The Unit Assembles
I woke up late yesterday. I'd intended an 05:20 wakeup, with an 05:45 departure from my parent's house to Richmond for my official report date. I didn't get out of the house until 06:20.
I tore through the house grabbing toiletries and a day bag. I threw everything in my truck (which I have not sold yet), loaded with my duffles and black trunk. I almost started the truck when I realized I had not stopped in to give my mother and father a good-bye hug and kiss, even though they would meet me later in the day in Richmond for the commander's brief about the deployment.
I ran upstairs calling "Mom..... Mom you up?" Though my mother would have liked our good-bye to last longer, I had to cut it short in order to get on the road, which turned out to be a good thing since it left little time for her to break out of her slumber and really get going with the emotions of my departure. I practically fell down the stairs as I rushed to get on the road.
I'd intended to meet with my brother, Gordon, for breakfast once I arrived in Richmond. But my late start got in the way. I ended up meeting him just in time to have breakfast packed up in to go boxes, 07:46, and we hurried to the unit just down the street.
I kept looking at my watch wondering if I would make it in time for the 08:00 formation. I pulled through the gate at 07:52, 8 mins to park, grab a bag or two and lead my brother to the hangar where we would assemble. I expected a much more punctual start to this deployment, for myself and the unit.
So, it really was anticlimactic when I arrived. We eventually got into formation at about 08:15 and the commander casually disbursed some information about the day's schedule at the eventual.
The schedule included a series of briefings on benefits for dependent family members, who qualify for health care and legal services. Since my family members don't qualify as dependents, I was most interested in the Battalion Commander's rundown on plans for the next three months.
My parents arrived around 09:30, enough time for them to help me unload the rest of my bags and see the sea of olive drab green and black baggage.
The Battalion Commander announced that we'd depart to Fort Dix, N.J. on Friday, stay for a few days, and then depart for Yuma, Ariz. and further training. We'll miss the Thanksgiving holiday with family, but hoepfully be able to make one last visit home during the Christmas season before departing for overseas.
My parents were relieved to hear they'll most likely see me again before I leave the country. After the brief, we post for a picture and said our goodbyes. As I've described before, my mother seems the hardest hit by the situation, but my father came out with the words "We love you." That caught me off guard, coming as it did from a man I've only see cry once, when his mother passed 20 plus years ago. Mom and Dad drove off.
We broke for lunch and then assembled in formation at 13:30 for the formal reporting in, without the distraction of family present. We all had to present a valid military ID and a set of 'Dog' tags. The company commander then gave orders for tasks to complete the rest of the day, using a respectfully stern voice I hadn't heard out of him before.
He wanted to adjust some of the packing we had done in the shipping crates, but changed his mind about loading all of the personal gear today since it was at least a tractor trailer's worth. I imagine there's no comparison between the amount of gear we pack and what the soldiers of WWI or WWII must have been allowed to take. But I'm not as sure of how we compare to soldiers deploying for Vietnam and Desert Storm. Can some vets comment?
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