I’ve written about this before and don’t think I can improve on what I wrote here and here, the details were fresher on my mind. 8 years later and 9/11 was one of those events in my life that totally shaped how my entire future would turn out. Two buildings tumbling down in a city 3000 miles awake shook everything, the repercussions rang the world like a bell and I think that ringing will echo for a long long time. In a sense, my life split in two that day. There was the person I was before which included my early Naval Service then getting out and going to school and taking up work as a mechanic, I was carefree and living for the moment. Then 9/11 where the shock of the events pushed me outside of my life and I looked down at doing and knew, it wasn’t where I was supposed to be at. The next day, I signed back up with the Navy and a couple weeks later, I was back in, minus a rank.
Two years and five months later, I was making my first trip into Iraq and eventually I would spend over 2 years of my life in that desert. This dry and inhospitable place soon became my home away from home, humans can get used to anything. In many ways, in my journeys into the war zone, I was lucky. No one I cared about died nor was I hurt but I could see the toil that repeated trips was were having. To me, to my fellow military members, war changes you and the person who went in isn’t the same person who comes out the other side.
It’s strange to say but for the troops on the ground, this might be the safest war ever conducted. We had the best gear protective gear ever issued to a military force, yes there are deaths but compare the numbers to any other war or any major battle and it’s a drop in the bucket. We were surviving, running through 120 degree heat carrying around 80 pounds of battle gear and more often than not, making it home whole. In body at least. ORM, Operational Risk Management was the key phrase, we get more safety briefs then most people in the civilian world could imagine and as boring as they are, they seem to be working.
So many changes have happened since I came back in, medically, we’re now tracking all of our immunizations online, our notes are now written on a networked system. There are still bugs being worked out but I wonder what the result will be in 10 years? Military medicine in the 90’s was basically unchanging and now, the changes are so fluid and fast moving that if you turn your back, you won't recognise what's waiting for you at your desk.
This month, I’m re-enlisting for probably the last time, I’m 4 and a half years out from my 20 and I’m going to have to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. Hopefully it involves hanging out with the wife and dog alot. I’m proud to have taken part in these great events, when I’m talking to my grand kids, I can say, "I was there", and if they are so inclined, they can come back here and catch a snapshot of what I went though. They’ll see the gaps and wonder, what happened there and I’ll still have a few tales left to tell.