Hail And Farewell

Posted: October 13, 2014 in General
Tags: , , ,

This is a pretty heavy week for me.  21 years after enlisting in the Army I will be retiring.  My ceremony is this Wednesday and I will have a small circle of family with me and as many of my co-workers who are available to share the moment with.  My wife, kids and parents have never been to a ceremony that I have been a part of and I am super excited that they will get to be a part of my very last one.  I will still technically be on active duty until December 31st, but for all intents and purposes October 18th will begin my new life.

The military is steeped in tradition and the retirement ceremony is the last send-off of someone who is culminating one career and ready to move on to the next one.  I am fortunate that the organization I currently work for allows us to be recognized individually for our retirements.  This is not so for most of the rest of the Army.  Generally, they do a few retirees at one time so as to maximize the amount of troops that can show up for them.  I remember standing in several formations for retirement ceremonies during my lower enlisted careers for people I did not know, we just happened to be the ceremony company at the time.  While each retiree got our brightest spit-shines, stiffly starched uniforms, and perfectly clean and serviceable kit, it always felt a bit impersonal to me that someone who has put in that much time was not able to share it in the same way I will get to this week.

I have had plenty of time to reflect during my trips between my old home and new one.  Four and a half hours in a car allows for plenty of time for the mind to wander.  As sad as this is for me to bring this chapter to a close, I have to say it has been one awesome ride and I could not ask for a better place to close out my career than where I am right now.  When I started this journey two decades ago I never thought that I would stay in this long, nor did I ever believe I would be able to work where I do and do the things I have done.  I began with the idea of simply making something of myself and getting off the rocky path that I was heading down.  I never dreamed that rocky path would lead me where I was and that I would get to walk it with the best the Army has to offer.

I have made many friends over the years.  Some have drifted away naturally as they left the Army or went on to new duty locations.  Some I have had the privilege of working with for a very long time.  We have served together, worked together, lost comrades together and helped patch each other up in more ways than one over the years.  I have been fortunate to become awesome at my trade because I have been able to work with peers that made me better because they were better than everyone else.  The last 10 years have been spent working alongside true masters of their trade and this has very little to do with our ability to apply martial skills in combat.  That, is just a small part of the job.  I have been able to work with team mates that excel  so well at their own little slice of the pie.  They are innovators, creators and I have been blessed with extremely good fortune to be a part of that and add my own contributions to our successes  This is as close as I will ever come to a “tell-all” and it has nothing to do with the dirty details and secrets of the community.  It is simply about the men and women who have gotten the hard things done and will continue to well in to the future.  They deserve all the respect our country has to offer them and they certainly will have my eternal gratitude.

I have grown over the years, and not just at my waistline.  I have learned the difference between being a hot head and physically acting out, and, evaluating what is around me and responding appropriately.  I became a leader while being surrounded by leaders.  I learned to make decisions and live with the results, and I have learned that sometimes living with those results will be a daily struggle.  I have not grown my shallow pool of empathy but I have learned to simply accept; it may not be for me to understand what someone is going through, that does not mean that they are not going through something.

I have learned to care.  Often people have a media driven image of people in the Special Operations community as uncaring, wanton killers; this could not be further from the truth.  You train to be perfect and to adapt when the plan goes awry, as it always does, but each action has consequences and an infinite number of good or bad outcomes as it plays out.  Those things add up and if you do not care, you will not recognize when someone’s bucket is full and you surely will not recognize it when your own is overflowing and raining down on those around you.

The greatest thing I have learned is to appreciate what I have.  I have great parents who gave me a work ethic and appreciation for life that I was to grown in the Army.  I have a beautiful wife with whom I have shared the extreme ups and downs associated with a man in my chosen profession.  I have some awesome children who have turned out pretty well considering their dad has been part-time for most of their lives.  I have a wonderful new home that I will retire to, people I will stay friends with through the course of my life, men and women who have my undying respect and admiration for what they do on a daily basis and deeds will go relatively unknown.  I also have an open road in front of me to start out on my next adventure, most of which I will travel with those closest to me.

As I close out one volume I begin another.  This blog has served me well to navigate the last several years and I hope it continues as I start anew.  Until the next book begins.

MBW AR

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