I finally find time to relax, slowly closing my eyes, taking a minute to enjoy the refreshing breeze and ever evading sun. Suddenly, the ground rumbles from artillery rounds crashing violently to the earth, seemingly a short distance away, as well as long sporadically firing. I quickly glanced over at my friend, Bill Sanders, fishing on the deck, and sarcastically say, “Bill, this is good training; might as well get used to it where we are going.” Bill responds with a chuckle, “Yep, good times.” Fishing over by the artillery range is always fun. To me it’s what you do before you leave that resonates with you while in during difficult times on the tour. Now that we’ve concluded and finalize all the per- deployment phases, I find myself divulging in everything from fishing, playing basketball, taking all my dogs and eating like a champ. Spending quality time with family, that is where my focus is these last couple pre-deployment days.
During the week while getting lunch I ran into my commander, Captain Curt Roland. We had a brief but enlightening conversation. He gave me the direct end state of our new mission, “Remember Hardt, we’re not going over to just kill or capture terrorists, but also train Iraqi forces, so we can start handing over Provinces to the Iraqis.” This answer was in response to me saying that I just wanted to take out as many terrorists that I possibly could.
I sometimes can be ignorant and close-minded. I am proud to have a commander who has complete direction and can make rational decisions rather than an emotional decision. You don’t always get a chance to talk to the commander because he is busy, but when you do, you can see why he’s in charge. The man beams with confidence and determination, which directly affects and empowers the men who fight under him.
General George S. Patton had some good quotes about war that ring true at this time.
“No sane man is unafraid in battle, but discipline produces in him a form of vicarious courage.” The tour will challenge every man in different ways. We will all miss our families, friend’s daily luxuries, and most of all the purity of freedom. Let the long journey began.