Friday, October 12, 2007

Coming Home, Part Two

Lauren told me recently, "you're the most sentimental person I know." If you're one of the faithful few that have read my blog in its entirety, you're most likely to agree with her. I'm a sucker for milestones. I wrote about how it felt to be exactly one year away from getting out of the Army, and a fictitious account about coming home the day we were scheduled to, before being extended three months. A week after we returned on September 12, I described what it was like to be back. You can find it three entries below this one, under the Rush Limbaugh hootenanny.

Now it has been a month since I've returned to the states, but this week I've come back to my actual home. At some point in Baqubah I developed a hernia and waited until I made it back to Ft. Lewis to have it properly diagnosed and treated. I went into surgery last week and am recovering just fine. It still hurts to laugh (which is bad news for someone who giggles at their own jokes.) They gave me two weeks for recovery and I decided to take that in my hometown. Far away from a military base, the question arises with ferocious intensity: what does it feel like to be back? My usual short answer is, "it's nice to have a warm bed again." But that's not quite how it is. It almost feels like it gets harder, not easier.

Last week I was invited to a dinner hosted by Lauren's mother. Joining us would be Lauren's sister, her cousin who I had already met, another cousin I hadn't, and her fiancé. I retained my 'quiet with a few clever puns' persona and as such, didn't contribute much to the conversation. It felt like I had nothing of relevance to say about the topics that came up. My grasp of news and politics was more than a year old; only the biggest stories made their way across the ocean. By taking part in the biggest thing happening in our culture, I sacrificed being in the culture itself. I refused to be that guy who starts off every sentence with "this one time in Iraq..." But my options are slim. I could recall stories of my trip to Europe in April, but then it would be, "Dude, this one time in Amsterdam." There's only so many times you can regale people with stories about aggressive transvestite prostitutes.

With my Texan accent sticking out like a Dutch hooker's crotch, it was only a matter of time before Lauren's cousin asked where I was from. I told her I had lived in north Texas most of my life and went back to poking around the sausage in my spaghetti. Lauren's mother then gave an updated biography, saying I had just gotten back from Iraq and that I chronicled my deployment in a blog (wink!). After she asked what I wrote about, I launched into a tirade about applying personal experiences of the war to the larger aspect that isn't in the mainstream media. I must've looked silly, talking with urgency and saying more words in one minute than the whole evening prior. I realized the conundrum I was in. The subject I didn't want to come up was the only one I can apply myself to. An elephant in the room that only I could see.

After a month I'm still not quite comfortable with being in small, crowded and loud places like bars. My senses are more refined now. I'm a more attentive driver and I can see and hear things a lot differently. A club with a thousand different conversations used to be collective noise. Now I hear an endless amount of distinct voices and every note coming from the DJ. I'm agitated by people coming too close or brushing up against me like never before. I don't jump, twitch or moan when I hear an expected loud noise. You know the feeling you get when you narrowly avoid a car crash? That's what I get. I'm perfectly fine at first glance, but the blood drains from my face and my scalp tingles. I may or may not break into a sweat at this point. I don't recall many dreams while I was in Iraq, but now they flood my subconscious. In one I'm riding in a bus and hanging out the window. Another bus in the opposite lane passes by, and Jesse Williams is waving to me from inside. I wave back. Another has me on a routine patrol when I find half a body on the side of the road. It's Chevy. His face is twisted but recognizable. His lower half is gone, despite his body being intact when he died.

Despite the hardships we face alone, I feel incredibly lucky to have my family and friends here for me, who understand the best they can. It was fitting I started this entry with Lauren, wise and empathetic beyond her years. A month with these challenges seems minuscule when compared to the month of joy I shared with her.

For everyone else, the nature of this war prevents the public from a full grasp of understanding. In the wars of past generations, soldiers volunteered or were drafted by the millions. In the case of World War II, families endured rations and donated to the war effort. Almost every single American contributed to victory. In the case of Iraq and Afghanistan, the war is squeezed into a half hour of prime time television. In WWII, in Korea, in Vietnam, we were a country at war. Now we're a military at war, with less than 1% of the population in uniform. Unless you have a friend or family member in the military, it's a separate reality. In airports and in living rooms, you can see for yourself the effect in the eyes of a soldier at war for fifteen months at a time, hidden behind a smile that conceals a secret: you'll never quite understand what we did there.

Like Atlas, we carry the immense burden of the country on our shoulders, waiting for the day seemingly long into the future when the American people say, that will do.



--Blue Girl said...

Wow. What a great post. I don't tear up often, but I can hardly read a word you write without my eyes stinging and feeling all hot. You post about things that bring back memories I thought I had stored away safely...

Jeff said...

I'm very glad to say that Alex wrote his latest post on my computer here in our house. I've been measuring him since he came home to visit, looking for some sign of how he's changed, how he's now "different." By outward appearance, he's still the same old outgoing kid (I have to remind myself sometimes that he's now a man), still ready with the fast quip or a hearty laugh at one of my corny jokes. But there is something subtly different about him. I can't quite put my finger on it. He has a more serious mien at times, a gravitas if you will. Maybe it's just that I haven't seen him hardly at all since he left for boot camp more than three years ago, marking the point in time after which we can no longer share experiences. No more father and son. After he left for Ft. Benning, it's been father and grown man. That's just the way parents' and childrens' lives must evolve. I would have much preferred that he have the experience of four years of university life under his belt at this point instead of the hellish things he's seen in Iraq. But that's our fate, Alex and I, and now we'll continue to move down our own divergent paths in life. I can never understand what Alex has seen, done and felt over the last couple of years. He'll be forever marked by his experiences; they will color his thoughts and actions for the rest of his life. But I'm certain that Alex will take the good and the bad that he's seen and make it all into something positive, a force of good for the world. He's my son, and I'm grateful beyond words to have him back safe and whole.

Blaark said...

Hey, only recently started reading you after you got a nod in another blog but I think you've got some compelling and important things to say and a rare ability to say it... One of these days I'm gonna read through from day one (I swear) just to catch up... I hope that this documentation survives over time-- despite the glut market for war memoirs I thing you should write a book... I also hope that your readjustment comes quickly and you begin to leave Iraq behind inside and out... It's a fucking shame that soldier's share the same behavioral trauma as parolees...

Storypainter said...

Alex, what you're going through right now is normal. It's always been this way for people coming back from war to a place where war's never been. I remember stories my mother told me about my uncle (a scout for Patton in WWII) and his nightmares, jumpiness, and moodiness. Vietnam vets will tell you the same thing. You're dealing with it right now with your blogging (which is beautifully and powerfully written), but make sure you take care of yourself. Find a counselor or someone with whom you can talk about all the personal and buried things that you can't discuss with civilians or even write about here. I think you'll be fine, but it'll take work. But you have a lotta people pulling for you. Well, maybe not the Dittoheads, but all us normal people!

Anonymous said...

Welcome back, take it easy and take care of yourself.

abstractjenn said...

Only people who have been there can truly understand. It sounds like you have patient and kind people around you - I think that's important. Keep writing, I think it helps. It also helps us to understand what people are going through upon their return.

Thanks for your service

Bruce said...

I've been reading you for sometime, without commenting. I was directed to your blog by a nationally syndicated blogger, who had written that yours was one of the few being written by soldiers who were telling the story of the occupation of Iraq in a factual and honest way. I have found that to be the truth. I have to tell you, in all honesty, that I'm much more grateful for your testimony than for your service in a war that continues to be a large factor in the destruction both of American democracy and of the nation's repute abroad. However, your blogging is strong testimony to the decency of even those who find themselves involved in a criminal war. Some day, I predict, your blogging will be documentary evidence in a work (perhaps composed by you, since you are such a good writer) of what actually transpired during the betrayal of American democracy in Iraq. Please take care of yourself; you are obviously somebody this country needs.

jon said...

New to your blog, Dude. Good writing. Or, at least I enjoyed it. Not so sure I agree with completely with a nation being at war, as opposed to a military, with regard to Vietnam and Korea. But you point well taken. It is certainly a more a military at war than a nation now. Which is, IMHO, anyway, both a tragedy and an embarrassment (or it should be)for our nation. I know, and served with, a ton of Viet Vets who felt the way you do with regard to the nation being less than interested in their role/burdens in the war. They may have had less cause to think that way than Iraq War Vets. But I think they/we had plenty of cause, just the same. In any event, I wish you luck coming to grips with the things i suspect you will be coming to grips with.

Anonymous said...

With my Texan accent sticking out like a Dutch hooker's crotch.

You’ve got a way with the visuals. LOL

Thanks for not saying your Texas twang stuck out like Dutch TV’s…whatever.

Enjoy the weather in Texas. Lot better than Ft. Lewis this time of the year.

Ethan said...


I don't know how large your audience is, but my guess is bigger and broader than you imagine. I'm one random reader - a world away in Silicon Valley, working on an Internet startup - and I've read every word you've written. I've also highly recommended your writing to many people I know - from my ex-Marine father to friends scattered in careers and locations around the States. I once came very close to joining up in exactly the way that you did, but ended up going a different path. I can relate very strongly to who you were then, while not being able to imagine going through what you've done since. My hat is off to you, both for your military service and your writing talent. You've done something pretty special with this blog, itself a true service to this country that pays far less attention to 'the biggest story of our times' and the men and women living (and dying) through it than we should. Keep up the good work, and please know that there are hundreds? thousands? of us out here who have been touched by all that you do.

Kate R said...

Alex the thing about you is you could write about a walk around a dull city block and make it unique and interesting.

Thank you for taking the time and sharing your life. I imagine eventually I'll be paying to read your stuff (books? some newspaper?) and I'll fork over the cash gladly.

Darin said...

I love reading your blog. I just wanted to stop by and say...

We're rooting for you.

Stay safe, keep keeping it real.

Best Regards,
Darin Codon
Branson Missouri


I've got nothing to do with this all and don't how did I land here, but the entry is very very human, so thanks for posting it.

sonnycollie said...

Hey, Alex,

No advice here, but just an idea: Keep up with your dreams. Write em down in the morning when they are fresh, not to analyze them but just to build up a record.

Dreams are a funny thing. They are not an authority or some kind of clear seeing, it appears to me, but the mind's way of improvising, of mocking up ways to make sense of your outer life.

I believe life is an incomprehensible experience in a lot of ways. Too much doesn't fit, too much isn't right, too many confusions and paradoxes present themselves. These things stick in your craw, unsettled, and there's no time to think them out and put them in a logical framework.

So the mind just tries things in dreams -- ways of presenting or symbolizing things, trying to tamp them down and stop them from nagging you.

Nothing in them is holy writ, but all that theatrical mental effort does give you ideas and approaches to consider, some of which are useful.

I have gotten some good insights from dreams, things that helped my life. Most of them, though, were scenarios I could never make sense of and so I let them go.

But they are worth attending to. A dream you write down today could be a golden key months or years later.

Good luck and welcome back.

Anonymous said...

Glad you're recovering from the hernia surgery and continuing to write. It will take time for the mind to unwind and work through the months of war. Sounds like those who love you are there for support and will lend a compassionate ear.
All the best to you, hope you keep up the writing.
Cathy B

The Minstrel Boy said...

alex, one of the best things i finally began to do for myself as i was re-entering "the world" was to simply start being nice to myself. crowds are still a problem for me. i'm always scanning. 40 years later, and i'm still scanning. it's not as obsessive and overt as it was. i also quit flinching at loud backfires, and the flinching was an improvement over dropping prone.

little pushes and nudges to your comfort zone are a good way to expand the boundries. try not to over reach though. that kind of stuff only made it worse for me.

i'm very glad that you're noticing and being aware. i wasted a lot of time where i was concentrating on pretending stuff was just fine and everything was okie-dokie . . .

i was intent on living the old boonie rat code of "fuck it, don't mean nothing, press on."

what i didn't realize what that code doesn't work out here.

Anonymous said...


For what it’s worth, here are several quotes and a comment. They may not apply to you at this time but might someday reckon in your feelings about your time in the Army.

“Anybody can become angry--that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way--that is not within everybody's power and is not easy.” Aristotle

“you must be angry
at the right man
at the right time
and for the right reason”

Odysseus – King of Ithaca – from the 1997 movie

It aint me, it aint me; I aint no fortunate one, no…

I am a combat veteran who served as a draftee during the last stages of the Vietnam war. In hindsight I reckon the effects of war, anarchy and especially anger played a role in my eventual life choices and career.

I lead a quiet life.

One issue among Vietnam Veterans are REMF'S. President George W. Bush is a classic example. Many Vietnam vets were aware of this coward long before Carl chickenhawk Rove made his move to put the thimble rigger in office as our president. I was especially angry that this particular remf had the balls to seek political office and outright livid when he chose as his running mate the draft dodger Cheney. So I began creating web based cartoons to mock these chickenhawks. I began early, as early as 1998 producing simple cyber... bytes. to warn people – in the blogisphere - of the danger of electing neocon remf’s and chickenhawks. Later when Bush took office I produced a whole deficit dubya series of toons to illuminate Bush’s imminent failure. Most of them were done before the war began. My last cartoon was created just before the 2004 election.

I mention all this not to champion my art, ideas or prescience but to impress upon you the tenacity of anger and how, for some, it can come to be applied and eventually let go.

drive on,

Marc Forrest - tws

"There is a core of anger in the soul of almost every veteran, and we are justified in calling it bitterness, but the bitterness of one man is not the same thing as the bitterness of another. In one man it becomes a consuming flame that sears his soul and burns his body. In another it is barely traceable. It leads one man to outbursts of temper, another to social radicalism, and a third to excesses of conservatism."

- WW I veteran Willard Waller in 1944, anticipating the return of the troops from WW II

The Minstrel Boy said...

two books that helped me sort my own stuff out were

"with the old breed" by eugene sledge


"goodbye darkness" by william manchester

sledge wrote his memoir of pelileu and okinawa to help deal with his own demons

manchester wrote his years later for the same reasons.

and classics dude. socrates was a combat vet too, as were euripedes, sophocles and aristophanes.

and zenophon "anabasis" is a grunt level view of a war fought on the same ground you were on.

slag said...

all I can say is...Dude!

Your experience is simply unfathomable to me.

Keep writing about it, please.

aaron said...

then shrug

Anonymous said...

Hey Alex,

Great entry...again. This one kinda got to me. I thought this was your best entry to date.

Everything in it is so true, and written so well, (despite your error in paragraph one.)

*You can find it two entries below this one, under the Rush Limbaugh hootenanny.*

No big deal to me though, just wanted to get even. Hehe.

Anyway, keep it up man. You're the voice of our whole group, and we all appreciate what you're doing. Take care man...hope you get over your hernia quickly.

Long Time Friend,

Rickusm said...

Hey Alex--really appreciate your taking the time to continue to put down your thoughts/actions as IM sure it is not only therapeutic for you, but also for many others...

As a Gulf War vet, Bronze Star awardee (Big Red One) and father of a daughter in 3/2 BCST, I can't tell you how much I respect you for standing up and stating the plain truth, aside all of the crap that everyone else (i.e. Rush) wants to pile on. Keep holding your head high and don't ever, ever give up.
(Although I might respect you more if you decide NOT ro re-up...)
Take care and God Bless you're in my prayers every night!

MDH said...

Hey Alex,
It's weird. I don't even really know you, and I have never met you. I have a lot of thoughts about your blog going thru my head and I don't know which one to put down first. I know I tell you a lot, but every time I read your blogs I am brimming with enthusiasm and pride.

I just know this: that from the moment I started reading your blogs, I knew that people were going to start paying attention all over, like the guy in Silicon Valley, not just people here in north Texas; and that one day these testaments and what you have to say will be in a documentary, or in a memoir, something like that. You will be talked about, for your bravery, talent, wit, charm, and frankness. I am deeply moved by your blogs and everytime I read them I want to run to the hills to tell people about them. You have an incredible talent. Remember that. And also remember, that anytime you find yourself confused, worried, or unsure...that indeed the universe is unfolding like it should...

Marissa H.

nick d said...

Hey Alex,

I want to say keep writing. You put into words what I imagine all my military friends and family wish they could tell me worlds' away.
It gives me the personal courage to fight for that one day, when our generation can tell you all that will do.

lutton said...

hey, man...

I only found your site re: the Rush Limbaugh craziness of the past couple weeks.

The first hand accounts - regardless of politics - are something people are missing. Thank you for writing them, and for writing about coming home.

A parade and the 'hearty hand clasp' are not enough. As you said, you (and everyone in uniform) have carried a burden so that others do not have to.

Good luck--enjoy some rest; I'll be watching for more updates when they're ready...

Thank you, and thank you for sharing...

Philadelphia, PA

someTV said...


A couple of days ago I was chatting with my neighbor across the street. He's been in the National Guard almost thirty years. At fifty he spent 12 months in the Sunni triangle. He's been back I think for almost a year, and he admitted that the conversation he was having with me (and my 12 and ten year old daughters) about the war was one of the first. I appreciate the writing you do and find it to be of a very high quality. Thank you very much.

american girl in italy said...

Hi Dude - I just don't know what to say. I read your post this morning, and Brian's last night ( I don't understand why more is not done to help all of our vets with PTSD.

All these Republicans that say Dems are unsupportive of the troops, but yet this administration used our soldiers for THIS war, and left them with deep emotional scars.

You should all have the best therapists, the best lawyers (like in the case of Brian, to help with his daughter) the best alcohol and drug counselors, the best healthcare, counseling on how to return to your life, the best of everything! I just don't get it.

You should never feel you have to face your hardships alone. You are not alone. And you should be able to share your feelings. You can be the guy that says, "This one time, in Iraq.." (as long as it doesn't involve a flute. hahah)

There will always be someone who will listen, and someone who cares. It may not always feel like it, but there are many, many who care, and who will be there if you need them. You are right, I will never know what you had to endure, and I am sure I wouldn't have survived it. But you did. You came home. So, now you have to figure out how to fit in your home again. But I believe you will.

Sorry, I don't know what to say, but I wanted to say something.... After reading yours and Brian's posts, I am just so sad.

Thank you for your truly unselfish act of duty. And welcome home.

Al Swearengen said...

Less than can't be said often enough. Hope you're getting well rested Dude.

The comments are so thoughtfull. You're bringing it out of people.

judy said...

So glad your home safe. My oldest brother came home from vietnam at 18 and the first thing he did was get smart with our mother well she took a cast iron skillet after him. lol He has never been the same alot of alcohol helped him to forget and to forget his homecoming, [if u could call it a homecoming]. Its very hard to get back to civilian life and thinking. I think u will be fine if u apply God in your life Jesus can and will help u> In everything u do. Dont ever forget that. Through the years my mother {since died Jan 05} and her children {11} have sent boxes of supplies to unfortunate soldiers do u know of any I need addresses. thank you for your help. Most of all THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE SO I AND EVERYONE ELSE CAN ENJOY THE FREEDOMS THIS COUNTRY GIVES US. WITHOUT YOU WE COULDNT DO IT. AND I THINK THE ONES WHO PROTEST YOU OR GIVE U S--T DOESNT DESEREVE THE FREEDOMS !THEY WANT THIS COUNTRY DIVIDED THEN DIVIDE IT NO MORE COCKTAILS IN THEIR HOTTUBS AFTER WORK, NO MORE FAST FOOD EAT WHEN U WANT TO , NO MORE WORK AND GO TO SCHOOL WHERE U WANT TO, NO MORE SHOPPING WHEN AND WHERE U WANT TO, NO MORE MEDICAL ATTENTION EVER, ETC THE LIST IS ENDLESS OF WHAT WE TAKE FOR GRANTED. THANK U

judy said...

Just wanted to give you a name of a book you should read in your spare time-it's so worth it. Every young man should read it,and every parent of a Prodigol son. It is called "

Also, I was injured at work 15 years ago [for a girl who left home and married at the age of 14 and very responsible worked and put self through school and college] this was devastating to me. QUIT WORKING!!!!!! What the hell is this??? You and your buddies will have to find your way and your other talents {if disabled} it wont be easy and to those of them who say it will be better in a year, well; they are WRONG!!!!!!!!!!! Its day by day and u will have to walk with Jesus to get there!!!. I know The 440 electrical component that exploded created me to be the ground. not fun. But slowly, [remember this slowly] you will recover maybe not fully but you sound so very strong I believe u will do good especially in your wirtings. Keep it up there are so many u can help!!!!!!!!!!!! After Sept 11 I bought every book I could on our soldiers in Afghanistan. The 7 Navy Seals who were the first to touch the ground 7 days after Sept 11. These are MUST READS!!! I have drove my family nuts about keeping them posted everyday they get frustrated, oh well too bad its reality I would tell them, do u enjoy your freedoms? then get involved at least listen to the news and try and help a soldier or his/her family in need and quit bitchin!!!.

Also wanted to say: read EZEKIEL 38 & 39 this is where the weapons of mass destruction are-in the Syrian desert they are there and will be unburied after Iran strikes Isreal. Hezbolla will get them. watch and see. take care I have a feeling you will go far with your writings and strong shoulders and helping former soldiers. thank u again.

Anonymous said...

Alex, I read about you in the DMN this morning. Awesome writing, Dude! You could seriously turn this blog into a book. You have the skill of observation and explaining what it all means. It's a gift that you should use when you consider your post-army career. Don't wait to try to publish it. Go after it while you still feel close to your topic. If you wait, you might never publish and I'm sure your toenails will turn black and all fall off or something like what happens when you don't pass along a chain letter.
Kim Martin
p.s. I have a master's in journalism. I know you spent the last four years in the Army, but you've been learning to write as well as any master's level student at a university. What most college kids lack is a story to tell. You have your story. Now go out there and get paid for telling it.

Mr. Warmth said...

I served in Vietnam in 64/65, had no where near the experiences you encountered, but I still would like to offer a few tips.

Time will help ease the awkwardness you are feeling now.

When you can, try to speak frankly and often with your father. You hit the jackpot to have a father like that and you should take advantage of your relationship.

Post on your blog when you feel up to it. It is a wonderful way to vent.

Best of luck to you. You have a spectacular future ahead of you.

Erik said...

Alex, Your posts always leave me wanting to know more or what happens next. The Minstrel Boy mentioned Eugene Sledge. He was heavily quoted in Ken Burn's "The War" series on PBS. I think that in reading his book you would find a kindred spirit. I haven't read the particular book he mentioned by Manchester but he is an excellen author as well. I will put that one on my list of books to look for.

Ronn said...

Congratulations on making it back in one piece. When I started speaking out against the war, I had all my old battle buddies saying that they agreed with everything I said. Something about being in the military, we all start to think alike after a while (well, those of us who aren't careerists). There are many of us who aren't antiwar so much as we are anti-Iraq war. Hopefully one day Americans will stop using "Support the Troops" as a means of supporting the war.

I'm glad your blog stayed while others went down. I'm one of those who monitors soldiers speaking out quite frequently and thoroughly enjoyed your west-coast style of writing.

Good luck in life and take care. There's more than a few of us who still have uphill battles to face.

SGT Ronn Cantu

Andrew Horne said...

Damn you have been posting while you were on active duty? With what you have been writing that takes a lot of courage. Good Luck.

Semper Fi,

Last Angry Man said...

I only recently discovered your Blog. Powerful stuff, brings back some memories.

You have friends here, people who understand. Let us know if you're having difficulties. I converted my military experiences into a job working with Veterans, and I have a bit of a clue about these things - since I share them.

Dude, you are not alone.

Lemme know.

Hallmarks of PTSD

Difficulty sleeping.
Waken abruptly with formless dreams that are disturbing.
Don't like being touched.
well-defined sense of personal space.
Abrupt rage.
Generalized anger-management issues.
Startle easily.
Isolating yourself.
Difficulty with personal relations.

exmearden said...

Alex. You're an absolutely excellent writer. These are most difficult times. You're right - that will do.

Ask Lauren if she knows who I am ...;)

I surely miss her sweet face, and I'd love to hear from her. We all have a date ahead - July 10, 2008 - to celebrate a mutual birthday (and my 50th).

Please keep writing.

-exmearden, a fellow OOIBC blogrollist.

I.M. Small said...


How many are the dead?
Spokespeople dance it
Jiglike when asked, nor read
Reports from Lancet.

"Support the troops" as draped
Come two or three
Coffins home as escaped
Eye of TV,

While "over there" (I mean
To say Iraq)
Of coverage there´s been
An awesome lack!

Casualties, mayhem, dead
Blithely ignored
By each domestic head
Dreamy and bored.

Taxpayers, what a good
Return on cash,
Democracy that stood
Reduced to ash,

And enmity stirred up
Not just among
"Insurgency" (which group
Seems growing strong)

But common foes--once friends--
Around the world,
Nor any credence lends
Our dreams imperiled.

Dreams and schemes we have boasted,
Tried to chance it
On one huge gamble; coasted
Except for Lancet.

mike said...

A wonderful post to say the are right..most people in america don't know at all what is going on over there as well as myself as i was in viet nam in the late 60s and i don't think that anybody who didn't serve there knew what was really going on over there either...all things aside though, i can relate and i want to thank you for serving there and welcome you home....

Sammy said...

Keep writing.
Please, keep writing.

SM said...


I found your blog late last night and read it until I was falling asleep in front of the computer and finished it today during my lunchbreak. How easily your expirience could have been mine is scary. I too contemplated the military right out of highschool, several of my close friends actually enlisted. I am a few years older than you and they all had similar experiences to yours... up to going over to Iraq. Every single one of them was fed up and out of the military by 2000.

I am selfishly glad that niether me, nor any of my close friends had to expirience war. I mourn every time that I learn of new american casualties. I am saddened my the uncounted number of Iraqis that have had their lives shattered by this war. History will not be kind to the leaders that started this coflict.

Keep writing.

Keep living.

Anonymous said...

Rest easy, Dude…

Victory is just around the corner. As we speak, elite units of Iraqi special forces are stepping up so more of our guys can step down. Here’s one special squad in action near the completion of their training. Stay the course.

Mary said...

Very valuable blog you have here. Gives so much insight. I'm so glad to have found it. My son will be home next month. On his 2 wk leave from Baghdad he told me he was having a hard time relating to anyone who wasn't in the military.

Cutter Brandenburg said...

Through time , History shows us that Man's in Humanity to Man continue's. It is always pressed by some Govt. Country or some other being that assumes the responsibility and is usually quite proud of that fact.War is an atrocity in the name itslf.It takes real heros like Alex to come home and tell the truth . A Patriot who has found that in the time it takes to become a man , one see's that some dreams that some have always had are truly nightmares. I like all fathers wish only the best for all sons and daughters to come. But I also know that may not be the case. Alex has placed before us his point of view and stands behind it. That's exactly what real heros do. They stand behind what they say, see, and do. I count myself fortunate at my age to know such men and women. For there is hope for us all as long as we have this type of hero.

bobeckel said...

I am a 70 year old peace time vet.
Every day I live in shame for the war crimes my government is committing against my young comrades in arms. I love what my country was between Vietnam and now, but I apologize that I have not been able to do more to get you guys home unharmed.
I promise you all that I will not stop raising hell in letters to the editor, letters to Congress, political donations of a good portion of my retirement income, and any other ways to fight back. You guys deserve better!
If I thought anyone was listening I would resort to prayer for your safety.
Robert D Eckel
1775 Meadow Rd.
Southampton, PA 18966
(215) 355-5925

Anonymous said...

"When a warrior fights not for himself, but for his brothers, when his most passionately sought goal is neither glory nor his own life's preservation, but to spend his substance for them, his comrades, not to abandon them, not to prove unworthy of them, then his heart truly has achieved contempt for death, and with that he transcends himself and his actions touch the sublime. This is why a true warrior cannot speak of battle, save to his brothers who have been there with him. This truth is too holy, to sacred, for words. I myself would not presume to give it speech, save here now, with you."

From another who has seen the elephant, if you decide to hang up your boots, that will do.

Fantastic blog and hang in there, it gets easier...