Sunday, August 23, 2009


Good afternoon to everyone,

I am entering this as my final Iraq blog. We all made it home and home safely. It was a long and difficult year by any measure, but we are all so thankful that our unit completed our mission and no one man or woman was lost in our company. Unfortunately, this is frequently not the case with most units but the Lord blessed us and I truly believe placed his hands of protection over us.

Before I start, I want to thank my friends, my brothers and sisters in this family that we have in the military. To Mike, Travis, and Bryan, I could not ask for better friends, together we did wonderful things and endured much. I am a much better man because of their influnce in my life. To Ashley, my platoon leader, who really ran the administrative aspect of our clinic. She did the work and I took the credit. She is truly one of the finest people I have ever met. To those that I had the great pleasure of leading, my medics. SGT Easom who was one of our shift leaders and unit photographer, many of the photos on this blog came from her; to her I am tremendously indebted. She was my neighbor in our living area and we spent a great deal of time talking. Her insight and friendship were a blessing. SGT Edwards ran our vaccination section did a tremendous job. She could always be counted on to deal with difficult soldiers and her professionalism never waivered.

To my friends SPC Buchmeier, SPC Ibarra, SPC Hudnall, SGT Wilson, and SFC Hougeson you provided me with friendship and well as an awesome work ethic and I am so glad that we were all in the same boat. SFC Rhiele who was our platoon SGT for our ambulance section, has been in the Indiana Guard as long as I have and we go back 15 years. We did not spend a great deal of time together on this tour as she worked in a different facility, however, we did get time to talk. She has been the one person in my military career who has never been afraid to tell me how things should be. We came up the ranks together and I have always appreciated her guidance and frank discussion. I respect the heck out of her.

Tim Nott was our Nurse while we were here. He went home a little early due to family circumstances but while he was here, he gave me great support and was just fun to be around. Finally, to the medics of our clinic; we, providers, could not be more proud to serve with such fine people. Most of our medics came in with little medical experience, but over the course of the year each soldier learned everything they needed to learn to manage a sick or injured person. Our medics were hard working and a ton of fun to work with. I haven't laughed so much in my life as I did with these guys. So, to all of those who I have been blessed to serve with; thank you for allowing me to have this year's worth of memories. I will cherish them fondly even into my last days.

Finally, I want to thank your neighbors and friends who helped to care for Karen and Karis while I was gone. I want to thank Kim Scott for her friendship with Karen. I would like to thank our neighbors the Hunts, Bowers, Taylors, and to the Hagen's for looking out for our family. We have the most beautiful neighborhood in Danville and we have the most wonderful neighbors.

I would also like to thank the Omarks for sending me your care packages and for your friendship. You are most appreciated and to all of you who followed along on this blog. You guys are awesome.

Now on with the blog...

Well, we arrived back at Camp Atterbury on Wednesday at 1:05 a.m. Wednesday morning the 12th of August. We were able to outprocess in three days and were released to our families on Saturday the 15th. I can tell you that it is quite an adjustment coming from Iraq to sitting at home with your family having dinner four days later.

Below are pictures of our trip home. I hope you will enjoy them.

Before I go, I want to thank our friends and families and those who stepped up and provided us with such wonderful support. Your letters, packages, and encouragement meant more to us than our words can express. I will move forward with this blog and perhaps add some updated information as it pertains to our military functions. Indiana will be gearing up to go to Afghanistan in 18-24 months. Our State will have to shift around our medical assets to provide coverage for upcoming missions. We are stretched so thin. We have troops on their 4th and 5th tours. At some point, the military will have to say, 'enough'. May the Lord direct those who make the decisions to send our young and not so young people into harms way.

I will start to shift my interest over to my other blog which I will post the address on the above blog. I do not have a real My Space page. I started one but, I really don't know how to use it. I started it so that Mike, Bryan, and Travis could hit me over the head and steal my money on Mafia Wars. So, there you have it. So, if you see my 'My Space' page it won't be very organized. At some point, I will try to figure it all out. I am more interested in writing about our political situation and of course I love writing fiction. I will also be starting a web page that will cover my writings and update everyone on the books that I write. I do hope you will check in and follow along.

For the next year, any updates or new projects that I start, I will mention on this blog and direct you to where you can find my stuff. I hope you will check in from time to time.

Well, please enjoy the 'coming home' photos and thank you again for your love and support.

The above picture is of the medical team that replaced us as we left. The first picture is of Hero's Highway where over 10,000 wounded soldiers were triaged and given life saving medical care. The second picture if of our new MRAP ambulance. It can withstand a roadside explosive and keep the occupants safe. Well the vehicle would be shot but the passengers would live. We cared for plenty of soldiers who survived attacks while in these vehicles. Had they been in a different vehicle, they would most certainly have perished. This vehicle is a Godsend.

Here is Bryan, Mike, and Travis as we head to chow. We had moved into transient housing by this point. It is one of the few places on base that actually had trees. Dirty trees but trees nonetheless.

In the middle of the desert, we have an oasis. The military has always ensured that soldiers were fed well and we were no different. This was our dining facility and it was exquisite compared to everything else around us. We were all well fed.

This is a picture of a housing area. These are called 'CHU's' which stands for something like Contained Housing Units or something along those lines. These sand bags are to protect the rooms from rocket and mortar fire. This area was shelled alot over the year.

A parking lot for military vehicles. I have no idea what most of these vehicles are for. But the people who care for them have no sense of humor. Bryan got into trouble when he jumped on top of one of the vehicles with a cowboy hat on and started singing 'It's Raining Men's. A soldier came out with his rifle and told the young captain to step down and ordered him to go to the mental health clinic for an exam. Infantry guys apparently are not a big fan of the song "It's Raining Men."

Here Bryan is in front of a Mosque that was near our gym. It was not used while we were here although it was a haven for Pigeons which meant that Bryan, who is a complete germaphobe would go no closer to the building than in this picture. I think he was afraid he might get histoplasmosis or the bird flu or something.

Here I am in front of our C-RAM. The C-RAM is an anti-mortar weapon that tracks incoming mortars and shoots them down. When it goes off, which it did frequently, it would rock our world. I am thinking about getting one of these for my front yard. Who needs a home security system when you have this baby in your front yard. It shoots over a thousand rounds a second. I think it would come in handy when Karis starts to date and brings her boyfriend over.

The last picture of my room before I left. It is actually neat.

Here is our transient housing building. This was the officer building which means that there was only six of us in here. We played stick ball indoors with a broom stick and a foam Butler basket ball. We hit Travis a few times which ticked him off. He's a giant so whenever we hit him we would shout 'Homerun' and then run for our lives. We lived here for a couple of weeks while we waited for our flight to go to Kuwait.

Here we are on a C-17 heading out to Kuwait City.

We have landed in Kuwait and are exiting the back of the plane. Outside is a hanger that was hit with a missle during the Iraq invasion of 1991, which led to the first Gulf War. Kuwaitis love us as we kicked the Iraqi's out of their country.

Landed in Kuwait. We were glad to get off the plane as most of us had full bladders. ;0)

Here is the Hanger that was hit during the first Gulf War.

Here are Doug, myself, Bryan, Travis (in the back), Mike, Ashley We are at Camp Virginia Kuwait living in tents. It was awesome. We had 130 degree weather and an airconditioning unit that didn't work.

Tent City, Kuwait

Above are poles that have solar panels that help power the base. The entire base is powered by generators and solar power.

Yes, even in the middle of the desert the golden arches can be found. God Bless good old fashion capitalism. You could get a camel burger with fried scorpions and cactus juice for 25 denari.

This is the chapel at Camp Virginia, Kuwait. Bryan and I attended services here. It is a very nice building compared to what is around it.

This is the Mayor's cell at Camp Virginia. The Mayor's cell means that this is the headquarter for the base and the unit in charge at this time was from Hawaii.

This is Hawaii's T-Wall painting. I did not know that Hawaii was once a British Colony. If you look at their flag at the bottom left of the wall you will see that their is a Union Jack in the upper corner of their flag. Learn something new everyday.

These are the tents that we stayed in while transitioning out of Kuwait. We actually had fun here as we were just waiting to go home and everyone was in a good mood.

Here we are in the middle of nowhere. I followed Mike to go to dinner but he got lost and we ended up surviving by eating desert rodents and drinking cactus juice. The entire time he kept saying, "Trust me, I'm not lost, I know where we are." Later I talked to his wife and asked if Mike had problem asking for directions. She just laughed and shook her head and said...'It's just sad...'
In truth, this is near our base. Do you see the tower in the background? It was the only tower providing security for us as far as the eye could see. We felt extremely safe. :0)

Here I am lost and looking for air rescue. The generators in the background are a mirage.

Our bus ride to the Airport to fly home.

Brandon. We offered him a seat in first class but when he found out that that was where the officers were sitting he said he doesn't want to be associated with our kind. I'm not sure what that meant but I think it was a compliment and said with affection.
This is a picture of a Russian aircraft that was taken while we were on the runway in Kuwait City. It turns out that we were not suppose to take this picture so if anyone of you is from the CIA, please know that this picture was taken by Bryan McFarland. I told him not to take it but he said that he's not afraid of the Law.

Upper picture is Travis and Mike on our flight to Germany and the bottom picture is Doug Latino. He is our administrative lieutenant for our company. He looks like he is twelve years old but he starts medical school when he gets home.

Here we are in the airport at Lipzig, Germany. They had a place for military members. Here Mike is playing table tennis with SGT. Sams. Mike won of course but only after he threatened to send SGT Sams to Afghanistan if Mike lost. Anything for a win.

Here is the small store at the Lipzig Airport. A candy bar was 7 dollars and a soda was 3 dollars for a 16 oz bottle. What a deal.
Here we are at Stout Field in Indianapolis. It is almost 2 am and we are beat as you can tell.
Travis gave me an Ambien when we were in Germany and it made me really loopy. I don't remember most of the flight but apparently I was awake and moving around but had no idea what I was doing. I was ridiculed all week for that as the guys kept telling me about the things that went on. I think they were making things up but...

Here we are received by our families. This is an airline hanger and we marched in and was released for an hour to be with our families. Bryan and I did not have our families come down for this as it was 2 am and our families lived so far away. So, Mike took pity on us and had his three girls and one boy give us a hug and welcomed us home. This was exceptionally kind of Mike as he usually likes to pick on us and make fun of our short comings. He did charge us a dollar for each hug, so he was true to form. I bet his kids didn't get a penny of that money.

These are my guys at Camp Atterbury. We are out-processing and eager to go home. I love these guys. They are delinquents one and all and I love em.

Here we are at Atterbury. The officers rented a RV trailer while we were at Atterbury. Here Karen and Karis have stopped by to take me home. This is Saturday.

This is my girl. She is about two inches taller than the last time I saw here and about four years older...if you know what I mean. The other day she was talking to me and she said..."I am worried about what my driver's license picture will look like." How does a dad respond to that? These are deep philosophical questions for which to ponder.

Myself, Mike, Doug, and Bryan. We stayed in the trailer together. Mike and Bryan were a bit gassy and unfortunately the toilet was right next to my bed and...well, that is probably information you don't need to know. :0)

So, there you have it. Our trip home. We are so glad to be back with our families. The air is clean the grass and trees are so green and the weather is cool, can the Lord make anything more beautiful?

Well, thank you all again for your love and support. You have all been such a blessing for us and you are so very appreciated. I thank the Lord for allowing a middle aged man such as myself to have another adventure in life. I pray that you are all well and that the Lord is blessing your family. Please check back from time to time as I will give brief updates on things going forward.

In Christ,



Anonymous said...

Loved reading your blog! It truly gave me some insight into what you guys do and endure. For those of us very removed from the reality of deployment it made it so much more real. You are a gifted writer & I think your new book will do well. It is a very captivating story - it held my attention and made me cry.

You have a lovely family, enjoy them!


Jeff said...


Thanks for your kind words. I have to be honest, this blog has not been the most accurate portrayal of what goes on over in Iraq, but I had to and needed to keep keep it lighthearted. I have to say that the real story in Iraq rest with each soldier that we cared for. They were under fire daily, hit with roadside explosives, and were still able to go out and do their job. There are large humanitarian missions that our military puts together and our guys are doing really good things for the local people of Iraq. Politics aside, the desire to help these people is paramount.

You know as a young man, I had a period in my life where I lacked direction and desperately searched for purpose in my life. I have to say that caring for soldiers has fulfilled me to over flowing. As a medic, as a nurse, and over the last 10 years as a PA, I found that the Lord allowed me wonderful witnessing opportunities in the Army. I am so thankful that the Lord opened the doors of service. What an awesome God we serve.
As far as my book goes...Thank you for reading it. I have made a few changes and added a little to the content so that the girls had more time at the Lookout Tree. I sent the book to the publisher today, so I am very excited.
The book came to me after two young ladies that are my daughters age were diagnosed with cancer. One had a brain tumor and the Lord took her home and the other had leukemia and is now in remission. I was so moved by how the children in the local schools stepped up to care for these young ladies. I added some of the character traits of some of these children in the book.
Finally, you are right, I do have a lovely family. Better than I deserve I think. They have been through a great deal. They have put up with my frequent military absences and they have come out much stronger. I have made a committment to them to retire, which I will do within the upcoming year. It has been a wonderful ride.
Well, I pray that you and your family are well and thank you so much for writing. I have, over the years, truly come to appreciate the kindness that was shown to me as a young man, by those who cared more for me than I cared for myself. It may not mean much, but I am so very thankful.

God Bless You.


P.S. By the way, the military is looking for a few good officers, especially in the medical corps. If your interested, let me know and I will get like a 12 dollar referral bonus paid to me in three installments over five years. So, be sure to mention my name when a recruiter stops by and help a brother out. ;0)