Soldier View # 1 Price of Leadership

Whenever you see “Soldier View” as the title, its one of the other contributers adding in. This is where you will find the real pay dirt. These guys have been there done that and made it through the grind, So read up and think as you go.

I still don’t know what I want to share or post. This may be a huge and unexpected experience.

What I do know is why I am posting.

1) I care. I care about Soldiers. I especially care about the ones who I can call “my Soldiers.”

The first post “idea” begins with the sentence: “On the heels of losing another soldier I served with…” This event has caused me to ask myself over and over, “WHY?” Not some whiny theological, “Why god?, Why did this happen?” I am talking about the caring brother and friend/responsible leader and person, “Why didn’t he say something? Why wasn’t anyone there?”

Some may disagree, but I firmly believe it wouldn’t have happened at Fort Hood, or at least not in our old unit. Today, in retrospect I can tell you that those we considered our weakest leaders, would far outshine what I see elsewhere. We had outstanding Soldiers and leaders who held the bar high. We added a whole new definition to leader involvement. We had a bond shared throughout those 15 months that will last a long time.

Still disagree? After the event on November 5th, at Fort Hood, I received phone calls from Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq, Germany, Florida, Missouri, and a dozen other places checking on “our guys.” Keep in mind this was on my personal cell phone. These guys had not lost my number. “Are our guys ok?”

I have had other calls in the middle of the night. Calls from Soldiers who have moved on, and often they are drunk. Sometimes asking for advice or help. I wake up and talk to them for as long as it will take, and when I hang up…I call someone else. Someone that I know I can ask to check on them for me.

How much time did guys like Tega, Raven, and Doc spend helping Willy?

…..”Why didn’t he say something? Why wasn’t anyone there?”

2) I have tremendous respect for the creator of this blog. If my thoughts could help him, then I am more than willing to share. I will be the first to post, if it might inspire others to share.

PTSD

Do I have it? Couldn’t tell ya.

I have never really thought about it. So far I have not had a reason to. If I ever begin to think about it, I always know that other guys went through worse. I think of the guys that were in OIF1, 2, and 3. I think of guys who were in the jungle of ‘Nam, guys freezing in fox holes on the Chosin Reservoir, and guys storming Normandy. Reality, Perspective, or Avoidance? I don’t think about it.

I do know that I have changed.

How hard is it adjusting back into society when we get back? How many times do you say “Fuck” in one sentence?

Social skills are gone. Do you realize for 15 months that I was telling people what to do? I mean to everyone I was in contact with. Soldiers? Yep. Iraqis? Yep. If someone didn’t do what you told them, you would tell them loudly or make them do it. There was no other norm for me.

I remember ordering a sandwich on R&R. I was onpost, at the food court, with my wife. We both had the same order, hers without bacon. We were chatting while they prepared our order. I look over and see bacon….uh oh. I tell him almost politely, “scuse me, one of those orders was without bacon.” Continue chatting. Look over again….BACON. Head, Shoulders, and Both Arms, Lean Over the Counter, Full Volume, “HEY! DIDN’T I JUST TELL YOU? NO FUCKING BACON!” Good times right?

Same thing at home. I mean come on, why wouldn’t your spouse just do everything the way that you want it done right?

My parents and younger sister.

I hardly talk to them anymore. Wasn’t always like that. I gave my sister my car for two years when I was in Germany, no strings. We talked often, and were there for each other. Now, I see them like most “civilians,” people with petty issues who would never understand. Ever listen to someone without affiliation to the military explain their perspective of the war? Enough to piss you off? What about listening to their worries and issues? “Wow sis! Your job sucks? Your boss is a jerk? The neighbors dogs bark at night?” I just don’t relate to them anymore. Any small comment that upsets me or my wife, is an instant reason to further not talk to them.

How many guys did we see piss their family or career away? Ever really think about it? What if these guys were feeling this way about their spouses? No longer relating to them. On the other hand we can talk to each other about anything. One tour, two tours, three… Not too long and we know more about each other than we know about our spouses. Whoa, now one of the guys is a girl. Hmmm…. Do I endorse it? No. Do I relate? No. Can I rationally understand it? Yeah.

How ironic is it that two of the people that I would absolutely want to have with me on any deployment, are also two of the people that I have the most concern for? I absolutely trust them with my life, hands down. I also worry about how things affected these two specifically, and how they are coping.

I drink at home now. I am not saying that I am drowning my sorrows in alcohol. I am telling you that I have not been to a club at all. Over a year and a half. Hello? I am in Korea now and I don’t want to go to a club?

What about that first time you drove through the construction zone on I35? Do those cement walls remind you of T-Walls?

You know those the red lights on antennae towers? Ever see them out of the corner of your eye when you take out the trash at night? Do you jerk your head back to make sure they aren’t tracer fire?

This weekend I almost Shawn Michaels super-kicked a Korean guy in the park. I am no martial artist, but that was my reaction when he flash popped a bowl of popcorn in his little exploding fucking contraption. Normally, I prepare myself for things like that. Fireworks, loud noises, crowds, even a half dozen kids running around my living room. Just so that I don’t lash out like some kind of asshole, for a reason I can’t explain: 1) Deep breaths. 2) Withdraw, Sitting there, not listening, or paying attention, watch TV, play on the laptop, do some Zen-Buddhist funky meditative escape inside my mind, whatever works. (I am probably still an asshole, just not the lashing out one) 3) Sometimes actively participate while being withdrawn; like looking out through a tunnel or through someone else’s eyes. Is this a practiced art? Do I do it all the time? No, which also explains how I can hardly give an accurate description.

I don’t have nightmares that I know of. I remember when did have them. I remember waking up this one morning after I had one. My ICOM was in my hand under my pillow. Did I say something on the radio in my sleep? LOL, Don’t tell me.

For awhile I had the same one about the night MO got hit over and over.

Another time I remember a dream that we got hit and I looked down to have a huge hole in my chest.

Another time I dreamed we were going slow through traffic. I look over and see 3 guys getting out of an SUV with weapons and such, clearly intent on hitting us. Somehow noone can hear me. I jump out and light them up, and wake up as a grenade lands next to me.

The worst by far that I remember is dreaming that I was in the CASH. As I get there I know one of my Soldiers was killed. Noone would tell me who. I am sitting there looking across the faces of who was there, trying to figure out who wasn’t.

I remember catching one of the guys self-medicating himself just to sleep at night.

I remember having my arm around Sims shoulder, and him shaking for a long time after the DFAC got hit.

I remember listening to the Commander’s squad asking the TOC for assistance, and then noticeably calming down when I told them Jack’s squad and the squad I was with were both coming. Trust.

I remember listening to Ham in pain, and wondering where in the fuck the bird was.

I remember Mo trying to hide the uncertainty in his eyes, and then the relief and complete trust when I told him he was gonna make it.

I remember how quiet it felt out there. Calmly talking to each other. (there was really a truck burning and rounds cooking off) I actually don’t remember doing alot of it, Koukie filled me in on stuff. Sending a FIPR, Surfing the Hood, and Launching before he stopped? Really?

I remember talking to the CAV’s 1SG before our 1st mission. They had lost a guy, burned up in a truck, didn’t recover anything. He was telling me how he was not looking forward to going home to see that guys wife. How it wasn’t really real enough to anyone back home, because they weren’t able to bury a body.

I remember thinking they were gone, but I was still going to get them out of that truck. That was all I was thinking.

I remember the wind blowing the smoke away as I run up and they are all “standing” on the side of the road.

I remember feeling guilty. I had just bitched all 18 guys out for playing games with the Green Laser and an Iraqi car. They were all upset about it. The radio silence was thick. Were they not paying attention, because of that?

You ever met a guy who was missing a leg? The first time you meet him he doesn’t have a leg. He is just that guy without a leg, no questions. You ever seen a guy who was missing a leg, but 5 minutes ago he was dancing on the hood of his truck? Your mind doesn’t believe it. Really you may not understand, but as I sat there looking at him I could see his leg that was no longer there. Its there, no its not, its there, its gone, its there, WTF?!!

I remember the lights going out in the town again, I wonder what is going to happen?

I remember telling the BN that if I left a 10 minute gap between our convoys, then someone would drop an IED between us. Guess what happened? Sorry Rich!

Oh yeah speaking of the BN. Anyone remember what MEDEVAC conditions were in Tallil? Thats right they were RED, but I was told to take the risk. Not to mention that we were also told to break 5 other “rules” that night. MEDEVAC red. No prob. We were no longer running convoys at night, but we did that night. No prob. AC went out in Mo’s truck. No prob. We would break our mandated work-sleep ratio. No prob. KBR was supposed to pick up a load, but I had to tell them they didn’t have time. No prob. WTF? Oh yeah, everyone was waiting for us. Seriously. 2 convoys had been holed up there waiting to follow us home. Add us into that and you had 5 security teams and 4 KBR crews, a shit ton of people and trucks. Gotta have us back. WAS IT WORTH IT FUCKERS?!!!

Well, I didn’t know what would come out when I started this. I’m not sure if it helps anyone else or not. Keep in mind, I freely admit my experiences pale in comparison to some of yours. My intent was to support the creator of this blog, and share in hope that others will feel more comfortable doing so.


—- Bryan Reed— Boss,… Convoy commander of theĀ millennium.. HAHA

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One response to “Soldier View # 1 Price of Leadership

  • breed3231

    I wish I had been there for you buddy. I wish you had still been in Texas. I cant help but think that someone failed you, that we failed you. Why didnt you call? Why didnt you say something.

    Not sure if too many people know, but we had another Soldier from the deployment start acting suicidal when we came back. I had already moved to the HHD. When we got the call the entire Battalion shut down. From the S3 shop and the company we pretty much activated an incident command post. I had everyone up to the BN CO and BN CSM trying to find this Soldier. Training and day to day operations literally stopped.

    We were able to get his cell phone company to give us a grid coordinate. We started calling local PDs and known associates. We were eventually able to locate and assist this Soldier.

    Our unit meant so much to me. It was a truly shining example of real leadership and caring.

    How can someone turn their back on a Soldier? How can you pretend that their worries are meaningless or that they are less of a man?

    “Regard your soldiers as your children and they will follow you into the deepest valleys. Look on them as your beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death”

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