Sometimes, LTC Sanders will CC me on emails or write me directly to let me know how things are going in Balad with my old flight. Since AEF 1/2 is about to end, the guys who replaced my group will be leaving shortly, so I’m very much looking forward to hearing about their deployment, and I’m particularly looking forward to debriefing with the folks from Nashville who stayed 8 months (meaning they served under me for 4 mos and under Sanders for 4 mos).
Below is an email that I think is indicative of some of the best in our deployed troops, but that many readers will consider bad: the pull of duty and country vs. family at home.
Capt Don just came to my office, visibly distraught. His
father had a cardiac arrest and is on life support in the Philippines. He
doesn’t know much more information. Don wants to continue on the mission.
He has spoken to his siblings and they are supportive of this. His family is
working with the Red Cross in Philippines, so you may hear of this shortly.
Don is scheduled to fly tonight and stressed that he still
wants to go, no need to sit around and worry about something he obviously
cannot control. I am supportive of his decision and told him to use the DSN
as he wishes.
Here I am in front of my decorated office. I had an impromptu press conference for the first couple hours I was back. time to return to being an atlanta workers’ comp attorney.
just learned that some members of my flight are getting divorced now. i wonder how common this is?
on my last deployment to iraq, i saw several friends get the middle finger from spouses or girlfriends while stuck in the sand. i even counseled a few of them (as well as a law student could). one got remarried a couple years later to the woman who’d sent the “dear john” email while he was in balad. i went to the wedding, saw their two children, and realized why he was willing to reconcile.
Though my opining that “all is well” below has a hint of sarcasm, my replacement does indicate that the downward trend I saw in casualties is continuing. The 4-month rotation before me moved several hundred more patients than my rotation did (nearly 3k v. just over 2k), and the one after mine is moving even fewer (<100/week). There is even talk of downsizing the AEOT a bit for the next rotation. So, a little bit of encouraging news.
I get emails from my replacement every few days. I thought this one was fairly amusing (posted below). I think if these are the present concerns of our deployed, then all is well.
From: Sanders James C Lt Col 332EOSS/EAEF
Sent: Friday, March 21, 2008 4:18 PM
Good afternoon everyone,
I just got word that we were very close to “winning” the Couch Potato
award for the Wing. I was shocked to say the least. I know that most of you
are going to the gym and sweating from one form of exercise or another.
Many of you may not know it, but the workout point formula was recently
upgraded for weight lifters and runners to demonstrate fairness for your hard work.
I DO NOT want AE to win this award. I will discuss the problem with
our fitness tracker, as the OS Squadron performed an analysis and found
that most of our folks recorded NO POINTS. Maj Vaughns reaffirmed that he
has personally seen tons of our folks over in the gym. This leads me to
believe that we are getting complacent and not filling out the Fitness tracker
form. Folks, I don’t know how to make it any easier on you. Some flights do
not have a central recorder, they require each member to fill out the
tracker themselves. I personally do NOT want to go there. MSgt Jenks is
helping us, just leave the form in his inbox.
Now, I’ll make a deal with the flight, as long as each of you are showing
points (in any form), I’ll be happy. According to the Wing commander,
I can at my option, require you to undergo PT testing a minimum of two times
while here. Again, I don’t want to PT test anyone, but at the same time, I
am held responsible for ensuring that you are maintaining personal fitness. I
only have two ways to do this, thru the Tracker or a formal testing process.
Come see me or e-mail me back if you have specific questions. For
those of you who are consistently helping us from being embarrassed, I thank you
for turning in your sheets. Keep up the good work,
James C. “Jim” Sanders, Lt. Col., CFN, USAF Commander 332nd EAEF Balad
this video shows a C-RAM (counter rocket artillery and mortar system) knocking out a mortar before it hits balad air base…then the alarm red can be heard here.
today was my last day of making up drills after coming off orders for the deployment to balad, and i got to meet, and shake hands with, president bush. i thought this was a fitting conclusion to to my second deployment to iraq. now it’s time to play civilian lawyer again.
here’s my right shoulder on the far left side of the picture. i thought getting close to the airman with a baby would help me get in a picture. i was only half right.
valentine’s day 2008
next to our 5-star hotel
believe it or not, the louvre allows photography. unbelievable.
somewhere between madrid and cadiz along A4 with our fiat punto
straddling a couple hemispheres
museum in sevilla, spain
a week in the hawaiian islands wasn’t enough, so now we’re in the UK. the day after getting back, we drove to charleston, hopped on a C-17, and landed at mildenhall air force base, about 70 miles or so north of london. as a guardsman, i usually can’t travel “space available” overseas, and i can’t go space a with the mrs at all. but, since i’m on active duty status right now and am on leave, we can. the plan is to spend a couple days in london, then a couple days in paris (to include valentine’s day), and then come home via rota, spain next weekend.
we drove to charleston saturday, had dinner at hyman’s (consistently rated as the top seafood restaurant in the southeast– http://www.hymanseafood.com) …where we sat at a table previously used by Jodie Foster and Bob Villa (not on the same night)… had drinks at an irish pub called tommy condon’s, and then walked around a couple cemeteries before heading back to base, where we napped an hour in the parked car before our 1am showtime. the c-17 left about 3am. the flight was actually more enjoyable than a commercial airline would’ve been, b/c of our having the freedom to lie down on the ground of the plane and sleep. only took 7.5 hours. got here, checked into space-a billeting, and had dinner at an off-base pub called “bird in the hand” we walked to (after wandering in the dark for 30min or so trying to find it).
i’ll attempt to post our adventures every day or so and then upload pictures when we get back…