Im normally the one who leaves for deployments. In those times, I say good bye to my family and civilian friends. My Army friends and I leave to spend the next year in the Sand Box or in the Stan. I have moved to different duty stations, and again said good bye to friends there. Some of them have deployed, but its a slightly disconnected feeling.
Two of my friends left today for Afghanistan. One of them use to be my XO when I was in command. He and I became good friends. Anytime I was fighting with my wife, I would go to his place for a bit to cool off and come back home. Anytime we needed something, he was there. When he asked me to help him pack up his military gear and storage locker, I couldnt even think of saying no.
I got to his house just after noon on Saturday. I showed him better ways to pack his duffel bag and ruck sack. My method provided more room in each bag. Now he was able to take creature comforts like a pillow and blanket. I helped him load up the moving truck with his household goods. We went to the storage locker and showed him the best way to load things to maximize space.
We returned his loaner furniture to the Army warehouse, took his car to a different storage place, cleaned up his rental house, and made other last minute preparations for his deployment. We got back to my house (an hour drive from his place) just after midnight on Sunday (late Sunday night, early Monday morning). I showed him when hed be sleeping. I went up stairs and talked with my wife for a few minutes. I laid down, and decompressed from a long few days. I finally got to sleep after 1:30. This is where friend number two comes into play.
She is a nice person, but not very organized. This is her first time for leaving the country for any reason. Too bad the first time is for the Stan. She called me at 4a.m. crying and asking for help. She needed to finish getting packed and put stuff in her storage locker. This gave us a tight window of time factoring in their reporting time and weapons draw.
My buddy and I drove over to her house. We got there, and nothing was packed fully. Bags had the wrong items in them, and there wasnt much room left for much more equipment or clothing. I told her to pull out her packing list, lay out each duffel bag, ruck sack, assault pack, and back pack. We then took each item for the packing list and laid it on the bag. I told her to go upstairs and finish getting her personal property together while I took care of her military stuff.
After about an hour and a half of work, I packed all of her bags with room to spare. During this time, she came into the basement and had mini panic attacks and cried a few times. She said that it was very emotional for her and that the panic attacks prevented her from finishing up over the past weekend. I assured her that shell be fine and to take calming breaths. I told her that I even found room for the extra clothing items she wanted to bring. She headed out to her storage locker and my other buddy took a shower. When he was done, I cleaned up myself.
Buddy One and I headed to base. While I was driving, he called his insurance company to have his auto policy changed and put a military hold on his cell phone. We dropped off his bags with the baggage detail. We said good bye. He went into his building and I headed to my office. He called and told me that he was headed for the flight line a few hours later.
Now I sit here while two friends are headed into harms way in a combat zone. Im normally there too. This time Im not. To an extent, I want to be there with them. Yet, Im happy that Im still home with my family. I told both friends to give me their addresses when they get it. Ill send care packages and fill requests for items that they cant get there. After a long weekend, a few hours of sleep, and helping out in an emergency, Im beat.