The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.

FAMILY BONDS |

February 20, 2007

FAMILY BONDS
Name: Doug Templeton
Posting date: 2/20/07
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Hometown: Kansas City, MO
Email: dtempleton14@yahoo.com

I write this post from the safety of my office back in the States. I am here on 30 days emergency leave. My father died after a four-year battle with cancer. Never in that time did he ever complain about the pain or worry me about his suffering. When the end came it was a shock to me because he seemed to be doing well. I know it was his way of keeping me from being distracted. He believed in what I am doing, and would not have wanted to bother me with things I couldn't control. He was a trooper and I will miss him terribly.

Since this site is for passing along the events and feelings of servicemembers, I thought I would try to explain what has been going through my mind the last few days.

I was notified of my father's death through an email from my mother. She had sent it two minutes earlier, and something compelled me to check my email as I went about my many daily tasks. I notified my leadership that a Red Cross message was coming, and they started to make the arrangements for my travel.

I had to convoy to my point of embarkation, and when I arrived the following morning I was met by the First Shirt, who had everything I needed as far as leave paperwork and such complete and waiting. I left Afghanistan that day on the first thing smoking back to the States. It took about 32 hours to get to my home in Texas, to collect my wife and daughter before heading out the next day on a ten-hour drive north to  Kansas City.

Here is where the odd feelings started to weigh on my mind. I miss and loved my father as did rest of my family, and the funeral was a tough time for all of us. We used each other for comfort and strength to get through the event. After that I spent a few days with my mother to help her through the transition of no longer having someone around the house.

The simularities between being with my family at home and my family in Afghanistan began to cause me to feel a little out of place. You see we have a responsibility to each other for safety and comfort, and to help each other through difficult events. It is the same in both locations, and that is why I feel like I have to get back.

My family here is safe and sound and are beginning to move forward without Dad. My family in Afghanistan is still in harm's way, and I am part of that team. No matter what, I have a responsibility to uphold and a mission to complete.

For those not in the military this may seem strange, but those who serve will understand. I am a sixth-generation military officer, and these principles have been instilled in me from birth. This is what my father would have wanted, for me to get back to work and to make a difference and to complete my mission.

Comments

I think for civilians with a little imagination, it's not too hard to understand your feeling. Many great writers have talked about the intense bonds forged among combatants.

My best to you and both your families.

You will have the same feeling when you rotate back stateside. Glad to be home, but "missing" your unit and the troops in it. When I left Vietnam as my unit was going into Cambodia in 1970 I was very much of two minds about whether I was happy to have missed the invasion, or sorry I wasn't part of it.

First of all let me say that my thoughts and prayers are with you and your "home" family during this time of loss.

Then let me say that I am a civilian yet I do completely understand your need to get back to your military family and provide the support, comfort and safety you add to that group. I've been so VERY blessed to be able to support deployed military for 4 years now. The lessons I have learned from them and about them have been enlightening, eye opening, heart warming and heart breaking.

My best to you and your families. My gratitude, sincere appreciation and prayers to you and your military family as you continue to fight the good, noble and right fight in Afghanistan. You ARE making a positive and significant difference there.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings.

My thoughts and prayers are with both your families. Thank you for what you do for all of us.
With your Dad's passing, I suspect you have yourself one heck of a guardian angel keeping watch over you and yours no matter where on Earth you are.
Della

What a whip-saw experience! It is hard enough in "normal" circumstances to loose a parent, but to deal with that and the concerns for your family in Afghanistan is a lot. We do understand your feelings which are those of a caring, responsible adult. Please accept my sympathy and respect.

I understand perfectly,and I'm NOT from a military family. God bless you-

FWIW: It's normal. Rare and lucky you could get off base for the funeral. Dad didn't pass untill long after 'Nam, but it was weird. Not like crazy weird, just normal death is here today weird. Which was enough weird, all by itself.

I can remember what it was like to visit the world between tours. I bet, to this day, they (those not in your shoes) just don't get it.

It took a long time to understand that is was my (our) job to make sure they never had to.

Thank you for your service.

Blessings to you and both your families.

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