My family is about to embark on another journey. Our son is deploying again with the US Army. He will be leaving for parts unknown sometime next week. The familiar feelings of fear and anxiety are once again trying to make a home in my consciousness, but I fight it with every fiber of my being. I avoid watching the news as it causes needless fear and worry, but also brings anger with the portrayal of our military. I often wonder what our lives would be like had Joe decided to go on to college with his buddies instead of heading to Ft. Benning, Ga.
Joe made the decision to serve his country after witnessing the events of 9/11. He graduated in 2005 and left for basic training in July. The training was to say the least, rigorous and at times down right grueling. He received his Green Beret in July of 2007 and left for Afghanistan in October of that same year. At that time, he was the youngest Green Beret in the whole U.S. Army and was deployed for 8 months. He returned home with a bullet in his wrist, courtesy of the Taliban. He received the Bronze Star for Valor and the Purple Heart in a ceremony at Ft. Bragg on Veteran’s Day. I have never heard him voice any regrets for his decision to enlist in the Army and never hear him complain about having to deploy.
My faith was tested time and time again while Joe was away from us. Prayer was my constant companion and a good night’s sleep became a stranger to me. I fought the images of war that troubled me by calling on the name of the Lord. I memorized Isaiah 41 and kept my Bible open to that particular passage. I adopted the practice of reading it to Joe’s picture that I kept on the mantle in the living room every night before bed. We were blessed with phone calls on those rare occasions between missions and hearing Joe’s voice brought great relief. Christmas was very hard on us as we tried to celebrate without him. He wasn’t able to call during that time and he didn’t even realize Christmas had passed.
Joe re-enlisted while still in Afghanistan and many ask us if he is going to make a career out of the Army. He is a soldier and this is his life calling. It is his job. He believes in what he is doing and he believes that God has called him to serve. He saw firsthand what life is like in Afghanistan where freedom is totally non-existent and life is anything but normal. Terror is a daily companion. It is a place where a mother was killed simply because she accepted food and medicine for her sick, starving children. It is a haven for the terrorists and the birthplace of 9/11. Joe was wounded on May 1, 2008, just a month shy of returning home. He was hit in the helmet first, knocking him off his feet. He lay on the ground wondering if he was dead or alive, but then he heard the enemy celebrating the hit. He got back up and continued fighting and an hour or so later, he was hit in the left wrist. He bandaged the wound himself and kept fighting. He was shooting the .50 caliber gun with his only good hand, ammo was dangerously low and re-enforcement had not arrived. I will never forget the phone call from him after they finally got him to the field hospital. He was safe and there was no permanent damage done to his wrist………no bone, tissue, muscle or nerve was damaged by the bullet! They offered to fly him back to the United States but he chose to stay with his team to finish out the deployment.
I worry about Joe and this deployment. We will not know where he is or when he will return, but my worries lessen when I see and hear him talk about his desire to go and accomplish his missions. I am once again calling on the angels to build a wall of protection around Joe and his team to be watchful over him while he is away from us. I do not know how others get through times like these without the Lord in their life to bear their burdens of worry and fear. The word of God tells me that He will be with him through all the dangers he faces and will walk beside him wherever he goes. He was with him when he was wounded and gave him the strength and courage to continue to fight and protect his team. Joe knew if he could not keep firing that big gun the team would be overrun and killed.
This is what I believe! I witnessed hundreds of soldiers matching quietly down the tarmac in October of 2008 to board a jet that would take them thousands of miles away to fight a war they did not start. A war that began after the terror attacks of 9/11 by a mad man intent on destroying life as we know it. These men knew that some of them would not return home but that did not deter them or discourage them. They could have chosen a different path to take as many of them were college educated but they wanted to serve their country. Joe is one of them. The same blood that flowed in the veins of the greatest generation now freely flows in the veins of these brave men and women who have taken an oath to protect this country. They have a steadfast resolution to defend and protect and to never leave one of their own behind. They accept this lot in life and plod along through some of the most dangerous places on earth, places you and I cannot imagine in our wildest of nightmares. I believe we live in the greatest country on earth and our military is a force to be reckoned with.
As Joe gets ready to leave U.S. soil once again, I am reminded of the words that I memorized the last time he was away. It is my freedom and my right to keep those words with me at all times and to carry the book they are written in with me anywhere in this country. I will call upon the Great Almighty to watch over and protect my son and to bless him all the days of his life. This is truly what I believe now and forever.