when war takes you away from Home

This topic was suggested by one of my comments.  Thanks, Archana!

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When a soldier deploys anywhere, other life goes on once they leave. Sometimes those people have their own problems. The Berlin Wall had come down, and it had taken the aerospace industry. My father was unemployed, and my mother was undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. My father was quite depressed because he could not find a job. So they kept a lot of it from me, so I didn’t understand the magnitude of the problem until, actually, years later.

But sometimes trying to protect someone has unintended consequences, especially to a soldier being deployed.

You see, we were in the middle of nowhere. We had a TV set in a tent where we could watch CNN, but mail was our only other communication with the world. And mail took two months — assuming it got to you. Right after I arrived at Riyahd, my mail simply … well, stopped.

Other soldiers had packages waiting on their bunks on the first day. I had all my grandparents, all my parents, plus a bunch of aunts and uncles, and nothing at all. So I had this vague, uneasy feeling that something was wrong.

But at home, if I got that feeling, I could pick up the phone. Or, at least for me, I’d have to use a pay phone. We didn’t have any phones in Desert Storm. So my only tie to the world was the mail, and the only thing I got were the bills.

One day, the first sergeant mentions — almost too casually — that one of the sergeants manning the rear detachment had gotten a phone call about me. Apparently, someone had called my parents and said I was AWOL.

Wait a minute? What? I was in a panic. Terrorists were calling my parents! We had been told to burn all our envelopes so that terrorists wouldn’t get hold of addresses and do exactly that. How had they gotten hold of the address? Had I done something? At the time, I was convinced I must have missed something, but I didn’t quite connect that I couldn’t have because I hadn’t gotten any mail.

So I wrote to my maternal grandparents and asked them if my parents had gotten a call about me being AWOL. They wrote back, and the mail slowly got it to me and they were most puzzled. No one had gotten any AWOL phone calls or anything like that. They also didn’t say much of anything really. These were the grandparents that were big letter writers, and they were strangely silent.

What was going on?!

Now, in case, you’re feeling frustrated because I haven’t told you exactly what all this means — well, that is is exactly the problem I was facing while I was deployed. I had all these little pieces of something, and I didn’t know what was going on. So wander on in on my entry for the letter I tomorrow to see what happened.

Next up will be “the day I got a red cross message,” so tune in, same military channel, same military time tomorrow.

6 thoughts on “when war takes you away from Home

  1. OMG! That must have been really really tough. The ‘not knowing’ part is most difficult. Looking forward to reading what happened next. Thank You Linda for taking up my suggestion and linking to my blog. Before the advent of cell phones my husband and I communicated by good old snail mail too (that was before we were married) or the occasional long distance phone call. Later, it was our means of staying connected with the rest of our family. Yes there were times when mail was delayed or lost and I can totally relate to what you felt especially as you were deployed in such a sensitive operational zone. After reading your blog, I get the feeling that the world over, the ‘soldierly’ life has many similar elements.


  2. When my son was deployed to Iraq I worried all the time, but I kept telling myself that he would be safe. Thank you for your service. You guys sacrifice so much. My husband is a retired marine and so was my father. I have a great appreciation for all that you do, including the sacrifices of your families!

    Take care!


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