The buses pulled away for the airfield about 12:30 am Saturday morning.


Up until then, we’d been scattered in little company-centered groups across Fury Field, a grassy quad in the middle of modern office buildings and barracks, some hiding from the intermittent rain under temporary canopies, some of us just standing in the warm rain. Mostly it was soldiers in ACU’s; peering at lists illuminated by red-lensed flashlights, moving huge rucks or duffel bags onto flatbed trucks like ant swarms carrying large crumbs or just sitting alone or with wives and children or girlfriends or the occasional parent.

We parents had evolved a standard greeting; a handshake, a tight smile, a compliment to each other’s kids, a soft “…they look good, don’t they…they’ll do just fine.” line of reassurance. The wives and girlfriends allowed themselves emotion; we kept ours to ourselves. Biggest Guy’s sergeant sat on the wet pavement with his small, ACU-clad son asleep in his lap, leaned into an hour-long hug with his young wife who grabbed him tighter every time he started to lean away from her.


The weapons were casually set on the ground, laying on their sides, or on bipods, or leaned against small assault packs. They seemed – insignificant – in the swarm of people, kind of an afterthought that no one paid any attention to except the soldier assigned to watch over them and the people walking past who delicately stepped over them.


Up until then, it had been a kind of unreal; it felt more like the kind of away games I remember from high school sports, except that instead of girlfriends, there were wives and small children. The level of emotion and tension – until late in the evening – was kept in check.


Then the soldiers went to the armory and drew and prepared their weapons.


The parents sat watching and waiting.


Then they were called into ranks and counted; the counts were never right and there was a light buzz of confusion “why are you here? you’re not on the manifest! where’s Cooper…anyone seen Cooper?


That somehow died down and led to the young soldiers answering “Moving!” to a name, picking up their packs and weapons and walking off to the idling busses as the families ran forward and grabbed them for one last hug. TG gave Eric a long hug, kissed his cheek and then I grabbed him by the back of the head, pulled him to me, let go and he was suddenly walking away into the dark toward the waiting bus.

We drove past the idling busses back to the Airborne Inn and a restless sleep.

But he’d given us his phone, and at 4:30 am it ran out of battery and started beeping; I got up to turn it off and realized that his plane for Manas, Kyrgyzstan was just leaving, and that was it for sleep for me.

We’re in Charlotte, visiting friends and relaxing for a bit. Home end of the week and our routine starts again; maybe just a little different.

16 thoughts on “Deployment”

  1. I can’t really imagine how you must feel right now since I do not have children, let alone children deploying for a place like Afghanistan.

    Trust me on this, though: he will be in truly excellent hands. And he will make you proud.

    I’m used to being on the other end of this. My own wife and mother are now much more comfortable than they were when I head off for dangerous places. They say it gets easier every time I come back in one piece. It will get easier for you, too, I’m sure.

  2. I feel for you. I imagine it’s difficult, a mixture of pride and tension.

    Here’s hoping everyone does their duty & comes home safe.

  3. Well AL,

    That had to be as tough a goodbye as you’ve ever done. He is with a helluva good unit and that matters a lot. Good luck and Blue Skies for his tour.


    Uncle J

  4. Best wishes as well. My son will be leaving with the main body. We’ll keep your son as well as the others in our prayers. Hooah 2-508!


  5. I am one of many that are thankful for each and every one of these soldiers! Prayers and well wishes will continue for our faithful warriors! As parents and family left behind, have faith in God and those men and women. Enjoy every memory while they are away from you and look forward to making new memories upon their return! God Bless you!

  6. Having deployed and had to look through those bus windows at red-eyed family members. I know what it feels like for a soldier. But in this the soldier has the advantage. He knows that he is safe and that he has the training, equipment, confidence, and a strong brotherhood to keep him safe.
    I felt bad for my wife and the other families as the bus pulled away. I was living in the moment and knew everything would be fine for me and her. While for a year she would live in a constant state of worry and fear that on the other side of the planet her husband could be lay bleeding and dying or already dead. The worst part of that is that all of that could be happening and it would be hours or days until she found out.
    Sir, my heart and prayers go to you, your family, and the family of all those hard men and woman who fight for our freedom. Service members are not alone in their sacrifice.

  7. Have to agree with irongunner about the sacrifice of the families. They are the ones who can only worry and pray.

    My prayers are with you and yours, A.L. Thank you raising a fine son.

  8. Having been the parent on the other side of the world waiting, Faith ruled over worry, otherwise the Enemy wins! One Deployment to OEF V and one Silver Star and Purple Heart earned, one phone call from an injured son still more concerned for his soldiers than himself. Second Deployment OEF VIII, very different, only 4 phone calls in 4 months and then the knock on the door that we all fear, our lives forever changed. Still until that time, FAITH pulled us through and continues to do so today! We will be together again, just not when WE choose. GOD BLESS OUR SOLDIERS AND THE FAMILIES WHO NEED FAITH TO GET THEM THROUGH!

  9. My nephew started with the 82nd decades ago. Now he is a Sargent Major. Your son is part of one of the best fighting forces on the face of the planet. His band of brothers will look out for him.

    I can’t imagine how you feel, but thanks, to your son, and his family and yours.

  10. Not an easy time, and certainly there’ll be many a sleepless night. We dropped The Hubs off in June –there was no hooah hooah, no big group. As an IA, it literally was like dropping him off to work, a quick peck on the cheek and then he disappeared into the CRC.

    Thank you and your son for serving. I wish everyone well. Not sure if you’re in So Cal, but if you are, we’ll have to get together.

  11. I just wrote “Biggest Guy” and his family on my daily prayer list, then added and his fellow soldiers and their families. God bless them and keep them. I am so grateful for families like yours. May God hold you all on the palm of His hand.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.