Thursday, August 16, 2007

Return

Glancing out the window of the Lufthansa flight I was taken aback by all the green I saw, after months in the desert everything seemed so alive with color from my view headed into Dulles Airport. I sat back and thought about my whole experience and how in an hour or so I would be joining my family again and heading north back to Maryland.

The moments leading up to this were still fresh in my mind of helo and C-130 flights to get me out of Iraq to Kuwait and to the big staging camp of "Liberty" at Ali Al Salem air base in Kuwait. I would be here a few days before putting on civilian clothes and boarding a commercial flight back to the U.S.A.

I turned in my weapon and ammo in Kuwait and felt odd, for so many months I always had a pistol with me wherever I went, no flack jacket or helmet here either. I walk around thinking I am missing something as all of those things were such a part of everyday life in Iraq. I noticed a lot of the other services walk around this base in PT (Physical Training) gear consisting of shorts and a tee shirt, The Marines always wear their uniform making them easy to spot in the crowds. This whole place seems odd to me, it is a large area of approx 200 12 to 16 man tents, this is a transit area for people heading into Iraq and Afghanistan as well as those headed back to the states. You will see the inhabitants of the tents change literally on an hourly basis. There is a McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut with folks always lined up at them...maybe I am just an old guy but I continued to eat at the Govt facility.

At the designated time I change into my civilian clothes and make my way with pack on my back to the manifesting area for the bus to Kuwait International Airport. I notice my clothes are very loose, I would guess I lost about 10 to 15 pounds in the months I spent in Iraq, One more reminder of where I have been. We ride out into the night and I gaze at the desert landscape of Kuwait and have trouble thinking this is all ending soon, I see signs of western civilization, neon lights, cars on the freeway and into the hustle and mass of people at the airport, my mind trying to grasp the changes...36 hours ago I was in Fallujah...now I am in civilian clothes and heading to commercial airplane. A quick stop in Germany and now back to my seat on final approach to Dulles airport in Virginia. I think back to when I used to ask in my interviews for people to describe their Iraq and combat experience, I now struggle to answer that question myself as I know I will be asked.

The journey reaches its high point when I exit the international arrivals and see the big smile of my daughter..... I am home

7 comments:

Ed said...

Mike, welcome back! Thanks for your insight-giving writing, your peeks at what's going on, and getting the Col. to write as well.

I was planning to find myself aboard the History Division briefly beginning of the month; just realized that they moved Modern Day Marine back into Oct!

One last thought: I'd really love to co-sponsor a contest that urged talented students to tell a good story using new web interactive media--a story of the recent history you've been covering. If you find yourself having tea or beer with the right person...
Best of luck back in the airplane bending bus...
Ed
(Open History Project)

David M said...

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 08/17/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

MRhé said...

Welcome back! Thank you for your service. Great blog!

Mrs G said...

Welcome home. Thank you for your service. Now enjoy your family.

MATT said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DougBrad10 said...

Welcome home Mike, and thank you for your service. As I've said before, your blog has given me insight into what my son will face next month.

I look forward to further correspondence with you.

Doug

Mike Sears said...

Doug,

You can reach me at gunner.mike@hotmail.com if you have questions, I know right where CLB-8 will be as they will replace CLB-6 in Fullujah.

Thanks all it is good to be home.

The Gunner