Today marks one month since the 1st Squadron, 126th US Cavalry entered Active Duty in support of the Global War on Terror. Only 11 more months to go.
Unlike my last tour in 2005, I’ll only be on Title 10 (Active Federal Service) for about a year total. Last time, I was in Iraq for a year, proceeded my 2 months of train-up at Fort Dix NJ and a month of prep time in Grand Rapids before that.
Also unlike my last tour, this time it’s my entire unit going to war, not just a small portion of it. On this tour I’m accompanied by 349 other Cavalrymen and 600 Infantrymen all from Michigan. We’re deployed with 1500 other National Guardsmen from Ohio. Together we all make up the 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
We’re deployed to Fort Hood Texas. Here were training on individual and collective (unit level) skills to prepare us for combat operations in Kuwait and Iraq.
Within days or arriving, we were lined up like Texas Longhorn cattle, processing our paperwork, having our medical records checked and getting the obligatory shots. This time around I was lucky and only had to get the first shot in a series for the Anthrax vaccine. Most of the unit had to also update their shots for going overseas. This included the Small Pox vaccination for a large majority. Luckily I didn’t have to go through the pain, discomfort and nastiness brought on by that particular vaccine since I did it last time.
Another big difference for me between this deployment and my last one is my family situation. Instead of finding out that I was going to be deploying with just a few months notice, we had 8 months to get ready for me being gone. If you were to talk to my wife Beth, she’d probably tell you that no amount of time is long enough to prepare to be apart like this.
This deployment is very different for Beth too. Last time I deployed, my son Evan was barely 9 months old. He was almost 2 when I returned. When I come back this time he’ll be almost 5. I left Beth to watch over Evan and his little brother Camden too. Camden, Cam for short, turned 9 months old last November while I was in Grand Rapids preparing the unit to deploy. He’ll be almost 2 when I return. I guess some things are more similar that I’d like them to be. Luckily Beth has a great family and support structure through our Church (Duneland Community Church) to help her through. Honestly, if our roles were reversed and she was deploying, I don't think I could do what she does. She's a strong woman. I love you Beth.
There is one thing this time that is very similar to my last deployment. I’m going to come home safe to my wife, children and family. Of this, I have no doubt. And while I’m gone, I’ll think about them every minute of every day.
ps; I know it's been some time since my last post. Hopefully it won't be that long again until my next one. I'll do my best to keep regular updates coming on this blog. At a minimum I'll post pictures here, on my Picasa web page.