Everyone is in the day-room. Guys are leaving for the first time in a year. 32 guys, one female. And those now leaving by POV are saying farewells to us who are awaiting flights from Philly to Boston and beyond. For the 1st time our year-long adventure together – guys are departing and going their separate ways. We've shared our immediate plans for return to civilian life with each other. Most involve ample amounts of beer. For the first time in a long while, we’ll have no accountability of each other. No more feeding off each other’s personalities and quirks. Or tolerating each others grating annoyances. No more living with our limited circle of 33 familiar faces as we always have, over chow, early in the morning, late into the evening, daily duties, missions – everywhere. It’s a concluding moment for a unit that a year ago was coming together and as a unit, training in the crazy, often frustrating environment at Ft. Bragg’s “FOB Patriot.” Who knows who will stay in contact with each other? I know that I’ll be keeping ties with Cheeks, Jim, Ron and Joe D, Joe M, possibly others too.
For all the oddness that leaving brings today, it’s the goal that we’ve all worked for this year. We all came back relatively healthy. Some are struggling with cases of PTSD, as evidenced by tempers that are so close to the surface that the most minor slight will cause an eruption. Hopefully, time and comforts of home, or even some profession help, will help these guys pacify these demons.
But, despite all the challenges and frustrations, it was truly awesome to serve with most of the guys in my unit. I keep on reminding myself that had I not chosen to serve in the army, my walk of life wouldn’t have afforded me the chance to even meet these guys, let alone share formative experiences with them.