Saturday, July 16, 2011

HE'S HOME ! ! !

It was our priviledge to welcome home from Afghanistan the 176th Engineer Brigade Thursday morning. Proud to Support Our Troops!

Friday, June 24, 2011



Monday, May 30, 2011

A Friend of Mine

What is a true friend? A true friend finds positive in your faults and accept you for who you are. A true friend has your back even when he should really let you take your “lumps”.

One of my true friends got promoted today. I have known him since around 1992 when we both applied for the same job. He got it and I am thankful for it, as when I signed back up for active duty he taught me things about my job that I needed to become successful.

They say successful people surround themselves with great people. Well, after I became the Brigade PBO, I asked him to come work for me. So yesterday, I watched as he was promoted to E7/ SFC.

The National Guard CSM just happened to be here on a trip and was able to stop in and do the honor. This is a great soldier very deserving of his next rank.  Please join me in congratulating our newest SFC and my friend. 

 Praying for the 18

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Burnt Brain . . .

SO what would possess a grown man with average common sense to do something that could be detrimental to everything he has worked so hard for. Why, in the heat of the day, with no regard to the desert sun would anyone even think of such a thing? Without consideration for distance or danger why would you do such a thing? One foot in front of the other, over and over again at a rapid progression for just short of 1 hour and 20 minutes. Haha

So today we ran the 8 mile again. It has become a Saturday norm for me and my friends here. Today was way too hot and I was forced to stop  and walk about a half mile or so in the middle to cool off. There is nowhere to hide from the Afghan Sun. Water is brought to the halfway point so we don’t keel over while running. The picture below shows me in the lead at the 4 mile point but don’t be fooled, within the next two miles I gave up the lead.

It is not a contest anyway the contest is between you and the elements. Snow on the mountains but heat in the desert. I think perhaps our brains are fried from all the heat to even attempt such a thing.. We “attempt” it every Saturday.

Praying for the 18.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Dr. Seuss in Afghanistan

I am Uncle Sam, Uncle Sam-I-am

There are times I do not like that Uncle Sam-I-am.
He said, do you like Afghanistan where they serve green eggs and ham.

I do not like it Uncle Sam-I-am.
I do not like where they serve green eggs and ham.

Would you like it here or there?  Afghanistan or Iraq?

I would not like it here or there.
I would not like it anywhere.
I do not like fighting in these wars
I do not like it when my feet are sore.
I do not like it Uncle Sam-I-am.

Would you like the war if you fought in a house?
Would you like the war if you were trapped like a mouse?

I do not like war in a house.
I do not like being trapped like a mouse.
I do not like it here or there.
I do not like it anywhere.
I do not like fighting where they serve green eggs and ham.
I do not like it, Uncle Sam-I-am.

Would you like your food if it came in a box?
Would you eat your food in a hole like a fox?

Not in a box, not with a fox.
Not in a house, not trapped like a mouse.
I would not like war here or there,
I would not like it anywhere.
I would not like green eggs and ham,
I do not like war, Uncle Sam-I-am.

Would you? Could you?  Fight from a car?
Bad guys!  Bad guys! Here they are.

I would not like to fight from a car,
With V shaped hulls we still see stars.

You might like to fight you see;
What if we let you fight from a tree?
I would not want to fight from a tree.
Not in a car, please let me be!

Not in a box, not with a fox
Not in a house, not trapped like a mouse.
I do not like war here or there,
I do not like war anywhere.
I do not like green eggs and ham,
I do not like war, Uncle Sam-I-am.

Could you, would you on a logistics train?

I do not want to fight on a train! Not in a tree!
Not in a car! I would not want to fight in a box!
I could not, would not, with a fox,
Not in a box, not with a fox,
Not in a house, not trapped like a mouse,
Not here nor there nor anywhere!

In the dark?  Here in the dark!
Would you, could you, fight in the dark?

I would not want to fight in the dark

Would you, could you fight in the rain?

I would not want to fight in the rain.
Not in the dark, not in a train,
Not in a car, not in a tree,
I would not like to fight, you see.

But fight you do, said Uncle Sam-I-Am

If you do not want to fight on a train! Not in a tree!
Not in a car! If you could not, would not fight in box,
Not in a house, where you are trapped like a mouse.
Not here nor there nor anywhere,
Not in the dark, not in the rain,
Why do you fight this fight just the same?

What I want and wish and hope to be,
Is left behind for freedom you see.
So in the dark up in a tree,
I fight a force that won’t let us be.

My children are home all snug in their beds,
Safe in my house, not trapped like a mouse.
I leave my home so far away
To go here, to go there, to go anywhere.

In the dark and in the rain,
I serve my country who suffers pain.
I yield a charge to set men free,
So each one can choose what he will be.

While I do not like war Uncle Sam-I-Am
I will fight to the death to stand my ground

In a box, just like a fox,
When in a house and trapped like a mouse
I will fight here, I will fight there.
I will fight the enemy anywhere.
I still do not like green eggs and ham.
But I will fight this war Uncle Sam-I-am.

~ In your service
John P

Praying for the 18

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me, Happy Birthday to Me . . .

Happy birthday to me Happy birthday to me, here I sit still in the same place passing time and it seems my birthday. Truthfully I did not even think of it until I got a card from my parents a few days back. Then yesterday after I returned from my road trip I received one from my wife and then a Box came from my uncle Robert. I do not think my uncle intended it to be a birthday gift but I took it that way and am very greatful for all of the wonderful things he sent and the cards I received. This is still one of the worst birthdays ever but my day has been enlightened by these things.

When we first arrived I put reminders in my outlook calendar for my three soldiers birthdays. This place is hard during holidays and it is especially hard during the birthdays, if people do not remember. It showed as SGT T’s birthday rolled around several months back. He works nights so he is hard to catch up with. So when my reminder popped up that morning to tell him happy birthday he was not in the office. I told everyone in the office to help me remember to tell him but we all forgot. SGT T came to the office that day and said “Chief you are not even going to wish me happy birthday?” I felt bad for having forgotten but when I showed him the reminder I had put on my calendar and told him what had happened his face seemed to brighten up since I did not really forget. The small things make the biggest difference it seems.

So today I am 42 years old, on my 41st birthday I ran 9 miles in about an hour and 20 minutes. Tomorrow which is my birthday back in the US I will run 8 miles. Life is good.

Today I would like to add a family to the pray for list. This family as far as I know is not a military family. Todd has a very difficult math class but all year he has managed to stay on top of his grades and learn this often difficult subject. His math teacher left to have surgery and was replaced by a substitute. Although this substitute is a retired teacher it seems that she is unable to get the kids to learn as effectively as the regular teacher. Yesterday his regular teacher passed away from complications. I would like to send out a special prayer request for her family and hopefully they know just what she meant to the children in her care. May God bless them.

Praying for the 18

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Been a while

It has been a while since I have written, We are still here. The days have gotten longer. I get up with the sun shining and go to my room with it still shining. The sunlight hours are from around 0500 till 1800 (6 pm). We have been working to ensure things are ready for our return home.

So two weeks ago I ran 8 miles at a snail’s pace. I decided that I would continue this 8 mile adventure every week until we leave. So this last Saturday we ventured out. It was HOT. We began our run and I felt great, the air, the dust, the car exhaust smoking me out as I struggled for a fresh breath. At the three mile point, I was losing steam; by 4 miles, I was completely finished. As I walked a little, ran a little, for the  4 miles back my mind began to wonder high up in the mountains where there is still visible snow. I wanted to cool off but couldn’t. I poured water on my head but it was not long before it had dried and I was back to being hot. 

Out of the group I run with, I still finished third but this run a little, walk a little is something I am not used to. This Saturday I will be more prepared. More water the day prior and perhaps some sun screen since my arms were a bit sunburned. Will I miss this place when I Ieave? I can say most definitely not. Will this be my last deployment? I hope so but probably not.

So as I sit here, road trip pending, thinking of home, I know that I have aged here. The day to day stresses are almost painful at times. The people here are hard to deal with, both the ones in uniform and the ones not. The units below me call on me to do the dirty work because they know that I am in this for them, but it has worn me down. It is TIME for the JAR TO BE EMPTY.

Praying for the 18

Sunday, April 17, 2011

So this is where I am

So this is where I am. The mountains have just a bit more snow than what is pictured. I am not allowed to take pictures on the flight line. This is a picture on found on the Air Force Web site. I flew on one of these for six hours returning from leave. It was a long loud trip that left me vibrating and deaf for hours after our arrival. That being said I am so looking forward to my next trip on one of these as it means we are getting closer to having “an empty jar”. I cannot wait to go home and stay home for a while.

Praying for the 18

Friday, April 08, 2011

Today Was Payday. . .

I am fortunate to have a wife who understands the value of a dollar. For most of my married life I have been given an allowance. Yes I am the one who makes the money at this point. The only income but she is “My Banker”. Now 22 years later I can say that we do not live paycheck to paycheck.

However that does not mean that being a world away doing my job in harm’s way that I am willing to do this for free. I love my country. I will stand and defend her “against all enemies foreign and domestic” but my country must provide me with the support I need for my family. A PAYCHECK.

In a speech in Iraq one of the highest members of our military said if the government shuts down we will receive a 1 or 2 week paycheck and if the shutdown continues we will not get paid.

My country sent me to a Combat Zone away from my family to support a war that to me is kind of questionable. I do not question my orders, I do as I am told and now I face the threat that my paycheck will end, for a while.

We, my family, will be okay but my young soldiers might not be. Some of them have families at home who depend on this paycheck to arrive as scheduled. This is more reason for all involved to know politics, study the candidates and make educated decisions on who you want controlling our government.

A friend of mine has a picture showing the US FLAG flying upside down. When I asked why I was told that it represents the direction our country is heading. The flag flying upside down is a sign of distress… right now MY COUNTRY is in distress…

Praying for the 18

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Peacefull Bliss

As I walked through the airport looking for her, I noticed people who really seemed oblivious to the world around them. Some were arguing about dumb things like taking their dog on the plane and about their coffee being improperly made. Freedom is not free and my forefathers, and I can proudly say,  I,  have fought for these people’s rights to complain about coffee and pet rights. I am happy to be home.

As I come to the escalator overlooking the baggage claim area I began to scan. I know she is here but where is she. As I start down the escalator I spot her. She is wearing a zebra striped dress with long boots that disappear under the bottom of the skirt. OMG I thought I was going to fall off the escalator. Eight long months since I have seen her.

We went to one of Todd’s friends house to pick him up. Rosario was being a bit stingy when I told her when I was coming home and left Todd there. He has gotten so tall. He is about an inch taller than I am and still only 13 years old. Kind of wonder if he will ever stop growing. I have a great family that I sometimes forget just how lucky I am. Thankfully, the good Lord let me come home.

We spent the first full week visiting all over the state. The only family we did not manage to squeeze in was the Amarillo family, will do that upon my return in a “half a jars worth” of time. Saw everyone who lives off I-20 from Ft Worth to Abilene to Odessa.

In Ft Worth spent time with MoM and PoPs and Sheri and Perry and family. I made Sheri’s kids a deal that if they made straight A’s I would give them 50 bucks. Well before I left Jacob beat me out of 50 and Brenden got it done just prior to my return, so I had to pay up there too. Hope they will continue on the path of Good Grades. I am sure little Ms. Emma will beat me out of 50 as well. My parents are doing well and I was introduced to the newest member of their family. The long eared Rat. I think she can hear people talking in the next city with those monstrous ears.

In Abilene I met my newest granddaughter, Brianna, for the first time. She did not cry when I held her, I was so thankful for that. I was really worried she would be afraid of me.  She really is a beautiful baby. I am so proud of my son and daughter-in-law. Life seems to be coming together for them. I also was able to spend lots of time with Amorina and Ryan. Ryan is a little man. He has learned short sentences that Rosario and I spent the week using. Like “what r u doin” and “I don know”, spelled that way on purpose. It was so awesome.  Rina is growing like a weed. Russ will most definitely have to stick with it to ensure she grows up to be a good little girl. I love my grandkids.

The last week home was spent taking care of some small honey do’s and lots of time spent with my wife and Todd. I did not want to spend a minute away from Rosario or Todd. Wish he would have been out of school for both weeks but it did give Rosario and I some time together. Rosario has done a fabulous job decorating our house without breaking the bank. The one thing that I did not get done for her prior to leaving was hanging some more decorations on the walls. That is MY JOB so I will get that done upon my return.

As time started winding down I began to feel the effects of “crap I gotta go back”. Kind of like swallowing a basketball. Just a constant swollen spot deep in your gut that cannot be swallowed. The only way I could get around it was to keep busy.

My MoM and PoPs came down for the weekend and we had a great time going to junk sales, I mean Garage Sales… did not buy a lot but that is something I really enjoy doing and it is good quality time spent looking at other people stuff. At one Garage sale I volunteered to help a lady move her 46 inch “old style” TV from the second floor of her house down to her garage sale. I believe that PoPs and I both injured ourselves but we are both too hard headed to let it show too much. That was one heavy TV and I regret offering to assist, but we did get our 2 dollars worth of stuff for free. Not really worth it though.. haha.

Boarding call for flight blah blah, to DFW, I turned and looked at my beautiful wife who I had come to know again over the last two weeks and said, “This is not going to be a long good bye”. I got up and walked to the gate after a couple of kisses it was over. I had a great leave and really cannot remember a happier time in the last two years. As the TV commercial says, “I LOVE THIS WOMAN”.

Life is good

Praying for  18

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Gone "MAD"

So I sat in the Passenger Terminal for 36 hours. Eating on occasion but not really eating correctly. Wondering, waiting, then once again I hear it over the loud speaker "flight is canceled". I am sick of this. I do not understand how hard this could be. Have a flight that, each day will pick up soldiers and return them to their loved ones and bring them back in two weeks.

Slept in my own bed last night, here, not my own bed at home. I went back to the terminal this morning to inquire about a flight.

The Air Force female across the desk with a hint of sarcasm and a whole lot of happy responds "NO FLIGHTS COME BACK AT MIDNIGHT". This will be the third midnight I have heard that. Is it wrong of me to want to jump over the desk pick her up by her neck and inquire about her leave. I would be willing to bet that she had already been or that she only comes here for three months and then goes home.

I have been here for over 8 freakin' months. Is it too much to ask that someone schedule a flight. It is not just for me but for the other triple digit number of troops who want to go home too. So here I sit in the office with nothing but home on my mind. Knowing that I will miss out on most if not all of spring break with my family, which means no road trips since Todd will be in school.

Rewind, I did not choke her just so you know, in my world thinking bad things is a part of life since saying and doing them can really "alter my future".

Praying for the 16

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Looking at the bottom of the Jar

So here I sit, the jar so empty that  I can hear her expression of joy that I am home. I wonder if perhaps I have changed so much over the last eight months that she will not recognize me from the changes that I have made. Mostly if I have changed it would be unintentional. My mouth is bad. The profanity that comes from it embarrasses me. I have finally begun to pay attention to it. Hopefully I can leave that on the battle field when I return home.

So in a short time I will sit in one long line after another waiting impatiently for my name to be called so I can line up like a duck in another line and wait. Then a short flight to Kuwait where we will wait longer. Then another line then more praying, please Oh please call my name, then a 16 to 20 hour plane ride which I can remember from the last trip made my tailbone feel like it would burst out of my stomach.

Sitting in the coach seats of the plane for 16 hours will bother me. The on again off again naps followed by something that the airlines call a meal (actually that sounds good right now) then a shave in an Air plane at half a million feet above the earth and then US DIRT…. Coming home if only for a little while…..

Praying for the 16

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Pray for us all

In my blog I have been putting "Praying for the and the number," representing the number of soldiers lost since our arrival. There is no way I could add the soldiers that were lost prior to us or lost by our Units, as the numbers would be too depressing.

I managed to look at my blog the other evening and first let me say thank you to the Internet Wizards who are taking care of it. Namely MoM and PoP. They have done a great job keeping it up to date and looking good.

As I scanned the writing I noticed that I had "Praying for the 16"  and then it changed to "Praying for the 15". I feel bad that I have left off one of our fellow fallen heroes and felt I should write this update. We have, since our arrival, lost 16 soldiers. Those 16 soldiers will never return to their loving families, their smiles never to be seen again.

I ask that each of you pray for these families in whatever way you see fit. Each time you see Praying for the (number) I ask that you say a short prayer for the families as I have seen what a loss can do to a family.

Praying for 16

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Military Wife

Inspired by and dedicated to my loving wife who has been by my side through thick and thin.

The Military wife is a special individual. When she was a girl, her dreams were bold, as bold as her fine, free gaze. The every gift of grace and mind was hers in her younger days. When she was a girl, a golden girl, with a soul as fine as fire. She could outshine the brightest jewel that a rich man's love might buy her. Yes, hers could have been the glittering path thought careless, carefree life. But she fell in love with a soldier, so she became a military wife.

Away from the home of her childhood she marched at her husband's side. For she chose a wide and winding road when she became a bride. Sometimes the road was a hard one, so different for what she had planned; and sometimes she wept for him to come home, as he lay in a foreign land. Sometimes her steps would grow weary as she followed the drum and the life, but she set about making the world her home because she was a military wife.

She learned to build a hearth for them wherever her man was sent. She knelt to plant a seed of love every time he pitched his tent. Yes she always planted a seed of love and stepped back to watch it grow, for she knew before the love was gone he would have to go again. As she watched the plane go away it cut her like a knife, but she would stand there to be the comfort to her children of the military life.

To the hardships in her married life she brought one simple truth, a promise that once was spoken in the ancient words of Ruth:" Wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you lodge, I will lodge. Thy people shall be my people and their God shall be my God" She shared his joys and sorrows as they made their way through life. For she was proud to love a soldier and to be a military wife.

She bore the weight of worrying what fate might hold in store; And the wordless fear of waiting when her soldier went off to war. The nights that she spent fearing that her soldier was in vain; And the pain of wanting someone she might never hold again. She raised their children gladly through uncertainty and strife. They never heard her crying for she was a military wife.

She raised a military family with the faith her love had to hold; And she gave the pride she had inside to her son and daughter to hold. She taught them to love and know what freedom is worth. They helped her plant the seed of love for many around had heard. She never wished for better but went down the long life road. She is as much a soldier as I, for she is a very special Military Wife.

Wayne S

"For I tell you that in Heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly father.”

“Oh I believe there are Angels among us, sent down to us from somewhere up above.”  I have not seen her in person.  I have not been there to gaa gaa and goo and to spoil her.  Is she not truly a precious child?

Matthew 18:1-10- The disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Which of us is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus called a small child over to Him and put the child among them. Then He said, “I assure you, unless you turn from your sins and become as little children, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven. V.4- Therefore, anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven. V.5- And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. 

For I tell you that in Heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly father.”

Praying for the 15….

Friday, February 25, 2011

Time Happens

So as the countdown started, the days have stopped for me. Perhaps I too should have put candy in a jar. It seems like Friday but it is Thursday. The week just keeps dragging on.

The days here are filled with what in my opinion is stupidity. It seems that a good plan is put together than will work just so someone can change it at the last second, bringing us back into the realm of ignorance once more. As they search for answers it is ever apparent that they do not want the truth, they want to hear what they want to hear. Most conversations with me end with “make it happen”. I am tired of making it happen especially when it changes a plan that would have been successful.

So with this kind of thing occupying my day I have decided that when the jar is almost empty and it is my day to fly, I will report to the terminal and not return to the office after check in. So that means that within the next couple of weeks I have to put together plans to take care of everything while I am gone ahead of time so that they can be changed and people can talk bad about how I left things… Never ending circle. Coming home soon if only for a little while.

Praying for the 15…

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Who keeps putting candy back in the jar?

It seems that I have been going backwards lately. The days - they just will not pass. I used to come to work on Monday and leave on Friday, now I can mark each day as it passes, slowwwwwlllyyyy dragging on… Monnnddddyyyy, Tueessssdaaayyyyy… I have grown tired of being here again and it is time to come home and spend some time with the family and friends.

Cannot wait… won’t be long if the days would just move on. It has been said you can never get the days back once they are gone. I say take them all, remove the days between now and July or August of this year. Erase them out of the book of life and I will be fine with it. But for now  I Will continue in SLLLLLOOOOOWWWW motion. Positive note: NASCAR STARTS this weekend.

Praying for the 15

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Desert Snow

Okay, so they told me I was going to the desert for a year. They told me it is not like Iraq. My recruiter told me 22 years ago that joining the Army would be a great adventure. All true…

It has been snowed now for three days. This morning it was about 5 inches deep. It is kind of nice. I feel like I am in another world, different from the one I arrived in a half a year ago. It is very difficult to go out to walk to eat though. Not that it is cold but it is not like you can walk down the street to get something eat. You have to watch out for idiots driving a bit too fast splashing through the pot holes. You have to carefully place each step to ensure one of two things does not happen. One, of course is you slip and bust your … behind, two is that you do not step somewhere that is too deep and soak another pair of boots.

So Saturday is special breakfast day. We get a group together and walk down the street to a different Chow hall to eat. They have omletes and what could pass as Egg Mc Muffins from Mc Donalds, if you close your eyes and imagine it.

Anyway with breakfast complete we left and on our way back a LTC told one of our group,” get your hands out your pocket that is why they issue us gloves”. Really set me back as I have not heard anyone corrected for this for 10 or more years. It is an Army standard but it seems to only be upheld by the “regulation readers” and LTC’s who did not forget their gloves. Seems to me that my young soldier who was corrected has more sense than the LTC to keep his hands from getting wet with snow and frost bitten because some LTC who was issued a brain by the US government wanted to boost his ego. As he strutted off there was a murmur in the group that let me know I was not the only one who felt that way.

Sometimes those of us who drive desks lose track of the real soldiers and more often than not, the real soldiers do not understand what it is that we desk drivers do for them.  We are not responsible for beans AND bullets this trip but we are responsible for the most important of the two. A soldier can go without beans for a little while in a combat zone.
My ramblings are over for now.

Pray for the 16

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Hamburger g r r. . .

So I am standing in line yesterday at the Chow hall. We chose this one because on Tuesday they have hamburgers. These hamburgers are pretty good for Army standards. So the line slowly progresses up close to the door, then a young Army Soldier steps out and says anyone who does not want a hamburger can go in for main line.

This is the norm. They attempt to keep both lines full at all times and on Tuesday the hamburger line is always longer. So about 15 Civilians go inside. Now when I say civilians, it is not intended to be a bash at the civilian population here as some of these civilians do the right thing and actually support the soldier. After all that is what they get paid 6 figures for.

So I stand patiently and finally I get to go inside where to my amazement those SAME 15 Civilians were in front of me in the hamburger line. It was all I could do to wait till I got to the grill without chewing someone out.

When  I got to the grill, the last lady who had CUT in front of me, got the last hamburger. I was pissed and she knew it. I forced my way around all of those idiots and ended up with a sandwich made of OLD bread. I am tired of being here for sure but the some of the civilian population just need to go home or better yet just follow the rules. Okay I am done ranting  now.

Praying for 15…………