21 October 2004
It was quite a journey and I absolutely hate travelling. I enjoy flying, as I love looking out the window at the world below, however, after long hours on a plane, it really starts to wear on me.
I left a couple of days ago for BIAP (Baghdad International Airport) from my camp. We stayed there overnight until the next morning where we were briefed and waited around all day to catch a flight into Kuwait. I had forgotten just how long it has been since I have flown on a C-130 Air Force transport. As I said while I enjoy flying, being in a C-130 is like being strapped into a roller coaster with a lawn chair as your seat. Not the most comfortable ride in the world, but fun all the same.
We arrived in Kuwait, where again, we endured long hours of briefings and received our itineraries for our flight back. We flew late in the evening and arrived yesterday morning in Maine. I can tell you that the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) who have taken it upon themselves to meet and greet every plane that comes in, really warmed my heart. These men and women have sacrificed their time to ensure that the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who either come home or leave through Maine, are appreciated by at least someone. They had phones available for our use to call our families, at no charge to us, provided by Unicel. Sam's Club provided cookies and coffee and the VFW of course was there to ensure that we were warmly welcomed back into our homeland. You can visit their site at www.mainetroopgreeters.com. I recommend you visiting this site for yourself, as words just do not do it justice.
I arrived into Dallas-Fort Worth, later on yesterday morning, once again, to a warm welcoming crowd, among them being my family. The seemingly longest part of my journey was the drive back home. My wife had a small glitch in the car rental that she had attempted, so she drove our truck up there to pick me up. Well, a normally 2-2 1/2 hour drive took nearly 7. I have to change the fuel filter in my truck. Was a little annoying, but, I was safe and was able to see things that I normally wouldn't see by travelling at 70 mph.
This brings me to my next topic. We in America have a tendency to forget or not realize just how good we have it here. In just the beauty of our country, we can take solace in the knowledge that we indeed do live in the greatest country on earth. It is a little funny as the first thing that I saw when I landed in BIA (Bangor International Airport) was the Ramada and Days Inn. It struck me as kind of funny that this would be the first thing that I saw, but when I did, I knew I was going home. As we flew over the United States, the breath taking views of the patchwork quilt that make up the farmland of our Heartland, the Appalacian Mountains and the urban sprawls of our great cities confirmed the fact that our country truly is great. Your home, my home, our home. THIS is what we defend. It brought back to my mind the song "America the Beautiful" and I caught myself humming that tune several times as I looked out the window. Take not for granted what we have. Every morning you wake up and go outside, thank the Lord above for what you have. My wife can attest to the fact that as I stepped out of the airport for the first time into the warm Dallas sun, I stopped and took a long breath. Clean, warm air. Absent were the smells of sewage, smells of burning garbage in the streets. Gone were the sounds of gunfire and explosions. Peace.
It tore me up however, once, that although through the absence of all this, there are those who tainted this experience. Angry drivers, uncaring and unfeeling human beings. Throughout the entire trip back home, when the truck started messing up, we had a grand total of two people stop and ask us if we needed assistance. Although I expected not everyone to stop and offer aid, I was struck by the fact that while we would pull off of the road to avoid impeding traffic, there were more obscene gestures, swear words and curses thrown at us than anything. Many of these obscenities were thrown by people with the yellow ribbon magnets on their vehicles which say "Support Our Troops". Words say one thing, while actions speak another. While I appreciate those who do support us, wholeheartedly, support your fellow man as well. Remember the Golden Rule. Remember those who may be more needy than you. Help those who need help. America is great, but it could be so much better.
I will post again soon, as I must reply to and rebuff some of the comments that I have received to some of my posts. Thank you again, each and every one of you, who have been reading this and passing it on. I have been asked several times by people who have posted this site on other web sites if I minded. In no means do I mind, for my intent in starting this thing was to get it out to as many people as I could. The more people I can reach with this, with my simple messages, the outlook of just one old Sergeant, the happier I am. In just three weeks, I have had over 10000 hits on the site. That is about 9999 more than I could ever hope for. Thank you to all of those who have forwarded this on.