Four years ago, disaster struck the United States in the form of fourhijacked planes. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, President Bush acted militarily. Myfather is in the Army and was called to active duty to aid his country.
My dad is in the110th Maintenance Company and his entire company was placed on active duty soon after September 11.This meant that they had to have everything packed and be ready to ship out at a moment’snotice. After a few weeks of active duty, his commander told him they were on the list to beshipped overseas.
Two years after his activation, Dad had my brother and me come to hishouse where he explained that he would be leaving in a few weeks to go to Fort Drum, New York toprepare for the war. I had this incredible feeling that my world was being turned upside down, likeI had just been hit with a ton of bricks.
After the shock wore off, anger set in. I wasangry that because of a bunch of terrorists, I had to deal with the military taking my father sofar away for an extended period of time. The final emotion I still have is fear. I fear that theman I said good-bye to will not be the same one that I welcome home. I fear that the unthinkablemay happen and he may never return. I fear the information that I hear on the news, and I fear thethings that I am not told about even more.
Soon we found out when he would fly to Fort Drumto prepare for what was to come. Preparations included accounting for supplies and weapons,receiving the mandatory shots and immunizations, and getting briefed on the mission. There was atelevised departure ceremony to show the Army’s gratitude to the soldiers for bravely servingtheir country, and to thank the families for sacrificing their loved ones so that we could make theworld a better place. There were a lot of media, and reporters talked to the soldiers about theirfears, hopes and expectations. This was when I said good-bye, and then my dad flew to Fort Drum. Ihave not seen him since that day.
This is my dad’s eleventh month of active duty inIraq. The time difference between Iraq and Massachusetts is eight hours, which makes phone callstricky. When I am sleeping, he is waking up to start a new day. It takes a letter three to fourweeks to get there and vice versa. By the time he receives my letter and responds, I can’teven remember what I wrote, which makes it hard to understand his letter. In most of his letters,he writes about his daily life with the average temperature at 145()(), no electricity, and using halfa wooden barrel for a bathroom as the sand blows so hard it is constantly like a storm. He alsotells me where he has been and some of the things he has done. He can’t tell me where he iscurrently or what missions he will be involved with (in case the letter were ever intercepted) sothe little he is permitted to tell me is from the past.
I am very proud of my father forbeing the great man he is and helping to change the world. I miss him and am counting the daysuntil he returns back to my open arms.
Editor’s Note: The 110th Maintenance Companywas overseas for 14 months but returned home a while ago.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.