Sunday, September 13, 2009

The ominous cloud that has been following us all year finally caught up to us, both literally and figuratively. The day we loaded our gear and jumped on a bus to report to Ft. Hood, the sky opened up and sent the gift of rain to the parched Texas landscape.

I can picture the war gods sitting up on their perch, laughing and giving each other high fives and planning their next prank. This whole mobilization feels like a prank; I am waiting for Ashton Kutcher and his film crew to pop out of a parked van. I know this is the real deal, but something still does not feel quite right. The only thing I can compare it to is going on vacation and not being able to get comfortable because you may have forgotten to lock the front door.

One thing I have noticed over the last few days is the transition from civilian to soldier that takes place anytime we train for a period of time longer than a weekend. Guys are starting to shave their heads and mustaches, focusing more on the art of soldiering than goofing off and playing video games in the barracks. Our minds are beginning to shift from our previous lifestyle, and the one weekend a month mindset, to the full time active duty military mindset; it truly is an interesting dynamic to be a part of.

I like to compare it to Clark Kent stepping into a phone booth and emerging as Superman. Ok, bullets do not bounce off our chest but at least some of my fears of the younger guys not having their head in the game are starting to fade. I did not see this type of transformation back in January when the entire battalion took part in a three week train up. I can only assume that the mindset did not change because of the duration of the training. The guys knew they were going home at the end of three weeks to be civilians again.

This time it is different, there is a sense of purpose. Most of us were reminded of what that purpose was when we caught glimpses of the 9/11 memorial ceremonies on the television in the chow hall. Here we were, one day after reporting for duty, being reminded of the events that took place eight years ago. This new found attitude has made most of us realize that we are only a few days into the mobilization and this is only the coin toss at a football game; we still have four quarter to go.

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