Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Welcome Home!!!

WOW! Let me start off by saying how awesome it is being home. I can't believe how much I missed "normal" life and all that comes with it. I have to admit that it is still a little weird being back. I look at myself in civilian clothes and it feels like I'm dressing up for Halloween or something. Getting used to traffic, and just being in civilized world is definatly an experience.

The Shower of AffectionArriving in the United States after hours upon hours of flying was a great feeling. When we landed at Dallas Ft Worth Airport we received a welcoming that I would not of expected. First as our plane was taxiing from the runway to our gate the Dallas Fire Deparetment was out there and wanted to show their appreciation for the troops returning home. What they did was something amazing and unique. It is called the "Shower of Affection." They brought 2 fire trucks out there that shoot the jets of water out the front and sprayed towards each other creating this arch of water that our plane drove through. We were all amazed on the plane and it was an awesome show they put on! If anyone from the Dallas fire department happens to read this, I want to say thank you for that!!

Once we got to our gate and we got off the plane as we came out in to the airport there were a couple hundread people cheering for us with signs of appreciation! It was almost overwhelming! There were so many people and it sent tingles down my spine to hear the cheers as we walked by. There were many many vets there to shake our hands and say thank you. I couldn't believe it. It was awesome to have them there I must say. I wanted to thank them instead of them thanking me but they wouldn't have it. And there were just SO many of them. They had "welcome home" type of care packages and everything. People with lighters and cigarettes and food and water and cellphones for guys to call home. It was amazing. I didn't expect anything like that for our return home and it was wonderful!

I had about 6 hour layover before I could go home to Phoenix. I tried getting an earlier flight but they were all booked. I linked up with a guy from the 3rd ID that was going to Phoenix as well and we just chilled until our flight time. About an hour before our boarding time we ran in to this awesome man and woman and they invited us in to the First Class Lounge which was very nice of them. We sat in there and enjoyed the ammenities before we finally boarded our flight home. Once home, we both rented rentals cars and got amazing deals on them from the people working there. I rented a 07 Chevy Trailblazer and I'm loving it! :)

So far the past 3 days that I have been back have been truly amazing! I've had a great time and have had the opportunity to spent time with my family and some amazing people so far. Im absolutly loving it. One of my friends from Bragg and Iraq came to Vegas for a few days of his leave to visit some family, so I said screw it and made the 5 hour drive up here and currently I am in Las Vegas!!! My is this place amazing and a culture shock from what we just came from. We went down the strip last night and all the lights and people and energy was intense. Its crazy to think that just over a week ago I was walking through the streets of Baghdad, and now I'm walking down one of the most famous, high energy, amzing streets in the world. Its all still so crazy to me!

The Stratosphere in Las VegasWe ended up heading to the stratosphere which looks just like the seatle space needle and went to the top to ride the thrill rides up there. I'll include some pictures (i didn't take them) of the rides we rode in order of the ones I talk about. We did them late at night so just imagine some of these pictures at night with all the lights of Vegas and just the added fear of night! It was awesome and some of them definately scared me. The first one we rode was called the "Big Shot" which basically shoots you about 100 feet in the air and then immediately drops you down almost the same, giving you a good couple seconds of weightless, gut in mouth feeling! It then bounces up and down giving you similiar feelings, but not as intense as the first shot. What makes all these crazier is they are already on top of the stratosphere which is already I believe, 109 stroies high!! The second ride we did was called "Insanity" and it is just that. It has these arms that at the end of each seat two people, 5 arms total on the ride. Once everyone is in, the railing on the side of the structure goes down and this contraption roates off the side of the building suspending you high above Vegas. It then begins spinning and as it spins the arms move outward so that you are facing straight down at the ground 110 stories below spinning around. It was so scary yet so much fun! The thrid and final ride we went on was called "Xscream!" I thought this would be scarrier but it wasn't as bad as I though. Basically you get in this roller coaster looking thing and it shoots you off the side of the building on this short track and stops you rapidly creating the feeling like your flying off the side of the building. Me and my buddy got to sit in the very front seats so it was quite the experience and view. All three rides were awesome and I enjoyed them much. Again see below for the pictures.

The Big Shot

Well, I'll go ahead and wrap this up for now. I should be heading back to Phoenix tomorrow or the next day, but know that I am doing good. The only thing I don't like about being home is the fact that now I don't want to go back to Iraq. I don't like thinking like that, but its how I feel. I don't know if I can speak for other people on this, but this is how I looked at things. While over there, its not that I persay forgot about home and what its like, but I definatly held it in lesser of a reality than it is right now. The greatness of America and all that we have seemed so foreign to me, and in a way it allowed me to be able to do my job effectively. I had no problem going in to dangerous situations because it was if I felt that Iraq was all I had at that present time and the idea of not making it home was no all that horrible to me. If you've seen the HBO series "Band of Brothers" theres a part where this one LT says the best fighters are able to do what they do because "they realize that they are already dead" and thats what allows them to fight the way they do. I pretty much held that idea in my own head and it made me not fearful of the situations in which I was entering. But now, after being home, I see all of what I would be missing out on and I realize that I don't want to loose all that. I want to be able to come home to it all and enjoy it for many many more years of my life. I want that for everyone!

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Anonymous said...

Well said. I hope you continue to have a great time and that when you head back your perspective won't be as hard to bear as it is right now. You know you can use that same perspective to give even more purpose to what you are doing It seems to me you already hadthat purpose from all you have written while you have been there so far-- it's just maybe come into focus more?
I am really proud of you for being so honest and intrepid both in your work and in your writing. It's a pleasure to read. Again have fun and stay in the now...for now. Traveling mercies.

Haole Wahine said...

I've been trying to show you "about us TEXANS!" See, I do not lie. I'm so glad you got the Dallas welcome !

Now, my dear, just cause you're one of the good guys:

"And although we may do our best to avoid trouble, sometimes trouble insists on finding us. When that happens, warriors flip the switch and act decisively--ruthlessly if necessary--to preserve and defend the things they hold dear. And when the fight is over, they turn off the switch and continue to cherish the things they valued enough to defend. That's what makes them warriors. And that's what makes them the good guys."

--Michael D. Janich

Enjoy R&R, and here's to when you can come home for good and keep switch flipped off.

Gratitude and Prayers.

Times Eye said...

Its always better to bee home, i miss sri lanka too

Hawksdomain said...

YAY!! Thank you for sharing your experiences. The photo of the fire engines showering the plane was simply magnificent!

Hearing your descriptions of Vegas helps us civilians to not take for granted the things we have in our every day lives.

I am so glad you have made it home and are having such a wonderful time!


Lapdog Creations said...

Glad to hear you made it home safely... what about Charlie? Will he be following you soon?

Inger said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts- I've sent so many people to your blog for your insightful writing. (I first heard about it via the Phx paper in an article about you and Charlie!)
Glad you are home (Our weather is really cooperating, too - Can't beat AZ in the fall!!) and am humbly grateful for the work that you do. Godspeed.

David M said...

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 10/18/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

Anonymous said...

Have fun on your R&R leave! I think haole wahine's Janich quote is right on the mark. Don't worry about going back without your head in the game. You're a warrior who'll be able to "flip that switch" and know you're there to do things other non-warriors can't. Don't worry about it now, though...just concentrate on the joy of being home.

Anonymous said...

This Mesa girl is proud of you and hopes that you will enjoy the rest of your time at home.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you are having a wonderful time! Good to hear about the welcoming reception. Lots of folks care a great deal about our men and women working so very hard overseas. Thanks for being so honest. Our soldier decided not to come home on leave, but to visit another country, probably for the very reasons you have mentioned.
Safe travels.

Sparkel said...

Welcome home! I have enjoyed your blog, your an incredibly talented young man and very much appreciated. Enjoy what you can, while you can, and I have faith when the time comes you will carry on as you always do,
Thanks for everything. And corny as it sounds give Arizona a hug for me, I miss that state!

membrain said...

That welcome home picture from Dallas is awesome!! Thank you Texas. Vegas! I love it and I don't even gamble! I'm glad you're having a great time. I'm sorry that your worried about going back to Iraq, but I know from reading all of your posts that when you gat there you will be the same great Soldier that you've always been. Enjoy your leave. Thank you so much for your service to the country and the world from those of us who can not. God Bless.

Dianne said...

So glad you are "home" and enjoying your leave. My son voiced the same feelings about going back. It was so hard to watch him leave again. The morning I had to take him back to the airport (Houston to Dallas and onward) we both shed tears. I had promised I wouldn't cry but it was so hard not to. How fortunate to be home during this great weather after the summer in Baghdad. Enjoy yourself,you DESERVE IT. I SO appreciate your service. Thank goodness you received such a special welcome in Dallas, we Texans love our soldiers!!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing some of the details of your wonderful homecoming. It's great to know folks are taking the time to show the feelings of a grateful nation. I hope all our service men & women are getting receptions like yours. Since the MSM will not report this stuff, it's important that we learn about it from you.
You are very honest and mature to share your feelings about going back. And you are a professional; you'll be fine.
Also, I'm really jealous about your trip to Vegas. Now I just gotta take my wife.

Anonymous said...

Grinning here E.D. : D I've had the pleasure of being part of some of those Welcome Homes, and Dallas done it good! ENJOY ENJOY ENJOY !!! Welcome Back !

Infantry Dad said...

This first time reader is thankful for your service, and your safe return.
I have a son in the 2-23-4th Stryker. He doesn't write about the experience much, so it was nice to look back through your posts and get some up close insight.
Thanks so much!!!!!!!
Enjoy your time off.
I'll link to you from my blog.
God bless.

Wolf Lover Girl said...

Welcome home! I wish I had known you were coming in to Dallas, I would have loved to meet you at the airport. I got chills just reading the reception you received as you taxied in... awesome.

~ Wolf Lover Girl