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Leaving Is Hard
January is often a time for a new beginning. A new year happens in January and every so often a new decade, century, and more rarely a new millennium. For me I got a new year and I got to go to Iraq for the third time. After New Years Day was over I awaited word from the 1SG and commander on when the plane would leave Fort Hood, Texas. The third of January was the date, 1300 was the time.
My company and the rest of the battalion had left Fort Hood on the 15th of December, I along with two of my fellow sergeants were left behind to attend a class on a new type of vehicle. The class started on the 9th and ended on the 20th. We were prepared to miss yet another Christmas, so on the 22nd of December we reported back to our rear detachment first sergeant and the rear detachment commander to receive our flight times. Luckily, and to our amazement those flights were cancelled and rescheduled for January 3rd.
The excitement among the three of us was obvious; we get to spend Christmas with our families. The Christmas holiday season is a joyous time to share with families but what makes it more joyous is in the world of an American Soldier; especially one that would otherwise miss that special time with his or her family. Needless to say that Christmas was special for my family. The joy in my daughter’s eyes was unmistakable.
Christmas ended like normal and then New Years Eve came up. We were all excited but in the back of all our minds was my impending departure for a whole year. Time catches all of us though and before we knew it we were all standing outside the company area waiting for me to leave. Now I’ll tell you if you don’t know this but leaving your loved ones is hard. Leaving your loved ones for an entire year is probably the hardest thing anyone will ever have to do. I (the soldier) had a hard time dealing with the leaving part but I know that my wife and daughters had a harder time of it than I did. There they are, saying good-bye to daddy and husband, not knowing if that may be the last time they ever see him alive, very hard indeed.
After a long wait at the airport terminal, we boarded the airplane. It was a 767, and it was huge. I took my seat with my carry-on in my lap and weapon on the floor facing the isle. Thankfully I got to sit in an isle seat. Twenty minutes later we were airborne. I have deployed to Iraq twice already, making this my third deployment. It never has been easy to say good-bye to your family in the first place, but frequency sure doesn’t make it any easier. Each time I leave, to include mid tour leaves’, I struggle with the powerful emotions. The hardest part for me is looking into my daughters eyes and seeing them well up with tears.