HOME FOR CHRISTMAS |
December 31, 2007
HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
Name: 1SG Troy Steward
Posting date: 12/31/07
Returned from: Afghanistan
Milblog url: bouhammer.com
Unlike last year, where Christmas was just another day and the only real joy I had was talking to my family over a static-filled and sometimes-cutting-out Afghan wireless cellphone, this year I enjoyed my time home with my family.
Not only did I enjoy it at home with my family, but I enjoyed it at home with my oldest son, who is about to leave for war himself. He won’t be with us next Christmas, as he will be spending it in Afghanistan. He leaves in a few days to start training up for his own mission and time over there. A boy who grew up playing Army, dressing in my old uniforms, and then playing video games as if he were a soldier. A boy that went to ‘family days’ on base and as an eight year old got to sit in the cockpit of an Apache helicopter, and as a ten year old had the chance to jump off the 34-foot jump tower that we use for concurrent airborne training.
He is about to go over and do it for real. He will probably find himself recognizing the distinct sounds of 7.62x39mm rounds leaving the end of an AK-47, and getting to know the “whoosh” that an RPG makes once it is shot. He may find out for himself what it is like to be down on his knees sticking someone (American or Afghan) with an IV or putting a tourniquet on a stump as the person screams in pain. As a medic, he will be the one that everyone else looks to as their “Doc”. They will all have had Combat Lifesaver Training, but he may very well be the only guy on a mission whose sole job is to treat injuries and save lives.
I know first hand, many times over, that anyone of any age that goes to combat for a year will come back five years older. It is a simple fact of life. I don’t mean just hanging out in a combat zone, I mean truly facing combat. With all the shots, explosions, screaming, smells, blood and adrenaline that come with true combat.
So not only was this my first Christmas home in two years and one that I was glad to be here for, it was the last with my oldest “little” boy. He will not be the same when he comes back. A lot of innocence will be gone, if not all of it. And so this holiday, unlike the Christmas, Easter, July 4th, and many other holidays that I missed while in Afghanistan, each of which was just one more day on the calendar until coming home…this one had meaning.
I had a moment on Christmas Day where I just reflected on how special it was to be home, and how lucky I am. I mentioned to my wife that I was so glad to be home, so lucky and fortunate. She kind of looked at me puzzled and said “Lucky?”
It was one of the first times I let the cat out of the bag to her and said, "Honey, if you only knew how many times I could have been killed or maimed. I am glad that I am spending this Christmas at home and not at Walter Reed recovering." I am not sure why I shared that with her, but I did. Maybe it was time, maybe I just had a weak moment.
It was great being home on Christmas morning, watching the faces of everyone as they opened their gifts, sharing the joy and the surprise. It was great to be able to just pick up a phone and talk to family and friends. It was great to be home.