the farm, you have no idea what you just blew up. Maybe the missles were there, maybe they weren't, so you're no closer to knowing you're safe.

I fell for it. I fell for the tug-at-your-heartstrings nonsense that the director of Over There wanted me to. Hook, line, and sinker. But that's because I'm a dumb civilian, just like the majority of people watching this television program. The writers sent me right down the garden path towards Moral Dilemma, so I completely missed the tactical errors. I don't have the military training to notice the things my husband noticed about this show.

I can't help but think that the people at Daily Kos have gone down the same garden path. They've never worn any body armor, but if someone says it saves lives, well then coat the soldiers from top to bottom in it. Make their bodies bulletproof and none of them will die. The only problem is that soldiers don't just stand out in the street trying not to die. They need to move around, run, jump in and out of HMMWVs and Blackhawks, and react to whatever comes their way. They can't be standing there like the un-oiled Tin Man because they're weighted down in body armor.

I used to joke with my husband online in Iraq that he needed to sleep in his body armor. I told him I was going to make him kevlar pajamas to keep him safe. Then he got home from Iraq and put his body armor on me, vest and helmet. I had it on for maybe two minutes and I felt like I was being crushed. He wore it every day for 13 months.

Sometimes we civilians think we can see things as clearly as our soldiers do. We think we know what's best for them, or we think we can see the Moral Dilemmas just as well as they can. I'm just not sure we have the knowledge and experience to make that call. Our hearts can be in the right place -- as I'd like to believe this Kos writer's is -- but sometimes all the empathy in the world doesn't match up to experience.

Usch, I can't believe I walked right into that stupid tv plot.

Posted by Sarah at 11:17 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

January 06, 2006


Let's hear it for CaliValleyGirl, who lays out the perfect rant answer to the dreaded question from non-military folks: “So how many more years does he have in?”

You know what? I have no idea how many more years my husband has in. Officers don't have ETS dates really, they stay until they renounce their commission. I know if my husband goes to the career course, he tacks on more time, and since he started taking tuition assistance to get his MBA, he tacked on more time for that as well. But I really have no idea when he could get out of the Army if he wanted it. Some days he fantasizes about getting out and working in the civilian world...other days he fantasizes about retiring as a lieutenant colonel. He's staying in until he doesn't want to do this job anymore.

And I too have heard the "brainwashing" thing, most notably from my German co-worker back when our friend got his torso ripped out in Mosul. Here's what I wrote back in 2004:

I printed out this article at work and mentioned to my co-workers how amazing I thought it was that LT A intends to stay in the Army despite his injuries. They retorted that he must be really brainwashed, that he wasn't "fighting for his country" but for lies, and that someday I would see just how brainwashed people like my husband really are. I had to leave the office, I was so disgusted. I can't believe someone would say that to my face, completely unprovoked. I'm proud of our friend for standing up for what he believes in; if they disagree, they can politely nod and keep their opinions to themselves, like I do all the freaking time here at work. What is wrong with these people?

My husband and I aren't looking any gift horses in the mouth: we know we've got a good thing going here. He makes great money for a 25 year old, plus we pay no rent, no utilities, and have free health care. If he can do better in the future, we'll consider it, but for now we think ourselves pretty darn lucky to have the resources we have.

Brainwashed, indeed.

Posted by Sarah at 11:07 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

December 31, 2005


Victor Davis Hanson's newest gem is called Democratic Implosion. The part that resonated with me:

Despite the stentorian intonation, Kerry’s new suggestions for what to do in Iraq simply outlined what the United States is in fact already doing: training Iraqis, providing protection for the ongoing constitutional process, talking to regional neighbors, trying to get the Europeans involved in the Middle East, and hunting down terrorists on the Afghan borders.

My husband always blows up at the TV when some naysayer pundit says that what we really need to be doing in Iraq is training Iraqis to take over the job themselves so we can go home. My husband arrived in Iraq in March 2004, and this policy was already in effect. Iraqi solders went everywhere with American soldiers, and after the Transfer of Authority that summer, the official policy was to let Iraqi soldiers do as much of the work as possible. My husband says that American soldiers often grumbled that taking the Iraqis along was too much work, that it was easier for them to just go on a raid alone than to drag the Iraqis with and help them learn how to do it. But the constant refrain in my husband's battalion was "Unless you want to come back for OIF 10, you'd better teach these Iraqis how to do your job."

The policy since Day 1 was to train Iraqis to protect their own country. My husband was already doing it nearly two years ago; why do all these pundits think they're offering a solution the military has never thought of?

(Also read VDH's The Plague of Success: "It is chic now to deprecate the Iraqi security forces, but they are doing a lot more to kill jihadists than the French or Germans who often either wire terrorists money, sell them weapons, or let them go." Heh.)

Posted by Sarah at 10:30 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 02, 2005


I've never been a tattoo person because I have a hard time imagining that I would want something on my body for forever. When my college friend interviewed the local tattoo parlor owner for a paper she wrote, the #1 tattoo for 1996 was the Tasmanian Devil. Do you know any grandpas who would want that on their biceps? I remember vividly the man who came to do maintenance on my grandma's apartment: he had a naked lady tattooed on his forearm. I'm sure that sounded like a great idea when he was 18, but not so much when he was 60.

Still, I gained a better appreciation of permanence after I read the book 7 Tattoos. And I did get tickled knowing that the Fellowship of the Ring all got the same elvish tattoo. I suppose if a tattoo means something or represents an event, it's better than the Tasmanian Devil. But I will say that the most touching tattoo story I've heard comes from Iraq.

Posted by Sarah at 11:11 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 30, 2005


The other day I lost my temper with people who look down their noses at those in the military. Therefore, information on this study caught my attention on the news this morning.

Debunking the myth of the underprivileged soldier

According to a comprehensive study of all enlistees for the years 1998-99 and 2003 that The Heritage Foundation just released, the typical recruit in the all-volunteer force is wealthier, more educated and more rural than the average 18- to 24-year-old citizen is. Indeed, for every two recruits coming from the poorest neighborhoods, there are three recruits coming from the richest neighborhoods.
In fact, since the 9/11 attacks, more volunteers have emerged from the middle and upper classes and fewer from the lowest-income groups. In 1999, both the highest fifth of the nation in income and the lowest fifth were slightly underrepresented among military volunteers. Since 2001, enlistments have increased in the top two-fifths of income levels but have decreased among the lowest fifth.

Allegations that recruiters are disproportionately targeting blacks also don't hold water. First, whites make up 77.4% of the nation's population and 75.8% of its military volunteers, according to our analysis of Department of Defense data.

Second, we explored the 100 three-digit ZIP code areas with the highest concentration of blacks, which range from 24.1% black up to 68.6%. These areas, which account for 14.6% of the adult population, produced 16.6% of recruits in 1999 and only 14.1% in 2003.

The full reports can be read here:
Is Iraq a Poor Man's War?
Who Bears the Burden? Demographic Characteristics of U.S. Military Recruits Before and After 9/11

And for the guy who doesn't think anyone joins these days "for flag and country", what do you make of this?

After September 11, 2001, the educational quality of recruits rose slightly. Comparing 1999 enlisted recruits to 2003 recruits showed an increase in col­legiate experience. In 2003, a higher proportion of recruits had college experience and diplomas, and a lower percentage had only a high school diploma— a shift of about 3 percentage points.

That statistic would include close-to-my-heart recruit Tyler Prewitt, who left the baseball team at Phoenix College to enlist after September 11th and died in OIF II.

For flag and country.

Posted by Sarah at 10:59 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

November 19, 2005


An excerpt from Cold Fury's sweet rant on the disheartening damage President Clinton just did (a great post, by the way: read the whole thing):

The Marines and Army are involved in a couple slam bang fights as we speak, reducing a couple large pockets of Al Qaida fighters that have festered for a long time without intervention. Yet day after day, we hear nothing about where the fighting is going on, what’s really happening, who is being apprehended or killed, why the fight is in a particular place, what the strategic significance is, or how our young men and women are making us proud with their dedication to the mission and the country and their workaday, exceptional-is-the-new-ordinary heroism. Instead the only headline I ever see is “two Americans killed.” Or “five Americans killed.” Or “seven Americans injured in bombing.” Really? The only impression I get from the MSM is that the U.S. troops are basically lined up like metal ducks in a shooting gallery, being picked off one at a time without actually doing anything positive, not carrying out missions, whatever. I guess they are just wandering around in the ‘Raq, wearing do rags, listening to the Stones, smokin’ dope and waiting for their hitch to end.

It's such a Woman Thing to ask your husband "What are you thinking?" when he's quiet. (I know, I know, I've listened to Seinfeld, but it's hard not to ask.) More often than not these days, my husband's response is "Iraq". He's thinking about Iraq. Constantly. What he was doing this day last year, what he could've done better, how they could've f-ed up the bad guys a little more in this situation or that, and what he'll do differently the next time he goes. He thinks about it all the time -- about how he can be a more effective soldier, not how poor and miserable he was.

And at no point was he just walking around waiting to get killed or go home.

My husband takes his job seriously, and he took it extra-seriously while he was in Iraq. He put a couple of soldiers in jail for disobeying the rules, for pete's sake. He didn't sit around reading existentialist garbage and thinking about how, like, life has no meaning and war is not the answer. He's not a puppet, he's not a sitting duck, and he's not a mindless automaton under the control of the Bushitler Oil Junta. He's a man who helped the US Military take one more step towards winning the War on Terror.

So maybe, just once, he and the other brave men and women like him could get some good press for a change. Or some indication to the American public that they're winning this war. Is that too much to freaking ask?

Posted by Sarah at 05:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 13, 2005

13 NOV 2004

The events that happened one year ago today have changed my life. I know it sounds ridiculous and crass to say that, since it was my friend who lost her husband and not I, but I have never been the same. And though I didn't lose someone I love, I watched someone I love lose her husband, and I've watched her learning to live all over again for the past year.

I'm horrified that the reason we've become friends is because she lost her husband. I hate that this is so. I hate that I feel pressured to find more to talk about with her than just Fallujah and Cindy Sheehan. I hope we'll get there someday, because I've really grown to like her. I just hate the way we became friends.

Thursday night, Red6 came over for dinner. We had a little moment of silence remembering CSM Faulkenburg, which started a discussion of Fallujah. My husband was originally supposed to go instead of Red6. My husband had orders in hand for 24 hours, but then the Powers That Be decided two trips to Najaf was enough for one company, and they sent Red6 instead. If you've read Red6's blog, you know they made a good choice, and that's how my husband ended up on R&R instead of in Fallujah.

Our lives hang by a thread.

What my friendship with Heidi has taught me is to never take my husband for granted. We hug each other a little more often. We end our bickering a little more quickly. And we talk about death a lot more frequently. We've learned to dismiss any and all "hardships" that come our way, because it could always be a lot worse. I've learned to cherish life, more than I ever did before. I hate that it took a good man's death to teach me such a lesson, but I'm grateful for the lesson nonetheless.

I tell everyone over and over again how humbled I am to be Heidi's friend. She was the first person I thought of when I woke up today, and I can't even begin to tell her how sorry I am.

She has worried about how history will regard her husband's sacrifice: will it have been worth his life? I think history will show that her husband gave his life to preserve freedom and that it was indeed worth it. And I hope for the same future that Bill Whittle does:

Despite all the switches in the rail yard, there is a flow and a direction to history that cannot and will not be denied.

It is the slow, uneven, grasping climb toward freedom. There are markers on Little Round Top, on the beaches at Normandy, and in the sands of Nasiriyah that show us where men have fought and laid down their lives, and willingly left their wives without husbands and their children without fathers, all for this idea. It is an idea bigger than they are, bigger than self-centered movie stars, bigger than cynical and bitter journalists, bigger than Presidents and Dictators, bigger, in fact, than all human failure and miscalculation.

It is the idea that people – all people – deserve to live their lives in freedom. Free from fear. Free from want. Free from despair and hatred.

My country has, again, taken up that banner, and the behavior of our young men and women under unimaginable stress and provocation has filled me with fierce and unremitting pride. We fight, nearly alone, alongside old and true friends, British and Australian, themselves decent and honorable people, long champions of freedom who have their own Waterloos and Gallipolis and cemeteries marked with fields of red poppies, rolls of sacrifice and honor that should fill all American hearts with pride. For friends like this are worth having, and I will always prefer the company of one or two solid, dependable friends over legions of fashionable and trendy and unreliable ones.

And someday, centuries from now, in the world we all hope for but which only a few will fight for, all of this death and destruction will be gone. All that will be left will be small markers in green fields that were once deserts, places where Iraqi families may walk someday with the same taken-for-granted sense of happiness and security I had in Pennsylvania and Virginia.

And perhaps they will read the strange-sounding names, and try to imagine a time when it was all in doubt.

Heidi can hold her head high, knowing that someday Iraqi children will read this name and be grateful. I am grateful already.


Posted by Sarah at 11:09 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

November 11, 2005


This post is a tribute to the veterans in my family. I'm proud that I've got four generations of heroes here.


my great-great uncle on my paternal grandfather's side, in the Army in WWI


my great-great uncle on my paternal grandmother's side, in the Army in WWI


my paternal grandfather, in the Army Air Corps in WWII


my great uncle, my grandfather's brother, also in the Army Air Corps in WWII


my father's brother, in the Air Force


another of my father's brothers, in the Army


my father-in-law, in the Army


my husband's brother, in 1ID during OIF II


and the husband, in 1ID during OIF II

Posted by Sarah at 11:15 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


Two years ago, I thanked veterans I did not know. Last year everyone I knew became a veteran. This year it just seems a little hollow for me to keep repeating how proud I am of all of the brave men and women who do the fighting for me.

So this year I'll let the Kurds thank you for me. Their words carry much more weight than mine do.

(Thanks for the video link go to Tim, one half of a pair of great veterans.)

Posted by Sarah at 10:25 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 10, 2005


The worst part about a promotion is forgetting the little things. This morning my husband woke me up at 0530: "Can you please sew rank on my kevlar cover?"

Posted by Sarah at 08:08 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 03, 2005


Well, I wrote a letter to SGT Eddie Ryan. But I'm the only person I know who doesn't have any kids who can draw a picture for him. Maybe your kids wouldn't mind putting something in the mail for this brave marine? (Or maybe Angie could get Fred to do one of his famous fridge drawings...heh.)

Posted by Sarah at 10:34 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 01, 2005



Posted by Sarah at 10:31 AM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

October 22, 2005


I made the mistake of reading this CaliValleyGirl post right before bed. I can't get it out of my mind, and the more I think about it, the angrier I get.

I'm not 100% sure what I think about the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. I don't think gay soldiers are any less worthy than straight ones, but I do know there are a significant number of anti-gay soldiers (if my experiences teaching college classes here on post are any indication), and "don't ask, don't tell" is a way of protecting gay Americans who'd like to serve their country. It's perhaps not a perfect policy, but it's the best we've got right now.

What I know for a fact though is that "don't ask, don't tell" certainly isn't an alternative to conscientious objector status. That's what happened in the case of the gay Marine highlighted in CVG's articles. This man is not a champion for gay rights, though the glowing tones of the articles would like you to believe he is. He wasn't caught sleeping with a man and forced to leave the service. His commander and unit seemed to like him. Leaving the Marines was his choice and his alone.

This Marine wrote a 7-page letter to his commander stating that he won't be used as a tool of the Bushitler Oil Junta and kill kids for Halliburton in an Illegal War for Missing WMDs, oh and by the way, P.S. I'm gay. He used his victim status to get out of responsibility. He didn't want to go back to Iraq because he hates the president (enough to imply that he'd rather kill the Bush administration than terrorists), so he came up with the perfect way to get out of his enlistment: The Gay Excuse. Thus, they reluctantly kicked him out for being gay -- because he told without being asked -- and now he travels with Cindy Sheehan and is hyped in gay publications for being a pioneer for gay rights in the military.

Excuse me?

I'm sure there are plenty of gay soldiers who are serving honorably. I'm also sure there are plenty of straight soldiers who'd love to have the easy-out of The Gay Excuse. But getting yourself intentionally kicked out of the Marines for being gay doesn't make you a hero. Using your victimhood to shirk the oath you took doesn't make you a champion of the gay community. You found the easy way out and took it, friend, so don't blame your plight on the Marines or George Bush or anyone but yourself.

If you truly believed that "banning gays in the military is archaic and stupid," as you said, then you wouldn't use that ban as an excuse; you wouldn't cheapen your integrity just to get what you want. Don't act like you Spoke Truth To Power, when all you really did is get out of the military on a technicality. That's despicable.

But at least you got to make out with some Iraqi boys, right?

Posted by Sarah at 09:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 12, 2005


Lately the husband and I have been discussing the possibility of another deployment. I keep assuring him that it really wasn't that bad for me and that I could easily handle another. But today when we woke up at 0415 and I drove him to his unit for a three-day field exercise, I got a little misty-eyed as I drove away. All of a sudden I got that Deployment Feeling again, and I remembered that although I could do another deployment, I really would prefer to have him around.

I was looking forward to today because Charlie is at the vet getting neutered. I thought that with him out of the house for the first time since we got him, I might be able to get some work done without his little golden paws all over everything. Just a few moments ago, I realized how much I love that silly little dog. I miss him already, and I just realized I'd rather have him around too, even if he would be barking at the vacuum cleaner and trying to drink the mop water.

Posted by Sarah at 07:53 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 08, 2005


Raven1 got some great advice from his chaplain before returning from Iraq. One paragraph won't do it justice; you have to read the whole thing.

When my husband was home on R&R, he had a bit much to drink and accidentally told me a story he hadn't intended to repeat. He was genuinely surprised that the story didn't freak me out, and it opened the door to telling me a bit more. When he got home at the end of the year, he told me some of the worst things that happened in his time in Iraq. I'm glad that he thinks I'm strong enough to hear them.

I think stories after the fact aren't nearly as frightening as what we wives imagined on our own while they were gone. His reality was no match for my creativity! We who stand and wait read blog posts and news reports about everyone's most exciting days in Iraq, so it's easy to forget that not every day is a battle.

My husband is quiet with his stories though. He and Red6 have talked, but for the most part, his year is his own. He doesn't want to try to explain his experience to anyone, for the only ones who can truly understand it are his platoon sergeant and the other three men in his tank. Sometimes I feel sad that he doesn't get to see any of those guys anymore; it would be nice for him to spend time with people who didn't need to hear the stories because they were there with him.

Posted by Sarah at 10:57 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 06, 2005


I didn't get to attend the Land Combat Expo here in Germany, but a part of me was apparently there...


I still can't believe that they chose to showcase my blog along with more notable milblogs. What an honor.

Posted by Sarah at 08:07 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 29, 2005


They're going to start normalizing COLA, giving everyone in Germany the same amount. This means that some folks are getting huge cuts in their paychecks, while we in our community will get more. Because we have always had the lowest COLA in Europe. So we're supposed to feel sorry for families in these other areas who are going to get less money and "end up on food stamps or something"? Families in our area make do.

I never understood how they calculated COLA anyway. My brother-in-law lives 20 minutes from Wurzburg. If he lived in Wurzburg, he'd get double the COLA, regardless of the fact that he already does all of his shopping in Wurzburg. I don't understand how that has anything to do with purchasing power. If we had to buy groceries and clothes on the economy, then I might understand, but we have a PX and commissary for that reason. If you choose to buy that 900 Euro DVD player off post, that's your problem; the government shouldn't have to subsidize it for you. Especially since the PX sells them for $39.

Remember that old article about COLA? "Every time the euro rises one euro cent in value against the dollar, the dollar increase in salary and benefits for local-national employees at the Navy Exchanges is $187,000 adjusted annually." COLA is just one of the ways the US government throws money down a hole in Europe. Send us home, where there is no COLA.


Oh look, more boo-hooing. American military families all over Germany have to pay childcare and phone bills, and people in our community manage just fine with half the COLA you've been getting all along.

Posted by Sarah at 08:53 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 12, 2005


I guess it will help retention, and the article doesn't spell out which MOSs will be affected, but as a rule I do not support the idea of extending the GI Bill to spouses. I personally think that this is a benefit that the soldier receives in order to better himself, not his spouse. Spouses already are eligible for no-questions-asked military scholarships that cut their tuition in half, which I think is a very valuable benefit. Thus, I personally think the GI Bill belongs to the GI.

Posted by Sarah at 04:28 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 28, 2005


The 94th Engineer Combat Battalion from our post is battling their second summer in Iraq. They were the first unit to stay a full 365 days for OIF I, and now they're back again for OIF III. I am friends with a few of 94th's wives, and I have been so impressed with their fortitude and optimism. They say that the second year is easier than the first...

Posted by Sarah at 03:07 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 27, 2005


Michael Yon's account of Mosul kept me on the edge of my seat. Mama, you gotta read this one.

Posted by Sarah at 03:21 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 26, 2005


We hear a lot about the Army not meeting its recruiting goals this year, but here's something I hadn't heard yet anywhere:

The active Army’s fiscal 2005 recruiting goal is 80,000, but Schoomaker said he and his generals are predicting that the service will be “a couple of thousand short” when the fiscal year ends Sept. 30.

That shortfall can be absorbed without affecting the Army’s operations, Schoomaker said, because it only takes 72,000 new recruits to sustain the force.

“What this really means is that we’re not building the 30,000 [increase] as fast as I’d like, Schoomaker said, referring to the Army’s ongoing effort to boost its end-strength from 480,000 to 510,000 by 2007.

So the goal is set higher than what they need. It's not good to be short, but it's not the end of the world, as some would like us to believe. Schoomaker continues:

But when it comes to judging the Army’s health, it is the Army’s continuing success at keeping soldiers, not bringing in new ones, that is the service’s true “report card,” Schoomaker said.

All 10 of the active Army’s divisions have met 100 percent or more of their retention goals, Schoomaker said, with the highest re-enlistments posted by units either in combat or freshly home from Iraq or Afghanistan.

Outstanding news.

Posted by Sarah at 04:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 21, 2005


For many soldiers, this is the face of Iraq...


This is their experience and what they remember from their time in Iraq. But reader Tanker sent me a link to another face of war. It's another very real aspect of Iraq these days...


The difficulty with the war in Iraq is the differing missions. One soldier's experience could be mighty different from another's, and when both write home and tell friends and family what "war" is like, they're going to paint a very different picture. That's how my favorite reservist ended up in a conversation where someone said, "You guys just stayed in camp and took pictures, right?", when in fact over half of the soldiers in his unit saw major action and are suffering from PTSD. FOB Anaconda has a Baskin Robbins and salsa dancing night; my husband and his platoon spent 87 days living IN Iraq, outside the safe confines of an American FOB. If your daughter is lying around in a bikini in Iraq, you'll have a vastly different view on the uptempo of the war than the Marlboro Man's mom does.

Posted by Sarah at 12:08 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 03, 2005


If you're in USAREUR like me, you didn't get to see the show Over There. My mother-in-law relayed some of the show to me, and parts she remembered made me groan. I wish I could see it for myself, but it sounded hackneyed. My husband and I were goofing off later on: "Gosh, Sarge, what a SNAFU." and "Sir, yes, sir!" and other things that only appear to get said in the TV Army. John of Argghhh! compiled reviews from milbloggers who watched the program, and the prognosis is not looking good. I can completely understand though: my husband can't get within ten feet of a military movie without turning beet red and swearing up a storm. If we want to see a show about war, we opt for War Is The H-Word.

And I hear there was a soldier openly smoking pot? HA. Double HA.

Posted by Sarah at 01:08 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 01, 2005


Man, this is why I've avoided blogging lately; it seems everything I say gets taken out of context or misconstrued. I get tired of going in circles.

So...I'm also not saying that all females are evil and unable to handle the military. I sure wish people wouldn't extrapolate my post into something I haven't argued.

My big beef is the view our society has that everything is the man's fault. This happens with sexual harrassment and infidelity, both in and outside the Army, but it happens in other realms too, which I've blogged about before in reference to Kim du Toit's bullseye, The Pussification of the Western Male.

Think about sitcoms: the men always cause the trouble. The portrayal of men on TV is ghastly. I saw it again today on a rerun of King of Queens: she wanted to go to the opera and he didn't; apparently she's too big of a witch to accept "look, hon, that's not really my bag", so he had to concoct this elaborate scheme to get out of going where he looked like a jerk in the end. I'm telling you, I stopped watching Everybody Loves Raymond when Ray ripped up his Superbowl tickets just to get Debra to stop whining for a second. The women on these shows are atrocious, but the joke is always on the dumb/incompetent/insensitive man.

Newsflash: men are not to blame for everything. That's my overarching beef with sexual harrassment norms and my reason for challenging Smink's post. Sometimes women are to blame for the unwanted advances and failed marriages.

Posted by Sarah at 03:31 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack


I thought I was perfectly clear in my post on women in the military that I was only bringing up additional issues on the topic. But it appears that I need to say more.

I am not in any way saying that all of the blame lies with females. The reason I wrote the post was because Smink's post only addressed the issues that women face; I wanted to point out that there's another side to the story that neither Smink nor his 15 commenters addressed. That doesn't mean that I think females are the military's sexual predators.

Men can be sneaky, nasty jerks. I know of plenty of stories of the gross and immoral things they've done downrange too. However, we can't lay all of the blame at their feet. Women can be conniving sluts too. As a society, I believe we're too quick to always blame the men.

One scenario fleshed out: I heard a soldier tell the story of a time he heard a female specialist completely sass-mouth her first sergeant. She interrupted him and was extremely rude. As she left, my soldier friend expressed shock that she could get away with being so impertinent; he was told that the first sergeant had made the enormous error of having consentual sex with this female and was now paying for his mistake. This female specialist threatened to expose him if he didn't give her special treatment. Was the 1SG wrong for sleeping with her? You bet your sweet bippy he was! But this female is now the one hurting mission readiness by blackmailing her NCO. She could turn him in and say she was raped, and there's nothing he could do about it. In today's world and military, women hold all of the power when it comes to sexual harrassment. And I truly believe that some of them abuse this system.

Men and women are having sex downrange. Some of them are married, some are not. But what happens when two unmarried soldiers are having sex and the man wants to end it, and the female gets mad and reports to the unit that he raped her? Happened to someone I know. We as a society tend to always believe the woman is telling the truth in these situations; I personally don't believe that anymore. I think the system is abused and broken, so I get irritated when we moan about the plight of the poor, harrassed women in the military, and when every other AFN commercial is about stopping sexual harrassment against women. Some of these women know exactly what they're doing and have ruined the system for those who really are being harrassed.

[P.S. I also know that infidelity is not only a product of deployment or the military. Our last president had consentual sex with an intern. Bonehead, stupid, ridiculous move on his part. But what happened? She hung on to a dirty dress and destroyed his reputation, while she got book deals and made money. I don't excuse the president, but I do think that's despicable behavior on her part as well. She was not a victim in that situation, but she retained victim status simply because she is a woman. I believe the problem extends to all of our society.]

Posted by Sarah at 09:52 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

July 31, 2005


Smink has a post on his views on women in the military (He's fer it). No one in the comments section brought up the touchy and delicate issue I would like to address. Any candid discussion of women in the military must focus on some key problems.

What about the barracks rooms designated for anonymous sex where females can try to get knocked up so they don't have to deploy? What about the females in Iraq who are running prostitution rings, charging money for sex with the male soldiers? What about the females who are making pornography and posting it on the internet? What about the females who have boasted that their goal is to sleep with every officer on the FOB? What about the females who lure married men to their beds and then threaten to expose their adultery? What about the frightening power a junior enlisted soldier has when she's sleeping with the first sergeant?

All of these scenarios I describe have happened in our brigade. I know of families that have been destroyed because of both real and imagined infidelities during a deployment. I've heard stories about ruthless female soldiers that make me ashamed of my gender. If we are going to discuss the effects of women in combat, we do need to discuss all that Smink brought up: performance, sexual harrassment, etc. But we also need to address the nasty effects of taking thousands of males away from their families and bunking them with a handful of women for a year. Yeah, I bet a lot of times it's the males' fault, but I've heard enough stories to make me wonder if the females haven't brought some of it on themselves.

Posted by Sarah at 07:31 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

July 29, 2005


The husband and I watched Vice Chief of Staff Cody's briefing on the Pentagon channel two days ago, and I looked for an article on it yesterday to no avail. But it's out today: Army identifies locations for units in new, brigade-centric force structure. If anyone's interested in base realignment, this graphic is informative. The presence in Germany will be significantly reduced. What an exciting time for the military!

Posted by Sarah at 12:47 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 17, 2005


An interesting side note that no one mentions when they talk about military recruiting these days, via this Stars and Stripes article:


Posted by Sarah at 09:51 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

July 06, 2005


I went to our neighbor's change of command today, where he said something that struck me: he thanked the families for their support during OIF and told his soldiers that they can't understand what it was like to be left behind. I remember I got a taste of this when my husband was home on R&R and CPT Sims was killed. My husband was quite taken aback by everything we wives knew about life insurance and death gratuity. He was surprised that I knew things like how long I would be able to stay in quarters, and he was surprised at the string of phone calls we wives began to send. He said that he had never thought about things from the family end; he had never realized the worrying we did, because he always knew if he and his men were safe.

My job during the deployment was significantly different from his. Mine was nowhere near as hard (though I imagine wives who stayed back with three or four kids might think otherwise), but it was something he couldn't quite grasp. And unless you've lived the homefront lifestyle, you just don't quite know what it's like. Soldiers don't know what the homefront feels like.

(I was mulling over what my neighbor said when I realized we're back to the chickenhawk garbage. I think the two thoughts are related. I don't think you have to live through something to have an opinion on it, though I think it helps to know someone who has gone through it so you can talk about it and learn more. But not everyone can live every experience; the chickenhawk argument is bogus.)

Posted by Sarah at 05:25 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

July 05, 2005


One time at a military ball, we sat across from a MAJ Hook. My husband leaned over and whispered, "I bet it was a long seven years as CPT Hook." I nearly spit my wine across the table.

Some names and ranks just go together. And some you just get so used to hearing that it feels weird when they change. But a promotion is a wonderful thing, even if we have to learn a new title. So I guess we'll just have to get used to calling the sweetest woman on the planet MAJ Patti now.

Congrats on your promotion, MAJ Patti!

Posted by Sarah at 10:05 AM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

June 27, 2005


I just noticed that Red 6 is featured in the Stars and Stripes tribute to heroes.

Posted by Sarah at 06:26 AM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2005


I've been trying to get some reading done in the morning, and there are so many things I'd like to point out but don't have the time. Check out Conservative Grapevine and Varifrank as usual. I did have a chuckle at this article about Iraqi soldiers learning to complain:

The soldiers also are mad about what they call a $70 cut in their monthly pay. Soldiers, on average, earn $300 to $400 a month, they say. The reason, it turns out, is something nearly every American begrudges, whether a soldier or not. For the first time, the Iraqi government began taking taxes out of the platoon’s paychecks.

I can't wait until Iraq is back on her feet.

Posted by Sarah at 07:09 AM | Comments (1)

June 14, 2005


What was this guy thinking, giving an anti-US graduation speech to soldiers and their family members? If you're taking classes in Europe, you must be a military ID card holder, so every single UMUC student is connected to the miltary in some way or another. The faculty, however, is a different story altogether, which explains why he got supportive emails from faculty and boos from students in attendance.

Why do these commencement speakers keep using graduation as an open soapbox for talk on the war? All grads want to hear is attaboys and words of wisdom as they leave college. They want Chicken Soup for the Soul, not MoveOn.org at their ceremony.

Posted by Sarah at 11:27 AM | Comments (4)

June 03, 2005


Since the end of OIF II, I have seen a lot of things happen with medals and badges and patches. I used to think it was cool when my husband collected ribbons, but now I am starting to see why Bunker said to throw 'em in a drawer and forget it. I've heard way too many stories about soldiers who deserved ribbons but didn't get them and soldiers who didn't deserve ribbons but got them. Platoon leaders and platoon sergeants spend an extraordinary amount of time not on deciding who deserves medals but working on the grammar and presentation of the citation. And I'm sure some have been approved over others just because someone's grammar was better. In just three months, I've become disillusioned with the medal process, which is sad because I think they should be something to be proud of.

I also thought the CCB was cool because I thought those who were not infantry deserved some credit too. Slowly I'm beginning to see what a mess it will be. Now it's a CAB, eligible to...um...everyone? How do you decide who is eligible? It's for anyone who engages or is engaged by the enemy; what a mess that's going to be to give out. Nearly everyone will get one, making the award virtually worthless.

Just leave well enough alone, I'm beginning to think. I liked this post from Watch Your Six (also check out the comic strip):

Didn't anyone learn from giving berets to the entire Army in order to make everyone feel "more elite?" The very act of giving the beret to everyone devalued the beret itself. If you give a badge to everyone involved in ground combat, the CIB and the new badges you make up will all be de-valued. The very act of trying to make people feel more special will make them feel less special.

We're running out of drawer space; quit giving out more things to throw in 'em.

Posted by Sarah at 02:37 PM | Comments (9)

June 02, 2005


Well, I thought I'd seen everything...

Posted by Sarah at 10:52 AM | Comments (1)

May 30, 2005


I had the chance to briefly instant message with Mrs. Sims today. She sent me the most wonderful Memorial Day photo of her son and his father's memorial brick at Texas A&M.


I think about Mrs. Sims all the time. She and I weren't even that close; we went to dinner a few times together, but that's about the extent of our friendship. I hesitate to write about how much she is constantly in my thoughts because I'm certain there are people on this post she was closer to. I don't want her to think that I've become some zany stalker who's deified her into everything that Memorial Day stands for...but I guess I have.

Mrs. Sims is absolutely everything that an Army wife should be: gracious, humble, and dedicated. She remains optimistic and proud in the face of the worst experience anyone could ever have. And she's always on my mind. She's the first person I think of when I feel down or grumpy. She was the first person my husband and I thought of when our cruise tablemates were being obtuse. And she was the first person I thought of when I woke up this Memorial Day.

You see, the Memorial Day post I wanted to write is how much the Sims family is always present in our household. It took that photo of their son to get the words to come out.

I'm sure Mrs. Sims feels weird about the pedestal I've put her on. She's just a regular person dealing with an extraordinary challenge. I hesitated to write the post I wanted to because I don't want to exacerbate her pain. But I want her to know how I really feel, that to me she's everything that Memorial Day represents: the day when we remember those who gave up everything for our country. And I am keenly aware, every day, that CPT Sims gave his life for the very freedom I enjoy. I want her to know that I will never forget that, as long as I live. I never knew her husband, but I will never forget him. Even if she and I drift apart, I will remember the Sims family on Memorial Day and every other day for the rest of my life.

I will remember.

Posted by Sarah at 04:41 PM | Comments (5)

May 29, 2005


There's a fundamental difference between last year's Memorial Day and this one, a difference that I have been dwelling on all weekend: last year I didn't have any veterans to mourn.

I've thought all weekend about what I wanted to say today, but in the end, my heart just doesn't want to articulate the words. I'm thinking them though, and I'm remembering today. And I'm grateful for every day I have with my own soldier.


This is a memorial to every soldier our post lost last year. I will never forget any of them.

Posted by Sarah at 10:09 PM | Comments (1)


Smash's story, though creepy, is vaguely familiar:

JANUARY 2003 – It’s been couple of weeks since my reserve unit arrived in Kuwait, and we’ve just finished negotiating with the port authority to take over an abandoned building to serve as the administrative headquarters for our harbor security operation.

The building hasn’t been used in several years, so before we can move in we have a lot of cleaning and repairing to do. Everyone pitches in – soldiers and sailors, officers and enlisted work side-by-side to clean up over a decade’s worth of dust, grime, and general neglect. But despite all the activity, the hallways remain strangely quiet.

A yeoman is on her knees, scrubbing a particularly difficult stain in the stairwell. She decides to break the uncomfortable silence with a little bit of small talk. “Whoever worked in this building before sure was lazy,” she sighs. “Who would spill a whole pot of coffee on the stairs, and not clean it up?”

Everyone stops working, and stares at her.

“What?” she asks, looking around. “What did I say?”

“That’s not coffee,” one of her co-workers whispers.

“It’s not? What is it?”


Apparently the room my husband used to email me from, the room I stared at whenever we had the chance to webcam, was awash in blood when the first American soldiers got there. My husband's camp in Iraq was an old Fedayeen camp.

We can hardly fathom things outside of our experience. A young American in the Navy would never imagine that she was cleaning up after a slaughter. I can't even begin to picture what a room covered in blood would look like. It's so beyond anything I've ever dealt with.

But it's so outside all of our realms. That's why when you do a Google Images search of Saddam+torture, you end up with photos of Lynndie England on the same page as a photo of "Saddam's henchmen amputating fingers". Torture is so far out of our realm that we conflate dog leashes and finger vises; most of us can't really imagine true torture. The Abu Ghraib thing is as bad as we get, but it's nowhere near as bad as things can get.

It's good that we live in a society where we don't have to regularly clean blood off of the stairs. But it sometimes prevents us from imagining that other cultures don't live with the naivete that we do.

Posted by Sarah at 11:32 AM | Comments (7)

May 18, 2005


I've heard several military families say that they prefer to live off-post because they don't want to feel the presence of the military 24 hours a day. I, however, have enjoyed living right in the thick of things ever since my husband began his military career. We've always been on-post, and we've lived in very isolated military settings, such as the Officer Basic Course and then Germany. I had never really thought about the omnipresence of the military until we went on this vacation. This was our first time away from the military, for every other time we've taken vacation, we've gone to visit family. It was our first experience being surrounded by civilian strangers, and I must say it was unnerving.

The first thing that happens when you meet someone on a cruise is that they ask where you're from. This is the most complicated question you can ask someone in the military. Where are we all from? We started trying to simplify things by just saying we're from Missouri, but then we often ended up having this conversation:

Strangers: So, where are you all from?
Groks: Um, Missouri.
Strangers: Great. What do you do there in Missouri?
Grok: Um, well, we don't actually live in Missouri; we live in Germany.
Strangers: Oh...well, what do you do there?
Grok: We're there with the military...

This either led to awkward silence or awkward questions. Maybe we were talking to all the wrong people, but we didn't get the sort of insightful or curious conversations I was expecting. When we told our dinner-tablemates on the cruise that we were living in Germany with the military, we didn't expect them to virtually ignore us. We talked at length about their jobs and backgrounds, but they didn't ask questions about Germany or Iraq. When the husband and I went back to our room, we discussed how we had braced ourselves to answer all sorts of questions about military life and deployment that never came.

The biggest thing that I learned about myself on our vacation was that I found I really missed the perspective that military life brings. We deal with things that are so far outside of the civilian experience that everything else seems trivial. A military family would never ask someone where he's from, because we know how often that changes. A military family would never say that it would be terrible to live on St. Maarten because we've seen that the poverty and problems of Iraq and Afghanistan far surpass those on Caribbean islands. A military family would never complain about a five-hour plane ride because we've all seen the mothers traveling alone with three kids, moving them across the Atlantic to meet up with their soldier. And a military family would never ever say that working on a cruise ship must be one of the hardest jobs out there because they work such long hours and don't get to have any fun. (Seriously, we had to bite our cheeks to keep from laughing out loud at that one. If we could be so lucky to get "deployed" to a cruise ship!)

And military couples share one suitcase when they go on a 7-day cruise. I've never seen so much excessive luggage.

I found myself quite the fish out of water on this trip, and I longed to go back to where everyone understood us. I never realized how much the Army has become my comfort zone, and I'm quite happy to be back to where everyone wears BDUs.

Posted by Sarah at 12:05 PM | Comments (15)

April 10, 2005


Yesterday morning, my husband asked me what the date was: it was the first of the big three anniversaries this week, the days when my husband saw his heaviest fighting and for which he earned a pretty green ribbon to wear on his dress blues. Last night we went to his former company commander's house and had a Baqubah Bash to celebrate the event, complete with the most hooah American movie we could think of: Rocky IV. I checked what I was doing a year ago, and sure enough I was blogging about troop movements and nervousness. I also posted one of my favorite photos from Iraq.

Last night we had a talk about Adrian Balboa; I don't really like her. My husband said he kind of understands that she just wants what's best for Rocky, but I say that if you marry a fighter, you can't force him to change. And in Rocky IV, he fought for a principle, not for a title. You have to stand by someone who fights for what he believes in. My husband asked if I would still be proud of him if he were a civilian working for some company, and I said that of course I would. But it's different. Am I more proud of my husband for being a soldier and fighting for something he believes in? Of course. But only incrementally; he would still believe in the same things even if he didn't have the opportunity to fight for them. Adrian told Rocky that lots of people live with pain, to which he replied that not everyone has the opportunity to do something about it.

I can't believe it's been one year since some of the most important events in my husband's life. I'm glad that he had the opportunity to fight for something he believes in, and I'm glad that he came home safe to me when he was done.

Posted by Sarah at 11:14 AM | Comments (0)

April 06, 2005


Please keep CaliValleyGirl in mind today: the Chinook that crashed in Afghanistan was from her soldier's unit. Say a prayer or visit her and give her strength as she lives through casualty notification day.

Posted by Sarah at 03:56 PM | Comments (4)

March 19, 2005


Army vice chief of staff Cody worried about future of all-volunteer military

“We’re seeing right now mothers and fathers and school teachers and other influencers that maybe are not talking about service to this nation,” [Gen. Richard] Cody said. “So, when you say, ‘Army, you have a recruiting problem,’ I say, ‘America, you have a recruiting problem.’”

I keep hearing that recruiting and retention are a problem, but of the 60 eligible soldiers in my husband's company, at least 40 reenlisted. In Iraq. But I do agree with General Cody that perhaps not so many of our role models are pushing for military service. They should be, now more than ever.

Posted by Sarah at 10:52 AM | Comments (5)

March 08, 2005


Back in July, Tim wrote me an email in between the time when he learned his wife was back in Germany and the time he would be able to see her. Why me?

If I wondered for a moment "why Sarah?", I knew as quickly it is because you would understand. You are on your own journey. Here is a peek at the end.

At that time, I was five months into my own journey. I know of someone who could use the peek even more, for she is only two weeks into hers.

Dear CaliValleyGirl,

As I sit and know that my husband is in Germany and that I will see him in three and a half hours, I can't get the silly grin off my face. He's back. He's safe. And he's almost here.

But other than goofy, what am I feeling?

I feel excited. I can't wait to have a conversation with him that doesn't include typing or static or time limits. We can talk. All night if we want. And there won't be any soldiers from the Republic of Georgia shouting in the background. He won't have to stand in line to get to me, and I won't have to worry about stepping outside to take out the trash and missing him online. We can talk.

We can also hug. In a way I envy the mothers because at least they have children to hug. I've been quite snuggle-less for a year, and I am looking forward to one of our little rituals: my husband sits on the recliner and I sit knitting on the sofa, and during commercials he leans over and we give each other this little high-five hand squeeze thing. It's just a little moment of touch, but I miss it.

I also feel pride. I am proud of us for making it through this year. I am proud of him for working so hard to help Iraq. Platoon leader is the hardest job a lieutenant can have in Iraq, and he did it the entire deployment. I am proud of the fact that I met one of his soldiers today who said, "Thank god I moved into 3rd platoon." I'm proud that my husband's commander keeps raving about him; his wife says he even does it when they're home just the two of them! My husband says it's funny that I have this grandmotherly thing with him, where I think everything he does is perfect, but it's not just me. He's done well this year, and I couldn't be prouder.

I also feel proud to have been a part of such a moment in history. I found a comment on my blog yesterday, the "if you think the war's so great, then why don't you join", and I am proud that my family has. We put our money where our proverbial mouth is and took part in the spread of democracy. He moreso than I, but we did it together, and I'm proud to say that we've helped make history.

So above anything else, I feel excitement and pride. I can't wait to walk into the gym and see the cheering masses of families and soldiers. And this time I won't wake up from the dream before I can grab him in my arms.

So what does this mean for you, CaliValleyGirl? You're probably ready to sock me for being so happy when you're just starting. You wanted to know how long a year is...it's not that long when you have love and pride to keep you company. This year has gone fast for me, and in many ways I can't believe it's already over. You may feel overwhelmed right now, but time will pass and hopefully you'll carry on this tradition next year by writing to another wife who's just starting her journey. We all need a peek at the end, and I promise you it will be here before you know it.

May your journey be joyful...

Posted by Sarah at 02:33 PM | Comments (6)

March 06, 2005


So, at what point do we get to stop hearing the myth that it's all our nation's black kids getting sent to die?

Posted by Sarah at 09:53 AM | Comments (2)

February 26, 2005


I finally got that foot locker open, with the help of the bolt cutters Red 6 borrowed from the unit. Inside was everything my husband sent home from Iraq: 15 books, a couple of presents I had sent, a Gortex jacket and some TA-50, an Iraqi flag, a John Wayne DVD, and the medal my husband was awarded. Thrown in the bottom of the foot locker like an aftersight.

Red 6 wondered the other day why everyone keeps mentioning the s-word whenever they meet him. I've seen him deflect praise several times already, heaping it upon his crew and his men. He doesn't want to talk about his award, because to him it's not that big of a deal. Same as my husband's.

I told him that to civilians, medals and ribbons are very exciting. We will never understand what goes on in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we can understand that "getting a medal means you did something brave." And we're in awe of bravery, because we've never been asked to do anything with our lives that merits medals.

Remember in Karate Kid II when Daniel makes that beautiful display for Mr. Miyagi's Medal of Honor? (I'm telling you, I can relate anything to the Karate Kid...)

Daniel: I made this for you, it's rosewood. I thought it'd be nice to show them off.
Miyagi: Ah, Daniel-san. Thank you for gift. But why show off?
Daniel: Well, you know, it says something about you, winning the Medal of Honor and all that. It says you're brave. I thought it'd be neat.
Miyagi: (Pats Daniel's chest) This say you brave. (Pats medal) This say you lucky.

That's a pretty accurate portrayal of us dumb civilians. Obviously anyone who thinks medals should be shown off has never been awarded one. I fall squarely into that category, and I just tried to explain to Red 6 that he should keep doing what he's been doing: thanking people for noticing and sharing the glory with his men. When someone mentions the s-word, it's just because they're proud of him. We civilians have a lot of pride we want to share with the troops, it's just sometimes we don't know how.

I also mentioned Den Beste's post on heroism to Red 6; I hope he finds time to read it:

Real heroes know that decorations are only given to those who were lucky enough to be heroic while someone important was watching. Real heroes will have seen many other heroic acts which were never acknowledged by anyone, except by the other members of the team. And ultimately that is the only acknowledgement they truly value, for only their teammates really understand what they went through.

A man who brags about his heroism is no hero.

That's what his wife is for! Medals or no, my husband and Red 6 are my heroes.

Posted by Sarah at 04:15 PM | Comments (1)


I guess I'm just at a loss for words today. What can you say when a Marine's remains finally come home from Vietnam?

You know, sometimes I wonder what my life would be like if we hadn't ended up in the military. I'm sure in many ways it would be easier emotionally. I probably wouldn't weep when I read about remains in Vietnam. I probably wouldn't have the vivid dreams I've been having lately, dreams that haunt me all day long. And I most likely wouldn't be living apart from my husband for the 377th day.

But I really wouldn't trade it for anything. I love this life.

Posted by Sarah at 12:12 PM | Comments (0)


I can't think of anything to add to Joe Galloway's words:

Sgt. First Class David J. Salie of Columbus, Ga., went to serve in Iraq because he believed the cost was worth it, even if part of the payment was his own life. He was 34 years old and had spent almost half his life in the Army. He was part of that tiny, tiny minority of less than 1 percent of Americans who wear the uniform and take the risks to protect and defend the rest of us. He had everything to live for, but gave it all up for his country and another country and people 7,000 miles away.

(Thanks, Bunker.)

Posted by Sarah at 08:47 AM | Comments (3)

February 23, 2005


It's easy to get caught up in OIF and to forget about OEF. CaliValleyGirl's soldier just left for Afghanistan, so her year is just beginning as ours ends. We must never forget that the war doesn't end when our own soldiers come home.

Posted by Sarah at 10:01 PM | Comments (2)


Kudos to this military wife for recognizing proper casualty notification and military uniform regulations. Although I'm sure she almost had a heart attack, she was able to recognize this as a hoax because she knows her way around the Army. Let's put her in for a CWB!

Posted by Sarah at 07:26 PM | Comments (3)

February 22, 2005


Our battalion is home.
I'm in the photo: top row, fourth from the right, waiting for Red 6.

Posted by Sarah at 05:11 PM | Comments (0)


I've been sick as a dog for the past two days, so no blogging. I was just going to check Blackfive before getting back in bed...

Adam of Kim du Toit's Walter-Adam Fund was killed in Iraq.

I donated money to Kim's fund because, heck, snipers are cool. These boys even made it into my "hot" post. I feel for Kim because I know what it's like to have that feeling in your gut, the one where you think it couldn't possibly have hit that close to home.

From the battalion commander's eulogy:

How do you honor such heroes as Clint Gertson and Adam Plumondore? You honor them by telling the stories of their friendship, camaraderie, and fierce bravery. You honor them by continuing to fight to protect the man on your left and right who would lay down his life so that others might live. You honor them by continuing in this noble endeavor providing freedom to a people we do not know or understand the sacrifices that are made – but that is what makes America the greatest nation on earth.

If I know Kim du Toit, he will never let anyone forget SGT Adam Plumondore.

Posted by Sarah at 09:19 AM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2005


Red 6 is home; I can pick him up in three hours.

Operation Iraqi Freedom II is over:
Red 6 is home.
Greyhawk is home.
Sminklemeyer is home.
The Questing Cat is home.
My favorite reservist is home.

I just want it to be my turn already...

I'm trying to maintain the same optimism and cheer that I had all through the deployment, but it's hard. Everyone else has a sign on their door. There are twelve planes full of soldiers this weekend, and mine isn't even in Kuwait yet.

I keep telling myself that today is for the soldiers, that as I stand there in the gym to pick up Red 6, I am celebrating the safe return of the majority of our brigade. I am going to concentrate on the happy faces in camoflauge, not the giddy wives who surround me. I am going to remind myself that one of my best friends is home today, and that my husband will be following in a few weeks.

Today is a day to be happy. Today is a day to be happy.
(If I keep saying it, maybe the tears will stop rolling down my cheeks.)


It wasn't so bad. In a way, it was quite exciting: all the soldiers running to grab their kids. Red 6 is doing great, but he's frustrated that many of his soldiers are still back in Iraq. I'm glad to see him.

(Oh yeah, and I got to shake SPC Roby's hand, the infamous corn syrup chugger. Heh.)

Posted by Sarah at 10:36 AM | Comments (4)

February 18, 2005


I saw my first busload of soldiers arrive home from Iraq today. People were stopping their cars and waving. It was cute.

Posted by Sarah at 05:36 PM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2005


Bunker's right, I shouldn't start counting down: my husband just found out he has to stay 10 days longer than originally planned. Naturally everyone else is still on schedule to return sometime in the next seven days; he'll be back in mid-March.


Posted by Sarah at 07:16 PM | Comments (4)



And I'll have to sew the CCB on for my husband. He always tells me he's going to nominate me for the CWB (the Combat Wifeing Badge).

Posted by Sarah at 10:20 AM | Comments (3)


If the story actually happened the way LT Pantano says it did, then I'm about sick and tired of our soldiers and marines getting charged with murder in Iraq. If I may quote State of Fear...

If someone tried to kill you, you did not have the option of averting your eyes or changing the subject. You were forced to deal with that person's behavior. The experience was, in the end, a loss of certain illusions.

The world was not how you wanted it to be.

The world was how it was.

There were bad people in the world. They had to be stopped.

Posted by Sarah at 09:06 AM | Comments (12)

February 10, 2005

1 ON, 2 OFF

Interesting news:

Under a plan unveiled to Congress on Wednesday, active duty soldiers could expect two years at their home base after a year of deployment. Reservists would see five years of “dwell time” after each year in active duty service, and Guardsmen would have four to five years at home between deployments.

Army Secretary Francis Harvey said that plan likely won’t go into effect until at least 2007, when other major training and force adaptations are complete. Officials want to shift the service to a brigade combat team focus over the next two years, growing from 33 brigades to 44.

Posted by Sarah at 07:48 AM | Comments (3)

February 09, 2005


FX is making a TV show about Iraq. Cool. But unfortunately all they can show is good soldiers doing their job.

But not any and every angle of war is being depicted. One aspect is glaringly absent from most projects: negativity. The U.S. soldier is the hero; his cause is just. Storylines featuring the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal or war protests are no-nos.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: damn those Abu Ghraib soldiers. Because of a handful of dirtbags, every mention of Operation Iraqi Freedom from now on will have some disclaimer about torture at Abu Ghraib. It used to be that every article about the war had that line about the number of troops who had died since Bush waved his Mission Accomplished banner. Now every article has to mention something about Abu Ghraib.

There are plenty of stories that can be told from Iraq without harping on the naked pyramids. Tell a story like SFC Smith's. Tell about 1SG Kasal, shot seven times and still fighting. You want humor? Throw in syrup chugging. You want suspense? Follow the soldiers of 2-2 INF as they kicked in doors in Fallujah. You want drama? Good and decent soldiers are dying all the time, and there's never a dry eye in the house.

Just don't tell me that what people want to see when they turn on a program about Iraq is scandal and unethical behavior. There's plenty of that crap on Nip/Tuck.

Posted by Sarah at 07:45 AM | Comments (12)

February 05, 2005


Congrats to my awesome husband, who made the Captain's List for 2005. He's still got several months until promotion, but at least he's already squared away. Of course, that's because Household 7 takes such good care of him...


Plus I completely forgot that January brings a pay raise!

Posted by Sarah at 08:12 PM | Comments (8)


Reintegration Realization #1

Sarah: I got your foot locker
Sarah: I don't know the combination though
Sarah: do you want me to leave it or open it for you?
husband: oh yeah
husband: I'm not sure where the combo is
husband: you can cut it for all I care
husband: I don't even remember what's in there
Sarah: um, with what?
Sarah: I dont have scissors that good
husband: oh yeah
husband: every army unit has bolt cutters
husband: we lose keys and cut locks all the damn time
Sarah: our house doesnt have bolt cutters
husband: yeah most houses don't

Welcome back to civilization...

Posted by Sarah at 07:29 PM | Comments (2)

February 03, 2005


SFC Paul Ray Smith is the first soldier from OIF to be nominated for the Medal of Honor. His story is a beautiful one.

Posted by Sarah at 07:29 AM | Comments (0)

February 01, 2005


I just have to say that our military community is so wonderful.

Today LTG Sanchez came to talk to us. He and other top dogs in USAREUR spoke about reintegration issues and gave quality information on the return of 1ID. When LTG Sanchez opened up the floor for questions, he even cracked a joke: "Heck, I'll even answer Abu Ghraib questions if you have them." I giggled loudly.

I had a question about the timeline for my husband switching units after the deployment, since he will make the move from armor to finance. LTG Sanchez gave me a good answer, but immediately after the briefing, several people came to follow up on my concerns. The rear detachment lieutenant colonel immediately started asking me how he could help, taking notes on a small pad of paper. The finance major and captain approached me, having recognized my last name and realizing I was talking about their lieutenant. The armor rear detachment commander also approached and made sure that I got the information I needed, and he quipped to the finance major that our armor unit isn't willing to lose a top LT, which was kind. It was amazing. So many people from so high up the chain of command were making sure that I was taken care of.

And the answers I got were very encouraging. I can't wait for my husband to get home from his current mission so I can put his/our worries to rest. I can't speak higher of the treatment I just received. Our Rear D exemplifies "no mission too difficult, no sacrifice too great." They're high speed.

Posted by Sarah at 04:51 PM | Comments (3)


The Questing Cat can see the big picture. He measures his role in Iraq not in individual IEDs but in terms of division-sized cycles. I wish him the best as he returns home.

Posted by Sarah at 08:49 AM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2005


CaliValleyGirl's boyfriend is deploying soon, and she voices many of the issues that I remember from this time last year. I must say that there is one clause that I am really starting to hate, one that I have been hearing more and more often: "When my husband was in Iraq the first time..."

Posted by Sarah at 03:23 PM | Comments (5)

January 23, 2005


I got excited a few months ago when they raised our Cost Of Living Allowance, but now today I am feeling alarmed:

As the dollar drops against foreign currency, it makes the cost of basing U.S. military personnel in Europe and Asia all the more expensive. For example, every time the euro rises one euro cent in value against the dollar, the dollar increase in salary and benefits for local-national employees at the Navy Exchanges is $187,000 adjusted annually, according to Lt. Cmdr. Lisa Braun, spokeswoman for Navy Region Europe in Naples, Italy.

Get us out of here! Send us all back home so we can spend our dollars in Kansas and Texas instead of on paying Germans to sit on their rumps and be rude to us in the housing office. Let me go home so I can pump my money into Quizno's and Hobby Lobby instead of spending it here. Let our single soldiers drop hundreds of dollars in American clubs and bars instead of being banned from Club New York in Nuremburg because Club New freakin' York doesn't like Americans. Let me take my car in to the Nissan dealer at home so I can stop getting hosed here because our warranty is no good in Europe. Let me tip an American waiter for bringing me my third free refill of Dr. Pepper instead of the German who charged me extra for ketchup.

Wanna solve issues of COLA and ridiculous pay/benefits for local nationals?
Send. Us. Home.

Posted by Sarah at 08:42 AM | Comments (6)

January 21, 2005


Red 6 got the Silver Star. And his smile just lights up my heart.

Posted by Sarah at 09:26 AM | Comments (5)

January 20, 2005


ABC wanted to know if there were any military funerals that they could contrast to their coverage of the inauguration. I send a hundred mental middle fingers their way, for today I attended the memorial service for PFC Gunnar Becker.

The soldiers of Becker's company had their own service:

As they approached the memorial to render a final salute, many of his comrades felt compelled to leave a memento. While many leaders left unit coins, the popping of stitches was heard as nametapes and patches were torn from uniforms throughout the chapel, and left on the memorial alongside a toy tank, paper flowers, packs of Camel cigarettes and other personal items.

Today we who stand and wait had ours.

PFC Becker seems like an upstanding guy. He gave away his R&R slot to another soldier whose grandfather was ill. He joined in Army in August 2003, at which point he would have known he'd be heading to a long deployment in the Middle East. He joined anyway. His platoon sergeant said that when he asked Becker why he joined the Army, instead of answering "for the college money" like most do, he said, "I came in to make a difference."

And he did make a difference. One of his friends, in DCUs and crutches, went to the podium and choked back sobs as he spoke of his friend. We all wept. My heart ached as they fired the volleys. PFC Becker will be buried on Saturday at 1530 in South Dakota, on his 20th birthday.

Screw you, ABC, for wanting to politicize our pain.

Posted by Sarah at 02:25 PM | Comments (13)

January 16, 2005


Yesterday when I did a search on PFC Gunnar Becker, all I could find was a Wall of Fame entry at his high school. Which he graduated from, incidentally, in 2003. Today there is more information about the young man our battalion lost this week.

Lost soldier lit up their lives, friends say
SD soldier killed in Iraq (his photo: he looks like a little kid...he would've been 20 next week)

His death was an accident, a stupid, infuriating accident. If an insurgent had killed him, I could at least have someone to hate. I feel angry about PFC Becker's death, but there's nowhere to focus my laser beam.

Even as young soldier back in 2003, Becker realized the risk.

He said, "I guess if it costs a couple of people's lives to keep freedom it's probably worth it. That's just the way I am guess."

We'll make sure it was worth it, Gunnar.

(My thoughts on PFC Becker's memorial service here.)

Posted by Sarah at 08:39 AM | Comments (3)

January 15, 2005


There are some wives here who are already getting ready for our husbands' return. Others are convinced that, like 1AD before us, our soldiers will be extended past their 13 month target. We have a bad precedent: many in 1AD were already home when they got turned back to Iraq. Even having our soldiers step off the plane isn't a guarantee that they're home, so no one quite knows when to breathe the sigh of relief. And the fact that the elections are supposed to take place a mere two weeks before our transfer of authority is making everyone a little crazy.

What I've been wondering lately is what exactly would have to happen to make the situation bad enough that 1ID would have to stay. Many people have been saying that "if the elections go badly", but how badly would they have to go? How intense the fighting, how widespread the chaos, how dangerous the situation? What would it take to make them hold on to the division?

I'm not getting my hopes oriented in either direction. Before 1ID left, I told myself that I would be happy as long as my husband came home before Tax Day. I still have to keep that target in mind.

Posted by Sarah at 08:37 AM | Comments (4)

January 14, 2005


Today marks the eleventh month of our deployment. Our battalion just lost its first soldier.

Posted by Sarah at 10:11 PM | Comments (5)

January 08, 2005


I've never understood the relationship between the Army and smoking. I understand that smoking can alleviate stress, which I suppose is why many people start while they're deployed. But I don't understand how an organization that prides itself on physical fitness can be so full of smokers. But then again, I've never smoked; perhaps I overestimate the effects. Thoughts?

(prompted by this article, only tangentially related)

Posted by Sarah at 07:15 AM | Comments (3)

January 05, 2005


I have to chuckle at the fact that I learned about a new milblogger via an Iraqi blog. Omar pointed out In Iraq for 365, where I found a great post called "From the smells to toilets to flirting, I miss America".

And for the anti-war types who think Iraq was all kite-flying before we got there, check out this sentence:

Logan’s story is both compelling and sad. His uncle was killed by members of Saddam Hussein’s regime for speaking Turkish in Baghdad.

Killed for speaking a foreign language. Remind me again why we shouldn't have invaded Iraq?

Posted by Sarah at 03:31 PM | Comments (1)

January 04, 2005


I have always maintained that I am lucky to be a modern military wife and that the struggles we face are nothing compared to those who have gone before us. In times of fear, I always count my blessings that my husband fights in Iraq instead of on Normandy Beach. I perhaps could have endured WWII though; tonight, after watching Glory, my benchmark is set much higher.

I'm brave, but could I have sent my husband to fight in the Civil War? Could I have endured each excruciating moment, knowing that he was lining up in perfect rows in plain sight of the enemy, drummers and colors nearby? Could I have born the agony of imagining him fighting with a bayonet? I'd like to think that I could have carried that weight, knowing that the cause soldiers fought for then was the same cause we fight for today. But it's hard to say; in an age where supposedly 77% of HMMWVs are up-armored and 100% of men wear armor plates, how can we even fathom rows of men trying to reload their muskets faster than the other guy?

I would hope that I could be as strong as women past. Edith Roosevelt hung a photo of her dead son on her mantel to defy the Germans who sent it to her. I picture her when times get difficult. I'm certain that Civil War women deserve far more respect and admiration than I can guess.

Military wife-ing has gotten progressively easier, no matter what anyone says. Watch Glory and imagine your husband fighting for freedom back then if you don't believe me.

Posted by Sarah at 09:20 PM | Comments (5)

January 02, 2005


I've been emailing with a reader lately, and I hope she doesn't mind if I steal her words about love for our soldiers:

Sometimes I feel like a firehose with a knot in it. I have to be careful where I point it 'cause if the knot ever gets untied, I might end up drowning somebody in admiration, gratitude and affection.

That's how I felt when I read this article: They just want to rejoin their friends

Posted by Sarah at 10:17 AM | Comments (1)

December 31, 2004


Bunker wrote about the notion that the military is "society's trash heap", and I only have one thing to add. Having taught four sections of college English, I can say that the soldiers in my classes are just like students in any other classes. There are those who work hard, those who make excuses, and those who simply don't show up. I have had numerous non-native speakers who have taken my class and excelled because they worked hard to improve the English that they barely had learned by basic training. I have had students whose foundations have really impressed me; they must have worked hard in high school. And I've also had students who don't want to think for themselves and call me every time a paper is due to ask me what they should write. I believe that's the same cross section as I had when I taught at University of Illinois, and I imagine it's the same for any class anywhere.

The one difference I see is when my students write their narrative paper on one incident in their lives that has made them who they are today. That's when things start to get serious. By and large, my students have overcome extreme obstacles to get to this point in their lives, far more so than my college friends or I have. They've survived gang shootings, jail sentences, IEDs, domestic abuse, immigration without being able to speak English, combat deaths of their friends, and extreme poverty to get to where they are today. Most are grateful to have been given the opportunity to be in college, and they take nothing for granted. They've worked hard to get where they are, far harder than most of my peers in college.

Posted by Sarah at 08:37 AM | Comments (0)

December 28, 2004


It's common knowledge around here that I completely don't trust polls. Even ones that say things I want to hear. I certainly put no stock whatsoever in polls that say there's a 51-49% split, but I'm tempted to at least check out polls that report 60, 66, or 87% findings. I'll check them out, but they're still worth a grain of salt, because I think that people say what they think others want to hear and they consistently choose "fair" or "agree" as the default (I do this all the time when I have no strong feelings either way). So with skepticism in mind, I checked out the Military Times Poll (via Power Line).

Sixty-three percent of respondents approve of the way President Bush is handling the war, and 60 percent remain convinced it is a war worth fighting. And support for the war is even greater among those who have served longest in the combat zone: Two-thirds of combat vets say the war is worth fighting.

The soldier I spent Christmas with -- who just re-enlisted -- said that when he first deployed, he thought going to Iraq was a pretty dumb idea. After being there, he says he now sees why it is important.

In addition, despite the pressures of a wartime military, 87 percent said they’re satisfied with their jobs and, given the choice today, only 25 percent said they would leave the service.

The only soldier I know who might get out wants to do so because he's like an athlete who quits after Olympic gold: after being in Fallujah, there's nothing that could keep him satisfied. I'll give you one guess which lovable thrillseeker I'm talking about.

I know this poll has received arched eyebrows because it was mostly answered by career military, but they are the people I am most concerned about. To be honest, the views of the guy who only joined for the college benefits don't matter to me nearly as much as the ones who plan to stick around and see this fight through. I care about the 58% of those who said they're re-enlisting/extending because of "patriotism". They're the ones who are going to make sure the war in Iraq is a success.

(The last time I wrote about a poll, vitriolic nutjobs came out of the woodwork to defend the poll's findings and call me hateful names because I said that a poll with 1230 respondents and a margin of error +/- 3% might not be accurate of the population. (Which I said because the questions were ridiculously loaded, and as it turns out, the poll skewed heavily Democrat.) Let's see if those same people -- those who liked the results of that poll -- come back to tell me that I should indeed listen to the results of this poll with 1,423 respondents, +/- 2.6%. I won't hold my breath.)

Posted by Sarah at 10:41 AM | Comments (5)

December 27, 2004


I bet you can all guess what happened when a blogger tried to buy toy guns for his sons for Christmas. Think he could find any?

My friend and I were laughing the other day while I was looking at her refrigerator. She has several photos on display of her husband in Iraq, and she also has some drawings magneted up there -- I guess her husband mails home pictures he drew and then her two sons color them in. What I laughingly pointed out was how odd it would look in a non-military family to have a fridge covered in photos of Dad with his M16 and colored drawings of a soldier manning a 50cal in a HMMWV or a jet dropping bombs on buildings. But to us, those kinds of things are completely normal. My friend turned to her four year old son and asked him, "What's Daddy's job?" He gleefully replied, "Soldier!" They decided it was the coolest job a Daddy could have.

I don't have any kids to scar, but my fridge still bears my husband's zero target from the day he shot expert. I think it's awful cute.

Posted by Sarah at 08:40 AM | Comments (5)

December 23, 2004


1 Blog...

10 Veterans...

and millions of uninformed Civilians.

This could get ugly.


The battle begins January 1, 2005

Posted by Sarah at 09:53 AM | Comments (3)

December 21, 2004


The 1ID website has got the only holiday video you'll see that contains both toy distribution and explosions. Check it out.

I am leaving to take two friends to the airport, so I'll be out of blogging range for two days. More when I return.

Posted by Sarah at 12:52 PM | Comments (1)

December 19, 2004


Until Amritas put me on the spot, I didn't know the full details of Charles Jenkins' desertion. (Remember he's the guy who was in North Korea for almost forty years and just turned himself in.) When I first heard the gist of the story, I thought he was despicable, but now I believe he's paid the price for his choice.

Jenkins' unit, he had learned, was scheduled to ship out soon to the live war in Vietnam, a prospect that terrified him. "I did not want to be responsible for the lives of other soldiers under me," he said during his court-martial trial last month. So Jenkins looked for a way out. He could confess his cowardice to superiors and accept the consequences or attempt somehow to flee. He chose the latter option.

He should have chosen the former. When you sign up for the military, you'd better be prepared for the worst assignment possible in exchange for that precious GI Bill. You don't get to pick and choose with the military -- as Paredes and Hinzman believe they can -- so if you break that contract you signed, you go to jail. You don't try to flee. That said, Jenkins paid dearly for his error in judgement, working as a slave to the North Korean government for 40 years, and turned himself in willingly at the first chance he could find.

He would plead guilty only to desertion and aiding the enemy (for the time he spent teaching English). In exchange, his penalty would be a maximum 30 days' confinement, a demotion to private, forfeiture of all pay and benefits and a dishonorable discharge. Military-law experts assume Jenkins won this relatively lenient treatment in exchange for providing intelligence about North Korean spy programs. Neither Jenkins nor the U.S. government will comment on any such discussions.

Jenkins has paid his debt to the military and to society, and he has likely suffered far more than if he'd stayed in the Army a few more years. His slate is clean in my book. Hinzman, on the other hand, has far more 'splainin' to do.

Posted by Sarah at 08:51 AM | Comments (5)

December 17, 2004


Last week, Annika -- a cool blogger whose themes include poetry and ripping on Britney Spears -- interviewed me via instant messenger. She just tidied up the conversation and posted it on her blog. I think I sound like a huge tool, but I bet that's pretty representative of my real personality: I probably sound like that to everyone. Anyway, if you're interested in hearing me yabber for an hour, check out Chicks Dig Tanks over at Annika's.

Annika and I touched briefly on Pat Tillman, a segment I would like to expand. I seriously didn't hear about the friendly fire until last week. I think the phrase "friendly fire" is is one of the worst things I can think of. I'd rather pretend it doesn't exist, but Tillman's death forced me to imagine the possibility.

2Slick wrote a long and detailed post on the anger the Tillman family feels, the "Army cover-up", and his thoughts on the matter. If you're interested at all in the subject, I highly recommend reading it. I think 2Slick summed up the crux of the controversy, at least for me:

There's a reason why the men involved refused to talk about the incident with the WaPo reporter. It makes them sick. Every single day. It's the first thing they think about when they wake up in the morning, and it's the last thing they think about when they go to bed at night. [...] But no amount of punishment could ever compare to the stomach-grinding guilt that these officers and soldiers will live with every single day of their lives. Please forgive the Army officials for not wanting to string these people up and administer public floggings.

Every now and then, I offer the same generic, sing-songy disclaimer: I have never been in the Army, I speak as a civilian, 75% of what I know comes from my husband, the other 25% comes from movies, etc, etc, etc. That said, I would like to return to the movie Courage Under Fire, which I mentioned twice was the reason I married my husband. I've been told that this movie is pretty emotionally accurate, and when I read 2Slick's post, I kept thinking about Denzel's character. He tortures himself throughout the whole movie for the friendly fire death he caused. In the end, the soldier's family says it's easy to forgive him, but now he has to learn to forgive himself.

One night right after CPT Sims was killed, I had a dream I was a soldier clearing buildings in Iraq. I shot someone who came rushing in the door and then realized he was an American. I woke up with the worst feeling imaginable, and that was just a dream. The guilt I felt based on a dream was so horrible that I can't begin to imagine the guilt of reality.

When your husband is deployed, you can't help but mentally plan for tragedy. I don't know if anything we mentally plan would actually hold up to reality, but we unconsciously work our way through various scenarios so that they're not uncharted territory should they ever come up. Last Wednesday I had to work my way through a mental friendly fire death. That was harder than anything I've imagined so far. But I know that it wouldn't be nearly as hard for me as it would be for the soldier who fired the round. That's how you would forgive something like that.

2Slick is right: there are only victims in a friendly fire, not villains. Is that the way anyone wants their soldier to go out? Hell, no. Is that the way Pat Tillman should've gone out? Not a chance. But I think I can honestly say that I would have an easier time dealing with being the family member than with being the soldier who shot America's hero.

Posted by Sarah at 07:54 AM | Comments (4)

December 16, 2004


Man, how come I don't live in Hanau?

Posted by Sarah at 08:01 AM | Comments (0)

December 15, 2004



1LT Neal Prakash from Albany, New York, a tank platoon leader with Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 63rd Armor, fires an AT-4 shoulder-fired rocket into a building in eastern Fallujah Nov. 10 after receiving fire from the site during Operation al-Fajr (New Dawn).

Compliments of the 1ID website, pointed out by an observant mother-in-law.

Posted by Sarah at 05:47 PM | Comments (1)


The OEF and OIF 2005 troop rotations are in the paper today.

And Gunner Palace is opening in theaters. Naturally, I won't be able to see it. First Team America, then Gunner Palace. But by golly we can't live without showing Christmas with the Kranks.

Posted by Sarah at 09:03 AM | Comments (1)

December 14, 2004


What's the answer to this comment?

I Understand you[r] explanation, but I think you are missing the point we (the angry at Rumsfeld) are trying to make. When the head of the Armed forces says, "You go to war with the Army you have, not the one you might want," and the timing of that war was determined by that man, it is a disrespect to the troops who are over there fighting and dying. It was Rumsfeld's responsibility to have the "Army we want" before going to war. The Pentagon ignored the Army War College's analysis of the course of events. All of this was predicted before we invaded. If Rumsfeld was not so arrogant, maybe these guys would not be asking these questions. "Even tanks get blown up," is NOT and adequate answer and it disrespects every man and woman over there. If he was in the private sector, he would have been thrown out on his ass a long time ago. You can respect the presidents decision to go to war, but you cannot respect our troops AND respect the way Rumsfeld runs things. He has been incompetent from the start and if you have friends or family over there, you should be as pissed as I am... just my two cents worth.

Rebel Rouser has the answer, complete with colorful language and plenty of punchlines. I read every last word of his answer; you should too.

And apparently he wrote Military Classes for Civilian Dumbasses first, which is just as good.

I like this guy. Reminds me of Deskmerc.

Posted by Sarah at 08:05 PM | Comments (7)


I have a friend who works at AFN radio, so I requested "American Solider" for SPC Mahlenbrock. They can't play it at 1900, but they're going to play it earlier in the day and explain why they're playing it. We're doing our part here in Bavaria to honor SPC Mahlenbrock's last request.

Posted by Sarah at 10:49 AM | Comments (1)


Last night I had a dream that my husband and I were reading blogs together. What an exciting life, huh? Anyway, in the dream my husband got up to go to the bathroom, and I thought of something I wanted to say to him. I woke up and thought to myself that I would tell him when he returned from the bathroom. Then I had the slow realization that he wasn't in the bathroom.

We hit the 300th day last week. And I found today that my deployment philosophy is the same as Major Phelps':

I continually tell myself and I wholeheartedly believe that if we as a country can confront terrorism and rouge nation-states that support terrorist acts and if we can bring peace, hope, freedoms, and democracy to a country in the heart of the Middle East while at the same time solidifying the security, freedom, and liberties of this great nation then my sacrifice is inconsequential. If I am asked to partake in some small way to accomplish this goal then I say take me before my four sons are confronted with this problem in 20 years and they are forced to clean up a problem that has only festered, become increasingly worse and a problem that we should have confronted twenty years earlier. We are doing the right thing, and America needs to stand united and reaffirm to themselves every now and then that we are in fact doing the right thing. I think I'm a free minded thinker, and I'm not "brainwashed" by the President, Mr. Rumsfield, or some "right wing propaganda conspiracy theory." I really think we're attempting to accomplish something monumental. I guess we'll see.

I don't mind being left alone for a cause this important.

Posted by Sarah at 07:48 AM | Comments (4)

December 13, 2004


I don't see it happening any time soon, but this uniform is pretty freaking cool. Of course, I had a crush on Robocop when I was a kid...

Posted by Sarah at 09:04 AM | Comments (5)

December 12, 2004


Some soldier perspective on the question posed to Sec. Rumsfeld the other day:

Greyhawk + follow-up
A Line in the Sand
2Slick + follow-up

And from my favorite reservist:


I've started writing about armor on vehicles quite a few times only to cancel it. We just can't get into the details without violating OPSEC (Operational Security). I can't tell you why that works without revealing details that can be of use to our enemies. I especially can't talk about the downsides either.

The first IED I ever saw took out an 18-wheeler in front of me. It blew the cab on to the left side of the road while the trailer careened off to the right. At the time, I was riding in an unarmored Humvee without doors.

I went to Fallujah in a Humvee with canvas doors.

I hunkered behind a "frankenstein" scrap metal door in Najaf as bullets bounced off.

With all that and more, I'm not sure it really makes all that much of a difference. When I look at the trade offs with what is truly gained, I really don't know. I do know that many soldiers now and before us went into Harm's Way with less ~ am I or any other soldier any more special?

One thing I have truly come to believe, if its your time - it's your time. I don't care if you're wrapped in armor while sitting in a bunker, if it's your time then you're a goner. So with that in mind, does it really make that much of a difference?

I round 'em up, you decide.


More on armor above.

Posted by Sarah at 09:53 AM | Comments (10)

December 04, 2004


When I went to hear Gen. Hertling speak the other night, one of the things he and his wife said was that the last few days of the deployment are the hardest, that the time between when the Soldiers get to Kuwait and the time they actually get home can feel like an eternity. Granted, I haven't made it that far, but I think the time we're going through right now is the hardest. We're at our nine/ten month range. We know things are completely up in the air right now, especially with the Iraqi elections. We know that 1AD got extended, so we're certain it could happen to us too. Rumors about return dates are flying all over the place, and no one really knows where the finish line is. Back in July, that stuff didn't matter, but as we get closer to the end, we all wonder when exactly the end will come. And how exactly the math is calculated...

One detail that irked family members about the extension [of 66th Trans out of K-town] is that it does not start until Jan. 31, 2005 — a week after the company’s one-year anniversary at Forward Operating Base Speicher.

“What they’re doing now, they’re saying, ‘You came in January, the end of January is your time,’” Sowers said. “They would say the one year mark is 31 January, that’s the math that they’re using downrange.”

So 365 days isn't a year. OK. I know that will make lots of wives really angry, but it doesn't bother me. I'd just like to know that it's happening. As long as I feel we're being updated, I'm cool. But I sure think that this leg of the deployment is the hardest. I personally will be thrilled when he gets to Kuwait, because it's the not knowing that is the worst for me.

Posted by Sarah at 01:33 PM | Comments (3)

December 02, 2004


Heartwrenching photos from CPT Sims' funeral.

Posted by Sarah at 07:57 AM | Comments (2)

December 01, 2004


The Iraq Page: Remembering Those who Lost Their Lives in the Iraq War of 2003
Thousand lost lives grab our attention
Soldier remembered for life transformed, then lost

Tonight I heard Brig. Gen. Hertling of 7th ATC say something I won't soon forget: Our soldiers have not lost their lives in Iraq; they have sacrificed their lives for freedom and for their brothers and sisters in arms. That struck me. Their lives were not lost or taken, but instead they have given their lives for something much bigger than themselves. That's a wise statement and a comforting way of looking at the situation. The enemy cannot take that which we have sworn to give so that the tree of liberty may be refreshed.

Posted by Sarah at 08:45 PM | Comments (1)

November 29, 2004


Imagine Cartman saying "sweet." That's what I said when I read about our new COLA increase! A 31% currency adjustment? My job only gave us 4%. Man, the Army takes care of us.

Posted by Sarah at 08:05 AM | Comments (4)

November 24, 2004


Photos from Fallujah.

Posted by Sarah at 09:16 AM | Comments (1)

November 23, 2004

2-2 INF

My neighbor sent me a gripping article about A-CO 2-2 INF, the company CPT Sims commanded in Fallujah. It features more from SSG Fitts and provides a harrowing picture -- and actual pictures -- from the missions.

Here's something funny though: "Of roughly 400 men and women from Task Force 2-2..." Are there any women in Fallujah? I know there aren't any in 2-2 INF, and I thought I understood that women couldn't even be attached to infantry battalions. Is this just p.c. talk, or are there really women involved?

Posted by Sarah at 06:23 PM | Comments (4)


Got an email from Red 6, the husband's best friend, today. He's back from Fallujah, safe and sound. He's also famous for a day.


And other Indians have noticed!

Posted by Sarah at 04:03 PM | Comments (2)


A story from a Marine in Fallujah:

I will end with a couple of stories of individual heroism that you may not have heard yet. I was told about both of these incidents shortly after they occurred. No doubt some of the facts will change slightly but I am confident that the meat is correct.

The first is a Marine from 3/5. His name is Corporal Yeager (Chuck Yeager's grandson). As the Marines cleared and apartment building, they got to the top floor and the point man kicked in the door. As he did so, an enemy grenade and a burst of gunfire came out. The explosion and enemy fire took off the point man's leg. He was then immediately shot in the arm as he lay in the doorway. Corporal Yeager tossed a grenade in the room and ran into the doorway and into the enemy fire in order to pull his buddy back to cover. As he was dragging the wounded Marine to cover, his own grenade came back through the doorway. Without pausing, he reached down and threw the grenade back through the door while he heaved his buddy to safety. The grenade went off inside the room and Cpl Yeager threw another in. He immediately entered the room following the second explosion. He gunned down three enemy all within three feet of where he stood and then let fly a third grenade as he backed out of the room to complete the evacuation of the wounded Marine. You have to understand that a grenade goes off within 5 seconds of having the pin pulled. Marines usually let them "cook off" for a second or two before tossing them in. Therefore, this entire episode took place in less than 30 seconds.

My grandfather flew with Chuck Yeager during WWII, and they've kept in touch throughout all these years. It makes me smile to know that Yeager's grandson and my grandfather's grandson(in-law) are fighting in the same war today.

Posted by Sarah at 07:20 AM | Comments (0)

November 20, 2004


This Slate article (via Hud) shows some good perspective on the Fallujah shooting, but the title irks me: What the Marine Did: The shooting of an unarmed Iraqi was a tragedy. But was it a war crime? Am I the only one who fails to see the "tragedy"? This is the enemy. The same group of people who have been collecting heads since May. The people who attack from mosques and use women and children as shields. Whether or not this man held a weapon in his hand at the moment the Marine killed him does not make the difference between a terrorist and a friendly neighborhood Iraqi. I firmly believe that, had he had a weapon, he would've tried to kill the Marine first. He was the enemy; I fail to see the tragedy of his death.

Posted by Sarah at 07:08 AM | Comments (3)

November 18, 2004


Via LGF I found two posts written by Froggy Ruminations about the Marine who shot the insurgent. Like he says, I'm not a veteran. But I would want my husband to shoot the terrorist. The object of war is not to die for your country, as Patton said.

There's what's right and what's right, and never the twain shall meet.

When my husband was home, he saw that I had bought A Few Good Men, which he has never seen. I told him of my thoughts when I had watched it again, and he said that it didn't sound like something he'd like to watch. He made a comment (not a direct quote -- I can't remember exactly how he phrased it) about it being the type of movie that makes people shudder at what must be done to protect America. Is Jack Nicholson the bad guy, or has he done what was necessary to keep America safe? I don't have the answers to those questions. We also talked about the Ethics in America program and the SSG Alban case. The husband didn't like to face these issues at all, probably because every servicemember fears being in those shoes.

Posted by Sarah at 07:15 AM | Comments (2)

November 17, 2004


It's days like this when we're reminded that freedom isn't free. -- Chaplain Jacob

I just got back from the memorial service for CSM Faulkenburg, CPT Sims, 1LT Iwan, and SSG Matteson. 2-2 INF lost four great leaders in one week; for those of you unfamiliar with the military, these are four top-of-the-hierarchy men, all four of them leaders who touched many lives. What struck me about this memorial service was the sorrow that the soldiers expressed. I saw four grown men cry as they spoke about the bond they shared with these soldiers. I realized the sorrow that soldiers feel when one of their brothers falls, the bond that simply doesn't develop between colleagues in other professions. I was moved by the pain that these men felt from losing men they'd served with, bunked with, and fought with. It was extremely touching, and I won't soon forget those tears.

I also realized I would follow COL Pittard to the ends of the earth.

Posted by Sarah at 03:25 PM | Comments (0)


I need to apologize to SSG Fitts immediately. Oda Mae just received an email from a soldier downrange, someone who knows SSG Fitts (Oda Mae took out some names, but email left as-is, in all its soldierly glory, i.e. warning: swear words):

You are correct SSG Fitts is a great NCO and very positive guy. He was misquoted. We all hate some of our enbeds.. and the Brit times guys a real cock. VERY annoying wines alot and writes misquotes just to get his points across. However . . . that when these guys write fucked up shit, he won't kick them out.. even when we've asked him to boot them out. I didn't want [Mrs. Sims] to hear about that article, because sean was doing the right thing, and leading from the front, the fucking stupid brit got it all wrong.

My apologies for being down on SSG Fitts (and my apologies for this soldier's dirty mouth). I'm leaving up the post below this one because I don't believe in making the past disappear. But I have no beef with SSG Fitts. Keep that in mind when you scroll to the next post.

Posted by Sarah at 09:24 AM | Comments (9)


Some people thought I was too hard on SSG Fitts. Here's what SSG Fitts said, right after CPT Sims was killed:

"The CO is dead," he rasped, "and I'll tell you why. They were just a gaggle walking into some house. They weren't clearing the building properly before going in. We were doing that, and that's why we're living. Do not let your guard down here, or you'll be the next one dead."

I can only speak as a military wife, since I've never been a soldier. My comments may not reflect the military take on things. But I don't think what SSG Fitts said was a reflection of respect or loyalty.

I know that statements like these are made about the out-group: one company might pump themselves up by saying they're better/smarter/more hooah than another company, or platoon to platoon or battalion to battalion. However, I think it comes across as extremely crass when it's done within the in-group, especially right after a death and in front of a reporter! I don't know what tone of voice SSG Fitts used, but it doesn't sound to me like he's trying to scare the men into be safe; it sounds like he's boasting that he was smarter than the CO and that's why he's still alive. It sounds awful, in my opinion.

Unfortunately, I hear awful statements quite frequently. In my job, I work with only enlisted soldiers, and after a year, the comments about officers have started to wear me down. According to many NCOs, officers are unnecessary and worthless. Once when some of my students found out that my husband is an officer, they said, "At least please tell us that he's prior enlisted!" The look of disgust on these NCO faces when they learned he was ROTC was obvious. "I hate lieutenants," one of them said. Gee, thanks. Right before 1ID deployed, the 1SG stood up in front of our FRG and said, "The CO cares about the mission; I care about the men." Nice statement, thanks. Officers are apparently promotion-hungry morons who should just sit in the rear and let the real men take care of the company. Statements like this get made all the time, so when SSG Fitts paints the CO as a lollygagger who got his dumb ass shot, it makes me mad.

But I read this article as a wife. Maybe soldiers don't pay as much attention to these remarks -- though I don't see how constant griping about how dumb the LTs are wouldn't have an effect on unit cohesion -- and maybe I'm just being over-sensitive. But wives read these articles. Mrs. Sims is printing and saving everything written about her husband to make a scrapbook so that someday her son can learn about his father. Do you think she wants that nasty comment by SSG Fitts in her memories? Look, son, this "combat-hardened NCO" says that your daddy was a screw-up. We family members don't want to read that; shame on SSG Fitts for saying it and shame on the reporter for printing it.

Imagine your spouse gets killed in a car accident. Then imagine that the newspaper writes an article about the accident and interviews a witness who says, "If the driver hadn't been swerving around like a madman and had been more responsible, he/she might still be alive today!" How would that make you feel, to read that about your own spouse? Now imagine the witness was a close friend, someone who should show respect and loyalty. That's how I as a spouse read that article. CPT Sims and SSG Fitts worked together. From everything I've heard, CPT Sims was one of the most respected COs on this post. I think SSG Fitts should've shown more tact and respect in the moments after CPT Sims was killed.

My two cents: take it for what it's worth.

Posted by Sarah at 08:40 AM | Comments (4)

November 11, 2004


When most of us think of Veterans, we think of the beginning scenes of Saving Private Ryan, the elderly man walking through the white crosses in France. But there's a new face for Veterans these days, a baby face, on soldiers much younger than even I.


Our vets come in all shapes and sizes these days, some of them born as recently as 1986. Yet they're just as distinguished as vets such as my grandfather. Take the time to visit some Milblogs today and pay tribute to the many vets we have out in the 'sphere.

As for me, I'm gonna go hug my favorite vet right now.

The Big Red One has put together a video tribute to our Veterans through the ages. It's also dedicated to CSM Faulkenburg, a Soldier from our post who was killed in Fallujah this week.

Posted by Sarah at 11:05 AM | Comments (3)

October 29, 2004


Couldn't resist quoting this:

We may see some brief flicker of the insurgent flame yet, some last-ditch effort before Tuesday. If so it would be a good time to remember this: immediately after Al Qaeda castrated Spain with a few well-placed bombs the organization released a tape claiming the victory. That tape included this phrase: "You love life and we love death,." Anyone who ever served in the US Armed Forces knew the instant response to that, heard George C. Scott quote Patton, establishing the obvious common ground between American Forces and Al Qaeda corpses: "Your job is not to die for your country. Your job is to make the other poor bastard die for his country".

"You Love life, we love death"

The Marines will bring the love to Fallujah.

Posted by Sarah at 06:25 AM | Comments (1)

October 23, 2004


Apparently there's some talk about whether to permanently assign support units including women to combat units. I am not a big fan of this idea. It has nothing to do with an aversion to women in combat; since I don't think that a woman's life is any more valuable than a man's life, I have no problem with women dying in war. However, I do have a nagging feeling about the effect that women have had on the military.

After reading The Kinder, Gentler Military: How Political Correctness Affects Our Ability to Win Wars, I gave up any notion that I should be a 19K. (I still would like to, but I don't think I should be allowed to.) I still argue with myself about what I think the role of women in our military should be, and my mind isn't completely made up. But there's a big problem coming out of OIF that doesn't have a solution: lust.

I almost typed love, but that's probably not right. I think what happens downrange is closer to what happens on The Real World or The Bachelor, where two people who are put in close quarters and extraordinary situations become convinced that they're in love. And when men and women are serving together, away from their families, for over a year, they bond in ways that alarm those of us back on the homefront. I have a few friends who work in our legal center, and they deal on a daily basis with divorces that stem from deployment. Sometimes the soldiers meet someone new downrange -- sometimes even getting her pregnant -- and they come back and kick their wives out. Sometimes soldiers get caught having sex when they're supposed to be on guard duty, which is dangerous to everyone they're supposed to be guarding.

There are only two or three females on my husband's entire camp in Iraq, and I prefer it that way. I don't think my husband would be interested in straying -- heck, I had to drag his disgusted-with-girls butt into the relationship in the first place -- but there are many men who might be tempted. And believe me, I'm not blind to the fact that it's a two-way street: the wives who are left behind are surrounded by temptation every day, and many of them ain't that virtuous.

The mixing of the sexes is hard for today's military, especially for hooah males in a PC culture. But sending men and women downrange together for a year has consequences, especially when soldiers only call their families once a month. I personally don't think we need more fuel on that fire.

Posted by Sarah at 12:05 PM | Comments (13)

October 19, 2004


All I wanted to say in response to Greyhawk's vote was HOOAH, but his comments section wouldn't allow it! Now that's a glitch worth looking into: a milblog where you can't say hooah...

Posted by Sarah at 09:06 AM | Comments (1)

October 17, 2004


There's a new website dedicated to SGT Prewitt if you'd like to pay your respects to one of our fallen Soldiers.

Posted by Sarah at 10:31 PM | Comments (11)


Deskmerc also has a problem with people whose only knowledge of the military comes from movies. He comments on the absurdity -- both militarily and socially -- of the following nutjob quote:

Next group will be smarter, don't go to jail for 5 years, just take out the lieutenant

Boy howdy. Soldiers are requesting spots in my husband's platoon, which must mean they like their PL and PSG. But anyone who took out my lieutenant would have to answer to me after he answered to the Army.

Posted by Sarah at 09:15 AM | Comments (1)

October 10, 2004


It seems I'm still getting visitors looking for information about SGT Tyler Prewitt. If you are a friend of his, you can read about how I knew him, my thoughts on his memorial, and the Stars and Stripes newspaper coverage of his memorial. He will not be forgotten.

Posted by Sarah at 02:33 PM | Comments (0)

October 09, 2004


I agree with Greyhawk that it's time to reevaluate the Combat Infantryman's Badge.


Oh, crap. I'm still not used to the Gazette's new format with ten billion authors. My deepest apologies to John of Argghhh! for misatributing his work. In fact, I agree with John, since he was the one who wrote this post. I also loved Grim's anecdote in the comments section:

So I showed my wife this picture you lead off with tonight, hoping to teach her about the injustice you cite.

Pointing at the three guys sweeping the area with their rifles, I said, "Dear, do these look like infantry or cavalry to you?"

"Cavalry," she said.

"Really?" I asked. "What makes you say that?"

"Well, look how short they are!" she answered.

Posted by Sarah at 10:10 AM | Comments (2)

October 08, 2004


Here's the Stars and Stripes coverage of SGT Tyler Prewitt's memorial service.

(A heartfelt welcome to SGT Prewitt's friends and family. For more, read how I knew him and my thoughts on his memorial.)

Posted by Sarah at 07:44 AM | Comments (1)

October 05, 2004


I just got back from the memorial service for SGT Tyler Prewitt. I really wish I had gotten to know him better than our ten emails; he seems like an amazing guy. And his is a story that everyone should hear.

He left college after 9/11 and tried to join the infantry but was rejected because of his colorblindness. He then became a combat medic and deployed to both Kosovo and Iraq. Everyone spoke highly of him, saying he was always on the front lines, even when he would get reminded that as a medic he was supposed to hang back! They joked that he was the only medic with a sniper scope on his rifle; one of his fellow Soldiers said that Prewitt was equally a medic and a warrior.

In fact, his vehicle was hit by an RPG while he was trying to move forward to see if medical assistance was needed. They said that he remained calm and was instructing the people around him how to care for his wounds. His family came to Landstuhl and had to make the difficult decision to switch off the machines, but even in death Tyler Prewitt was saving lives. He became an organ donor, and his organs were used to save no less than seven other people at Landstuhl. I -- and his family -- take great comfort in knowing that his death brought so much life to others.

I wish I had known Tyler Prewitt better because he sounds like a wonderful man and the type of Soldier I would like to know. I'm happy that he touched my life in such a small way and that I got to hear his story.

Posted by Sarah at 02:16 PM | Comments (13)

October 02, 2004


"Someone from your post died in Iraq this week, but he was someone from another unit," Mom said after dinner. "Oh. Who was it?" I asked from the other room. "Someone named SGT Tyler Prewitt."


SGT Prewitt first emailed me from Iraq in June, to ask for help with getting a transcript. We wrote back and forth a couple of times to get all of his education records straight, so when he decided to register for online classes in August, he contacted me again. He had just emailed me because he was worried he was too busy soldiering to concentrate on the class. Ten days before that RPG.

His emails were always signed TP.

His memorial is Tuesday, and I plan on going. I wonder if his family could ever imagine that his school representative, someone he barely knew, is weeping.



Here's my first chance to see TP's face. Surprisingly enough, that's exactly what I had imagined.

Posted by Sarah at 09:12 PM | Comments (13)

September 29, 2004


I heard a wonderful story, via my favorite reservist, that I am printing here with his permission. It's an anecdote from Kuwait when he was leaving Iraq for his R&R:

This morning at around 0530, I was walking to breakfast. I noticed the flag raising detail was in place but haven't heard any music so I kept walking. I passed a First Sergeant that was standing at attention and in front of him, a Marine, also at attention. I snapped to attention next to him and remarked that I had not heard any music. The First Sergeant relaxed and said that it hadn't started yet. So we both continued to walk towards the Dining Facility.

I pointed to the Marine still standing there at attention. The First Sergeant called over that it was still going to be a few more minutes if he wanted to keep walking. The Marine looked over and said, "No, I'm going to wait. It's been a long time since I've seen our flag raised."

That stopped me immediately. It has been a long time since I've seen our flag raised as we're prohibited from flying the Stars and Stripes in Iraq. I turned to the First Sergeant and said, "He's right, I'm waiting." A few minutes later the music started. The three of us snapped to attention and saluted.

Posted by Sarah at 08:55 AM | Comments (17)

September 14, 2004


James Lileks took something very interesting away from his encounter with a young DNC canvasser:

“Tell me what you believe,” I said. “Tell me what you feel in your head and heart about John Kerry.”

Whereupon she said that the War in Iraq was wrong and was “killing all those innocent soldiers,” and someone the other day said that if we didn’t elect him Bush would have another 9/11, but she didn’t know who said it.

“But tell me why I should vote for John Kerry,” I said. Gently, mind you. With a smile.

“I don’t know,” she said.

I said I would think about it; I thanked her for her time and closed the door.

I mention this not to prove that DONKS ARE ALL IDIOTS because that’s as boring as REPUGS ARE ALL CROOKS or whatever. Yes, everyone on the other side is evil. Noted. I bring this up because it’s the third time the DNC has sent a canvasser to my neighborhood who’s utterly lost as soon as she gets beyond a talking point. Which means nothing, perhaps; it’s a safe district. Send out the newbies to learn on the job. But I kept thinking of the way she phrased the deaths in Iraq: “all those innocent soldiers.” That’s how some see the soldiers in Iraq.

If asked to describe the attributes of a Marine, “innocent” would not be among the first 100 adjectives I’d employ.

When we inprocessed here, we went to a week-long German language and culture course. Sitting right behind us that week was PFC W, a 21W. He was an 18-year-old mason for the Army, a quiet farm-boy type who called my husband "sir" at the beginning and end of every sentence. He was the poster boy for innocence.

And two weeks later he was on his way to Iraq.

I haven't seen him since he returned, though I did see that Stars and Stripes had interviewed him once. I would wager that he's not the same person that he was when he left. Actually, I'd wager that my impression of him, sitting shyly in that German class, was not entirely accurate either: he was most likely less innocent than he appeared. Perhaps he boarded the plane like some others I've heard of, Soldiers who were immaturely eager to kill some %$&# Iraqis. Now that they've killed, they want nothing more than to never have to do it again.

There are two meanings here for the word innocent: "naive" and "not guilty". Our Soldiers are not naive. Anyone who joined the military thinking he'd never have to participate in anything dangerous or aggressive must have been delusional. Even those who signed up pre-9/11 (as my husband did) should have known the risks involved. Our Soldiers aren't innocent dupes; when they signed the paperwork, they agreed to do a job that most people don't want to think about: they agreed to give their lives for our country.

But if this young woman meant that our Soldiers were "not guilty", then I'd agree with that. We Americans are not guilty of the heinous behavior that many on the European and American Left like to saddle us with. We did not deserve 9/11; we were not guilty. But we certainly were naive. Unlike our Soldiers, who signed a contract and contemplated the dangers beforehand, most of us regular citizens never imagined that we were a target. 9/11 took away our innocence, just as killing the first insurgent took away our Soldiers'. We'd love nothing more than to go back to 9/10, but we can't.

Some commenters here yesterday told me to get over the WTC. 9/11 wasn't that bad; just get over it. 9/11 was bad: it was the day we lost our innocence. That's why I refuse to just get over it.

Many people do watch the news and the deathtoll and wonder why each individual servicemember had to die. What did PFC Poindexter ever do to deserve this? Why should all these young innocent men have to die? Unfortunately, individual Soldiers and Marines have to die so that our country doesn't have to face another 9/11. Why should any of us have to die at the hands of "Islamobarbarians", as Nelson Ascher called them? None of us deserve that, not PFC Poindexter, not those in the WTC, not Nick Berg, not a one of us. We were all innocent, but we are no longer naive.

Lileks is right: innocent is not a good word to describe our Marines. Bad-ass is much better.

Posted by Sarah at 08:59 AM | Comments (21)

September 08, 2004


I feel like I should say something about the 1000 servicemembers who have died in Iraq, but I really don't know what it is I should say. Should I point out that, statistically speaking, one is more likely to die in a car accident -- as my boss' son unfortunately did over the weekend -- than in Iraq? Should I point out that 1000 war deaths is, historically speaking, a blessing? Should I point out that I consider those combat deaths to be part of the larger deathtoll that includes 9/11 and Afghanistan, in which we passed the 1000 mark on the first day? I really don't want to point any of that stuff out; it is what it is. My regular readers don't need it pointed out anyway.

Posted by Sarah at 02:12 PM | Comments (50)

August 30, 2004


VDH's newest contains a really nice quote from Thucydides:

For there is justice in the claim that steadfastness in his country's battles should be as a cloak to cover a man's other imperfections; since the good action has blotted out the bad, and his merit as a citizen more than outweighed his demerits as an individual.

Unfortunately, there are many here who work and live on post who look down their noses at our Soldiers. However, I often agree with Thucydides: a Soldier's service, if it is noble, trumps his faults. Among the students I've had in my classes, there have been several who have been in and out of jail, who were in dangerous gangs, and who previously just generally didn't contribute much to society. In any other circumstances, I can't imagine how I would have ever come to associate with people of that background. But selfless service can cloak a myriad of imperfections. He may have been a dumb kid who landed himself in jail, but now he's a dedicated leader who's aiming for an E-7. He may have been a dangerous gangbanger, but now he's found religion and a life of responsibility as a father and husband. He may have been a drug-dealing punk who joined because the courts forced him, but now he's thinking of making a career of it. For me, the minute they put on that uniform -- as long as they live by the values it represents -- they have earned respect and dignity, despite their individual flaws.

Posted by Sarah at 07:57 AM | Comments (2)

August 29, 2004


The commander sent a CD home that contained several hundred photos of my husband's company. This one is my favorite. I can't even tell who this is, but there's something about it that I find quite touching. I don't know how to put it into words; it just chokes me up to see this napping hero.


Posted by Sarah at 09:11 PM | Comments (4)

August 26, 2004


I have half-assedly followed Kim du Toit's donations to snipers SGT Walter and SPC Adam for a while now. The other day he posted a photo of them, and if it ain't the jawdropping-est thing I've ever seen, I don't know what is. Then tonight I found the Adopt A Sniper website via The Patriette, and I got to thinking. So I split my money and donated a little bit to Kim's two snipers and a little bit to some anonymous snipers.

Is it weird that the word "sniper" is a turn-on?

Posted by Sarah at 10:31 PM | Comments (4)


I've written before about parents of fallen Soldiers who don't support the mission. I think it's very sad. But today, through Sgt Hook, I was moved to tears by a parent who does support his fallen son, in a very noble and selfless way.

Hook wrote about a memorial service he attended in Afghanistan; the Soldier's father reads Hook's blog, heretofore unbeknownst to Hook. I can't read SGT Daniel Galvan's father's message without feeling a jumble of pride, sadness, and loyalty:


I do not mind at all your posting my email on your blog. Your words and thoughts are greatly appreciated as is your blog appreciated as a way to pay tribute to our soldiers. If you would pass on my thanks to Daniel’s First Sergeant for the conduct of his memorial. I have only gotten second hand reports through my daughter-in-law but what I have heard it was a moving experience for my son’s fellow soldiers in attendance.

If I may be so bold, I charge Daniel’s Division with completing the duty we have to make sure that the lowlifes that hit us on our homeland on 911 are brought to justice. You can pass the word to Daniel’s fellow soldiers that his Dad is proud of him and of all who wear the uniform, I will pray daily for all and that we bring this action to a fitting and just conclusion in a timely manner; I can think of no better tribute to Daniel that that.

In closing let me say that Daniel loved the Army, flying, his family, his parents and above all he loved the USA. I used to say that my heart pumped OD blood (half in jest) but I believe that Daniel’s heart did.

Blas E. Galvan

Mr. Galvan, I promise to do my part here on the homefront to make sure your son's sacrifice is never forgotten. And I'll put in a request to the Dukes of 1 ID 3rd Brigade to help get the lowlifes.

Posted by Sarah at 03:47 PM | Comments (0)


Here's the forgotten story of seven U.S. airmen killed by a mob in Rüsselsheim, Germany, during World War II.

And here's the developing story of a sniper.

Posted by Sarah at 12:13 PM | Comments (0)


LT A's wife forwarded me this. She also wrote to say that LT A is having complications, so please keep him in your thoughts.

Military Spouses - There's a Difference

by Col Steven Arrington
Nellis Air Force Base

Over the years, I've talked a lot about military spouses ... how special they are and the price they pay for freedom too. The funny thing about it, is most military spouses don't consider themselves different from other spouses. They do what they have to do, bound together not by blood or merely friendship, but with a shared spirit whose origin is in the very essence of what love truly is. Is there truly a difference? I think there is. You have to decide for yourself.

Other spouses get married and look forward to building equity in a home and putting down family roots. Military spouses get married and know they'll live in base housing or rent, and their roots must be short so they can be transplanted frequently.

Other spouses decorate a home with flair and personality that will last a lifetime. Military spouses decorate a home with flare tempered with the knowledge that no two base houses have the same size windows or same size rooms. Curtains have to be flexible and multiple sets are a plus. Furniture must fit like puzzle pieces!

Other spouses have living rooms that are immaculate and seldom used. Military spouses have immaculate living room/dining room combos. The coffee table got a scratch or two moving from Germany, but it sill looks pretty good.

Other spouses say goodbye to their spouse for a business trip and know they won't see them for a week. They are lonely, but can survive. Military spouses say good-bye to their deploying spouse and know they won't see them for months, or for a remote, a year. They are lonely, but will survive.

Other spouses get used to saying 'hello' to friends they see all the time. Military spouses get used to saying 'good-bye' to friends made the last two years.

Other spouses worry about whether their child will be class president next year. Military spouses worry about whether their child will be accepted in yet another new school next year and whether that school will be the worst in the city again.

Other spouses can count on spouse participation in special events such as birthdays, anniversaries, concerts, football games, graduation, and even the birth of a child. Military spouses only count on each other; because they realize that the Flag has to come first if freedom is to survive. It has to be that way.

Other spouses put up yellow ribbons when the troops are imperiled across the globe and take them down when the troops come home. Military spouses wear yellow ribbons on their hearts and they never go away.

Other spouses worry about being late for Mom's Thanksgiving dinner. Military spouses worry about getting back from Japan in time for Dad's funeral.

And other spouses are touched by the television program showing an elderly lady putting a card down in front of a long, black wall that has names on it. The card simply says "Happy Birthday, Sweetheart. You would have been sixty today." A military spouse is the lady with the card. And the wall is the Vietnam memorial.

I would never say military spouses are better or worse than other spouses are. But I will say there is a difference. Our country asks more of military spouses than is asked of other spouses. Military spouses pay just as high a price for freedom as do their active duty husbands or wives. Perhaps the price they pay is even higher. Dying in service to our country isn't near as hard as loving someone who has died in service to our country, and having to live without them!

God bless our military spouses for all they freely give!

I like that: "the Flag has to come first if freedom is to survive." I'm proud to be lumped together with other military spouses.

Posted by Sarah at 08:47 AM | Comments (2)

August 24, 2004


A battalion commander puts his finger on the nagging usch I've felt for Kerry:

I think the purple heart issue as it relates to Sen Kerrey [sic] speaks volumns about him as a leader. He was not a private, but a Lieutenant, a small unit leader. He was taught that as a leader his two critical tasks were; accomplish the mission, and welfare of his soldiers. No leader I know would ever dream of leaving their troops behind especially not on a technicality. 3 medals equals ticket home. A leader should represent Army values of duty, honor, and most importantly selfless service. His actions seem more selfish than selfless.

My husband won't even take R&R without the rest of his soldiers getting it; I can't help but feel contempt for someone who would go home and leave his brothers to fend for themselves.


More two cents on Kerry's leadership.

Posted by Sarah at 11:44 AM | Comments (1)


One Marine groks the same way I do:

Now we are on the verge of victory or defeat in Iraq. Success depends not only on battlefield superiority, but also on the trust and confidence of the American people. I've read some articles recently that call for cutting back our military presence in Iraq and moving our troops to the peripheries of most cities. Such advice is well-intentioned but wrong - it would soon lead to a total withdrawal. Our goal needs to be a safe Iraq, free of militias and terrorists; if we simply pull back and run, then the region will pose an even greater threat than it did before the invasion. I also fear if we do not win this battle here and now, my 7-year-old son might find himself here in 10 or 11 years, fighting the same enemies and their sons.

When critics of the war say their advocacy is on behalf of those of us risking our lives here, it's a type of false patriotism. I believe that when Americans say they "support our troops," it should include supporting our mission, not just sending us care packages. They don't have to believe in the cause as I do; but they should not denigrate it. That only aids the enemy in defeating us strategically.

Posted by Sarah at 09:53 AM | Comments (0)

August 20, 2004


I feel really sorry for these VFW guys. They feel so absolutely betrayed by John Kerry. Forget the Purple Hearts; Kerry came home and denounced his brothers in arms. I can't even imagine how it must feel to be a Vietnam vet who sees Kerry cash in on the war hero image.

Posted by Sarah at 12:45 PM | Comments (4)

August 19, 2004


Thus, I expect to see Germans, the French, Spaniards, the Dems and others dancing on the streets and boulevards as soon Europe is liberated from those unwelcome foreigners.

Keep dreaming, Nelson. I have heard so much whining lately about the poor German economy that it's not even funny. They hate us to death, but they sure don't want us to leave. Oh, poor Kitzingen, where one in three inhabitants is American. Their poor gasthauses will have to close. Cry me a river.

I saw a military commercial tonight that basically said "don't start packing just yet", but I'm ready.
Send me to Texas.

Posted by Sarah at 09:02 PM | Comments (9)


1. the first time you look at someone's lapel and address him with the correct rank

2. the first time you see a full bird on a lapel

3. the first time you see an Airman and have no idea how to address him

4. the first time you see a Marine and wonder what in the heck is wrong with his blurry camoflauge

5. the first time you correctly call it a weapon instead of a gun

6. the first time you correctly call it a post instead of a base

7. the first time you use military terminology that makes your husband say, "Where did you learn that?"

8. the first time you realize that your friends from back home have no idea what you're talking about

9. the first time you get a hooah when you're teaching grammar

10. and the pinnacle: the first time you explain to a soldier the difference between his AARTS and his ATAARS

Anyone got any other good firsts?


Carla reminded me of one. How about

11. the first time you spell something out in the military alphabet without stumbling

Posted by Sarah at 09:25 AM | Comments (8)

August 15, 2004


I just watched A Few Good Men for the first time since I learned anything about the military. It's not sitting well with me. The moral dilemma is disconcerting, it's a lose-lose situation, and in the end I have no idea what I think. What do you do if you're a servicemember who's given an unlawful order? If you disobey, you may be punished. If you obey, you may be punished. That's a frightening dilemma. Sometimes there's what's right and what's right, and never the twain shall meet.

Posted by Sarah at 09:29 PM | Comments (4)

August 12, 2004


What started out as a humorous post has turned into a debate about our military wounded. Interested in joining this comments section?

Posted by Sarah at 07:14 AM | Comments (1)

August 10, 2004


Tanker sent me this article: Army finds no lack of recruits for infantry
As an aside, my students were cracking up a few weeks ago talking about the Blue to Green Program. Now I'm Army all the way, but that program does make me giggle a bit.

Posted by Sarah at 10:31 AM | Comments (0)

August 05, 2004


There's an interesting discussion going on at Tim Blair's blog about Michael Moore's claim that more Congressmen should send their kids to Iraq. There are all sorts of discussions going on (and lots of tangents being taken), but a comment by Sam caught my eye:

... The bottom line, sure it would be nice if more of the congressmen had a personal link to Iraq so that they could take that into account when making decisions. But as congressmen one would expect they would do that any way. ...

I'm thinking I'd like to disagree here. I would like Congressmen to acknowledge how this war affects individual families and soldiers, but I'm not sure it's appropriate for them to look at the war through a more personal lens. What's good for individual persons is not always good for the country. If the war becomes too personal for our leaders, they might have trouble making the tough decisions. I see that happening a fair amount around here with wives' voting intentions: they want to vote for whoever will bring their husbands home. Instead of what's best for the country as a whole or what's best for Iraq, they just want their Soldiers home at any cost. I personally don't think that's a principled stance. In the military, the country should always come before the self.

Yes, I want Congress to fund body armor and HMMWVs because they keep our Soldiers and Marines safe, but I don't want them to make decisions based on emotion. If a larger number of them had children in Iraq, there's a chance it could cloud their judgement about what's best for the country.

Posted by Sarah at 12:33 PM | Comments (7)

August 03, 2004


Navy Capt. Roger Dean Edwards was sentenced to 115 days in jail and fined $7,500. He might end up forced from military service, defrocked as an Episcopal priest and face at least a suspension of his Virginia pharmacy license. What was his crime? Wearing military ribbons he didn't earn. Military honors are taken quite seriously, which is why anyone who believes in what those ribbons stand for should be quite appalled that John Kerry chose to throw his away.

(via Smash)

Posted by Sarah at 07:40 PM | Comments (2)

August 02, 2004


When my husband's best friend, Red 6, was in the firefight in Baqubah, an article was written in the Christian Science Monitor and his photo appeared in a BBC slideshow. I read that CSM article, trying to get a sense of what he was going through. Today I read a different article that gives me a much better, more personal feeling of the fight.

An artist named Steve Mumford has been living and painting in Iraq. He writes about being a civilian participating in that battle in Baqubah:

I’m thinking: tenuous as my bonds are with these men, I’ve been with them through this much, it would seem cowardly to pull out now. Perhaps I want their approval, the damn reporter, as Sgt. Cliat called me, without malice, when he didn’t know I was right behind him. Or perhaps I feel guilty that I have the luxury of deciding not to get back on the 113.

I recognize many of these names, and Red 6 plays a prominent role in the article. I recognize the Army Values that shine through ("You don’t never go backwards in a firefight! Move this fucking thing forward! Forward!"). And the artwork is beautiful.

If you know and love the Dukes of 3rd Brigade like I do, then you must read this article. If you want to get to know them, this is an exciting place to start.

Posted by Sarah at 11:01 AM | Comments (2)

July 31, 2004


VDH writes about our military cemeteries in St. Avold, France:

The inscriptions at American graveyards admonish the visitor to remember sacrifice, courage, and freedom; they assume somebody bad once started a war to hurt the weak, only to fail when somebody better stopped them.

I've been to St. Avold, on Veteran's Day, led by two old men who understood Joe and Tommy's sacrifice. My distant relatives from Lorraine, who lost a brother in WWII, took me to see the greatest generation that slumbers beneath French soil, at a time when that unfortunately didn't mean as much to me as it does now. That rainy day in November 1998 I was more amused than anything as these two septuagenarians insisted that we talk to every cemetery director and guard so that they could introduce me as their cousine américaine. They were so proud to be sharing Armistice Day with an American, and I was a dumb kid who didn't appreciate their enthusiasm.

One of those grateful old men passed away last fall, and I was too stubborn to go see him. Only today did I realize that I let my hatred of France prevent me from paying respect to a good and decent man. I let things like this get in the way of family and honor. I realize that I have been so angry at our former allies that I refused to go say goodbye to a dear old man, and all of a sudden I feel ashamed.

The men of St. Avold would've wanted me to behave better.


Posted by Sarah at 10:43 AM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2004


My friend's husband bought a bootleg copy of Fahrencrap 9/11 in Iraq. He said he watched it three times and laughed his ass off the whole time. When I heard that, I managed a bemused smile: I'm amazed with this guy's confidence to laugh in Michael Moore's face. I've spent so much time getting angry about this movie that it was refreshing to hear that one soldier thought Fahrencrap 9/11 was a comedy.

Too bad not all soldiers are reacting the same way...

Michael Moore has never claimed to support the troops, but a lot of Americans who have gone to see this movie are the same ones who "support the troops but think the war was wrong". To those viewers, I say congratulations: you've now put $100 million in Moore's pocket and doubt and pessimism in our servicemembers' minds. Well done.

(via LGF)

Posted by Sarah at 08:30 AM | Comments (5)

July 23, 2004


I can't find anything in the news yet, but we had some excitement here yesterday. As they were doing construction work, they came upon a bomb...a WWII-era undetonated bomb. They had to evacuate the whole area and try to diffuse and move this enormous bomb. Apparently these finds are not that rare here in Germany, but it seemed exciting to me.

So I was thinking as I drove to class last night: That bomb stayed hidden for a good 60 years and no one ever knew it was there. But we're supposed to find WMDs within a year in Iraq...


My German co-worker found an article in the German news, complete with a photo of the bomb.

Posted by Sarah at 10:08 AM | Comments (8)

July 22, 2004


Red 6, the husband's best friend, was involved in this battle. That's where this photo was taken. My boys are doing serious and dangerous work, yet they continue to stay upbeat and optimistic.

Soldier safe, boys...

Posted by Sarah at 10:54 AM | Comments (0)

July 12, 2004


Yay for the Iraqi Army! Thanks, John.

Posted by Sarah at 07:48 AM | Comments (2)

July 07, 2004


There's an article in the Stars and Stripes today humorously called Morale in Iraq ranges from low to gung-ho. The article seems to capture what I imagine is a true sense of morale in Iraq.

In many places, the emotional and physical rebuilding of Iraq is well under way and troops feel appreciated. But almost daily, far from the ribbon-cuttings and candy giveaways, an improvised bomb or missile kills another American servicemember.

I had an email exchange recently with Randy, a deployed Guardsman. He apologized for sounding frustrated, but I said his complaints sounded valid to me. Maybe it's because I hear my husband make many of the same observations, so the problems must be real. I know that Randy and I have "common ground" -- he respects the Army, he doesn't shirk his duty -- so I appreciate hearing his valid criticisms. It doesn't sound any different than the stuff I hear from my husband; I just don't post it because that's his business. I admit my blog might make it sound like everything is peaches and candy for my family, but staying optimistic is the way I cope with the deployment. It's a way of dealing with the fact that my husband is still sleeping outside, doesn't get enough food, and is only getting four hours of sleep each night. If I dwelled on how bad that sucks, I'd worry myself sick. Instead I try to focus on the Big Picture aspect of the deployment and remind myself that my husband's suffering (and my breaking heart) have to be worth a democratic Iraq.

General Kimmitt went on to make an astute observation:

But he added that having good morale and being happy aren’t the same things.

“Do we have a right to be happy? No,” Kimmitt said. “It gets real hot around here. There are people shooting at you.

“In my case, there are people who will give $15 million if somebody cuts off my head and gives it to them. Does that make me happy? No. Do I have high morale? Yes.

“They [soldiers] are 19 years old,” Kimmitt said. “They’d rather be back home bird-dogging chicks and fixing their car but they’re not.

“They’re in a country that’s going through a hell of a transition and they are here to do what they’ve got to do to help.

“And they’re putting their lives on the line to do it and that’s not fun and that’s not easy.”

I hate to be "the girl who compares everything to Band of Brothers", but watching that series has personally given me enormous perspective. Easy Company was deployed for two years; they fought on D-Day, parachuted again as part of Operation Market Garden, held the front line at Bastogne, liberated a concentration camp, and made it to Eagle's Nest for the end of the war in Europe. They then started training to head to the Pacific, though the war actually ended before they were deployed. Easy Company, a company that suffered 150% casualties, has been my own personal source of morale. My husband doesn't have as much food as I'd like, but he doesn't have trenchfoot and he doesn't have to be gone for two years. Looking backwards in time at how our elders went to war has made me grateful for the hand we've been dealt today.

I'm sure Easy Company would've rather been bird-dogging chicks too. But instead they cowboyed up and became one of the most heroic stories of all time.

Posted by Sarah at 08:13 PM | Comments (1)

July 03, 2004


My husband just called and told me about his new job: working with the Iraqi police in Najaf. It sounds like this job is much more rewarding than guard duty, though it can be frustrating for both the Iraqis and the Americans at times. He said a lot of what he's doing is motivation, speaking encouragingly to both Iraqi teens and the police. He said the police chief has really taken to him and they talk often. The police chief is frustrated about the situation in Najaf; he said that civilians sometimes come up to him and hit him with their slippers. He said (not a direct quote), "Back in Saddam's days, if you hit the police with your slipper, your whole family would be dead. But here I am, getting hit with slippers." Sometimes the police chief speaks a little too fondly of the law and order under Hussein, at which point my husband reminds him that Saddam killed many people. "Yeah, I guess he did kill my uncle..." the police chief admits. My husband said that they receive lots of praise from Iraqis in Najaf. The Iraqis are always telling them how brave they are and saying they're happy that the US came. They also say the Americans are good people for trying to avoid hitting their monuments and holy sites. Sometimes the Iraqis get frustrated and beg the Americans to just go in and kill all of the insurgents and get it over with, but my husband patiently explains why they can't do that. My husband said that the people he works with are very supportive, but that they all, Americans and Iraqis, spend a lot of time being frustrated.

I told him it was great to hear these stories because we here can lose sight of how regular Iraqis are feeling. We get so much gloom and doom. I'm glad I got to hear firsthand from him that the Iraqi men he works with are supportive and honorable.


Good analogy. Incidentally, all of fad's posts that I love are the ones he wants to delete...

Posted by Sarah at 02:40 PM | Comments (2)

July 02, 2004


As I finished the Band of Brothers series the other day, it was hard not to view the end of WWII through the lens of the war in Iraq. Germans were forced to bury the dead bodies in the concentration camp. Civilians were threatened at gunpoint; some were shot. The soldiers made it to Eagle's Nest and looted Hitler's stuff. There were so many images that I knew we could never get away with today.

Does Dick Winters feel bad about taking Nazi silverware or Lewis Nixon for drinking Hitler's booze? Does Ronald Speirs regret making a souvenir of the Nazi flag? I hope not. Did David Webster feel guilty about taking his anger out on a raving shopkeeper after liberating a concentration camp? He shouldn't have to. Should Easy Company have forced regular German citizens to clean up the concentration camp and bury the emaciated bodies? Perhaps. That's what a war of attrition requires.

Some have written lately that this war won't be won with our accommodating nature. The only way to win a war, they argue, is to kill. Or crush the enemy's spirit. We don't do that today. We drop food rations with bombs, and we apologize for Abu Ghraib while one by one our contractor's heads are being ripped off. We're too damn nice.

The fact is, we Americans do not like staring into the face of evil. It is in our progressive and optimistic nature to believe that human beings are basically good, or at least rational. When we stare into a cave of horrors, whether it is in Somalia, Beirut or Tikrit, we see a tangled morass we don't understand. Our instinct is to get out as quickly as possible.

Amritas has a wonderful post up asking many questions that don't have clean answers: Will we get our investment back? Is it worth it? If the US isn't going to take advantage of their forces in Iraq soon, why bother? Is it really 'noble' for American Soldiers to sacrifice themselves to rebuild and police another nation when they could be doing their real job: defeating the enemy? How do we win the War of Ideas?

I add another: Can the war be won while being nice?

The Germans were done. They surrendered, turned over their weapons, marched dutifully to POW camps, and accepted defeat. The war was over. Iraq is not the same game. There will be no surrender, no dutiful march, no end short of death. I don't think our society (or our media) will let us do what we need to do in order to win. We've won several battles -- al Sadr is done, sovereignty is transfered -- but we have a long way to go to win the War of Ideas, to defeat the fantasy ideology.

I have no more answers than Amritas does. I hope history shows that our blood was worth it, that Iraq, despite her many flaws, can develop into an ally and friend. I don't want to find that we should have just taken the silverware and left.

Posted by Sarah at 11:10 AM | Comments (2)

June 30, 2004


Reason Number Six Billion Why I Love Soldiers:

Specialist Rodriguez is one example. He broke his leg some months ago. He was offered the chance to deploy out of Iraq. He chose to stay. When his unit was deployed to Karbala, he cut off his cast. A person told him today that "we aren't paid enough to do that." Immediately, he and the other soldiers responded that it isn't about the money; that we do this for much more important reasons.

(Thanks, Tim.)

Posted by Sarah at 11:02 AM | Comments (0)

June 28, 2004


From Band of Brothers, Part 8: The Last Patrol:

I wondered if people back home would ever know what it cost the soldiers to win this war. In America things were already beginning to look like peacetime: the standard of living was on the rise, racetracks and nightclubs were booming, you couldn't get a hotel room in Miami Beach it was so crowded. How could anyone ever know of the price paid by soldiers in terror, agony, and bloodshed if they'd never been to places like Normandy, Bastogne, and Haguenau?

The more things change...

Posted by Sarah at 10:04 PM | Comments (2)


I forget that not everyone gets to spend every day surrounded by Soldiers. That's why stories like Lunch with the Soldiers and Email from Dave are good to read.

Oh yeah, and BOO-YAH.

Posted by Sarah at 04:34 PM | Comments (0)

June 25, 2004


Red 6, otherwise known as Best Friend, made it into this BBC slideshow yesterday!

Neil in Iraq.jpg


Posted by Sarah at 06:16 PM | Comments (3)


This has been a concern of mine as well...

Hefley said he was particularly concerned about the realignment’s potential effect on military families, since Pentagon leaders have sketched a scenario in which most families are based in the United States while their sponsors are sent periodically sent overseas for several months at a time for training exercises or missions.

Although extended separations are understandable in wartime, in times of peace, “I would be very reluctant to separate military families more than they already are,” Hefley said.

Feith said that the administration’s plans “should actually contribute to a better situation for families than currently exists.”

He described instances in which families move with their sponsor overseas, only to have the servicemember deploy to yet another place, leaving his dependents alone in a foreign country.

Why couldn't he have left me at Fort Hood? Bunker could be teaching me to play golf!

Posted by Sarah at 11:35 AM | Comments (2)


War may be hell, but we here in the rear live our own sort of personal hell.

For every soldier and Marine in Iraq, there are days of fierce battle, but there are also long stretches of calm and nothing. For every firefight they're in, they spend many more days standing around on guard or sandbagging. When that firefight comes, it's pivotal, but not every day is a raging battle.

For us in the rear, every day the news brings us another conflict. Monday it's Fallujah, Tuesday it's Najaf, Wednesday it's Baghdad, Thursday it's Baqubah, and by Friday we're back to Fallujah. For us in the rear, there are no calms in Iraq's storm. There's no time to catch your breath, no respite from the chain of casualties, no days of just standing on guard.

I try not to hang on the news out of Iraq, but yesterday was rough on me. Even my students noticed I was a quieter than usual. If I were self-absorbed, I would have been content with the email from my husband saying that he had made it to his destination and was shocked at how calm things were there. But once he was accounted for, my attention shifted back to all the other soldiers from his battalion who were waging war yesterday. Best Friend was still back there, and I was in knots all day thinking about him. Blue 6 was safe, but Red 6 was in the thick of it, and over the past year and a half I've grown to love Red 6 almost as much as I love my own husband. I'm just as invested in him as I am in my own family.

He responded to my frantic email this morning, breathless from his ordeal but in one piece. He said the insurgents are getting better at aiming...

If you've got one family member in Iraq, you can concentrate your anguish on one city. When you have friends all over the country -- one in Mosul, two in Tikrit, one in Baghdad, one at Anaconda, several god-knows-where, a whole battalion in Baqubah, and the most important platoon out on a mission -- you're never insulated from the danger.

You've always got one eye at the top of the casualty list, praying that "name not released yet" doesn't turn into someone you know.


Yesterday I had a bad feeling. I don't believe in premonitions, but it was the first time I really felt sick to my stomach thinking about my boys down there. I'll thank my lucky stars that I don't have THE POWER that Tim has!

Posted by Sarah at 08:36 AM | Comments (3)

June 23, 2004


My husband went to Najaf a few months ago to keep an eye on things until 1AD got repositioned. At the time, I couldn't understand why they didn't just go in and kill al-Sadr and get it over with. But that's why I don't make the tough decisions.

Army unit claims victory over sheik (via Andrew Sullivan)

To quote Xrlq, "It’s a good thing I’m not the President because if I were, we’d be carpet bombing the area until the survivors begged for mercy and admitted out loud that their allahu isn’t so damned akbar after all."

Yessir, that's why he and I are not in charge.

Posted by Sarah at 09:45 PM | Comments (1)


I started watching Band of Brothers this week. I watched Parts I and II, and the thing that stuck with me most was the interview with the veterans at the beginning of each episode, especially the veteran who said that four young men from his hometown committed suicide when they were declared 4-F. They committed suicide because they weren't allowed to serve their country. Would that I had an ounce of their conviction...

Posted by Sarah at 11:50 AM | Comments (7)

June 22, 2004


(Via Blackfive) Troops kill 13 in fierce 12-hour firefight near Baqubah

Sources in the governor’s office claim that rebels who fought in Najaf and Fallujah during the insurgency uprising there in April and May are paid to travel to Baqubah to kill Americans and to undermine efforts by coalition forces to establish a new Iraqi government.

In my loudest roar: BRING IT ON!

Posted by Sarah at 01:30 PM | Comments (6)

June 18, 2004


An interesting letter from a Major in the Marine Corps Reserve:

The analogy is simple. For years, you have watched the same large, violent man come home every night, and you have listened to his yelling and the crying and the screams of children and the noise of breaking glass, and you have always known that he was beating his wife and his children. Everyone on the block has known it. You ask, cajole, threaten and beg him to stop, on behalf of the rest of the neighborhood. Nothing works. After listening to it for 13 years, you finally gather up the biggest, meanest guys you can find, you go over to his house, and you kick the door down. You punch him in the face and drag him away. The house is a mess, the family poor and abused — but now there is hope. You did the right thing.

Posted by Sarah at 07:34 AM | Comments (7)

June 17, 2004


I've received input from several people lately about the War in Iraq vs. the War on Terror. The common sentiment was that the War on Terror is good and necessary but that Iraq didn't figure into it. They said that we should have focused on areas of terrorism other than Iraq, such as Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, or Iran. They believe that taking the war to Iraq was a waste of time and energy and had no real connection to the War on Terror.

I was reminded of their common idea when I read this post today, where David quotes Nelson Ascher:

There were many reasons to invade Iraq, from the WMDs that are being slowly found to Saddam’s links to Al Qaeda, links about which what we know is already enough to be considered a casus belli. Obviously, with time we’ll know more about both things. But the geo-strategic reasons were even more important: after all Iraq has borders with Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran, none of which could have been invaded as easily, quickly and legitimately. Besides, Iraq was a good place from were to scare other governments in the region, that is, the pour encourager les autres factor.

Yes, Iraq is strategic. It gets us a lot closer to other terror-supporting states, and a democracy in the middle of these other states will make a big difference. But there are many reasons for extending the War on Terror to Iraq. Let's not ever forget that part of the reason for invading Iraq was because Hussein had not done what he was supposed to do after the Gulf War, as QandO has laid out in detail in Justification: A Post-War Review. The fact that large quantities of WMDs have not been found (nevermind that we found sarin-filled IEDs or that the UN admits Hussein shipped weapons out on the eve of war) cannot possibly rewrite history enough to hide the fact that everyone thought Iraq had WMDs. Iraq seemed to be a bigger threat than perhaps she turned out to be, but that's hindsight we didn't have before.

Yes, I do think we need to continue to focus on Afghanistan, and we are: many of my students are already slated to head to Afghanistan at the end of the year. I do think that Iran and Syria are in the plans for the future, that is if President Bush is re-elected and continues to take the War on Terror seriously. Their uppance will come. As Instapundit said, "this is a marathon, not a sprint, and pacing is required."

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, we went to war against Germany. They seem unrelated when you put it that way, right? Was WWII Also Unjustified? Military strategy is a complicated process, and this War on Terror will take years. Many people seem to think that they could do a better job of leading the troops and our government, but I am not one of those people. For all the mocking he endures, the President is not stupid. In no way do I think I'm smarter than he, or Rice or Rumsfeld; they know far more about the intricacies of the War on Terror than I ever will. I think it's a tad arrogant of these people who have voiced their opinions to me lately to think that they know better than our leaders which countries warrant our attention over others. Just because we read a few articles doesn't mean we are privy to everything our leaders know.

I have faith that our leaders have spent far more hours than I have studying our options, and I trust that this War will be fought on several fronts for years to come. Pacing is required.

Posted by Sarah at 07:34 AM | Comments (20)

June 15, 2004


I was so busy with that damn poll stuff yesterday that I missed the Army's birthday. You can't imagine how horrible that makes me feel.

Happy Birthday to the greatest institution I've ever had the privilege of being a part of.

Posted by Sarah at 09:00 AM | Comments (0)


So here's what I think about the new BDUs:

1. The boots are a great idea. No polishing. That means no more shoe polish on my bedspread, kitchen floors, recliner, and anywhere else my husband polishes. More comfortable boots is a definite improvement.

2. One uniform for both woodland and desert is also a good idea. We've spent quite a bit of money making sure he has enough of each, with everything sewn on all of them. Genius development.

3. Only summer weight -- good. Friendly fire refector -- good. Maximum comfort under the IBA -- excellent. Zippers instead of buttons -- smart. Pen and paper pocket -- cool.

4. Velcro-on name tapes and rank. Hallelujah, hallelujah. (See sewing disaster from 13 February.)

5. I see the soft cap. Are we getting rid of the goofy beret?

6. Centered rank. Gonna have to get used to that...took me a while to train myself to go to the right lapel instead of looking someone in the eye when we passed.

7. Getting rid of the branch insignia? I don't really like that one because I like to see where everyone's coming from. I'm nosy that way. But maybe my husband will get to wear the diamond for a little while before the uniforms change over.

Overall, as someone who will never actually wear the darn thing but who will spend a lot of time gazing lovingly at one who does, I approve.

Posted by Sarah at 08:54 AM | Comments (4)

June 08, 2004


I got home and got my slip of paper with the blog idea. It wasn't much after all; I just thought of a parallel last night. I watched The Longest Day on Sunday because, well, that's the least I can do. I can't be sure what was hard fact and what was "dramatic effect", but the Germans in the movie kept insisting that the invasion would never be at Normandy and it would never be at night or in the rain. They insisted that the Americans were predictable and that invading Normandy was illogical. It reminded me of the Shock and Awe Campaign, where everyone insisted that Iraq would start with heavy aerial bombing and then ground troops would move in much later. The whole world was shocked and awed when the Marines rolled in earlier than expected.

Pundits all over like to predict what our military will do and pronounce certain events as catastrophic or quagmirish before they have all the pieces of the puzzle. I'm sure that there are things that the military could work on, but I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that they often are planning moves we could never predict.

That's what makes them the best, I guess.

Posted by Sarah at 09:46 PM | Comments (4)

June 06, 2004


On Thursday I read an article in the Stars and Stripes that unfortunately was only in the dead-tree version of the paper. The article was called "German pupils have different view of war" and began:

Young Germans say they weren't taught that D-Day and the ensuing battles brought the defeat of Germany in World War II.

The reporter talked to students at the University of Heidelberg and found that many of them have never heard of Joe and Tommy:

Some of the Heidelberg students hadn't even heard of D-Day. "'Saving Private Ryan?'" said Anna Fischer, 19, of Karlsruhe. "Oh, that's D-Day."

Merde in France found that young people in France have also forgotten about Joe and Tommy:

Most French high school history textbooks are skimpy on the details of D-Day. They tend to focus closely on the challenges and dilemmas of living in occupied France. In a leading text, the Normandy invasion is described in just two paragraphs.

The young people in France and Germany have forgotten, but the Dissident Frogman has not. Last year he wrote Consecration:

To the eye, Bloody Omaha is just a sandy beach.

No white crosses, no huge memorial, no visible signs of those who sacrificed themselves and fought for freedom. No sign of those who fell for it.

Yet I remember "Joe" and "Tommy", heroes with no names but so many faces, who came here one day, fighters for a just cause, in a liberation army.

I was told about them, I read books about them, I saw pictures of them, and I watched interviews and movies. I heard their stories. The Joe and Tommy who got through this, told me about their brothers who didn't.

And they show me why they didn't fall in vain.

I have not forgotten either, though I know no one who was personally there. But I know who Joe and Tommy are, and I felt them with me when I took these pictures five years ago.



We must do what we can to keep Joe and Tommy alive. Read Consecration today. Visit Blackfive and get the history lesson that students in Germany and France are no longer receiving. Or simply take a moment to look at those white crosses -- and note the Star of David too -- and silently thank Joe and Tommy for what they did 60 years ago today.

Posted by Sarah at 07:46 AM | Comments (3)

June 04, 2004


Kevin Sites' post seems to be an accurate picture of what life is like for the combat arms Soldiers: laughter, anger, death, superstition, homesickness, and a maturity that far surpasses their tender ages.

(Thanks, Beth.)

Posted by Sarah at 05:53 PM | Comments (1)


I thought this was only news on the German radio -- where they're talking about the loss of 40,000 jobs -- but Bunker pointed out that the details are in this New York Times article called A Pentagon Plan Would Cut Back G.I.'s in Germany. It requires registration, so I will highlight the important bits.

First there are details of the plans, which won't be officially announced for another two months.

Under the Pentagon plan, the Germany-based First Armored Division and First Infantry Division would be returned to the United States. A brigade equipped with Stryker light armored vehicles would be deployed in Germany. A typical division consists of three brigades and can number 20,000 troops if logistical units are included, though these two divisions have only two brigades each in Germany, with the other brigade in the United States.

In addition, a wing of F-16 fighters may be shifted from their base in Spangdahlem, Germany, to the Incirlik base in Turkey, which would move the aircraft closer to the volatile Middle East; a wing generally consists of 72 aircraft. Under the Pentagon plan, the shift would be carried out only if the Turks gave the United States broad latitude for using them, something that some officials see as unlikely.

The Navy's headquarters in Europe would be transferred from Britain to Italy. Administration officials are also discussing plans to remove some F-15 fighters from Britain and to withdraw the handful of F-15 fighters that are normally deployed in Iceland, though final decisions have not been made.

Then there's the snide commentary from the Lefties:

But some experts and allied officials are concerned that a substantial reduction in the United States military presence in Europe would reduce American influence there, reinforce the notion that the Bush administration prefers to act unilaterally and inadvertently lend support to the French contention that Europe must rely on itself for its security.


Other specialists have warned that the greatest risk is the possible damage to allied relations.

"The most serious potential consequences of the contemplated shifts would not be military but political and diplomatic," Kurt Campbell and Celeste Johnson Ward of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies wrote in an article published last year in the journal Foreign Affairs, well before the extent of the changes now planned became known."Unless the changes are paired with a sustained and effective diplomatic campaign, therefore, they could well increase foreign anxiety about and distrust of the United States."

My thoughts: tough. Germany and France are not our allies anymore.

Posted by Sarah at 05:46 PM | Comments (4)

June 02, 2004


CavX wrote about three military heroes. I had read the first two stories, but I had not yet read the last one. I'm completely overwhelmed by CPL Dunham...

None of the other Marines saw exactly what Cpl. Dunham did, or even saw the grenade. But they believe Cpl. Dunham spotted the grenade — prompting his warning cry — and, when it rolled loose, placed his helmet and body on top of it to protect his squadmates.


I can't even think of anything to say.

Posted by Sarah at 10:28 PM | Comments (3)

May 31, 2004


Every little thing you can do to remember those who have fallen helps today. Via Grim's Hall I see that there's a moment of silence at 1500 (no matter your time zone) and a candle ceremony at 2000 Iraq time (adjust for time zone). If you're interested in sharing in these moments -- so that Memorial Day is more than just "the day the pools open" -- follow the link to the details.

Posted by Sarah at 01:25 PM | Comments (0)


This morning I went to the Memorial Day ceremony on post. The turnout was smaller than I wanted, but bigger than I'd hoped. I was fortunate to talk to a WWII and Korean War vet who had many interesting stories to tell from what he called "ancient history" and who had no idea that he was a hero. There was also a handful of elderly German soldiers there, which was really touching.

Time for a round-up of good stories to read today:
Veteran recalls horrors of Bataan Death March
World War II memorial prompts veterans to recall days of fear, heroism
'Greatest Generation' gets its due as World War II Memorial is dedicated
Dedication a reunion for veterans
Teen's efforts ID vets' graves

Plus the wonderful Mark Steyn, via Hud:
Recalling a time when setbacks didn't deter us
And one by Jack Neely, via Instapundit:
The Other World War

Please remember that today isn't just about picnics. We do need to rejoice and be thankful for the freedom and life that we have, but we should always remember the price that was paid.

James Hudnall has posted photos of his grandfather and uncles, who were veterans. I have a similar photo that I would like to post. I have relatives who were veterans -- my great uncle, and two of my great-great uncles -- but they passed away long before I knew of them. I'm very grateful that I don't actually know any veterans who have passed away, but I do know one very special vet whom I'm fortunate enough to still have in my life. The more I educated I become about the military and history, the more pride I feel for my grandfather's service. In fact, I was in his home last spring when Operation Iraqi Freedom began, and I felt the amazing juxtaposition between the war being fought on the TV and the war that he had fought so long ago. I'm so proud to call him grandfather, and I hope my grandchildren are half as proud of my husband someday.

I hope my grandfather knows how important he is to me, today and every day.
Meet my grandfather, the most handsome airman in WWII.



If you have the time, peruse all of the Milblogs links today. They're all unique, but they all share the common thread of Memorials.

Posted by Sarah at 10:44 AM | Comments (2)

May 25, 2004


That guy from El Salvador has some kindred warriors in the south of Iraq: the Scots who fixed bayonets! Wow.

Posted by Sarah at 03:57 PM | Comments (0)

May 20, 2004


I very much disagree with the wording in Andrew Sullivan's newest post:

It's very hard to know the facts about the carnage on the Iraq-Syria border, but whatever the occasion, it appears that the U.S. military was responsible for the deaths of several Iraqi women and children. It was almost certainly a mistake - either of target or of provocation. But it's another blow to the prestige of the U.S. military and their ability to avoid the kind of action which will, in fact, make their mission harder rather than easier. There are now many reports of U.S. soldiers feeling so beleaguered and jumpy that their first instinct is to fire, capture or mistreat captives. And so the cycle of distrust in some areas appears to deepen. [emphasis mine]

Blaming the military for events that make life harder for the military is a big mistake, in my opinion. They are well aware that what happened near Syria is going to be a huge problem. They are well aware that prison scandels and imprecise bombing will cause the anti-war faction to shriek. They are well aware that their every action is watched under a microscope. They don't need Andrew Sullivan to point out the blow to their prestige.

When soldiers feel that the media and the world are watching their every move, they will indeed get jumpy and nervous. The last thing we need are jumpy and nervous soldiers. If you put a basketball team out on the court and then fill the stands with hecklers and let the announcer use the mic to point out every little mistake they make, don't you think that might start to affect the team's performance at some point? That's what we do to our soldiers, only this is life-and-death, not a game of hoops.

Our soldiers know they've potentially made a huge error near Syria. Do we need to rub their faces in it over and over and point out that it's their inabilities that make the war worse?

Posted by Sarah at 09:16 AM | Comments (4)

May 19, 2004


Belmont Club wrote something that really hit home for me in his post News Coverage as a Weapon:

During the Civil War 15 percent of the total white population took the field, a staggering 75% of military age white males. During the Great War the major combatants put even higher proportions of their men on the line. Even after World War 2 it was still natural for children to ask, 'Daddy what did you do in the War?' and expect an answer. Reality affected everybody. But beginning with the Vietnam War and continuing into the current Iraqi campaign, the numbers of those actually engaged on the battlefield as a proportion of the population became increasingly small. Just how small is illustrated by comparing a major battle in the Civil War, Gettysburg, which inflicted over 50,000 casualties on a nation of 31.5 million to a "major" battle in Iraq, Fallujah, in which 10 Marines died in the fighting itself, on a population of 300 million. A war in which the watchers vastly outnumbered the fighters was bound to be different from when the reverse was true. A reality experienced by the few could be overridden by a fantasy sold to the many.

This war doesn't affect everybody and to say that the watchers outnumber the fighters implies that the watchers are actully watching. There are thousands out there who don't think the war on terror affects them at all, and they are quick to accept the "fantasy sold to the many" and then switch the channel to the last episode of Friends. In my parents' and grandparents' generations, everyone knew someone who went to war; these days the service flags are few and far between. We can't fathom the sacrifice previous generations endured because we rarely are affected by today's sacrifices.

Someday my children will ask "Daddy, what did you do in the war?" and he will have an answer that will make them proud. When they ask what Mommy did, I'll say I was proud to be a chickenhawk.


Strategy Page talks about how everyone is involved in a war.

Posted by Sarah at 04:09 PM | Comments (7)


The Congressional Budget Office has been examining figures on how the military should be redistributed. They have figures for all different scenarios, but the one that struck me was the most drastic one:

PLAN 3B: Eliminate nearly all forces from Germany and South Korea

Upfront cost: $6.8 billion to $7.4 billion

Annual cost compared with status quo: -$1.2 billion

CBO analysis: Large cost savings. Cuts family separation time by 22 percent. Substantial increase in deployment time to South Korea. Removal of U.S. forces might increase likelihood of war.

Why are we spending $1.2 billion to maintain bases in countries that don't appreciate us?

I think about our military spending here all the time. We pay the German government to dispose of our refuse, so I recycle every little piece of trash that I can. Our neighbors leave their porchlight on day and night, and every time I look at it I think about how our government has to pay the Germans to leave that light on. Any time someone buys gas on the economy and pays with gas vouchers, the government picks up the remainder. I absolutely hate thinking about all of the revenue we generate for Germany, since they repay us with anti-war demonstrations and anti-American rhetoric. It makes me sick.

Posted by Sarah at 07:49 AM | Comments (9)

May 17, 2004


Den Beste received an email from a German friend who said

Your impression of Fischer is correct regarding his absolute position on the issue, but I believe you have no idea how much more dishonest and anti-American most German politicians (and the voters) are. Fischer and other right-wing Greens are among the most militant, pro-American, pro-Israel politicians we have.

Den Beste points out that though Fischer may in fact be the least anti-American apple in the bunch, he's still seems pretty darn anti-American. He then went on to stress the importance of one of our Amercan values: actions speak louder than words.

His post patterned what I've been trying to say for months about the we-support-the-troops platitude. Back in February I said

I'm often irritated by the but that follows that phrase (as in I support our troops, but...). I appreciate that people don't think my own husband as an individual is a baby killer or a monster, which is usually what they mean when they start that sentence, but I can't help but think they use it as a buffer just so they don't sound heartless. I'm against the war sounds much softer when you preface it with I support our troops, but.

I got some guff for coming down on the support-the-troops types. LT Smash got barrels of guff when he expressed the same sentiment. Smash said

Your definition would appear to be "wish them good health and hope they come home safe." My definition of "support" is a bit more robust than that. In my world, "supporting the troops" also means letting them know that you appreciate the sacrifices they are making, and believe in the cause they're fighting for.

I too see these two distinct definitions within the one phrase; I said:

I tend to think that the first definition should be an understood, that no human would wish that soldiers should be injured or die (though some of the posts on Democratic Underground might suggest otherwise). Therefore, it's not worth broadcasting, just as I support cancer patients or I support the disabled seem inane. I'd agree with Smash that the second definition is the one I see in that phrase, and I believe that definition is much more important and the one that makes a difference. Unfortunately, it's probably not the most common definition intended when people use the phrase I support our troops.

The British use the verb "support" to talk about sports teams. We don't use it here in the US, but if we did, my husband would say he supports the Cardinals. When the Brits use this word, they obviously are implying that they want their team to win, not that they're simply supporting their existance and hoping their players don't get broken legs during they game. "Supporting" a team means hoping they go all the way. When we talk about our troops, I often don't think people mean it that way. Often they mean they don't long for all of our troops to die, but they don't necessarily want them to win, nor do they think they should be there in the first place. To me, that does not follow the definition of "support".

The claim that Joschka Fischer is pro-American is meaningless because it's only in contrast to rabidly anti-American Europeans that Fischer looks remotely pro-. Ted Bundy didn't kill as many people as Pol Pot, but I'd hardly say that the comparison makes him an upstanding citizen. In the same way, there are Americans who aren't actively working against the troops, but you can't always claim that they support our military simply by comparison.

Posted by Sarah at 07:44 AM | Comments (1)

May 15, 2004


Today is Armed Forces Day.

I'll remember these four today.

Posted by Sarah at 07:54 AM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2004


Bunker met some servicemembers who follow orders to the letter over the weekend. And Birdie found some WMDs.

Posted by Sarah at 07:25 AM | Comments (0)


Apparently our servicemembers who have recently returned from Iraq should not breathe a sigh of relief that they're back in the good ol' USA.

Military Targets in the USA must be Attacked
by al-masakin — Thursday, May. 06, 2004 at 7:13 PM

The torture of Muslim prisoners in Iraq in the “rape rooms” at the American Abu Ghraib prison confirms that the so-called American war on terror is really a war on Islam. George Bush has created a global gulag network of extra-legal and secret US prisons with thousands of inmates. This Gulag stretches from Afghanistan to Iraq, to Guantanamo and secret CIA prisons around the world. This Gulag exclusively holds Muslim prisoners.

In light of these revelations, Al-Masakin would like to take this opportunity to remind the American Muslim Mujahedin, and our allies in the revolutionary and anti-Imperialist left, that ROTC buildings, armed service recruiting centers, individual military personnel, and police officers are “military targets”. These institutions must be violently and covertly attacked.

In fact, there are thousands of unarmed military targets walking around all over the United States. Outraged American citizens and American Muslims should have little difficulty making violent contact with recruits, cadets, marines, etc.

We strongly recommend that such contact be made with a very sharp knife, pepper spray, brass knuckles, baseball bats, firearms, explosives, or the bumper of a full sized automobile, truck or SUV.

This was written by Americans in San Francisco. What is the world coming to?

It's been a struggle this weekend to keep my chin up. The news has gotten me down, so low that I sat on the phone with my mom on Saturday and wept. I don't want to do this anymore. I don't want to wade through articles about quagmires and liars. I don't want to hear the words Abu or Ghraib ever again. I don't want to have to keep forcing myself to stay positive in the face of all the heinous junk that's published out there.

Every time a soldier dies, a little piece of me dies too.

I'm having visitors from the US on Tuesday, so blogging will be light as I prepare for their visit. I'm starting to think it's a well-timed break from the internet.

I'll be back. I just need to get rejuvenated first.

Posted by Sarah at 07:10 AM | Comments (3)

May 09, 2004


For a while now, I've wanted to describe our post chapel's stained glass window to my mom. Today Stars and Stripes has an article about SPC Kondor's memorial here on post, and there's a photo of our touching stained glass windows.

Right before the guys left, we attended our neighbor's baptism. At the end of the mass, the priest called up all of the soldiers who would be leaving for Iraq that week. He blessed them all and gave them an Army coin to keep with them.

I don't think I'll ever forget that long row of men standing under the stained glass window.

For so long, I've been really strong. I have statistics on my side, I support the mission, and I know that thousands of soldiers come home just fine. But lately I can't seem to shake the feeling of fear. We lost SPC Kondor two weeks ago. We lost four more soldiers on Wednesday. If our post is losing at least one soldier per week, I fear that it's only a matter of time before it catches up to me, in one way or another.

I just feel really uneasy lately.

Posted by Sarah at 08:43 AM | Comments (4)

May 07, 2004


Got the following email yesterday. Seems we've got our own day...

1. In 1984, President Ronald Regan proclaimed 23 May as the first Military Spouse Day to recognize the important role military spouses play in the readiness and well-being of our nation's armed forces. The Secretary of Defense standardized the day as the Friday preceding Mother's Day in 1985. This year we will honor our Military Spouses on 7 May.

2. We are an Army at war, currently engaged in our nation's global war on terrorism. During the past yer, our soldiers have once again been asked to defend our freedom and the privileges we all enjoy. While our soldiers face increased deployments and longer separations, our spouses remain the consistent, predictable cornerstone of the well-being of our Army family. Army spouses continue to step up to meet the unique challenges Army life brings, as has been the case throughout the Army's nearly 229-year history.

3. Army spouses have played an instrumental role in the preparedness and success of our forces. The contributions of the first spouses who followed their soldiers to Valley Forge in 1777 set the standard for all military spouses who followed. These brave women nursed the wounded and laundered soldiers' uniforms, at times dodging bullets and even taking up arms when needed. They provided un-ending support and served as the Army's first force multipliers, but never received official recognition from the Army. Their immeasurable contributions to the ideals of family, patriotism, service and freedom, and their distinctive sacrifices continue to endure today as our Army and our nation face new threats.

4. Much has changed for Army spouses in the years since Valley Forge. Today's Army spouses received well-deserved recognition for their role in the defense of our nation. Support programs, systems and services allow for a level of well-being not necessarily available in the past. However, in a world where change is the norm, Army spouses remain the constant. They continue to be the homefront mainstay of moral support and encouragement for our soldiers and the workforce that supports them. They are the driving force and energy that make our Army strong. Today, as in the days of old, through great personal sacrifice the Army spouse is a solid key component in keeping the Army relevant and ready.

5. Military Spouse Day, celebrated on 7 May this year, affords us the opportunity to publicy acknowledge the commitment of our Army spouses across all components, Active, National Guard and Army Reserve, and to pay tribute to their critical role in the strength of our nation and the success of our Army in accomplishing the mission. So, to the many Army spouses who support their soldiers, thank you for your courage and patriotism and the love and commitment to your soldiers and to the Army family. Furthermore, I would like to thank you for your generosity and your devoted service. Many blessings to you and your families, the Army and our nation today and throughout the year.

-- Announcement from the Honorable Brownlee, CSA Schoomaker, and SMA Preston

My favorite nickname from the husband is Combat Multiplier...I love when he calls me that.

Posted by Sarah at 07:54 AM | Comments (2)

May 06, 2004


(via LGF) The El Salvadorians are apparently immune to the vaginitis plaguing the Spanish-speaking members of the coalition.

After several hours of combat, the besieged unit ran out of ammunition, having come with only 300 rounds for each of their M-16 rifles. Pvt. Natividad Mendez, Cpl. Toloza's friend for three years, lay dead, shot twice probably by a sniper. Two more were wounded as the close-quarters fighting intensified.
"I thought, 'This is the end.' But, at the same time, I asked the Lord to protect and save me," Cpl. Toloza recalled.
The wounded were placed on a truck while Cpl. Toloza and the three other soldiers moved on the ground, trying to make their way back to the base. They were soon confronted with Sheik al-Sadr's fighters, about 10 of whom tried to seize one of the soldiers.
"My immediate reaction was that I had to defend my friend, and the only thing I had in my hands was a knife," Cpl. Toloza said.

So he charged the Iraqis and fought them with his knife. And won.

There's a photo of him with his knife, which I assume will offend people and might disappear soon. I'll keep a copy here. If the anti-war crowd wants to show us photos of coffins and read lists of the deceased as a way to inspire us to give up, then I'll show a photo of a man with more courage than most of us could ever imagine, as a way to inspire us to never give up.


It's real easy for us, thousands of miles away, to pretend that no one has to see the whites of their eyes. Every day the headlines tell us of another casualty, but rarely do you hear of the military triumphs, of the missions that wiped out the bad guys. What we need to remember -- what we need this gruesome photo for -- is that for every coalition soldier who dies, roughly 70 insurgents have been killed. Our servicemembers are brave, they are tough, and they will never give up.

And they're not just Americans; there are some hardcore El Salvadorians too.

Posted by Sarah at 07:43 AM | Comments (6)

May 04, 2004


Snopes says that this email forward I just received is true.
No matter what Senator McCain's political views are, I completely respect his pride and dedication for his country.

Posted by Sarah at 04:20 PM | Comments (3)


I found out today SGT Ryan Campbell, one of the 1AD soldiers killed last week, went to Truman with my husband and me. I didn't know him, and I haven't talked to my husband so I don't know if he knew him or not, but the ROTC cadre there at Truman remember him and are attending his memorial. While searching for information about him, I came across an article written less than a month ago in the Truman paper on SGT Campbell. The headline quote they attribute to him:

Every day is lived with the continuous strain of wondering whether you will make it to the next.


Posted by Sarah at 04:16 PM | Comments (1)

May 01, 2004


Remember those parents of kids in your high school who were totally oblivious to what their kids were doing? My kid would never do drugs / binge drink / sleep around / do anything remotely bad. And we kids and the other parents who had a clue never knew how to point out to the parents that Susie was a slut or Bobby was a stoner. They were going to believe whatever they wanted to believe, despite any evidence to the contrary.

I don't want to be in denial like one of those parents.
But I also don't even want to think about this.

The soldiers in my Army, in the America I live in, would never do something like that. My soldiers don't think humiliation and torture is funny or a joke to take photos of and send home to your high school buddies. My soldiers know that our situation in Iraq is already precarious enough without fuel like this to add to the fire.

Not my solders. Oh god, why did they have to do this?

Deskmerc expressed enough anger for both of us, but what I'm left feeling is sadness. I just feel so utterly let down and betrayed by the handful of soldiers who have put an ugly, ugly dent in our nation's reputation.

Dear soldiers of Abu Ghraib prison,

I am an Army wife who values soldiers over just about anyone else. I jump to your defense against all complaints, emphasize your strengths over your weaknesses, and would defend your honor until the day I died.

And you repay me with this?

We have a job to do in Iraq, one that is hard and time-consuming and must be done center stage in front of the whole world. Do you understand that? The whole world is watching us, waiting for us to mess up so they can release the triumphant I told you so! they've been sitting on. No one is watching the insurgents, making sure they follow the rules and play nice; they're watching you. And you gave them exactly what they were hoping for.

You gave them a spectacle.

See, your stupid prank, your treating POWs like frat pledges, is going to have major repercussions. We're already feeling them here in Germany, when a German wife last night expressed her dismay at knowing she'll have to now work twice as hard to convince her family and neighbors that the Americans are working for good in Iraq. You see, the Germans love this story. I'm sure the French are thrilled as well. And the Arabs -- those backwards folks that we've insisted we're better than -- now have one up on us.

"This will increase the hatred of America, not just in Iraq but abroad. Even those who sympathized with the Americans before will stop. It is not just a picture of torture, it is degrading. It touches on morals and religion."

"Abu Ghraib prison was used for torture in Saddam's time. People will ask now what's the difference between Saddam and Bush. Nothing!," added Saudi commentator Dawoud al-Shiryan.

Do you see what you've done? I'm forced to agree with a Saudi that you are no better than Saddam. Do you understand how that makes me feel? Do you understand how badly you have let me down, let all Americans down?

In a just world you'd be made to make your own little naked pyramid, but instead you'll all go to jail to sit and think for a long time. In the meantime, the rest of our Army's soldiers -- those whose reputation you've sullied -- will have to work twice as hard to make up for the damage you've done. You betrayed your fellow soldiers and your country when you put fun and games ahead of your Army Values. And you betrayed this one Army wife, who might think twice next time before jumping to all solders' defense.

I hate you for that.


Posted by Sarah at 10:22 AM | Comments (4)

April 30, 2004


I've been looking over the results of the morale survey posted on Blackfive's blog. There are two things about this survey that interest me.

1. TABLE 15
Amazing results. UN-sanctioned involvements ranked much lower on the "how do you think [country of deployment] will be after American soldiers leave" scale than Iraq does. In the other missions, the soldiers thought that their involvement meant very little in the long-run, but in Iraq it appears that they believe their presence will make a positive difference. That says something huge! Our soldiers appear to be saying that the Iraq deployment has focus and that, being run by Americans, has a much higher chance of success than if it were run by the UN. Fascinating finding, in my opinion.

2. TABLE 17
There is a big difference between officer morale in OIF and in WWII; in OIF there's a much higher percentage of reported low morale. Reasons for this? Other than the fact that maybe officers feel more comfortable griping these days, I can't come up with anything.

However, this was a survey of only 389 soldiers, so that means only 54 people out of all of the deployed soldiers said they have low morale. I have no idea how they got the results from WWII, but if the sample size is different, then the results mean little. I have not been able to find the original, and Blackfive didn't post a link, so I'm not sure where the WWII data comes from.

See, I did learn something from How To Lie With Statistics!


Since I am a grokking tyro, I enlisted the help of a bigger mind to check out the numbers. Mr. Den Beste wrote me back last night; as usual, he thinks of things I didn't catch:

Given your specific situation, it's easy to see why you'd be concerned about

I'm not so sure that the difference to which you refer is really very significant or very mystifying. Officers, quite naturally, feel more responsible for a situation than enlisted, and the situation in Iraq is not really the same as it was in Europe. Americans knew more about Europe and understood the local culture much better, for one thing. Iraq is a more alien place.

A different thing I find myself wondering about is just when it was that the WWII survey happened. If it was about one year after VE day, that would be a
lot different than if it was perhaps three years after VE day. Europe was also pretty unsettled in the first year, but by three years things had stabilized quite a lot. Thus officers, feeling responsible, would have indicated greater comfort at the three year point than at the one year point.

Frankly, I didn't really see anything in that report that I found too surprising, or anything that worried me deeply. (Obviously I wish it were better than it is...)

Posted by Sarah at 02:46 PM | Comments (1)

April 28, 2004


The secret that I was keeping a while back is now not really a secret anymore, so I can tell you all the good news: my husband is getting his tank! One of my students had to deploy to send the tanks down to Iraq, so that's how I found out about it, but now that it's common knowledge around our post and in the Stars and Stripes, and the tanks are on their way, I can happily say that I kept my mouth shut the whole time.

Posted by Sarah at 09:15 AM | Comments (1)

April 27, 2004


I wonder if my husband is happy to no longer be in Najaf or bummed that he didn't get a piece of the action? Probably a little of both.

Posted by Sarah at 10:17 PM | Comments (1)


Depending on your connection speed, this might take a while to load, but it's most definitely worth it if you want to feel close to our servicemembers...

Posted by Sarah at 08:11 AM | Comments (3)

April 23, 2004


This is a phenomenal story. Why why why was it reported in the UK and not at home? Why isn't this news, why do we Americans have to go digging around to find positive stories about our servicemembers?

Posted by Sarah at 07:00 AM | Comments (2)

April 20, 2004


Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead. -- Benjamin Franklin

The hardest part about being a spouse is keeping things opsec. Last week I got myself in trouble by being too informed: I keep up on the news and know what's going on, and our rear detachment SSG got upset that I told another soldier what I had learned; he thought I had gotten the info from down range instead of from Associated Press! I am trying to be very cautious about what I talk about now, even if it's already in the news, but it's really hard for me to not share information with other wives who are just as concerned as I am. For example, I just found out something very interesting, but I don't think I can trust anyone else not to spread it. If I let myself tell just one person, and then she lets herself tell just one person, and so on, then I might as well tell everyone. I hate to keep the information inside -- I feel like I could explode right now -- but I know it's best if I don't share. I've already seen how fast stories can circulate, and I don't want to contribute to that. I have to learn to keep it quiet; man, is that a skill I don't have!

Posted by Sarah at 01:46 PM | Comments (3)

April 19, 2004


It's entirely depressing when the WaPo hears about my husband before I do. Oh well, at least I can find out info somewhere. Here's an article about an ambush my husband's convoy encountered last week.


Of the $87 million allotted for Iraq, 75% of it was supposed to go towards military expenditures, CavX recently taught me. Never forget that Kerry voted for this proposal before he voted against it. If Kerry had gotten his way, we probably wouldn't even have the HMMWVs and body armor that we have now...

Posted by Sarah at 11:05 AM | Comments (5)

April 17, 2004


This is good news. No one wants money instead of their loved one, but it's a generous idea.

Posted by Sarah at 11:02 PM | Comments (1)


These photos can only be properly viewed while AC/DC's Thunderstruck is playing...

Firefighter as sexiest job? Pshaw.

Posted by Sarah at 09:10 AM | Comments (2)

April 16, 2004


This Italian is a hero.

Posted by Sarah at 01:39 PM | Comments (1)


Hook asked his soldiers Rooney's questions.
His soldiers destroyed Rooney's claims.

Posted by Sarah at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2004


These are my boys.


This is their mission.

US Troops Set for Showdown with Cleric

Get 'er done, boys.

Posted by Sarah at 07:38 AM | Comments (4)

April 13, 2004


Andrew Sullivan got an email from the sister of a career NCO. His view of the war is decidedly pessimistic, as is his view of the future of the Army.

My recurring disclaimer: I am not in the Army. That said, I think that one paragraph in this email is based on her brother's guesses; as a warblogger, I have a differerent view based on things I've read.

His most pessimistic views were reserved for the future of the US military, especially the Army and the reserve forces. The Army's longterm morale appears to be at severe risk due to its being so overstretched. Re-enlistments by the very backbone of the Army (senior NCO's and Officers) are going to start dropping like a rock unless the situation changes in the estimation of my brother. This is doubly the case with the Reservists, upon whom the military has become so dependent. In addition, our military personnel are terribly underpaid given the missions that they are called upon to fulfill during this wartime era. Many military families live at near subsistence level incomes, are required to make huge sacrifices in terms of risk to loved ones and constantly having to move, and struggle to make ends meet.

I agree that morale is probably not as high as it was during the late 90's, when no one in the Army had to do much except train, but I know of a lot of soldiers who are proud and eager to be deployed. I know of one on rear detachment who is positively livid that they've left him here. Some soldiers really do want to soldier; that's why they took the job in the first place.

As for re-enlistment, so far it has been steady. Our gut reaction is that no one would willingly sign up to do such a nasty job, but the military is right on track for the enlistment goal at this time of year.

And, yes, all soldiers are "terribly underpaid" when you consider that they're on call 24 hours a day for a year. But, as I linked to the other day, military pay is something that is more nuanced than it appears.

Even in their first year of service, E-4s pull in more than $18,600 per annum, and more than $19,600 in their second year of service, and that's in base pay. Throw in BAH Type II for a married soldier (assuming 0 differentials. He earns more money if he has children) and he's really making $25,887 per year in his second year of service.

The military pay scale is all laid out for you here.

Except that while he's deployed, he's also getting hostile fire pay ($3,000 per year), family separation pay ($3,000 per year) and an allowance for per diem expenses of 3.50 per day, or 1,277.50 per year. So now we're up to $33,164.50.

But money earned in a combat zone is exempt from federal income tax. So assuming the soldier's in the 15% tax bracket, that income yields an after-tax equivalent of $38,139.18 per year.

And we haven't even figured in the value of free food for the soldier while he's deployed, or free medical care for the soldier's dependents.

So Ehrenreich's $16,000 per year figure--while not far off the mark if the soldier's a screw-up and doesn't get promoted and you only count base pay--is wildly inaccurate when it's vetted by someone who actually knows what he's doing.

And the LT? The first year 2nd Lieutenant while deployed in Iraq, makes an after-tax equivalent of $61,462.67 (somewhat less than that, actually, because he's in a marginal 15% bracket, not an effective one. But you get the idea.)

Where ELSE can you be 19-24 years old and pull in that kind of salary?

Yes, we military families make sacrifices. No, we don't want anyone to have to be deployed for a year. But a soldier's job is to soldier, and a military family's job is to be supportive of the mission. Many of us understand what that means and the sacrifices it takes -- we know about deployments and the pay scale when we sign up -- but the rewards of supporting and defending our country outweigh the grievances.

Posted by Sarah at 04:11 PM | Comments (3)

April 09, 2004



Get 'er done, guys.

Posted by Sarah at 10:00 AM | Comments (1)

April 07, 2004


Kate is right: if our military is forced to take down American flags in Iraq during this horrible month of fighting, then we must fly them on our blogs in their honor. It's the least we can do...


Thanks, Jim.

Posted by Sarah at 05:52 PM | Comments (7)


Jason Van Steenwyk eloquently fisks the "Market forces ensure that a volunteer army will necessarily be an army of the poor" article in the Progressive.

The plus side of the deployment is that my husband is making more money than we know what to do with. Our grocery bills have shrunk by $200 per month since he's gone, we saved $500 cutting him from insurance, and he's making much more than he did before he left, due to his promotion and deployment benefits. We may miss each other immensely, but we're sure not poor.

Posted by Sarah at 01:52 PM | Comments (1)

April 03, 2004


Instinctually I imagined that the war on terror deters young people from enlisting in the Army. In fact, it doesn't seem to have a negative effect on enlistment rates, which is wonderful. Our soldiers grok.

I want to see many more photos like this one.

Posted by Sarah at 07:50 AM | Comments (0)

April 02, 2004


I've had a sticky note on my desk for a while now with chicken scratches for a future post. I think today might be the day to knock it out.

Donald Sensing, among others, commented Wednesday on a female airman who refused the order to get her Anthrax shots. He found the story via Texas Native:

"I have a kid to take care of," said [Airman Jessica] Horjus, 23, the mother of a 2-year-old, who lives with her daughter in military housing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, N.C. "The Air Force can always fill my slot with someone else, but who's going to fill the mommy slot?"

She got demoted, and another SGT who also refused the shots can't seem to understand why he's in trouble. Andrew Olmsted minces no words; he says these people should not pass Go and definitely shouldn't receive their $200. (He also has a lengthy collection of reasons why one would serve; the first letter was extremely interesting.)

The idea that people join the military and then balk at doing what it takes to be a servicemember is not surprising. I'm reminded a post by Sgt Mom and my favorite comment by Lori:

Classroom full of uncanned relish in Basic training, USAF. First day of instruction. Our TI goes around the room asking people why they volunteered for the service. A variety of answers are given - everything from 'money for college', 'travel', 'adventure', 'family tradition', 'opportunity to get myself out of my small town', etc. After everyone was done, the TI's response was 'You joined the Air Force to die for your country. Everything else is secondary'. Talk about a reality check.

I may not have ever been in the military, but I work directly with the "secondary" that Lori talks about. Working in the Education Center here has been a very rewarding experience so far, but it offers an interesting window into some people's priorities.

One of the great military "secondaries" is the education benefits. The Army will pay for you to get your education, up through a PhD if you so desire. (Unfortunately, there are some major flaws here, which I will discuss in another post.) However, your getting your education is in fact secondary to your duties as a soldier. When I hear soldiers complain time after time that their unit isn't giving them time to take classes or that they have to deploy and are never going to get done with their degrees, I have a hard time sympathizing. The Army does not need to give them time to get a degree. If they can squeeze it in, great. All of our classes are offered nights and weekends to maximize the chances of them squeezing it in, but no one ever guaranteed them that they could get it done. Their education is secondary.

I've also heard family members complain that Veterans' benefits are not transferrable; that is, the soldier can't give his free tuition to his spouse or kid who just graduated from high school. There has been talk of this happening in the future, and I personally think it's not appropriate. Soldiers earn this secondary benefit because of their service; if their children want the benefits, then they need to serve as well. The father cannot decline an education but pass on the monetary value to someone else. Education benefits are the reward for your service, not a gift certificate to be passed on to whomever.

I've met and heard of several soldiers who joined the military to get free college. My husband also started out with this idea. He needed to find a way to pay for school, and he looked into the Reserves before deciding to go the ROTC route. He earned those benefits too, only getting five hours of sleep most school nights and devoting most weekends and all of his summers to the military. Throughout his three years, he learned that the hours he put in to ROTC did not quite equal out to the monetary value of the education benefits he received, but he had gained something more valuable than money: he was a leader in the best military in the world.

Military benefits are always secondary to being a soldier. If you want to be a student, then you shouldn't be in the military, you should be in college. And even if you did join the military for the benefits, you can't change your mind once the going gets tough. When my husband signed the dotted line, he was not thinking about al Qaeda, but when the time came, he balled up and met the challenge. So must all soldiers. Yeah, there are no Education Centers in Iraq for you to work on your degree, and you might not have enough computer access to take an online course. But you can't bitch about it. Your job is to soldier, not to study.

Posted by Sarah at 03:35 PM | Comments (2)


I wrote above about military education benefits and how the system has a few flaws. Here's what I've seen so far that makes me scratch my head.

Not all educations are equal. My husband went to Truman State University. He got 100% tuition assistance through ROTC; the 2004-2005 in-state tuition is $5410 per year. My husband's best buddy went to Johns Hopkins. He also got 100% tuition assistance, which for 2004-2005 is $28,730. Ouch. My husband's entire college career cost less than one year for his buddy. That seems a little lopsided to me.

Another trick comes when you fill out your VA paperwork for your GI Bill. There's a space for whichever degree you are working on, and the catch is that this answer is binding. If you say Associates Degree, then the money cuts off after you get your AA. When filling out this paperwork, always put PhD; you can get less education than you requested but not more.

But by far the biggest flaw I've noticed in the system has to do with the withdrawal rate for active duty soldiers. We hold classes in 8-week blocks. A soldier must request a tuition assistance form, get it signed by his commander, and turn it in. Theoretically, in signing the TA, the commander acknowledges that the soldier will be busy with this class, and a commander should not sign the form if he anticipates that the soldier will not have time for the course. However, this never happens in practice. The Army wastes hundreds of thousands of dollars each year paying for classes that soldiers cannot finish: they deploy, they have CQ a couple of times and can't get caught up, or they go to the field. This is terrible. If a soldier withdraws himself from a class, the tuition is deducted automatically from his paycheck. But if the Army withdraws the soldier for mission-related activities, the Army still pays the college the full amount for the course. On our post alone, we get roughly 100 withdrawals per year. That's $50,000 that the Army pays to the school, and the soldier gets no college credit whatsoever. And that's only on our small post; multiply that by all the schools on all the military posts around the globe, and it's some serious cash. The Army will also pay for the soldier to take the same class again at a later date. It's shocking how lax soldiers and commanders are about the tuition assistance. I have a real problem with it, but not for the same reason the soldiers do. They complain because they're never allowed to finish their courses; I complain because our government is paying for them to never finish their courses. Sometimes things really do come up unexpectedly, but it's a real waste to keep registering soldiers for classes they're never going to complete.

Posted by Sarah at 03:16 PM | Comments (1)

March 29, 2004


I charged home from work at 2130 tonight and soaked up as much beer, Chex mix, and South Park as was possible in 30 minutes. And then I got hit with Greyhawk's guilthammer.

My dad's worked in air conditioning for his entire adult life, so it only seemed natural that I should donate to Operation AC. Especially after reading "I would like to continue but we operate on donations and people just are sick of hearing about the war and have essentially stopped donating all together."

Well, that was enough to make me give up a couple of DVDs. Maybe you could too? At the very least, you should go over to Mudville Gazette and leave some morale-boosting words for our brave servicemembers. I plan to wait until this comments section gets sufficiently big (read more than 8!!!) and then print it and send a copy to all of my husband's soldiers.

Get 'er done, readers.

Posted by Sarah at 09:11 PM | Comments (3)

March 28, 2004


Oda Mae pointed out a recent article in The Prague Post Online written by "a founding member of the Prague branch of American Voices Abroad." That's enough to make me want to stay far away from this article, but there are a few things I'd like to address. (Usch, and I have lots of work to do today...)

Farnsworth's premise is that we should feel more emotion and sorrow for innocent Iraqis who have been killed than our bloodthirsty and automaton troops. While I do regret the deaths of innocent Iraqis, I side with Den Beste when he says that in war there is no such thing as a civilian and that I value American citizens more than citizens of any other country. In that sense, Farnsworth's article doesn't really bother me because we're arguing apples and oranges.

I've also already addressed the meaninglessness of the Support Our Troops slogan, but I'll say again that simply holding a sign that says you support our troops is not the same thing as writing a soldier a letter or donating to Soldiers' Angels. It's an empty phrase when paired with opposition to the war on terror.

So Farnsworth and I have no common ground for any sort of discussion. I've come to the realization that it's hardly worth getting upset over someone who's so far from my line of thinking. But there are a few flaws in his reasoning I'd like to mention.

There are parts of this ruse that I might buy. Most soldiers are young and can hardly be blamed for finding themselves in the middle of a war. Many of them signed up facing the choice between lousier work and joining the military. Some joined to afford college, as did Jessica Lynch, only to find herself maimed in battle and then used for Pentagon propaganda. Some find a military career attractive because it offers the benefits, such as subsidized housing and health care, of a semisocialist organization.

In light of my revelation yesterday, I must strenuously say that if you're not prepared to fight a war, don't sign on the dotted line. This recent (though not surprising) crop of conscientious objectors and jerks fleeing to Canada deserve contempt, not sympathy. Don't join the military for college perks (another post for another day) or housing benefits or any of the other benefits that distract you from your real mission: to go to undesirable corners of the world and kill people. If you can't handle that, then you had no business signing up. Period.

News of such U.S. atrocities in Iraq has come out in scattered reports. U.S. Marine Sergeant Eric Schrumpf revealed that his training in civilian casualties taught that killing a large number of innocents all at once looked bad but that killing them a few at a time was OK. About the civilian woman he had just murdered because she stood too close to his target, he said, "I'm sorry, but the chick got in the way."

Turning to the psychopathic tendencies within the war, we have Corporal Ryan Dupre blurting to a reporter, "The Iraqis are sick people and we are the chemotherapy. I am starting to hate this country. Wait till I get hold of a friggin' Iraqi. No, I won't get hold of one. I'll just kill him."

Maybe I'm a hardened old Army wife, but this doesn't bother me at all. Our servicemembers have to have some way to deal with their mission. Whether it's detachment and indifference or raging hatred towards the enemy, they're both coping mechanisms, and they're both valid. I've heard my husband say that he'd take anyone out who looked remotely suspicious. That's a healthy way of dealing with the stress of combat. Would we rather our soldiers stopped to contemplate their ethical dilemma and in the meantime get wasted by an IED in a Coke can?

SOT involves a "my-side-versus-your-side" premise while creating a mental shortcut around actually thinking about it. Are we supposed to support any U.S. soldier on "our" side more than every single Iraqi? ... Are we supposed to support any Sergeant Schrumpf more than however many "chicks" he murdered? Should we support "our" troops over their civilians?


Personally, I support those with whom I feel kinship. I feel none at all with the chicken hawks in government running this aggression and none with troops like Schrumpf. I do not support them. I feel sorry for but little kinship with soldiers who find themselves in a bad position and just shoot wherever they are told, as the captured soldier said. I support them as much as I sympathize with them. But I feel more sympathy for the civilians murdered by U.S. weapons, for the children sliced to pieces by cluster bombs, for the women blown apart by bunker busters -- and for their survivors.

Well, then that is where you and I differ, Farnsworth. Look, I've met dirtbag soldiers. I have heard firsthand one private's despicable tales from Kosovo, and that's why he got chaptered out and his buddy is now in jail. There are jerks in our military, but there are jerks in every demographic of society, and there are Iraqi jerks and Afghan jerks and surely Farnsworth has met some jerks in Prague. But don't quote two soldiers and blow their remarks out of proportion into the reason why we should support Iraqis instead of our troops.

Posted by Sarah at 12:00 PM | Comments (7)


I've gotten this email forward before, and although parts are a bit stereotypcial, overall I really like the image it conjures.

The average age of the military man is 19 years. He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who, under normal circumstances is considered by society as half man, half boy. Not yet dry behind the ears, not old enough to buy a beer, but old enough to die for his country. He never really cared much for work and he would rather wax his own car than wash his father's; but he has never collected unemployment either.

He's a recent High School graduate; he was probably an average student, pursued some form of sport activities, drives a ten year old jalopy, and has a steady girlfriend that either broke up with him when he left, or swears to be waiting when he returns from half a world away. He listens to rock and roll or hip-hop or rap or jazz or swing and 155mm howizzitor. He is 10 or 15 pounds lighter now than when he was at home because he is working or fighting from before dawn to well after dusk.

He has trouble spelling, thus letter writing is a pain for him, but he can field strip a rifle in 30 seconds and reassemble it in less time in the dark. He can recite to you the nomenclature of a machine gun or grenade launcher and use either one effectively if he must. He digs foxholes and latrines and can apply first aid like a professional. He can march until he is told to stop or stop until he is told to march.

He obeys orders instantly and without hesitation, but he is not without spirit or individual dignity. He is self-sufficient. He has two sets of fatigues: he washes one and wears the other. He keeps his canteens full and his feet dry. He sometimes forgets to brush his teeth, but never to clean his rifle. He can cook his own meals, mend his own clothes, and fix his own hurts. If you're thirsty, he'll share his water with you; if you are hungry, his food. He'll even split his ammunition with you in the midst of battle when you run low.

He has learned to use his hands like weapons and weapons like they were his hands. He can save your life - or take it, because that is his job. He will often do twice the work of a civilian, draw half the pay and still find ironic humor in it all. He has seen more suffering and death then he should have in his short lifetime.

He has stood atop mountains of dead bodies, and helped to create them. He has wept in public and in private, for friends who have fallen in combat and is unashamed. He feels every note of the National Anthem vibrate through his body while at rigid attention, while tempering the burning desire to 'square-away' those around him who haven't bothered to stand, remove their hat, or even stop talking. In an odd twist, day in and day out, far from home, he defends their right to be disrespectful.

Just as did his Father, Grandfather, and Great-grandfather, he is paying the price for our freedom. Beardless or not, he is not a boy. He is the American Fighting Man that has kept this country free for over 200 years.

He has asked nothing in return, except our friendship and understanding. Remember him, always, for he has earned our respect and admiration with his blood. And now we even have woman over there in danger, doing their part in this tradition of going to War when our nation calls us to do so. As you go to bed tonight, remember this shot...a short lull, a little shade and a picture of loved ones in their helmets.

Posted by Sarah at 08:45 AM | Comments (4)

March 27, 2004


I had a realization today about the deployment. I can safely say that I have done less complaining about the soldiers being gone for a year than other wives I know have, but I have in fact grumbled a little about how long a year is and how hard it is on the soldiers. But today I realized I've been looking at this all wrong. Deployment is in fact the raison d'etre for a soldier. It's the default position.

My father is a sales manager for Carrier. His employer pays him to sell big corporate air conditioning jobs. They don't pay him to sit in his office and get ready to sell these jobs, or to have his co-workers come in and pretend to be potential buyers so he can run through a would-be scenario. His job is to actually do the selling. In the same way, my husband's job is to actually be a soldier, not just to train to be one. Going to CMTC and gunnery and training exercises is a vital part of my husband's preparation, but his actual job is to be in Iraq (or Afghanistan or Haiti or wherever the heck else they send him).

Therefore, I think the analogy to the Superbowl is not entirely accurate, though it still has merit. Instead I think that I should start looking at this is the way it's supposed to be. My husband is supposed to be in Iraq because that's what his job is, just as a firefighter is supposed to fight fires or a teacher is supposed to teach. In fact, I've heard the word "soldier" used as a verb many times in our short Army career, and all of a sudden it makes more sense.

A soldier is supposed to soldier. In Iraq. Period.

Posted by Sarah at 01:21 PM | Comments (3)

March 26, 2004


The other day my mom called me laughing because her brother had just called her ready to blow a gasket while watching Kennedy on Meet the Press. Tanker pointed out something to me that I hadn't yet had time to post. Kennedy said:

Yeah, there would probably, probably. But I can tell you this: There would be a much greater participation of other countries around the world. This is laughable, this coalition. 85 percent of all the troops over there now are United
States troops, and 85 percent of the casualties--the casualties--are American troops. There's no reason that we can't have other troops from other nations participate and gradually free American troops from that responsibility. That would be the objective, and that would be the aim. I think that could be achievable.

Tanker then pointed out:

Multilateral, United Nations Authorized, France Approved,
Foreign Troops in the Korean War:

300,000 -- US
39,474 -- Foreign
339,474 -- Total

88% US

Australia 2,282
Belgium 900
Canada 6,146
Colombia 1,068
Ethiopia 1,271
France 1,119
Greece 1,263
Holland 819
Luxembourg 44
New Zealand 1,385
Philippines 1,496
South Africa 826
Thailand 1,204
Turkey 5,453
United Kingdom 14,198
United States 302,483

Posted by Sarah at 10:06 PM | Comments (3)


When I taught ESL back in Illinois, the majority of my students were from South Korea. In my small conversation classes, we talked about the military, since many of the men had done their mandatory Korean service. The older gentlemen in my classes, those in the 40 year old range, thought very highly of the US military and insisted that the American presence was still very necessary. But they said that the younger Koreans don't see things the same way.

The nonprofit think tank’s report, released earlier this month, included two public opinion polls covering 1,710 South Koreans. Most South Koreans said they believe U.S. forces are important for security but also believe the 37,000 U.S. servicemembers stationed in their country may halt unification efforts with North Korea, the study said. And younger, better-educated respondents said they believe America poses a greater threat than North Korea.

Let's pause a moment and reflect on the word better-educated. In this context, it seems to me that this adjective is synonymous with head-up-their-butts or perhaps brainwashed-by-a-Leftist-agenda.

How is it in our country, as well as in Korea, the more educated you are, the less likely you are to be in touch with reality?

The United States is not preventing the reunification of North and South Korea. And I'll bet you a complete set of James Bond movies and $650,000 worth of Hennessey that anyone who thinks the US is more dangerous than Kim Jong Poofyhair obviously has not read a single thing about life in North Korea.

I'm starting to take real issue with the term better-educated. As one of Porphyrogenitus' readers astutely noted, "Waitresses and truck drivers are smart enough not to believe such patent absurdities. The amazing thing is that the majority of English and social science professors and journalists do believe them."

Posted by Sarah at 07:30 AM | Comments (6)

March 25, 2004


Our post lost a soldier last week. The memorial for PFC Jason Ludlam was held today, and unfortunately I couldn't get out of work to go. My friend went, and her description of the military roll call was enough to make me cry. I hope PFC Ludlam never doubted that there are people out there who appreciate his service and honor his sacrifice.


Posted by Sarah at 09:09 PM | Comments (3)


Woo-hoo, we're going to Poland!

In western Europe, which hosts about 102,000 U.S. military service personnel, most of the expected reduction would come in Army forces in Germany. The Army would withdraw more than 60 percent of its 56,000 troops in Germany, home to the 1st Armored and 1st Infantry divisions, officials said, and several overlapping high-level commands would be consolidated.

Posted by Sarah at 08:50 AM | Comments (5)

March 19, 2004


See, this I can respect. Poland says that they're disappointed they were misled by the WMD intelligence, but they still maintain that going into Iraq was the right thing to do. They also don't blame the USA for the bad intelligence; they only lament the fact that it happened. I think some informed criticism is legitimate and I applaud Poland for remaining a strong ally.

"We will be in Iraq as long as needed to achieve the intended goals, plus one day longer," Kwasniewski told Bush, according to Siwiec.

I knew there was a reason I'm dying to visit Poland.

Posted by Sarah at 09:33 PM | Comments (2)


Today is the one year anniversary of the shock and awe campaign. At the time, I was visiting my grandparents in New York while my husband stayed behind at Fort Knox. During that showdown 48 hours, my husband and I would talk on the phone and wonder what would happen. At 48 hours on the nose, he called, and we said, "Huh, I guess nothing is happening." We hung up, and that's when it started.

One year later, things have turned out better than I imagined that night last year. Enlistment into the Army has remained steady. They've darn near caught the whole deck of cards, including the father and sons who represented decades of Iraqi misery. We've rotated the entire Army in and out of Iraq; in the future it will be a shock to see someone who doesn't have a combat patch on his right shoulder. And it seems that slowly but surely the war on terror is working. Our take-it-to-the-enemy strategy has prevented another attack on American soil and scared the pants off of Libya. We've shown we're in this for the long haul, and we're not going to be distracted by weasels or donkeys.

A while back Glenn Reynolds said, "I realized after the second anniversary of September 11 that this is a marathon, not a sprint, and pacing is required."

Wise words.

Posted by Sarah at 04:19 PM | Comments (0)

March 12, 2004


We're at the halfway mark for troop rotation in Iraq, and you'd never know it. If you don't know someone in Iraq or don't read a servicemember's blog, you would never know what's going on in a small port in Kuwait. Thousands of men are moving in and out of the most dangerous region we can imagine right now, and it's not even newsworthy. Because it works like clockwork. Sure there are some broken cots and some long lines, but so far this rotation has gone amazingly smoothly. Our military can get 'er done.

Posted by Sarah at 07:38 AM | Comments (2)

March 10, 2004


Capt. Joel Cunningham of 10th Mountain’s 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment is in Afghanistan right now. He characterized the war on terror in a way I've never heard before.

"It's like working a jigsaw puzzle blindfolded and drunk."

Much of what our servicemembers do is extremely difficult work. It's hard to tell who the bad guys are. It's hard to scour an entire country for one man or one WMD. And our troops often don't have all the pieces to the puzzle; I remember reading that a reporter told a LTC that Saddam had been captured just 50 miles from where they were in Iraq, but the news had not reached them yet. Each unit focuses on their individual mission to help complete the big puzzle that our Commander-in-Chief and Secretary of Defense see.

While sitting with other wives at dinner one night, one of them said something that stuck with me. She said that going to Iraq is like going to the Superbowl; it's the culmination of everything you've practiced for in your whole career. I like that analogy. Another woman remarked that every soldier she knows who is not in Iraq desperately wants to be there, which made me proud of the caliber of soldiers we have in our Army. I feel proud that my husband can be a part of the culmination of all of the Army's work, the conclusion of interactions with Iraq that have lasted for 13 years, and the beginning of a new Iraqi constitution and chapter in Iraq's history. I'm proud that he can help contribute to that puzzle in a significant way. As my friend said, "Evenings are no fun, but like you said, as sad as I am, I'm just so incredibly proud. If you think about it the guys were really lucky, I mean how many people can say they were a platoon leader during actual conflict?"

What a positive attitude: our husbands are lucky. Our soldiers are lucky to be part of something so monumental in history. When the puzzle is complete, all their work will make sense, and a beautiful new Iraq will emerge from the pieces.

Posted by Sarah at 04:21 PM | Comments (1)


Our Division lost her first soldier.

Sacred Words.

Posted by Sarah at 03:58 PM | Comments (3)


Through our Family Readiness Group we got a list of planned demonstrations in Germany for the month of March. Dang, Germans demonstrate a lot. Most of them are anti-war with the occasional free-Tibet thrown in there, but there is one in Heidelberg on 20 March which is supposed to be pro-USA. We military folks are not allowed anywhere near these demonstrations, whether they're pro- or anti-, but if anyone else is in that area and could go, I'd love to hear about it.

Posted by Sarah at 10:38 AM | Comments (3)

March 05, 2004


The worst part of this deployment is that we saw it coming for so long. We knew in July that they'd be leaving, and it was just a matter of waiting for the day. So when my husband and I were talking the week before he left, I told him my biggest fear: it's not that something will happen to him; it's that we'll survive these 14 months and he'll come home to me, and 12 months later we'll have to do it all over again. Half of the Army was in Iraq last year; the other half is there now. Who do you think is going next year? 3ID is, the same folks who were there when it all started. That means the Big Red One's slated for the next go-round. That's what causes a sinking feeling in my stomach: he's only been gone for three weeks and I already see the second deployment on the horizon.

(This depressing thought brought to you by Tim, though it's certainly not his fault. His stuff's mostly good today; I laughed out loud at the Gangs of New York and swinging a cat.)

Posted by Sarah at 04:07 PM | Comments (2)

March 03, 2004


I may have found a lead on why they call the man who's messin' with your wife "Jody". Based on Bunker's comment, I googled "jody" and "music" and came up with a funk song from the 70s called "Trackin' Down Jody" by Darker Shades Ltd. It's about trying to find a guy named Jody and killin' him (I don't know who he is / but all I know / Jody could be the man / livin' right next door). That could be where it came from, or it could've already been a popular expression that was made into a song. Who knows! But you can listen to the song clip here.


So my guess that it was already a popular expression seems to be right. Amritas dug up the real meaning, found here. Well done, linguist.

Posted by Sarah at 10:00 PM | Comments (7)


Reader Tracey sent a link to a wonderful article she says puts the "smackdown" on John Kerry. I agree. The author describes herself:

I'm the daughter of Lt. Col. Roger J. "Black Bart" Bartholomew, a First Air Cavalry rocket artillery helicopter pilot who was killed in Vietnam on Thanksgiving Day 1968, when I was eight years old. I'm a former journalist with a military newspaper, a U.S. Marine widow, and I am appalled at Mr. Kerry's latest assertions that our president "has reopened the wounds of Vietnam."

Anyone who has praised my strength lately needs to go read Ms. Armstrong's article. Then you can see what real military-family strength looks like.

Posted by Sarah at 11:25 AM | Comments (0)


Sgt Hook has a tribute to our soldiers called Who Is Defending You.
Go read it. And make sure to click on all the pictures.
"That's an order!" as he would say.

And if you've never read the story of Rick Rescorla, do so as well. He survived the battle at Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam, only to die in the WTC. He's a true American hero.

Posted by Sarah at 09:53 AM | Comments (4)


Dear Stars and Stripes,

There are more battalions over in Kuwait than 1-77. Why are all of your articles about 1-77? Not that I have anything against them -- one of our best friends is with 1-77 -- but I'd still like to hear you talk about all of the units instead of just one. Thank you.

A jealous wife who wants to read about her husband,

Posted by Sarah at 09:22 AM | Comments (6)


In an unexpected turn of events, Porphyrogenitus has joined the Army! What an exciting new start for him, and I wish him the best of luck with his enlistment. I'm proud of you, soldier.

Posted by Sarah at 08:49 AM | Comments (2)


My husband called this morning, and it was the first time that I didn't take notes. Not much has changed, so we just got to spend the time talking about nothing, which was nice. He also told me a funny story. He tried to call me several times on Monday but never got through (normally it's my day off, but I traded with my co-worker) and didn't know where I was. He joked with his soldiers that I must be at Jody's house since he couldn't find me; "Jody" is the Army word for "the guy your wife's cheating on you with." His soldiers immediately responded with a chorus of "No way, sir! We've met your wife and she'd never do that! She's too nice!" Husband explained that he was just kidding, but he thought it was sweet of them to come to my defense. At least I know they like me, and no one said, "For real? Maybe she is?"

By the way, I have no idea why they use the name "Jody". It sounds like a girl's name to me anyway, but that's the standard joke; if you talk about Jody, everyone knows what you mean. Do any of you out there know where that name came from?

Posted by Sarah at 08:14 AM | Comments (6)

March 02, 2004


Chief Wiggles isn't the only one to start up an organization for Iraqi children. Reserve SPC David McCorkle has started American Aid for Children of Nineveh, Iraq since he's been deployed.

His is an inspiring story: a 44-year-old man loses 125 pounds after September 11 so he would qualify for the Reserves and then deploys for a year in Iraq. And then he spends $5000 of his own money to start a charity for Iraqi schools.

My favorite quote: “I want to raise awareness and understanding of what issues the children face here, and take him to Disney World." That sentence betrays SPC McCorkle's American-ness: wanting to do something big for the child's common good as well as something fun to lift his spirits. It reminds me of a quote I read a long time ago where a soldier looked out into the Iraqi desert and suggested building an amusement park there.

Something that brings the lasting joy of democracy and education, as well as the momentary thrill of a roller coaster.

Posted by Sarah at 12:44 PM | Comments (1)


Sgt Mom has some advice for Hollywood filmmakers when it comes to making movies about the military. My husband and I went to see the movie Basic this summer, and about ten minutes into the movie I did a double-take and turned towards him. He was slouched down in his chair groaning, "I know, I know." For him, it was pure torture to watch a movie where a Sergeant wears Specialist rank, where they're riding in a Blackhawk and no one's wearing a Kevlar, and where there's a female Ranger.

Incidentally, one of the things that bothered him most about the show was that (spoiler...) the characters were able to switch identity by swapping dogtags. He grouched, "They look at your ID card; no one ever looks at your %#$@ dogtags to find out who you are." On the Saturday that he deployed, the SFC in charge shouted to the group, "Line up over here where you'll get weighed and have your dogtags checked!" I leaned over to husband and said, "If you switch with someone, no one will ever know who you really are..."

Posted by Sarah at 07:17 AM | Comments (1)

March 01, 2004


You know that He's Gone post that I wrote when my husband deployed? I also sent it as an email to many of our friends and family, and I always include my husband's ROTC cadre on that list. I just got an email from the LTC there saying that he forwarded my email along to one of his good buddies, the Brigadier General who's the ADC(M) in Kuwait. Gulp.

Posted by Sarah at 05:23 PM | Comments (4)


I've been keeping this thought in the back of my mind for a few weeks now, and so I thought I'd bring it up now. I found this article at DailyKos and I can't get it out of my mind: 7 Soldiers Meet Death in Iraq at 18

Now obviously the Truthout website had an ax to grind, and the heartstrings they pull are less than subtle. One soldier still collected baseball cards. Another already had a son. We read tragic-laden sentences like "Less than a year after leading the Pledge of Allegiance at his high school graduation, the former student council president and cheerleader found himself preparing to cross the Tigris River last April 7 in the siege of Baghdad. He never made it."

Before anyone thinks that I'm belittling their deaths, let me say that I'm crushed when any servicemember dies. I live surrounded by these young men and women, and the thought of any of them dying tears at my heart. But what Truthout spins away from is the sense of duty and obligation these young men had for their country; instead they spin towards the boys' parents' bitter resentment.

One soldier left a letter in a safe-deposit box for his parents, saying

Everyone sooner or later has to part this world. It makes me proud to know that I left while protecting the United States.
Eighteen is such a young age, and you're probably thinking of all the things that I'm going to miss out on. Don't. I got to live such a wonderful life because of you two, and because of that I don't regret missing anything that would later come in the future.

Another Lance Corporal told his mother, "Mom, they're messin' with my country, and I won't let it happen." Most of the quotes from the boys are about patriotism, duty, and love of country. But their parents are quoted saying things like "It's a big waste of his life" and "They messed up all his plans."

I just think that's sad, that's all.

Posted by Sarah at 11:10 AM | Comments (2)