HOPE IS NOT A METHOD |
January 25, 2008
HOPE IS NOT A METHOD
Name: 1SG Troy Steward
Posting date: 1/25/08
Returned from: Afghanistan
Milblog url: bouhammer.com
HATE….ANGER….PRIDE….SADNESS….PRIDE…..SORROW…..FEAR…..PRIDE… These are the emotions that have been swirling through me like a f***ing tornado as my family took my oldest son to the airport and put him on a plane to start the journey that will take him into war. With every bad feeling came pride. How could I not be proud of this awesome young man? I watched him grow up, from playing with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, to GI-Joes, to now being a GI Joe himself. I am the rock for my family, just as I am the rock for my soldiers that work for me. Being the “rock” is an honorable thing, but it also means not being able to waiver or always show the emotion that I have inside.
I have been on multiple sides of the deployment fence. I have been on the one where I am deploying, of course. I have watched my soldiers deploy without me. And now I am bidding my son goodbye as he gets ready to deploy into the horrors of war. It would be different if he was just deploying to a war that I had no knowledge of, and I could only relate the common things that are seen in all wars, but instead I am seeing him walk into the very place I just left. I know the good, bad and ugly of that place. Not just from when I was there, but from very recent experiences of a few weeks ago, as I am in constant communication with guys that are there fighting right now.
Being able to come back from Afghanistan and tell him the most recent lessons learned has been an invaluable asset for him as he gets ready, but it is hell on earth for me because there is nobody that can blow smoke up my butt and tell me things like “It isn’t that bad there,” or “He will be safe,” or any of that other bullshit. I have seen the laziness of the ANA soldiers, I have seen the gross corruption of the ANA and ANP leadership, and I have seen the ineptitude of many American service-members in leadership positions. I will go day in and day out knowing what he is seeing and dealing with, and let me just say that is true torture. Being blind as most Americans are to the true facts is not such a bad thing.
It is an honorable thing he is doing, and that is another reason why I am so proud. However it still hurts when you ship your children off to face the horrors of war. I have said before in blog entries that I am going to hate it that he will lose any innocence that he has left, but such is the sacrifice of serving. However I am sure he will do great things, maintain his head and perform with professionalism and excellence.
I am sure the Army sees those traits in him also, as they felt strong enough to promote him yesterday. This was just the start of the up and down roller coaster our family has been on. Yesterday they held a formation for him at the armory so his one wish could be honored; that if he were to be promoted to (E5) Sergeant, it would happen before he left, so I could pin it on him. So yesterday I had the great honor as a Senior First Sergeant and a father -- to be able to pin Sergeant stripes on my son. I am sure it was something my own father wished he could have done when I had my Sergeant stripes pinned on me in Korea back in 1990.
Now 18 years after making Sergeant, I had the chance to put the same rank on my own son, welcoming him into the NCO corps. And so lives on the great NCO tradition of our family, three generations worth now.
Many friends and family have said they will keep him in their prayers just like they said that for me. I truly hope with all of my heart that they are being honest and not just paying me lip service, because I don’t have time for lip service. I know there were lots of prayers said for me when I was over there, and I am convinced that it was because of those that I am still alive today with all my parts and pieces. It is worse now than it ever was when I was there. Yes, hopefully the ANA are a little better trained and hopefully the American leadership is a little more tactically smart and accountable. But as an old battalion commander and friend of mine used to say, “Hope is not a method."