These are the ones that Kevin has deployed with twice over the past five years. In five years, many of them have headed into their third deployment from Fort Bliss. Many have stayed side by side through it all. They have seen and lived through the true reality and hell of war. They have witnessed and done more than most can every even imagine.... Their deployments have left them with a lot of heartache and hard times, a lot they wished they could just forget.
As most know, Kevin is not deploying because he is being medically discharged from the army due to combat injuries.... mentally and physically. He has also had a few surgeries from injuries that occurred while in Iraq during both deployments. My husband is not at all the same man that we sent to war a few years ago. Iraq took a part of him that I will never get back.
The last weekend of July was spent seeing our friends, who are more like family, off to war. It was spent with Kevin telling other NCO's to watch after certain individuals because this was their first and they are still so young. They were his soldiers. It was spent telling them to maintain their focus and keep their eyes open. It was spent hugging many and crying. The tears come out of the fear of the unknown... What will this next year bring?
Walking through the gym, my heart just ached uncontrollably. I watched as dads refused to put down their newborns, as children smiled up at their parent in uniform stealing their hearts away, as pregnant wives clung to and held their soldier close....knowing their husband would not make it back home in time for the birth of their child. Children were running around, laughing and smiling, not at the age to comprehend what the day was about or the fact it would be so many months before they saw their parent again. Wives held their soldier close, not wanting to let them go. Husbands clung to their wives as though they were the only ones that could hold them up. I was a onlooker, that had no control over my tears as they flowed down my face. The emotions are ones that I can't explain to you, you have to live this life and have been through the deployments to understand. I stood there, knowing how these people felt and yet, even though I knew that I wouldn't have to do it again, I felt incredibly helpless.
As selfishly as it sounds, I stood back as Kevin was shaking hands and hugging his guys, tears in their eyes as well as mine, praying for their safe return....yet thankful that this time I was not sending my husband off to war. I feel horrible for even admitting to this. We have had so many close calls over during the deployments that I can't help to be relieved that he is staying home, that his day of getting out of the army is so close. It's not that I couldn't handle another deployment... It's the fear of not knowing what the year holds, it's the sickening feeling every time someone knocks on the door or a number I have never seen shows up on my caller ID. It's him seeing the children grow up in pictures and the little ones begging me to make their daddy come home. It's a mixture of everything. Yet, I stood there watching him send his brothers off to war, and I felt like he should be going with them. Hell, he felt the exact same way. How could he not? I have now seen him struggle with the reality of knowing that he is getting out and will not be deploying again. He feels his place is overseas with them, yet knows that he can no longer handle the deployments for many reasons. One of the biggest is that he is not able to even wear the gear due to his injuries.
My heart ached for him. It crushed me to see him tearing up and hugging the soldiers that he has fought, bled, trained beside and so much more. The bond they have is one of the most amazing ones that anyone could ever experience. Yet, it makes sense. How could any of us bond like that when we have not had to go through combat such as they have?
As the guys were walking out through the gym doors following family time, I saw many expressions on their faces. It was easy to pin point the ones that have done this multiple times to the ones that were leaving for their first deployments and felt invincible in a way. It was easy to spot the ones that were leaving for the first time and the reality of war was already setting in. To see such young people with fear all over their faces brought back the tears. To see the ones we love leave again, brought on even more tears.
Here we are, a little more than a week after seeing them off, and a little over a week from them heading into Iraq from Kuwait. For the past week we have had one of our close friends, Tasha staying with us as she awaits her deployment day. Again, I am not ready to do this. Her deployment day seems to be sneaking up on us. How I wish I could just stop time....
Now, I would like to take the time to ask each of you to PLEASE say a prayer now and continue praying for 4/1 AD as they get into country and begin this deployment. Pray for their families left behind holding up the homefront. Pray for their safety and well beings. Look at your family and hold them close because others selflessly deploy and all will in many ways pay the price of freedom....some may pay the ultimate sacrifice... Cherish the moments in your life, large and small....
To the ones we saw off, know that we love each of you and will be here when you step off the planes! Stay alert and never lose your focus! Come home safely!!! Not a day will go by that we won't say prayers!
Kahlil and Kevin are in the larger pic. They have deployed together twice and been through hell together. The kids are standing in a photo with Justin. This is his first time over. The rest are of Kev seeing his buddies off.
We love you guys!