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Old 04-04-2012, 8:29 AM
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jmsenk jmsenk is offline
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This topic has been the subject of quite a bit of frustration for me. I know first hand how hard it can be for someone to deploy if they want to. I joined the Army in Feb 2000 when I was 17 and by the time the towers came down I was in my first year at a military college. When my twin brother deployed and was wounded on his first tour i was sitting in physics class. The fact that i was wearing a uniform and considered Active Duty meant very little to my conscience. They would announce the names of fallen graduates at meal times. Men we knew just a few months before. Every one of us knew we were going to war, and we accepted that, though not all of us did.

After I graduated Airborne school I was elated to wear the Red Beret instead of being sent to a leg unit, but I was assigned to the 509th Airborne- to this day the finest Light Infantry outfit I have ever served with, but one that was not destined for deployment orders in the near future.

It wasn't until 2007 that i got my chance to get in the mix. 4th brigade, 10th Mountain was under rapid deployment for the surge, and they were woefully under strength (being augmented by a Battalion of Paratroopers would have been nice) and I was one of over 30 men who tried out for a single slot in 2-4 Infantry. Like, NFL combine type tryout. I was chosen, and I could see the disappointment on the other soldiers faces.

My time in Iraq was hard for me, but anticlimactic. I still suffer from a significant case of Survivor's Guilt, wishing I could have done more and feeling that I may not have done my full duty.

Much of the military is luck of the draw, or the blind fate of battle. No one joins the Army hoping to stay home and be safe, but some do. I will never think less of my brothers in the 509th no matter if they have a patch on their right shoulder or not. To paraphrase Gen Patton: fight where you are told and win where you fight. Not everyones fight is facing the enemy, but it is no less important than those of us who take the fight to him.
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