I want to make a simple apology to a few friends that I have grown apart from. There are a couple of guys that I was pretty close to before the deployment. Our wives were friends, we would have barbecues, go to each others kids birthday parties and everything. I have a lot of good memories about these guys; both on duty and off duty.
Somewhere during the deployment we grew apart. After I had my first wake up call, I committed myself to trying to do my job as best I could and I ended up sacrificing these friendships and everything else. I wanted to do everything that I could to bring everyone back alive, and nothing else mattered. Many of my peers turned on me at this time as well. I must have had hundreds of comments from my “peers”, calling me a golden child, butt-kisser, or show off. Opinions were not my concern though, only the effort and the results.
I remember tearing into one of my old buddies right before we rolled out the gate one time, because he hadn’t done pre-combat checks on someone else. This was probably a strange sight at the time. 1) Because we were pretty good friends. 2) Because this guy is a friggin’ giant, lol. That was how serious I took things, I wouldn’t take the chance that one forgotten piece of equipment might make a difference. Later on, I realized that as I dove deeper into work; my friend was the type to become withdrawn. Withdrawn from stress, conflict, and responsibility. He is still probably one of the most caring NCO’s that we had though.
I have to say that I am pretty fortunate to have known the other friend I mentioned as well. If you ever want to know the definition of a warrior, you just need to look at him. Here is a guy that has his truck hit by an eight array EFP on his second deployment. His driver is killed. His gunner is injured. He is struck in the head and thrown out of the vehicle. His kevlar helmet and his eye socket are crushed. He has people hold him back from promotion, because of some weight that he gained while recovering. He sticks with it. He makes a full recovery, gets promoted, and gets in the truck to go on a third combat tour.
Ever wonder how far you can push someone? How much they can truly take? He and his squad had been on the road living out of their trucks for about 3 weeks. I met them as they parked their trucks and tell him that I need some petty crap that the company asked for. He basically told me that wasn’t really a priority to him right now. I told him that I was serious and as he blew me off again, those little demons that control our tempers got the better of us. It didn’t get out of hand, but I’m still not happy that we let it get that far. He was not a” by the book” type of leader, but was a great combat leader who was full of guts and looked after his Soldiers.
Later, when we got back these guys and I would hardly say hello to each other. I hope they don’t think things were personal. I just did what I thought was my job. Personally, I didn’t like what the company told me to do half of the time either.
There were other guys who I worked the shit out of too. These were great Soldiers and great NCOs. These were the type of guys that I knew that I could trust to get the job done. They would not need supervision and would not come up short. I really overloaded them and probably didn’t give them the thanks that they deserved, just more work. They never complained though, and in that point alone is how I know that they are much better Soldiers than I am.
While I am on a roll, I should also apologize to my wife. Not for anything that happened during the deployment, but just for putting up with me. She truly is an incredible woman, a wonderful wife, and a great mother. I apologize for what she probably saw as distance between us and lack of interest in doing things. I apologize for all of my outburts and moodiness. I will never forget the concert that we didn’t go to, becuase I started an argument over something small and stupid. (Anyone know if O.A.R. is going on tour again?) Thank you for standing by me, I know it isn’t always easy.
For all of you guys, I just want to offer a simple apology.
By Bryan H. Reed, Army Veteran OIF 07-09