As you can see, I’ve got a bulletproof vest and helmet. The vest covers less of me than I would like it to, and the helmet is too big, but they should work. I have armor-piercing plates in the front and back of the vest, which make it weigh about 15 lbs. It certainly isn’t fast or light.
So I’ve been looking around at who I’ll be with when I first get there. I fly out to FOB (Forward Operating Base) Kalsu a few days after I get there, and that’s where I’ll spend the majority of my time. I’ll be with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, which has at least 13 New Hampshire soldiers. They are active duty, which means it isn’t quite the same as the units I had requested (one reserve, one national guard), but I certainly have no complaints.
I can’t say I look dashing in my outfit, but I’m glad it got here on time. I’m still waiting for a few more pieces of the puzzle, but I think overall I’m set. I’ve still got two days of work to get done at the Sun before I leave, but overall I’m pulling it all together.
NHPR is working to set up a little mini-website off their normal site so I can fully document my trip, with photos, stories and one-on-one interviews. It’s great to have their support, as well as the support of my coworkers in Conway.
Speaking of support, I received calls from a friend I haven’t heard from in six months today. He heard I was getting ready to ship out and he had to call. It’s funny what these sorts of events inspire in people.
And I have to say, I have the utmost respect for the people who do this for real. I’m going for a couple weeks to tell soldiers’ stories, but what do you say about the soldiers themselves, on a year long tour, with real concerns about getting shot or killed? My wife is going to be sad to see me leave until February. I can’t imagine what her reaction would be if it was until NEXT February.
So I’m preparing to leave with conflicting feelings of excitement and reverence. I hope to be able to connect people back home with those sacrifices, to help them better understand what soldiers and their families go through. I don’t even understand it yet, but I hope to be able to get it across.