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Military Biography: January
A little while ago, maybe four months - maybe five, some of my good friends on hubpages learned of my story. This story spreads from January 2009 through December of 2009. This story is of sorrow, tragedy, loss, and love's victory over it all. It is a long story about 25,000 words total and will be told over a twelve month time frame.
An important aspect of this story is faith and strength of love. Hubpages also has a lot to do with the renewal of a dying marriage. Through my writings and poems that I've shared on hubpages my wife rediscovered the depth of my love for her. The rest is history. I hope you enjoy reading this passage and the eleven others to come.
Military Biography: January
Word came in the middle of the night. Sleep still fresh in my mind and darkness surrounding me, the message was a little confusing. We were deploying to Iraq on the morning of January 3rd. My bags were already packed and sitting in my garage, all I needed to do was pack a carry-on and my shaving kit.
“Who was that?” my wife asked groggily
“That was first sergeant, we’re leaving tomorrow.” I said as I fell back asleep.
Soon my wife snuggled up to me and I held her in my arms. The tears eased out of my eyes, then I felt hers wetting my chest. I kissed her on the forehead and told her it would be alright. “Hopefully this will be the last one.” I was tired of deploying and she was tired of me deploying.
We spent the rest of that day wrapped up in each other’s love and spending good quality time together with our daughters. One of the reasons I love my wife so much is her strength in the face of great adversity. That evening I packed my carry-on bag and enjoyed my wife’s company.
So Sad Saying Goodbye
The next day we all piled into my Ford F-150 and headed to the link up site. They wanted us there two hours before we were to leave so they could get accountability of everyone. Me, my wife, and my daughters all hung out and loved up on each other. My oldest daughter told me she was going to miss me.
“Oh, sweetheart I’m going to miss you too. I already do miss you.” I said
“I love you daddy.”
“Love you too pumpkin.”
My youngest daughter didn’t really say too much but I knew she understood what was happening. The first two deployments she was pretty young. The first deployment she was two years old. The second deployment she was five and six. This one she was seven and understood that I was about to be gone for a year. When the time came to leave I gave my youngest daughter a huge hug and told her that I love her very much. Then I gave my oldest daughter a big hug and told her that I loved her very much. Then I gave my wife a hug and a kiss and told her that I loved her too. I looked into her eyes when I said this and saw the tears welling up in them. Seeing her cry brought a lump to my throat which I had to choke back but the water could have nothing done about it. I told her, “Be strong for our girls and I’ll see you later.”
I hopped onto the bus and sat next to my fellow sergeant as we headed to the airfield. We all rode in silence. There was not one word spoken on this bus trip. Everyone had their heads down, the most you could hear was an occasional sniffle. My buddy Jake who was sitting next to me made an occasional sniffle and I allowed my nose to run. It sucks sometimes to not be able to unload your emotions, but this is just what we do. When we got to the airfield we were weighed and after an hour and a half of waiting we were finally loaded onto the airplane.
Once I found my seat on the airplane I pulled out my Zune, put in my earphones, and watched Supertroopers, the only movie I put onto my Zune.
After the movie, I zonked out. I only woke up to eat, to get off the plane while they refueled and restocked their supplies, and to go to the lavatory. The plane ride took sixteen hours to get to Kuwait; we left that day at six P.M and arrived in Kuwait at 1 o’clock in the morning the next day. I reset my watch to local time under Time 1, and set Time 2 to Central Standard Time. All I would have to do from this point is press my start/split button on my watch to see what time it was at home.
The first thing we did once we had gotten to Kuwait was to swipe our ID cards at the processing station so we could start getting paid. We also filled out all necessary forms while we were there. After the hour or so we spent there we went to our tents. Our bags were already on the way to our tents so we just marched over to them. Once there, we grabbed our bags and laid claim to a spot and a cot. Sleep that night was a little difficult due to the fact that I had slept almost all the way on the plane.
We ended up staying in Kuwait for five days; during this time we conducted training for the impending deployment to Iraq. At 1 o’clock in the morning on what would have been the sixth day we boarded a bus heading for the airfield. Once we were there we awaited the arrival of the C-17 that would transport us north. This particular plane has thirty rows of five seats each plus a row of inner-facing seats that were along the inside of the fuselage. It was cramped but whatever we would be in Iraq soon.
Stepping off the airplane in the middle of the afternoon in January you would expect it to be cold but it was a temperate 60 degrees. Having been to Iraq already I knew about the smell. It was fun to watch the young privates waving their arms wildly at the stench in the air. Anyone watching could easily spot the veterans from amongst the new soldiers. I stepped off the plane and dodged flying arms like a true pro. It was as if they were trying to knock the stink out of the air. This of course is a futile action.
Once we were swiped in we met with our units and were escorted to the battalion area for our in-briefing. Thirty minutes later we were walking over to our living quarters. In my previous two deployments we had a fairly good set-up. Nice living quarters, quick access to showers, phone center and laundry were about a mile away, and the gym was in easy walking distance. Here things were different; I could tell just by the walk from battalion headquarters to the company area. I was right, painfully so I am afraid.
We walked up to our company headquarters, it is a squat little building, maybe 100 feet long by 40 feet wide with a courtyard in the center. There are a total of eight rooms each measuring about 20 feet by fifteen feet. Each room had to house sixteen soldiers. Needless to say each soldier had very little space, maybe a foot each. Eight sets of bunk beds lined the walls, bags were strewn everywhere, and sickness hung in the air like a thick cloud just waiting to infect someone new. At this point I wished I could go to a jail so I would have more room to sprawl out. Heck I wanted to sleep on a cot in the courtyard even though it got to 30 degrees at night. I was not happy about this at all. I almost started to cry to be honest with you. The only thought going through my mind was “I have to live here for a year?”
Our Initial Living Quarters
The Projected Building
Time goes on though, and a week later my shop foreman asked if I knew how to build houses or buildings. I told him that I read a book about it once. Well that was enough for him and the next day he commissioned a project for me to build us four rooms down at the motor pool. I got to work immediately. My good friend and I started to discuss the project. I drew one picture, a rough drawing referring to the lay-out of the building with amounts of wood needed. 2X4 boards, 2X6 boards, and three different types of plywood were all required to do this building.
My peer and good friend was very excited to build this building, we all were I think. Two days later we got the wood. I inventoried it all and found that there was not enough wood to finish this project in its entirety. Oh, well by the time we would need the other wood it would be here, and with that we started building. My friend (let’s call him Jake), and I started putting the 2X6’s together to form the base of the structure. It ended up with a total length of twenty seven and a half feet by a width of eighteen feet. Now because I am not an artist by any means, all the plans were in my head and I worked with a “figure it out as I go” mentality. Jake, who at this time is very excited to work on it, wanted to go-go-go. Next we laid down the sub floor, 3X4 inch plywood. The floor didn’t always match up with the joists underneath. Whenever that happened someone was always there watching. When they criticized I would get mad. One time I stood up quickly, spun around to face the criticizer, and said, “If you think you can do better, here.” And would hand them the hammer I had. Soon after that nobody said anything negative to me about the building.
The whole time that I am building this set of rooms, motor pool operations were in full effect. We received some vehicles that were in really bad shape. It was a constant battle to get everything where it needed to be vehicle wise and on occasion Jake would end up having to work all day on the vehicles.
The floor was built and we were ready for walls to be built. Jake and I started to lay-out frame walls. I grabbed my nine boards, laid them out how they needed to be, then considered that this would be a corner wall and placed a double stud on the end with three short two by fours in between.
“What are you doing?” Jake asked.
“Makin’ a double stud.” I said matter-of-factly.
“I don’t know. Because the book I read said that’s what you need to do in a corner. I guess when you put the other wall up you want something to nail to.”
“Oh, I see. Why did you put the small blocks in there then?” He asked
“I saw it done once and it looks cool. Are you gonna ask me questions all day or are you gonna help me nail this thing together?” I asked with a smile on my face.
There were two other sections building rooms down in the motor pool at the time, the one that got my attention most of all was being built by a guy, who by all his accounts, was the master of everything. He’s the kind of guy that if you did something or you had something, he did or had something better. Arrogance is one word that comes to mind whenever I think of this particular fellow. I would laugh at him because while he was building his rooms he wore his carpenter belt he brought from home. Not really a big deal but it looked funny and out of place on this guy. He would always come over and see how I was doing. Not to help me mind you, but just to keep tabs on me. By the end of January he was almost finished with his building and I was just beginning.
I started to construct the rooms around the 15th of January. From that day I worked all day every day to get as much done as I could. Five days after starting the rooms Jake had to work on the vehicles more and more. Eventually he stopped helping me. I was all by myself. He helped me put up four walls, and he helped me build the floor. I worked so hard so I could get myself, Jake, and one other peer out of the condemned morgue the company put us in.
At the end of January we had run out of boards thanks to the thieving hands of the other sections, and couldn’t get anymore. I needed to find some more materials to build the rest of this structure with, maybe next month.
Join me in the next installments of The Military Biography
© 2010 by Wesley Cox. All rights reserved. Copying without permission is illegal and will be prosecuted.