Friday, April 01, 2005

March 31, 2005

My new best friend was born today. I have no idea what I ever did to deserve the angel that is my wife and the little boy that God created. My son was born today around 10:30AM. He was 8 pounds 5 ounces. I’m relieved to know that both my wife and son are healthy. Today was a good day. God blessed me and my buddies on two fronts today, one at home and one here in Iraq. He gave me the gift of having a son back home, and provided me and my friends protection from an IED over here.

I knew it was going to be an interesting day when I checked my email this morning before we went on a mission. In it my wife told me that our son was due any minute, and to remember what I did on March 31. I looked down at my watch and realized today was March 31. When I read that I would soon become a dad, I got that constricting feeling in my throat that usually leads to tears. In this case tears of joy at the thought of having a son, but I held back, not wanting my emotions to be seen by others. I wanted to climb a mountaintop and tell the world about my son. Since his inception I have loved him. I look forward to the day when I can meet him and hold him in my arms. He doesn’t know it yet, but his best friend is 7000 miles away on the other side of the world.

I also had the feeling that something was going to happen on our mission. I didn’t know what, just that it wouldn’t be an uneventful day. I hoped that it would be an eventful day, even if it meant contact with the enemy. I guess I wanted to be able to tell my son that on the day of his birth, we were in a fight against the bad guys. In reality, I should’ve wanted to be safe and sound in the confines or our FOB, but which story do you think my son would rather hear one day? Apologizing for not being there for his birth, I wanted to be able to tell him I was busy fighting like hell for something good. I told Thomas, my driver, what my wife had emailed me. He congratulated me, laughed out loud, and said with that knowing look in his eye, “It ought to be an interesting day,” “Yeah, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

We were going north to escort our CO to a council meeting. The mission is usually a boring one, with a long drive there and a long drive back, broken up by an hour or so of waiting and guarding the building in which the meeting is held. As we roll out the gates, my mind is on my wife and the boy in her womb. All I can think about is the pain that she may have to endure during the birth. I realize that she would rather me be concentrating on staying alert, so I say a little prayer asking God to look over them, and turn my attention to the mission and the gun that will look after me. God and guns, not a bad duo to have on your side.

We pull onto the Mad Max highway of chaos and turn north toward our destination. The speed of our humvee provides a nice breeze to combat the temperature that his risen, as I sit in my gunner’s seat atop the humvee. The 240B machine gun in front of me gives me comfort. It’s lubed and ready to go. I’d test fired it the day before and it felt good, much better than the .50cal that has been with me in the past.

The meeting itself was uneventful. I spent a lot of the time talking to some of the kids and giving them candy. There were two little girls in a mud house nearby who bashfully walked toward our humvee as I held up two little stuffed animals. They would only come half way, so I gave them to Thomas to get out and give to them. The animals brought a smile to their face and they ran back to their home proud of their new little toys. I didn’t know they had another little sister, which I regret now. I only had those two animals, and as she walked over and stood half way between her home and us, I could only smile and say I’m sorry. Man I felt helpless. I had nothing to give to her, not even any candy. I would rather face down enemy fire than have to look at her sad face, as she knew that she wasn’t going to get another animal like her sisters. Hopefully they will grow tired of them in a few days and let her have one. I learned to always have a reserve of things to give the kids.

So the meetings over and we start to head back, but not before we stop by a school across the street. We had some civil affairs guys with us, who talk to the school administrators about things they need. They’re responsible for giving the money needed to build things or buy supplies. We were there about a half hour before we started to head back.

We were speeding down the highway, doing about 70, weaving in and out of traffic, when I again started thinking about my wife and son, wondering if he had been born yet. When we’re wide open on the highway like that, there isn’t much for me to do other than make sure cars stay a good distance away from us. I’m sitting there deep in my thoughts, with the sound of the wind in my ears, focused on nothing in particular. BOOM! Hear we go, I say to myself as Thomas slams on the brakes, forcing me back against the turret, my ears ringing from the blast. “Assholes!”, Sgt.W yells, “where the hell are they, start scanning!” By then I’ve already thought of a worse term for whoever set this bomb off, and have already stood up and turned around before he told us to start scanning.

We’re in the rear vehicle, so I am facing toward our six, my back to the blast. I turned fast enough to see the small mushroom cloud rising from an exploded vehicle on the side of the road. An instant later my eyes are drawn toward a small dust cloud on our right, about 50 meters from the highway. “There’s a dust cloud on our right, I can see a man running!”, I yell down into the humvee. “Get on that sonofabitch!”, Sgt. W. yells! I can just see the man’s head, as he runs around to the other side of a sand berm. Dammit, there’s rows and rows of berms of varying height, giving him plenty of places to hide. “LETS GO LETS GO LETS GO!”, I yelled for anyone to hear. Sgt. W. was thinking the same thing, we were going to chase down these assholes, forget the terrain. Thomas floors the gas pedal as we speed off into the open land, full of ditches, canals, and berms. “I see a white truck, he’s going toward a white truck!”, I yell as I’m holding on to my 240, trying desperately to keep it still as we hit hard bump after bump.

This guy or guys, whoever they are, know the terrain better that we do, and have an easy time navigating through it. But we’re not giving up. Thomas is driving like a mad man, speeding through turns, slowing down to miss ditches and canals, he’s driving like he’s about to miss the last train to heaven. My knuckles are already bleeding from holding on to my gun. With every bounce, my hand slams into metal, my adrenaline masking any pain as it gnaws through my skin.

“Unload on those sonsofbitches!”, Sgt. W. yells at me as I continue to bounce around, holding my gun with my right hand, and the ammo can with my left, while my eyes remained fixed on the white truck. Dammit, all I can see is the top of the truck before it goes out of sight again. This truck becomes a phantom, haunting me in its ability to escape my view. “I don’t have a shot, we have to catch them!”, I yell in response. He knew I didn’t have a shot and focused his efforts on maneuvering Thomas through the maze of berms. I’m mad as hell, but somehow calm at the same time, still focusing on the truck as I hold on to the gun. If the truck had been sitting still right in front of us, I still wouldn’t have had a clean shot. It was impossible to hold the gun steady as we continued to bounce over every bump. When the truck wasn’t hidden, I could still only see the top, making it foolish to try a shot. I’m also having to turn the turret as the humvee turns, keeping my gun at least pointed in the right direction. All we could do was continue the chase, going out of the way to go around a canal or to avoid a ditch. I looked on helpless as the truck got further way.

He was driving toward a small village with mud houses dotting the landscape. Every house looked the same, and as I looked toward the town, I could already see two more white trucks. By now the truck had pulled into the village, the houses providing it the refuge it needed. As we finally got to the edge of the village, another small canal kept us from going all the way. I could see a white truck moving slowly between the homes and focused my sights on him. It’s the only choice I had at this point. As this one was moving, there were three others that I could see sitting still. Why does everyone in this country have to own a white pick-up truck? Why couldn’t he have been driving a red Mercedes?

Sgt. W, our medic, and an LT. that had come along for the ride, decide to get out. I still have eyes on the moving white truck as it comes to a stop between two small houses. I point in the direction of the truck as they run off. Mad as hell and with a face full of fire, Sgt. W. leads the way, running toward the house. I can understand his rage and feel the same way. Some asshole tried to blow up people we care about, not to mention ourselves. The rest of the platoon is further up the highway, leaving us alone. The blast had hit parallel with the vehicle in front of us, cracking the glass a little, but not hurting anyone. They reacted by speeding onward away from the site, putting more distance between them and us. We reacted as we were supposed to. When you see the threat, you go after it with a vengeance, bringing hell fire with you. Unfortunately the opportunity wasn’t afforded me to bring a little of this hell, and I was mad because of it.

As we watched them racing toward the home, I wanted to get closer to provide them cover if they needed it. From the top of the humvee, I directed Thomas around and over various obstacles until we were in the town. We finally drive up to the house as they begin to search it. The occupants are already outside and being guarded by the LT. They searched for twenty minutes before finally giving up. Nothing. I’ve already scoped out three other white trucks and we search them as well. In all we searched about five houses with white trucks parked outside. Finding nothing in any of them, we all looked dejected with frustration. How the hell did they get away?

It wasn’t meant to be I guess. Maybe the guys in the white truck weren’t involved and became frightened by the blast and did the only natural thing, ran. I didn’t find much solace in that. I knew I’d made the right decision in not shooting when I didn’t have a shot. See what you shoot. Well, I couldn’t see what I would have been shooting at. Even if I had, I wouldn’t have hit shit, not with me and my gun bouncing all around like that.

I was thankful that nobody got hurt by the blast, knowing that there will be another day to catch those responsible. I pray that we are as fortunate the next time, that God once again puts another layer of armor around us. It would be a hell of a thing to get hurt or killed by something that you are unable to fight back against. Fire your AK at me, or your RPG, anything that will lead me to you, and we will give you the war that you so proclaim you want.

Today was a good day though. I shouldn’t regret in the lives not taken, but should rejoice in the life that was created. It is said that terrorists are born every day in this ancient region of the world. I don’t believe that, but if it is true, we can rest easy knowing that there are many more warriors born that fight for what is good and right. These warriors will seek those that do evil with a passion their enemy can never hope to obtain or escape.

A warrior was born today, and he is good. He is my son and best friend.

48 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

CONGRATULATIONS! Thank you for your service and thank your wife for her sacrifices. Our military families, ALL our military families, are heroes. Take care of yourself.

Sue

11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Daddy! You will never be the same. Stay safe until you go home to that precious little boy and your wife. We rejoice with you and pray for all three of you.

12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CONGRATULATIONS
May God give your sone a good health and good heart.
Be safe, Michael

Nina (Canada)

12:15 PM  
Blogger Shar said...

I just wanted to say congratulations to you, your wife and your new little warrior. Well, not so little 8 lbs! wowweee! Glad you had a safe and memorable day.

12:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations to you and your wife Michael! I know your little warrior will be very proud of his hero dad! Stay safe and hurry home to your family.

1:05 PM  
Anonymous A Soldiers Mom said...

CONGRATULATONS & WELCOME TO THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF PARENTHOOD :-)
Thank you for your sacrifices. We wish you a safe return to your precious Son.

1:08 PM  
Anonymous Agnieszka O. said...

Congratulations to you and your wife!

1:13 PM  
Blogger Ozarks Nick said...

Congratulations.

1:28 PM  
Blogger The Believer said...

WHEN WILL WE SEE PICS OF THE LITTLE GUY!!?? CONGRATS!

2:22 PM  
Blogger Mr Bob said...

WOW, great news. My life changed for the better the day my first was born, I was only 19. You have learned a lot already being in the service about not being selfish, being a team player..but just wait. Now your life is totally committed to another. I became a Christian shortly after my first was born, I can't even explain why, it just became real to me that this life was not an accident.

3:28 PM  
Blogger remoteman said...

Congrats to you and your wife on the new baby boy. That is wonderful news. You will never love anything as much, at least until his little brother or sister come along. Thanks for what you are doing. My family and I are proud of you.

4:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boys are found everywhere - on top of, underneath, inside of, climbing on, swinging from, running around or jumping to. Mothers love them, little girls hate them, older sisters and brothers tolerate them, adults ignore them and Heaven protects them. A boy is Truth with dirt on its face, Beauty with a cut on its finger, Wisdom with bubble gum in its hair and the Hope of the future with a frog in its pocket.
~~Alan Beck~~ "What is a Boy?"

Happy, Happy Baby to You.

Janie

6:34 PM  
Blogger renny said...

OH! Congratulations! :) I was just wondering about when your baby was due :)

6:40 PM  
Anonymous Ace said...

Congratulations! This will definitely change you and you will look at things in a different way. As I write this my 8 month old is right next to me. Do everything and anything you have to do to get back home to him and your wife! I pray for your safety and to be quicker than hajji!

6:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your new bundle of joy. Bless you and your family. May all your wishes come true.
Hugs, Prayers and Love,
Kathy S g-mom

7:16 PM  
Anonymous KLS said...

Record Record Record. Your voice, your face and your feelings...let him hear you, see you and know you. It is never to early to allow him to hear you talk to him. Use a tape player to read a story to him. Get videos of you to send to him. Write him letters to read to him. You will be amazed how he will reconise you when you get home to him.
You are blessed, I have three sons and enjoy each of them. I have no doubt you will be a great Daddy. You stay safe and get home to your family. I am thankful to you for all you are doing over there. God Bless.

7:39 PM  
Blogger Angel said...

HUGE Congrat's Daddy!!!!!!! I hope your new little (well no so little at 8lbs +!!) guy grows up to be just as fantastic a guy as his daddy.

You take care of yourself out there Michael!

Angel

10:59 PM  
Blogger AFSister said...

I'm not done reading your post yet, but I just had to leave comment real quick- YAHOOOOOOO!!!!!

"a new warrior is born, and a new best friend" Wonderful sentiment!

I was born while my Dad was in Viet Nam, so I can sort of relate. You'll miss some things being away right now, but the most important thing you can do for him is come home safe. You've got a lot to look forward to when you get home!

Congratulations, Daddy! HOOAAH!

11:07 PM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

Good on you and your family, Congrats.

Oh, I forgot to tell you, the bad guys always go underground after they do a hit and run.

They were sweating and laughing at your guys right under their feet.

Papa Ray
West Texas
USA

11:08 PM  
Blogger John of Argghhh! said...

Even though I suspect Papa Ray is channeling his Vietnam experience... he's prolly right!

Congrats, Michael.

Now the challenge is to keep focussed on the mission - which includes getting home to both your best friends... by not losing your combat focus.

Tough job, but you're up for it!

11:19 PM  
Blogger stu said...

congrats

11:21 PM  
Blogger John of Argghhh! said...

D-oh! Yesterday was *my* son's birthday.

And the original was nowhere *near* as exciting as yours...

11:23 PM  
Anonymous Garry in Texas said...

CONGRATULATIONS well done young man!!

11:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HEY MIKE,

CONGRATS ON THE BIRTH OF YOUR SON.I'M GLAD YOU HAD YOUR OWN
ANGEL LOOKING OUT FOR YOU TO DAY
STAY SAFE AND GOD BLESS

11:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations to you and your wife. Stay safe over there, and thank you for every thing you do to keep us safe and protect our freedom.

1:26 AM  
Anonymous MKL said...

Congrats on becoming a father Michael. Best Wishes to you, your wife and the baby.

3:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,
May you grow old in comfort, with the satisfaction of regarding the joys and successes of your son as he matures. He has a much greater chance for happiness because of you and the others who serve.
Just be careful when hopping around on one foot on the wet floor of that darn shower. It looks like the angles are guarding you all other times...

ETO in CA

3:57 AM  
Anonymous Max said...

8#5?! That's a big ole' baby. Take care of yourself man

The sad thing about the "insurgents" is that they have support rallies in universities in America and crap like that. Who the hell do these people think they are?!

6:05 AM  
Anonymous tmg said...

Congrats! I'll say some extra prayers for your new bundle of joy.

-tmg

7:41 AM  
Blogger Mustang 23 said...

How cool. Congrats to you and your son.

BTW: Good job keeping your head and wits about you.

7:44 AM  
Blogger Toni said...

Best wishes to you and your wife Michael. Happy Day One to your new son. :)

11:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations

12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations to you and our wife on the safe arrival of you son! i wish all three of you the best and I hopeyou can return home to them very soon.Karen

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey congradulations about Junior and boy are you right about having a good duo of God and guns.

Stephen

4:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

congrats! please please please put up some pictures of him as soon as you can :)

5:47 PM  
Blogger Huntress said...

A warrior was born today, and he is good. He is my son and best friend

CONGRATULATIONS Michael to both you and your wife.

*hands him a cigar*

I was moved to tears with this post...its one of your best.

I can't wait until the day you're home and you can hold him!

With two wonderful parents, he is going to be one great guy!

God bless!

Stay safe!

8:37 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

OMG!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!! *BIG HUGS* I'M SO HAPPY FOR YOU! Tahnk you for all you are doing... your son has a hero for a daddy! CONGRATS!
~Kat
http://www.adoptaplatoon.org

8:29 PM  
Blogger Angel said...

Ok, so I had to check back, but your keeping us in suspense. What dod y'all decide to name him Dad?

Hope all is going well for the Mrs. and Son.

Keep on keeping on....

Angel

10:40 PM  
Blogger devildog6771 said...

Congratulations MIke. Your life will be forever changed for the better.

Too bad the MSM don't read your blog so they can see how our "war monger" troops blindly shoot and kill everything in sight including civilians!

It is sad the only truth we get on the war is from the front from the troops. We just don't have any more Ernie Pyles!

4:02 AM  
Blogger Al's Girl said...

Thank you for making my morning brighter!! I am so excited for your family!!

I pray that your wife recovers nicely - and that your son's first days are especially blessed.

Stay safe -- and thank you for making our world safe!

11:44 AM  
Blogger Maggie45 said...

Congratulations to you, Michael, and to Mrs Michael. I'm away from home, sitting her in a public library sniffing away. Your posts are always so moving. Thank you and the Mrs for all you do for your country.

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations to you and your wife and God Bless this new addition to life!

7:26 PM  
Blogger ALa said...

Congratulations!!! I am SO happy for you and your wife... and, of course, the little warrior.

7:40 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Congratulations, God Speed.

11:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratlations to you and your wife on the birth of your son. Your life has been forever changed is so many wonderful ways.
I am very grateful for your descriptions of your experiences in Iraq. They help me to better understand what soldiers are going through there.
I hope you will understand that not all people who are opposed to this war are bad people. I'm very concerned about the number of dead and wounded soldiers in this war. I believe that almost everyone knows that soldiers are making courageous sacrifices based on idealism and hope. I want all of you home safe. I will be grateful for the day the new baby is in his father's arms.

2:27 PM  
Blogger NOTR said...

Civilians will never understand how it is just personal when the stuff hits the fan. You new son would be proud of his Dad this day.

Thank-you for what you do for us.

3:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats and all the best.

Phil, London.

2:15 PM  
Anonymous catlin said...

congrats man and get home safe and kick some ass while youre there

6:55 PM  

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