Wednesday, September 19, 2007
You've Gotta Love the Army
The major and I arrived in the vicinity of a large airport at 2130 hours. We traveled to that location instead of the original departure point because the Army changed our international flight reservations. When we couldn’t get a last minute flight to this airport, we were forced to take a military vehicle and drive for almost five hours to get there. Then we had to wait again, so we stayed overnight in a local hotel.
Our baggage was packed, our weapons were securely encased in locked containers, we said goodbye to our families and we purchased those last minute things you always buy before you head to a war zone. Although our trip wasn’t scheduled to be a long one, we mentally prepared ourselves to enter a dangerous, war-torn country.
With a variety of missions always going on in our training unit, we can be sent to almost any nation in the world whether that country is at war or not. In this particular case, we were going to Afghanistan, a short adventure that would add a little spice to our military routine.
I was looking forward to the trip, but I’ve already traveled to multiple war zones. The major has not. This was his first mission to such a place and he was pumped up, excited and ready to go. His family was not all that thrilled, but he prepared them as best he could and they accepted the need for the short but dangerous assignment.
After a sleepless night in a strange hotel, I woke up at 0600. I had a voicemail message on my cell phone that was recorded at 0430. Our mission was cancelled.
I left my coffee sitting on the table in the hotel lobby, walked back to the major’s room and knocked on the door. He listened to me give him the bad news, but the expression on his face, which was covered with shaving cream, said it all. I could almost see his face melt.
We were both disappointed and we vented to each other on the five hour return trip. We called our wives and gave them the news. No, they were not disappointed, but they consoled us nonetheless.
By the time we arrived at the military installation, we were laughing (not real loud, though) about the whole thing. We were Soldiers, we followed orders and we did what we were told to do – no matter how disappointed we might be.
We will both drive on and more of these short-term missions will surely appear on the horizon again. The Army is what it is – that big green machine that has more important things to do than worry about some sergeant and his major who have to drive all over the southeastern United States on their way to nowhere.
We shall do what we’ve always done: We’ll continue to serve as professional Soldiers who must train and prepare those who stand watch on the perilous perimeters around the world.
SFC Chuck Grist