In a little while, I will be heading back to the United States.
I do so somewhat reluctantly.
As I mentioned in an email to my wife, I will miss Forward Operating Base Warhorse. Not because it is such a swell place to be; it isn’t.
No, I will miss it because I truly enjoy talking with, writing about and photographing our soldiers as they go about their duties. Put another way, there is a bond that develops between them and me and I am not sure that I can explain.
But I’ll try.
The other day at FOB Warhorse, a five-ton truck pulled into the compound outside of 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment’s tactical operations center. Inside the truck were literally hundreds of boxes and letters to be distributed.
A couple of soldiers climbed up into the truck; others formed a chain; and the unloading of the truck began. Mail for HHC, Alpha Company, Bravo Company and Charlie Company began to stack up into small hills of boxes, many wrapped in Christmas paper.
You could feel the excitement; it was a little bit like the excitement of Christmas morning.
“Isn’t this great,” commented CSM Richard Leirdhal as he watched. “Not only do families and loved one send these guys mail, but ordinary Americans who don’t know a single one of these kids pack a box up, address it to ‘Any Soldier’ and send it here. I think that is just great,” he added.
Leirdhal is right.
He went on to say that this is the part of this war that many in the American media don’t see and don’t write about. The fact that Americans – even those who do not agree with the current administration’s policies about this war - address boxes and cards to soldiers they don’t even know should not be ignored.
The unknown people who sent those cards and letters care. As I know most of you do.
And some in the media care, too.
And that’s why I am reluctant to come home.