Friday, February 29, 2008
The Last Mission
Since my return to my home base at the end of 2007, I have been preparing for what will be my final mission in the Army. My previous job was to mobilize a battalion of military police soldiers who are now successfully engaged in one of the war zones.
Tomorrow I make a brief one-day trip to give a pre-mobilization briefing to another military police unit, but next week I begin that final mission. I have been attached to a team that will spend the next few months preparing an infantry unit for its tour at war. Yep – my last mission will be with a unit of “grunts”, the same type of hardened “bayonet and bullet” warriors with whom I shared my first experience at war.
We will begin with an extensive pre-mobilization briefing and assessment of the unit’s readiness. This means that next week I must travel to the unit (which is located in a cold and snowy place). Then we will work with them during their preparation and accompany them on their training events before they report to the mobilization station.
Then, during their stay at the mob station, we will be with them every day, monitoring their training, assisting them with their weapons and equipment issues, scheduling re-training and getting them all cleared medically. Before they make the trip to war, it is our job to ensure that the unit, as well as each individual soldier, is validated on every task they must perform and every mission they will execute.
When we say farewell to these soldiers, it will be time for me to begin my terminal leave before retirement. They will begin one of the most important journeys in their lives just as one of my own long journeys comes to an end. (The above picture is then-Lieutenant Grist in Vietnam in 1971.)
SFC Chuck Grist