Yesterday was a great day. My company, Bravo 403rd Civil Affairs, is reunited once again! On 14 October, I flew to Baghdad with my personnel/administrative sergeant, my operations sergeant, and my supply sergeant. We flew up early to start the transition process and to attend a conference on civil-military operations in this region.
We took a convoy from our base and drove thirty plus miles on a major highway to what is called, Victory Base, at the Baghdad International Airport complex. It was my first time outside of our FOB (Forward Operating Base) by ground. We arrived and had to drop off people, paperwork, and refuel before going to the tents where the rest of B/403rd spent the night. I was anxious. The whole time I felt like a parent who hasn’t seen their children in a long time – but that the last time they saw them they were glad to be away from them for a few days. We entered the tent complex and there was Zimmerman and Stotlar and a few others. We hollered back and forth to one another. When I entered the tent we all cheered. Some Soldiers rushed me and hugged me, others busted my chops for my leaving them in Kuwait for so long. There were smiles all around.
We were a family again.
In another reunion going on at the same time, my Soldier, PFC Garretto, was spending time with her dad, SSG Garretto, who is a helicopter mechanic with the Army National Guard. Although they had only half a day together, SSG Garretto flies to our base on a regular basis and father and daughter will get to spend time together when they can. It was the first time I had ever seen a parent and their child in Theater before, although the news covers it all of the time.
They were a family again.
Those haven’t been the only reunions. The other day I was in the dining facility when I was approached by one of my former students, Chris Remillard – now Captain Remillard – who is on the FOB as a physical therapist. Since then we’ve had lunch together and caught up on where everyone else from his class is at. This includes yet another of my former students who was living on the same base as I am but is currently and hour south of here. I’ve exchanged emails with CPT O’Brien and we’ll have dinner the next time he comes here.
And then, finally, I was walking into the “big” PX at Victory Base the other day and I ran into my friend’s wife, a Warrant Officer with the 101st Airborne Division. The last time I saw Carrie, she, her husband, Lisa, and I were all at dinner together in Cortland, NY on the eve of Kurt being deployed.
I am amazed at how small the Army is to be able to run into so many people that I know.
Now that we are on the FOB we are getting settled in and learning our way around. Now starts the process of learning the specifics of the jobs we will be doing. Now the real work begins.