Running and remembering in Iraq

The rain came yesterday. Today it was in the mid-sixties. No coat necessary. We just walked in the sunlight and enjoyed the moderate temperatures and favorable winds.

My dad says: “Make the days count; don’t count the days.” It’s a good saying, but with only a couple of weeks left in the mission I believe I can both count the days and make them count. Yesterday I welcomed my counterpart and began a process  we call the “Right Seat/Left Seat Ride.” It’s kind of like, “I’ll do it; you watch. Then I’ll do it; you help. Then, you do it and I’ll help. Then you do it.”

I’ve been thinking of things I’ve not thought of for months. I’m remembering all of the people with whom I have worked, who’ve come in and out of my life: sailors,  Marines, airmen, Department of State officials, diplomats and Iraqi nationals. These days before redeployment are an opportune time for reflection.

I decided that participating in our unit’s 7.35-mile “Farewell Run” would be another good way to reflect, while on the move. The last time I ran that kind of distance was with Headquarters Company, 4-7 Infantry, in 1991. But I went anyway, with support from three other soldiers. We made a long loop around part of Victory Base. While I didn’t break any records, I didn’t do too badly, finishing in 1 hour, 5 minutes.

At a farewell for our Command Sergeant Major, I offered the prayer and was the only officer present, which meant I was pretty nervous about my uniform appearance,  haircut and military bearing! I recognized one soldier there I’d served with in 2004 with the First Infantry Division (the Big Red One). At dinner, we sat together and shared memories from our former time of service. It was a nice time, and then his group leader announced that they had to leave to catch their flight out. I’d turned to say something to someone behind me, and when I turned back the guy I was talking to was gone. No goodbyes, no promises to stay in touch, he was just gone, back to his duty. Yet it was still a good time of renewing our service together.

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