Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pit Stop In Germany

I am now in Germany waiting to see the doctor on Tuesday. Should be on a flight headed back stateside shortly thereafter. I am so anxious to get home that I cannot stand it. I keep imagining walking off of the plane and seeing Jill and the kids. It is going to be awesome! I just won't to squeeze them.
It has been pretty cool to see some of Germany though. A friend of mine that I met when I was active duty is stationed here at Ramstein Air Base. I have not seen him since 1999 when we were both stationed in Alaska together. The medical group here gave me a $250.00 clothing vulture to the BX on Ramstein AB to buy civilian clothes. This was totally unexpected but exciting to go buy clothes and shoes that you don’t have to pay for. Ron my friend from active duty came and picked me up with his wife and kids. Last time I seen him he only had one little boy that was just a year old and now he has three kids. The oldest boy Christian was at a friend’s house so I did not get to see him but the other two were cute as could be. They made me miss Colby and Morgan even more though. We went to the BX which was enormous. It took me a couple hours to walk around and finally decide on what to buy. It was awesome hanging out together. It seemed like just yesterday we were in Alaska together. I had a really good time. Oh yeah, and he pulled a fast one on me. He slipped a pack of men’s loud colorful string bikini style underwear in the cart when I wasn't looking. I did not find them until I was checking out. Ron and Lori (his wife) are really good people and I am happy that I was able to see them. Almost made me miss the active duty life a little.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ready to Go Home

It has been a rough couple of weeks. I injured my knee on the 6th of August and have been hobbling around since then. After two weeks of hobbling around in the unnamed place that I was located, they sent me to Kandahar Afghanistan to see a Doctor. There they examined my knee, x-rayed it and determined that there was fluid in the knee and that I needed to see an Orthopedic Surgeon. They then sent me to Aludeid A.B. in Qatar where I started out the deployment at in April. They got me in to see the orthopedic surgeon relatively quick, the day after I arrived in Aludeid. The orthopedic took more x-rays and examined quite thoroughly. He determined that I have torn my MCL and probably my meniscus. They do not have a MRI machine here on base so they are scheduling me a MRI downtown with a civilian doctor. They said that usually takes a week or two to accomplish. So I have a formation every morning with all the other wounded soldiers that have been sent here to the In Theater Care Program. In the formation they let everyone know any pertinent information like doctor appointments, physical therapy and so on. This usually last about twenty minutes and then we are released for the day. I have been here in Aludeid for four days now and I am going CRAZY! I am bored out of my mind. If I have to have surgery they are going to send me home to do so. Less than forty days left and I am broke. What a bummer. The worst thing about it has been the hazing from all the guys. Every month they give out an award to the hardest worker, called the workhorse award. Last month I got the award and now I am broken. Yep a week after I get the award. How convenient they say, now that you’re a workhorse you don’t have to work anymore huh?
Before I got hurt time was flying by. I was on night shift from 6:30 PM to 5:30 AM. I really enjoyed night shift because it kept me out of the heat and I was working with a great group of guys. The one thing about this deployment is that I have work with some really good people. I have met some pretty strange ones too. I did lose my temper twice and went after the same guy on two different occasions. The one time he ran and grabbed a five foot long metal stake to protect himself. I felt really bad and apologized to him after the fact. The guys were relentless though. Every chance they got they were running and grabbing poles or concrete stakes to poke fun at him. My temper has come a long way but under these conditions with this much on my mind it is a little more challenging to control, especially when someone runs their mouth. Overall I have made some good friends that I will keep in contact with. I have learned a lot about myself on this deployment, like what matters the most to me, my wife and kids. Everything is about them. I have reflected over and over again on what my time was spent on back home. What is more important to me and why I waste so much time on things that really don’t matter but take time away from Jill and the kids. I don’t want to miss a thing that goes on in their lives. It killed me that I missed Morgan’s first day of kindergarten and Colby’s whole baseball season. I hope and pray that when I get home I can keep it in my mind always how much I missed them. Our Heavenly Father blesses us with trials and tribulations to strengthen and teach us. This experience has been exactly that, a blessing that has helped me as a person, a husband, and a father. He never said it would be easy, he said it would be worth it.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Half Way Home

It has been a while since I have blogged. I would like to say that I have been to busy to but that would not be entirely true, although I have been very busy I could have posted. The last time I posted I was in Al Asad Iraq. I had a really good time at Al Asad. I made some really good friends there and worked hard. I enjoy working hard. I have always been kind of twisted that way. The time here goes by so much faster when you are working hard and stay busy. The down days are the most difficult and longest days for me. We had a couple of down days in Al Asad and  I had a very rough time. And yes I do blubber some times when I miss my family. You are not the only cry baby Shrek. I prayed, read scriptures, and leaned on my best friend Jill. With out those things I don't think that I could have done it. Other than those days I had the best time so far there at Al Asad. The most eventful day there at Al Asad  was when I was welding on the structure that we were building and my uniform caught fire. It caught fire to the cargo pocket on my right leg and burnt through the uniform and my underwear. I had some pretty good blistering on my right thigh. I had to go to the clinic and they cleaned up the burns and gave me some dressings and a prescription for some burn cream. The burns took about a month to heal up. The hazing from the coworkers was much worse than the burns were.

After Al Asad they sent me back to Ali Base Iraq. I was only there for about a week when the shipped me to Djibouti Africa. So far on this trip Djibouti has been the worse conditions that I have been in. When I say worse conditions I am talking about living conditions. Every where I have been has had a low threat level which means that I have been safe.  I have been very blessed in that way. This base here is a Naval base and the Navy operates much different than the Air Force. While hear we have to operate under their rules and regulations. I have been able to go off base a few times and experience the local culture. The poverty here is an eye opening experience. The first time I seen it I was shocked and depressed. There are very poor but yet must of the males are walking around with a cheek full of Khat which is a popular drug here among the locals. There where people sleeping on pieces of cardboard on  the floors of the local shops. I was able to go to a cheetah refuge which was amazing. They had cheetahs, zebras, hyenas, spider monkeys, and ostriches.  

The Deployment is over half over and I have now been gone for over four months. Prior to this the most time I have ever been away from my kids is two weeks. I can not wait to hold them in my arms again. The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and it is going to be amazing when I walk off that plane to hug and kiss my wife and kids.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

First Sunday at Al Asad

I have been here at Al Asad for a week and things are going well. I went to church today and the spirit was very strong as it always is here in theater. This was my first time to the service here at Al Asad and next week I am speaking in sacrament. As most of you know one of my biggest fears is speaking in front of a group of people. So next week I have to speak for 20 minutes on the Priesthood. Thank goodness for the church website, it makes writing a talk so much easier. I really need to read my scriptures more. My scripture knowledge is kind of embarrassing.  I have never been a big reader, but now I have plenty of time to change that. I was the only Air Force guy at church, the rest were Army. There were about 20 people there. I talked to a Major that is on his way back home next week to Lehi  Utah where he is a seminary teacher at Lehi High School. It is such a small world. The Army does one year deployments as apposed to the 6 month deployments that the Air Force does. Yet another reason that I am glad that I joined the Air Force. I could not imagine being away from Jill and the kids for a whole year. This is challenging enough.

Now that I am actually busy at work it is passing the time a little faster. I am having to swallow my pride a little and just be a grunt which is very difficult at times. We are doing vertical construction work which is not my career field in the Air Force. With this not being my career field people don't much want to hear what I have to say. They just want a robot. This is one thing that I am not. Don't get me wrong I don't mind doing hard labor at all. I actually enjoy labor, it makes me feel like I have accomplished something at the end of the day. But I firmly believe in using all your tools to accomplish a job as efficient as possible.  This also means recognizing peoples strengths and abilities and utilizing them for the benefit of the team. This is something that happens daily at my civilian job and makes it such a great place to work. Makes me miss the people I work with back home even more. It seems as though everything on this deployment brings me to how grateful I am for the things that I have back home. Maybe that is a big reason why I am here.

I was speaking with that Major today at church about my first born son Jamey Neil and how hard it was on Jill and I when he passed away and that is why I decided to get out of active duty. I had to do what was best for my family at the time and the best thing to do was to get back to a good support structure to help us through such a hard time in our young lives. He said that that experience has probably made you and your wife cherish every moment with Colby and Morgan. I never really thought about it in that way. I do. I love the time I have with them. I love snuggling with them and watching cartoons Saturday mornings. I love coming home from work and them running and yelling daddy. I love when they come down stairs and want to get into bed and snuggle with me because they had a bad dream or don't feel good. I know that baby Jamey is up in heaving waiting for Jill and I to one day join him with our Heavenly Father. Not having him here is most definitely a trial that makes me appreciate the things that I do have like Colby and Morgan that much more. This deployment although no where near the trial is having the same effect. I appreciate the things that I do have so much more. I think that is one of the reasons or Heavenly Father gives us these trials through out our time here. Not only are these trials tests of our faith they are also to strengthen our testimony and  to remind us of all the wonderful things that we do have. I can't wait to get home and just hold my family in my arms. Nothing on this earth that I want more at this time than hugs from my wife and kids. Five more months and squishes all around. Can't wait!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Lucky Man

Sorry I have not wrote in my blog for a while. I am doing well. I am now in Al Asad Iraq. They sent a group of us here to build a Big Top tent. This is a tent that is over 100 ft. x 100 ft. and 40 ft. tall. That is what Red horse does, builds stuff. They are like a traveling construction team. Al Asad is a Marine base in northern Iraq. So far I like it here better than Ali. We PT every morning here wich I love. This deployment has turned me into a gym rat. Sitting at 204 and 10% body fat. My goal is 220 and about 8% before I get home in October. The gym keeps my mind off of home. It is also cooler weather here, not quit as hot as Ali in mid day. Hope some more projects come up here so we can stay here at Al Asad. I would not mind staying here the rest of my deployment. The daily routine is nice.
Days are passing by faster now that I am busy. Two months down and four more to go. Its hard to believe that I have been gone that long. This is the longest that I have ever been away from my best friend. After 13 years of having a Friend and wife like Jill by my side it is not easy walking alone. Being away I realize that Jill and the kids are not just a part of my life, they are my life. They are why I wake up each day do the thing that I do everyday. Take them out of the equation and I tell you what, I feel completely lost. Uh what do I do with myself. I try to put on this tough guy persona but those who really know me, know that I am just like a big dumb puppy dog. And I tell you what I have never whimpered so much in my life. Some day I will look back on this experience and say wow what a boob. I can't believe how blessed and spoiled I have been in my life. This experience has really opened my eyes to that fact. All of us are lucky to be Americans. Sometimes I don't think we realize how lucky we are. If this is deployment is the biggest sacrifice that I have to make for my family to have all the freedoms we do than I am a very lucky man.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

First Time to Church in Ali

I was able to go to church today and it was awesome. We had a sacrament meeting and Sunday school. They alternate each week. One week we will have Sunday school and the next we will have Priesthood and Relief Society. On Mondays they have family home evening and on Thursdays they have scripture study. It felt really good to partake of the sacrament and renew my covenants, it has been over a month since I have been able to do so. The spirit was very strong there. It is awesome to see the church is the same everywhere, even here in Iraq. It  was just military and DOD employees from here on the base. There was about 25 people there. They mentioned that they/we were just made an official branch here in Iraq and before they were attached to a branch in a different country. I can't remember which country. So this is the first time since Daniel that the priesthood has been established here in Iraq. I thought that was pretty sweet. Our Father in heaven has a plan and things happen for a reason, maybe one day we will be able to understand why everything has happened the way it has. We are here trying to help the people of Iraq reestablish. The priesthood being here to help guide us as we do that is one giant leap in the right direction.  Anyway I really enjoyed going to church today and was asked to say the closing prayer in sacrament.

1st week at Ali

One week down and 24 more to go. Long week! We are working 72 hours a week. Monday thru Saturday 0600-1800. There is not much water and fuels system maintenance work to be done here. We are sitting around quite a bit, which does not help the days pass any faster. We had one job this week. We installed some fuel lines on two generators that supply the power for the flight line lighting system. They have been running off of the belly tanks and have had to refuel them every six hours. They built one large fuel tank that will last at least a week. Who ever installed the tank originally used the wrong type of fittings and the lines began to leak and the generators kept loosing their prime. Finding parts here is quite a chore. The army has a shop that was able and willing to help us. They had a machine and the correct fittings that they crimped on the ends of our fuel lines for us. We gave them a case of powdered gatorade as trade for helping us out. The Air Force gives us powdered gatorade packs that are perfect for our 1 liter bottles of water. The Army just gets water so they were pretty excited about the deal. Worked out great all the way around. This whole process of driving around base looking for parts and jumping through hoops to get the job done took 2 days. This job back home would have taken about 2 hours. I would have looked at the fittings we needed, ran to EVCO bought the parts and installed them, piece of cake. Things like that are just not that easy to do here. No EVCO to run to in Iraq. If we would not have been able to get those army guys to help us out we would have had to order the parts and they would have taken at minimum a week to come in, and in the mean time someone would have had to fill up the belly tanks on the generators every 6 hours. This is a great example why a war like this one is so expensive and takes so long. This is just a small thing and because we are in Iraq in the middle of no wear it took 2 days to do a job that would have taken 2 hours back home.  Those of you that have worked with me before know that I am a high speed person and like to get in, get a job done, (the right way the first time) and get out. Things like hurry up and wait are hard for me to swallow. It is very frustrating but just one of those things that you just have to realize is the nature of the beast.
 I have been able to keep my spirits up most of the time. I try to stay as busy as possible. I try to fill my time with things to do. I set some spiritual goals, some physical goals, and some educational goals. Some which are unrealistic but I know that if I do that I will use every bit of time I have to meet those goals. When I have time to just sit and think is when I start to get myself into trouble. I start thinking about the wife and kids and that is what kills me. I am working 72 hours a week, I am in oh so beautiful Iraq, half way around the world from my family, and making what comes out to be about $14 an hour. Hard to tell yourself that it is worth it. It is though. If soldiers were not defending our country and fighting for all those freedoms we have I would not have my life as I know it back home. It is my duty and responsibility to do my part. There are people sacrificing a tremendous amount more than I am. I am grateful that I am in the Air Force and get to work on water and fuel systems. There are lots of Airman and Soldiers that are  not so fortunate. I am able to talk to my wife and kids daily. That is huge for me. I can not imagine having to do this without the support of Jill and the kids. I love them and can't wait to get back home and hold them in my arms.