I had gone grocery shopping,and had come through the door,when Rick's brother Brian (who lives with us) helped me with some bags,then told me that Rick called from El Salvador. He had gotten word that he was going to Iraq. Rick had asked him to tell me. I guess Rick couldn't.
No one can guess what their response will be when they find out that their husband is going to war, especically in light of what had happened in Fallujah and Mosul. I was somewhat shocked,but in all honestly,had been expecting it. I think the shock was more that he had found out while he was in El Salvador. They certainly didn't wait to give him the news,which meant he was going soon.
He only in El Salvador for two weeks,and couldn't call home much. In fact,we believe that is the only phone call he made home. I do know that it was only a few days before he was home,and we could get the full story.
A Colonel went down to El Salvador to let all the soliders who had volunteered for Iraq know that they were going,and would be gone within a month.
It went by fast.
We had to have all the conversations that no one likes to have,but have to. IF the worst happens, what were his wishes? I wrote everything down,hoping I would never have to look at it again.
The pressure on Rick started early. Please bear in mind, Rick was one of the oldest soldiers going,had been in combat,and knew his way around weapons. He had trained with and did missions with the 10th Mountain Division and the Green Berets when he was in Airborne,and came very close to being in the Rangers ( I think he haddn't been in his rank long enough,there was some technicality)He was an excellent marksman,and the younger guys respected him. He was ( and is) an excellent soldier. Everyone wanted to be by his side when the you-know-what hit the fan. He was very good under pressure,and kept a clear head. They knew he would know what to do,and that I am sure gave the younger soldiers comfort. The problem was this:parents started coming up to Rick,asking him to take care of their sons. One wife even told him that she would be angry ( she actually mentioned castration) if anything happened to her husband. While these people surely were afraid for their loved ones,and certainly didn't mean any harm,it hit Rick really hard. I went into the bedroom shortly before he left,and he had tears running down his face. I had rarely seen him tear up,so I knew that something was seriously wrong. "What I am going to do if something happens to one of them? These families are relying on me." He then told me their requests. I could understand their fears,but I pointed out to Rick that it wasn't just up to him. It was their responsiblity to watch out for each other,and his responsibility to come home to us.
He was going to be gone for 18 months,which seemed like forever. There were rumors about where he was going,but we weren't really sure, How in the world was I going to get through for that long period of time? We had never really been apart for more than a few days. Zach was in first grade and in Cub Scouts. Rick was going to miss out on so much.
The day came when he and the rest of the 20 were going to fly out of Manchester Airport. I don't even remember what we said on the drive. Rick said his goodbyes to Zach and Brian at the house,so it was just the two of us. Saying goodbye at the hotel was really hard. Rick asked if I wanted to stay there for the night, but I really couldn't. I just couldn't prolong the goodbye anymore. I felt bad,but I knew he understood.( Even as I write this,I have tears in my eyes. The memory and feeling is still that strong. No one knows or understands what it is like to leave your loved one to go to war unless they have gone through it. No one) As I pulled away,he saluted me,then went inside. I drove the hour and 20 minutes home,hoping I didn't get in an accident because of all the tears in my eyes.My best friend was gone,and all I could do was pray for his safety. Everything was out of our hands.