Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Different Sort of Thanksgiving

Things tend to get dramatic here at the forward edge of freedom, and Thanksgiving 2007 proved to be no exception.

First things first, the most important part of the holiday is that I was able to spend it with my beautiful wife Lauren. This was our first Thanksgiving as a married couple. Thanks to Uncle Sam and his relentless pursuit of Neo-Global Islamo-Fasciasts, our first Thanksgiving as a married couple nearly didn't happen.

You see, the good people who run FOB Patriot do so with a simple, powerful premise behind everything that they do--Theater Immersion. They reckon that the best way to prepare for life in Iraq or Afghanistan is to simulate that lifestyle as closely as possible for 6 weeks immediately before sending units overseas.

Is this a good way to train, in my opinion? I think that, as with everything, there are tradeoffs--but generally, Theater Immersion, if done well, seems like it might have a small incremental affect on our survivability overseas. If a spot of hassle and discomfort are the price we pay for one or two or 10 dudes not getting hurt or killed, then it was a small price indeed.

That said, Theater Immersion sometimes stretches the bounds of common sense. Such was almost the case this Thanksgiving.

To wit, we were originally supposed to spend the entire Thanksgiving holiday here at FOB Patriot, locked down as always, despite the fact that we had NO training scheduled for the day. More reasonable minds eventually prevailed, and we owe that almost entirely to our battalion chain of command. Our Battalion Commander has fought relentlessly for the well being of the soldiers in my unit since the day we arrived at FOB Patriot.

Unfortunately, though, because of the late notice that we'd be able to leave the FOB over Tgiving, most of the battalion was unable to arrange for their families to visit. I was fortunate that Lauren lives relatively close to here, but we literally made the final call on Tuesday or Wednesday for her to come down to Fort Bragg.

Once here, Lauren and I spent the holiday with my old friend Matt Holmes and his beautiful family. Matt has opened up his home to me and Lauren time after time since I've been at Fort Bragg, and once again I find myself at a loss for words in thanking him for his generosity. Lauren and I had a wonderful day surrounded by babies and pets and a loving family.

And more than anything else, Lauren and I had each other. So while things didn't play out exactly as Lauren and I had planned, our first Thanksgiving as a married couple will forever be a holiday to remember.

p.s. I wrote many moons ago about the amount of turkey that I had consumed at Army dining facilities. Since then, I've been served surprisingly little turkey, much to my chagrin and/or relief. That said, Lauren and I definitely ate the hell outta some turkey on Tgiving. And then on Friday, when I had a few more hours free, we got lunch at Boston Market, split an 8 oz turkey plate with stuffing and mashed potatoes, and pretended that we were eating leftovers.


Mrs. Exnicios said...

One thing that made Thanksgiving great for me (besides the aforementioned seeing my husband, babies and puppies) was being with people who "got" what we're going through, who have been there before and who have survived. I think being away from that, I lose perspective and it feels like I'm out here on my own. Now I am not proposing moving to Fort Bragg while Andrew is gone, just saying its nice to be with people who "get it".

Paul said...

Happy Thanksgiving Sir, from some CA operators currently in Djibouti, and Wishing that we were going to Afghanistan with you.
We have experienced the company of some reclassed CA Officers and Soldiers here, and I wish you well.
Anyone with the wit and positive outlook you posess will be a good thing where you are going. Alas, we have not been so fortunate here.
But I am sure we will get another chance in a year or so.

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