August 2005 brought our first deployment into the war zone of Iraq. He deployed with b co 2/137 INF. They did warm up at Fort Sill and Fort Irwin. He left the USA October 31, 2005. (At least, that is how I remember it. Allen accuses me of having a sympathetic TBI, kind of like sympathy weight gain men get with their wives pregnancy!) During the first part of this deployment, Allen worked at the joint visitor's bureau on Camp Victory. I used to tease him that he had it too easy there. He literally called me several times a day. Sometimes, it was to the point that I had to get off the phone in order to get things done!!
The second part of the deployment wasn't like that. He left the JVB to do base security. His team was responsible for securing a portion of the perimeter of Camp Victory. This also was not too bad since he really stayed on the Victory complex most of the time. He had easy access to phones and internet so communication was pretty easy. Looking back now, this first deployment was a walk in the park.
Towards the end of this deployment, Allen called one day and said that he had something that he wanted to talk to me about. He went on to say that they had put out at formation that another unit was looking for volunteers to do a turn around mission. There was another unit from Kansas that was deploying to Iraq and were short several men. The command had put it out that if any of our guys were interested to let them know.
So, we talked about it. I really felt that it was his decision. Don't get me wrong. I would have been irate had he not asked me first. However, he was the one who was soon to be coming home to a civilian job he really wasn't very happy at. He truly loves the military. When he puts on that uniform, he is a totally different person. I left the decision with him. If he felt our family would benefit from it and he truly felt that is what he wanted to do then I would support him.
We didn't really talk about it a whole lot again. I knew that he was probably going to give them his name and I really was okay with that. Once I get into some sort of a routine, I have found that I can do about anything. Routine is the key for me.
November of 2006 brought him home again. We had the welcome home ceremony and all the welcome home adjustments. I had always thought they were crazy when they told me there were coming home adjustments. Little did I know I was very wrong!! (That is for another post!)
When he came home from that deployment, he really didn't know whether or not he was going on the return deployment. He even went back to his civilian job because we didn't know. He made several calls a week and no one seemed to really know. Then, shortly before Christmas, he got that phone call. (Then I wasn't so sure I should have been so supportive.) It is totally different to let them go once they've come home, than from agreeing while they are away. The call said that he had to report January 2, 2007.
The holidays came and went much too quickly. We had only had him home for 60 days, the day he ended up leaving again. He had to do some paper work January 2 in Topeka. He didn't have to leave until January 10.
This deployment he would be deploying with the 731st medium truck company. We didn't even know where they were out of when he left! We knew from Kansas, but not exactly sure what part of Kansas. That was hard because we knew no one from this unit. His mission this time was convoy security. He did end up having six other guys from the 2/137th go with him. The Magnificent Seven.
During this deployment, our communication was often few and far between. He was out on missions a lot of the time. Downtime was spent sleeping, working on trucks, waiting in phone lines, at the gym or at the range relieving stress. Sometimes it was really hard, but I also had confidence in the Army. I knew that if something happened to him I would be notified very quickly. So, I really didn't worry too much. It also made the time we did get more special. I learned what to tell him about and what could wait until he came home. (I kept a journal of things so that I wouldn't forget important things that I didn't tell him at the time they were happening.) I knew that if something happened to him because he was worrying about something here, I would never forgive myself. I also knew that there were some things that he needed to know about even if he might worry. For example, our youngest son was hospitalized twice while he was deployed.
This second Iraq deployment ended November 25, 2007, the day I met him at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
I learned a lot about myself during these deployments. Probably more than I ever thought I would. I learned even more about myself in the year since his injury. That is one for another post that is able to stand all on it's own though.