So, my Uncle Johnny died last month of a sudden heart attack in his sleep. He was my dad’s only brother. I looked up to him in many ways. He was more than an uncle to me, he was a big brother to me. I feel like he has always been there in my life and is one of the main reasons why I joined the Army and requested the 101st Airborne (AASLT) Division. We are having his memorial ceremony on Saturday the 19th, and I have been asked by my Aunt to say a few words over the ceremony and to present his flag to my cousin. I am very honored to be asked to undertake such a task, however it has not been easy. See Uncle Johnny was not only an uncle and a big brother figure in my life he was also a brother-in-arms. He was deployed during Desert Storm and Desert Shield. He is the only other person in my family, that I know of, that has experienced ground combat as I did. This puts us in a unique relationship. We were able to talk to each other about things that so many others have no ability to understand or talk about. He was cremated so we are going to have somewhat of a different type of service for him, as he wanted. We are still going to do a 21-gun salute and have TAPS played, as he deserves it and we believe he would have wanted it. I just hope that I do him justice and come up with the right words to say to remember someone who signed on the dotted line and meant so much to so many.
As you well know by now, I was in the Army. I served in the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky in June of 2003. More specifically I was with the 1-320th Field artillery (FA) assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team (BCT). When you join the Army you request or are assigned a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) that are identified by numbers and letters. My MOS was 92G otherwise known as Cook. I mean hey, I like to eat, feed people and cook so why not right. I mean how hard can it be? I’m thinking yeah we are at war in Iraq, but a cook should be an okay job. Well guess what Basic Training time comes and where do they send future Mr. cook? Fort Benning, Ga, home of the Infantry. I’m thinking this might be kind of cool, but oh shit this is the Infantry training base for the Army! I mean really was i just screwed by good old Uncle Sam already. Well no I wasn’t. It seems that the Army decided to train non combat MOSs, known as soft skills, at Ft. Benning for a bit and I was one of the lucky ones that got to enjoy Sand Hill! Just so we are clear, I absolutely hated and loved my time on Sand Hill at Ft. Benning. See I was 19 years old and as the saying goes, did not know my ass from a whole in the ground. Well Drill Sergeant Jackson showed me the difference in my ass and a whole in the ground rather quickly, I must say. After my days at Ft. Benning i progressed to Advanced Individual Training (AIT). This was cook school at Ft. Lee Virginia. I reported to Ft. Campbell and to my unit on November the 14th 2003; on December the 5th I was in Iraq! In late February I came home from my first deployment to Iraq. We left again in October of 2005 and returned in late 2006. I completed my enlistment in June of 2007 in order to come home and start a family with my wife who I married between deployments to the Sand Box. I will speak more about my time in Iraq on other posts. The Army taught a country boy from Tennessee how to be a man. It taught me further respect than my parents did, although they did a damn good job. The Army, for better or worse, shaped me into the person that I am today. I encourage anyone who wants to serve our great country to do so. The military will teach you things about yourself that you did not know you could learn. It will humble you and fill you with pride at the same time. I would not give those years back for anything in the world.