Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Update from Portland 24 July 2007

I arrived home at about 2345 (That is 11:45 PM) on 17 June, Fathers Day. I was greeted by most of my family in the state, and Mike Francis of the Oregonian was there to greet me as well. We all were tired from being keyed up and not having a place to relax all day, so the day is somewhat of a blur, but I do remember my wife coming out to greet me, still in here warm up suit as that did not cause her discomfort from her operation. I got home with most of the people at the armory, and had the Full Sail Ale that Mike provided to me when I stepped off the bus (Thanks Mike…).

There was a group that lined the road, all off their Harleys with American Flags standing at attention as we drove by, there must have been at least one hundred of them if not more. I was touched by their patriotism.

For the first couple of weeks I reconnected with some people I had not seen, family and neighbors and friends. That was a slow process, people want to give you your space, and they want to see you as well. Let me just say, I have the best neighbors I have ever had, and I cannot really imagine my neighborhood with nicer people. I could wax on about this, but it sounds a little too good when you write it down. One of our neighbors put it this way to me, I get six months credit for being gone, but after that no excuses, this of course is the same lady who told me that “Yeah you went to Afghanistan for a year and risked your life, but your wife gave her kidney up, and she is the real hero”. I have to say that Michele (ONE L) is right; my wife is some kind of wonderful. My wife and I enjoyed time off together, she was recovering from her donation, and I was spending time with her. That really is all that was important those first weeks.

I thought initially that I would end up working with the Oregon National Guard in a full time basis, but that did not work out, and I have been exploring various opportunities for about 3 weeks now. Change in life is good, and I believe that good things will come out of my new focus and direction. For those that do not know; I have about 10 years now active time in the Military and another 12 years as a Guardsman or Reservist. I don’t believe that I will be making the Military a larger part of my life again, and in fact I hope to reduce its impact upon my family to negligible in the next couple of years. That said some of the most rewarding moments in my life have been as a member of our Military.

Of interesting note is that many American born citizens I have talked with still do not differentiate between Afghanistan and Iraq. My short answer about Afghanistan is that we need to station an army division there, and plan to stabilize the region for the next 60 years. Look at Korea as a template for that. The Afghan people that I have met have been very hospitable, and very Muslim. I would never say that Muslims mean harm to Americans or any other population. I would say that they have a radical, criminal element in the area that practices a fanatical type of the Muslim religion; they have guns and are not afraid to use them. American citizens who are from the Middle East are of varying positions on the conflicts, but remember that they have families there, and they are here in the United States, so they value freedom, and they value their families safety as well. Some of the most emotional and grateful people I have met for service are people who originate from the Persian area.

A short list of events that have transpired since my return:

  • My wife has returned to work, she is very well and her recipient is doing very well.
  • One of my fellow soldiers from Shindand was killed in action, a very sad event, he will always be remembered.
  • A friend of mine that I have had forever has essentially chosen to terminate our friendship.
  • I met Mike Francis, who treated me to a dinner and beer, and listened to me ramble for a couple of hours. That was a pleasure.
  • I have gotten a couple hours in fishing with my Dad and Father in Law, always a good way to spend time.
  • My son talked me into helping him finance a new (Used) Car; I am keeping his old one, as it was in great condition to begin with.
  • I am about 2/3rds of the way towards starting my own business or getting a good job in my industry, which makes me happy.

In short, overall, life is great, I am home, my family is safe, and the future looks bright.


Mike said...

Hey, the pleasure was mine. Look forward to more beers in the future.

pete petersen said...

So, Keith, it's my pleasure to have the benefit of your written musings on life again. Thanks for writing; I certainly enjoy reading your notes.

I hope your new business ventures go well. You know I have practically based empathy for the small business person but, even if you wind up as a cog gear for a giant multi-national, I wish you well. And, I sincerely believe in you and your prospects for success.

The permanent support of an armed resistance in Afghanistan is a subject about which I'd need some convincing to come around to your point of view. I certainly hope the demise of the long friendship had at its base something far more substantive.

Dianne and I, too, have wanted to give you some space. I know Dianne has left a couple of messages for your beautiful bride and we'll continue to just check in from time to time until it seems like there are a couple of hours to free up when we can sit and chat.

I hope you continue to write about your experiences; you've an enjoyable written voice. Best to you and all; hope to seen you before long. Pete

Colleen said...

I have read and enjoyed your comments and perspective on all of the above. Dan and I are thrilled to have you back home with your wife...and selfishly...with your neighbors! ;O Thanks for sharing with all. Looking forward to a great summer and memories to follow.
...Your neighbors...Colleen & Dan

Jeff said...

I didn't terminate anything. I just figure if you'd rather go fishing with Charlie than camping with us, then it's not worth picking up the phone anymore.

You mentioned that you never hear from some of your old friends and yet I never hear about you inviting any of them to anything besides some 'conquering hero' party that your "best neighbors in the world" are throwing.

It's a two way street....

M. Simon said...

Here is a song for our boys and girls in the military:

I Wanna Go Home

The author has given permission to those currently serving in the military who buy the song to share it with nine of their best buddies, wives, husbands, parents, or children.

If you like it, pass it on.