Sunday, March 19, 2006
The Desert Periscope
They say that in the military, nothing is certain until it has happened. And even then sometimes we're not sure. So it is that even as I was contemplating my last two years in the Navy before my retirement, comfortably ensconced in a wonderful shore duty assignment for my "twilight tour" it came as quite the shock that I was being Individually Augmented (IA) to Iraq for a year. Yep, that's right. Me, a navy guy -- a submarine driver, even -- tapped for a tour of duty in the desert carrying around an M-16. Who would have believed it? I certainly wouldn't have, unless it was happening to me. I first found out about the assignment on March 1, the day before my daughter's birth. Talk about adding stress to the already stressful time of a new child! My orders came in on March 6, with a reporting date of March 19 for 3 weeks of training en route. And oh, by the way, our base housing is slated for demolition and our new home was supposed to be available on March 21. As my wife said, "that doesn't work." Fortunately, the housing office had sympathy on us and let us get the keys to our house on March 15. And the wonderful "military family" answered our call for help in spades, with about two dozen people showing up to help us move on March 16. We were done in 2 hours! And finally, at literally the very last possible minute, thanks to some support from the Admiral who I work for, I found out on March 17 that I got a 2 week delay. Ostensibly the Admiral was pushing for the delay for "mission critical" needs at the school. After all, I *am* teaching a course that I need to finish up. But behind the scenes, he and the other Admiral involved in approving the delay knew of my new child, the move, and many other factors, and did the right thing. As one of them said, "There's a war on, but we have to take care of our people." Amen to that. So instead of this being my last frantic night before leaving, I'm looking at two weeks in which to settle into and enjoy my new house, enjoy my family, and prepare for the trip in a controlled manner. I can't explain how much of a relief this is... a true answer to prayer. In fact, this whole experience has been a wonderful test of faith. I guess God sometimes has a fun way of getting our attention. I'll be keeping a journal of events at this blog throughout the next year, for those who want to follow along in my trials and travails in the desert. Feel free to share the address with anyone who is interested!