Anxiously Looking Home

2007 came without our even noticing, as we still fly, eat, sleep and repeat. A few changes have started to show in our routine; mainly the discussions of what we need to pack, when. Most of us are packed up and more than ready for 2007 to take us home, until we read the newspapers and see the hype of expanding the troop levels in this conflict. We are all anxious in one way or another about getting ready to leave or about the very faint possibility of our staying.

Most of us are anxious about our return because life here is so different from life at home. Just like when we came over here, we are all wondering what life will be like. What has changed? What did we miss? What don't we know that will surprise us when we get back? Some dread returning to their cubicle prison of an office job, while others are concerned about getting home and having to integrate back into family life, spouse and children, demanding time spent with their returning soldier. Some dread having to find employment. For many this trip has provided some substantial financial boosts, mostly benefiting from the lack of expenses, which come to an end very shortly. Though there are difficulties ahead, we all are ready to return home for the comfort of home is worth those adjustments.

We are ready to return home until we read the news, "Surge in Troops Needed to Solve Iraq Puzzle" The decision to pack our personal belongings early has come under scrutiny, fearing we would need them for a few months more. Though we've been told that we are not on the short list of units extended, it still rides our minds. Could there be an order to extend our orders to Iraq? All we know is just rumor, stemming from our personal conversations.

All of these pressures are culminating in some heated arguments, ultimately resolved by a short apology from all parties, followed by the explanation that they are ready for this to end. Anxious to get these DAYS behind us.

By Bert Stover |  January 16, 2007; 7:14 AM ET  | Category:  Al Taqaddum, Iraq
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Best wishes to you and your brothers and sisters in arms. I'm sure you can't recall the numerous comments you've read since you started this blog, but (much to my dismay) I told you so... I think it was somewhere around the middle of your deployment when you were starting to look forward to the end of your mission, I suggested that you not think too much about the end of the mission because there were already too many cases of troops having their stays extended for whatever reason. All of you have done everything that's been asked of you and more. Unfortunately, our Commander in Chief will not hesitate to ask you to do something that he himself was unwilling to do. Please keep yourself strong mentally and physically. Don't let your guard down and don't despair if asked to stay or asked to return. For better or worse all of you are now experienced veterans with skills that are in short supply in a military that is stretched to the limit. If called upon to stay or return, please take whatever emotions you have to deal with and focus them towards making it through this ordeal. I'm sure everyone - whether with or against the President's initiatives - want to see all you come back home safe and sound. God bless you all.

Posted by: James | January 16, 2007 12:16 PM

I see you are suffering from short timers syndrome. As you have painfully pointed out, you are not in control and it will cause some strains. I hope your humor sees you through the short timer blues.

Posted by: Hal | January 16, 2007 12:53 PM

Know that we all hope you come back soon safe and sound. Try to take it day by day, neither being too eager to come home (I know, virtually impossible) nor too depressed at the remote possibility of having to stay longer.(equally difficult). Hang in there, stay tough, know that lots of folks are praying for you.

Posted by: A fan | January 17, 2007 10:29 AM

Bert, please DO know that the 'back home' people, nationally and locally, (especially locally! you are our neighbors...) ARE thinking of you, and ARE praying for you... we want our soldiers HOME SAFE. In our little church down the road from your parents' home, prayers always are offered as well. Saw your Mom and Dad a recently in the P.O. here, and we spoke of you, and of your brother whom I taught in grade four. It truly boggles the mind for me to try to comprehend the daily reality you guys and gals are going through over there. KEEP THE FAITH, we all hope to see you in the local P.O. here...

Posted by: Old Miss C | January 18, 2007 08:48 AM

Bert, we're all proud of you and are looking forward to your homecoming. Know that there are many thinking about you and pray for your safe return. We'll be here for you when you come home!

Posted by: dc friend | January 18, 2007 12:31 PM

My son-in-law is with your unit and we are all anxiously awaiting his and the rest of the units return. I say my son-in-law but we feel like he is our son. Our daughter and granddaughter have been coping fairly well, but both are counting down the days! No one truly can understand what the family (or soldier for that matter) really goes through unless they have been in that position. Just to know someone has taken the time to send a card, letter, email or package to your loved one makes you so happy and proud to have such good friends and supports our soldiers while serving. God Bless you, Bert, and all the soldiers of the 2-224th and may your return home be swift and safe! God Bless the USA!!

A Mom

Posted by: | January 18, 2007 02:05 PM

we look forward to your return Berto, we wait with our arms wide open and our ears ready for as much or little as you want to share. perhaps just a beer, some good background music, and some eye candy will be a good start (like last time i visited you in DC). as always, i am very proud of you.

adam

Posted by: docadam | January 19, 2007 11:54 PM

Bert,

We are praying you get to come home on schedule....my son came home in Sept. and it was a roller coaster of emotions for us for a few days...the best part was that he/I had an opportunity to be together for 6 days in NC before he was released to come home on leave....we were able to work through his emotions/mine together....we tried to do things that were calming and away from crowds! It is wonderful to have him home (he will return end of this year or beginning of next)...we don't think of that, just enjoy the time we have now!!

Praying you aren't "extended", but I know if you are, you will do what you need to do until time for you to come home! I have missed your blogs and are pleased they allowed you to continue! We keep you in our prayers and are forever indebted to all of you for your service!! May God protect your date to come home!!

Posted by: Mechanic's Mom | January 22, 2007 10:33 AM

Stay Strong, our prayers are with you. I work here at an army depot supporting you and all our troops. God Bless.

Posted by: Carolyn | January 22, 2007 01:22 PM

Bert, This doesn't relate to your most recent entry, but I have to say I hope you all get home soon. I am trying to get in touch with you. Adrian Stump is my son. I thought the blog you wrote about him was wonderful. I think a few of my relatives beat you up a little about it, but it was great. Sorry it's taken me forever to try to contact you. It's been a rough year and a half. What I'm really after is to establish communication, and also would love any copies of pictures you may have that include Adrian.

Posted by: Anne Stump | January 22, 2007 03:00 PM

Anne, I took the photos of Adrian and Bert that are included with the story. I will be more than happy to send you copies of these photos. I had the pleasure of meeting your son. From the short amount of time spent with him, I quickly realized that he was a terrific individual. Nothing will fill the void from losing him, but I hope you find some comfort in precious memories.

Thank you to 2-224th AVN BTN for your service and, Bert, for your dedication to keeping us informed. Your selfless efforts are greatly appreciated by many.

Posted by: L | January 23, 2007 01:22 PM

Dear L, Thanks for the reply! My work e-mail is XXX. Please fill me in on your relationship w/ Adrian. God, I'd love it if you could send the pics.

Posted by: Stumps mom | January 23, 2007 02:53 PM

Burt, thanks for sharing and letting us know on the home front what is going on. It has been a way of keeping in touch when we could not hear or know what was going on. Thanks for your sacrifice and all that are there with you doing the same including my son. We all are looking forward to the day the bus rolls in and once again be able to touch and express ourselves to each of you for the great job that all of you have done. I thank God for His guidance and protection over all of you especailly this last leg of the journey.
God bless and protect each of you.

Posted by: Ann | January 24, 2007 12:53 AM

To all of the 224th, when you get home, it will be a day of great joy. We will be there waiting with happy tears and voices of pride. We will also remember, the two new stars in heaven. When you guys get home, do whatever it is you need to do that will make you comfortable and at peace. God Bless each and every one of you. Thump and I will be there with our flags flying. I salute you for a job well done and service that I will always be grateful for. Thank you.

Posted by: barbi baby | January 24, 2007 03:03 AM

224th well we have almost made it!!! Very soon now we will be welcoming you all home with open arms, a lot of smiles,hearts bursting with pride, tears of joy and tears of sorrow. The tears of sorrow for the 2 new guardian angels that will be watching over your flight home. Until then..

Posted by: military wife | January 24, 2007 12:14 PM

Please stop by to see us in the housing office at W&M when you return. We are so proud of you!!!

Betsy

Posted by: Betsy E | January 26, 2007 09:04 AM

I continue to keep you/your Unit in my prayers, praying that you will come home when scheduled and that God will provide all that you need when you return.....I didn't understand why my son had to stay close to base for 6 days....but after experiencing his adjustment/emotions, it was the necessary thing to do!! He was a Mechanic and never left the base, but the adjustment of leaving that place and coming home is very real for everyone! He was overwhelmed when he came home!! My prayer is that God will provide exactly what YOU need physically, emotionally, and spiritually!! One day we left the area of his base and went north to a little historic town and spent a quiet afternoon....it was wonderful time together....another day, just a day of walking on the Beach (he didn't think he would ever want to see sand again, but it is different HERE!)....just taking time before he came home to WV....it was precious time we had together and I will never forget it!! Stay focused for the time you have left and may God provide special time with your loved ones when you return!! Keeping you in prayer!!

Posted by: Mechanic's Mom | January 27, 2007 11:21 AM

I'm reading your column here at home in VA, while my dear hubbie is over there in your general neck of the woods, in your basic situation... hopefully soon to come home. Don't let the turkeys get you down. Short time is, and always has been depressing, and can be dangerous. Keep focused, and watch your six. Bless you and all those there with you.... Thank you for all you do. Thank you for watching out for each other, and keep up the good work! :-D Semper Fi!

Posted by: A CWO5's very Proud wife | January 27, 2007 07:47 PM

Can someone at WP please get this poor lady's phone number out of the comments? Who knows how many crazy people are going to dialing?

I know you don't normally edit comments but your gotta make an exception here!

Posted by: carl | January 31, 2007 03:20 PM

Carl:

Thank you for bringing my attention to the sensitive information. I've caught up on comments and made the update you requested.

Bert


Posted by: Bert Stover | February 1, 2007 11:22 AM

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