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This blog exists only as an archive. It is a journal that serves as a window into my life as a Marine combat veteran serving in Iraq and Afghanistan; it was written with no filter, no politics and no agenda. Please feel free to follow my journey from beginning to end. Welcome to my life.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

About 14 months ago I wrote about how difficult it is to say goodbye to your mother when you both realize it’s the last time you are going to see each other before deploying to war. Well, one deployment and a year later, it’s no easier.

My family came down to Palm Springs for my graduation from School. It was a great time, but it was of course bittersweet. Upon saying goodbye, my little sister said that until that point she hadn’t let herself think that it was going to be the last time she’d see me before going to Afghanistan. It’s difficult in those awkward moments with your family when they are asking you if you are scared or nervous or any one of the other million emotions you could be feeling on the verge of heading back. To be truthful, it’s a cocktail of everything. I could quite honestly put any name on the gut feeling I have sitting in my stomach. The fact is that I’m going back and that’s why I signed up in the first place, so there aren’t any complaints on my end.

I continued my little tour of farewells by heading to Washington D.C. and NYC for a few days to see some friends that I hadn’t seen in a while. I first flew in to DC to hang out with Dave “I dominated the Marine Corps Marathon” Folwell. After a night out on the town there we took the China Town bus up to NYC. That may have been scarier than combat. Seriously. In the city we met up with old friends from all walks. A couple of great high school friends, Eric Heil and Nathan Suh, an old Badgers teammate, Jason Pociask, and a whole crew from my dorm freshman year, Graig came out even though it meant working on his dental school patients hung over, Jaimie set up Friday night’s antics, and Stav provided a “life changing” experience around every corner. Back in DC for a final night, my dear friend Jackie and her husband Ryan drove up from Virginia for dinner and a few drinks. Dave picked Ethiopian for the cuisine, and, not to sound too insensitive, but now I know why Ethiopians are deathly thin. This stuff could be the new weight loss revolution.

Before I write anything else, I need to write about visiting Ground Zero while in New York. I really didn’t know what to expect going there. I didn’t figure to see much, and there really isn’t much to see, some signs here and there, but it’s basically just a giant chain link fence surrounding a gaping hole, a scar, in the ground. I didn’t really know what I’d feel either. I suspected a lot of sadness and anger, but really didn’t feel much of either. I think more than anything that what I felt was a combination of pride and resolve. Pride because I saw a picture of what we were rebuilding, and I heard the workers laboring to build it right back up, something of a ‘I dare you to do it again’ monument. And resolve because I realized that in two weeks I’d be in the place where it all began, fighting the people that allowed al Qaeda to cultivate the people to do it. Don’t worry New York, we’ll get ours.

In closing I wanted to thank everyone for all the support, well wishes and prayers that have poured in the past few weeks regarding the upcoming deployment. All of your kind words are taken to heart, and I wish you the best in the coming year.

21 comments:

  1. no matter what, ON WISCONSIN.
    STAY SAFE JAKE.

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  2. Thanks for all you do Jake, you and your fellow Marines. Good hunting. Come back safe.

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  3. Jake,

    I work and worked in 9/01 two blocks from the World Trade Center, a lot of us ran there and some of did not come back, the ones who did are not the same anymore. For us, it's not so much the hole in the ground as it is the hole in the sky. For us, it is like it was just yesterday, I can still taste the air.

    Thank you, for doing what you do and Jake, come back safely to your Mom.

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  4. Jake, as a mom who has had to tell her son goodbye as he leaves for a foreign land to fight for our Country, I can tell you that it is just as difficult for moms as it is for the sons. We understand that "cocktail" of emotions because we have it too. We're nervous and scared, but most of all we're proud. God Bless, stay safe, and good hunting!

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  5. How scary was that China Town bus? Because I'm going to end up riding it a whole lot next year... Anyway, my prayers are with you. Stay safe and kick some terrorist ass! -one of your anonymous readers =)

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  6. We are behind you and your Marine buds all the way.

    Let us know how we can support you when you get to Afghanland.

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  7. Jake, I hope that you and all your men come back safely. Thank your sacrifice for our country. Our country would be nothing without those who fight to protect it.
    Keep Safe!

    I enjoy your blog...please keep it up!

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  8. Jake,

    Stay safe -- you're well prepared for what lies ahead. We had a different view on 9/11 -- of the tail of a plane going into the Pentagon from our rearview mirror. It is a life changing experience, and like you my hubby a former Marine and now in the Army will be deploying this year. May God grant your family peace of mind knowing that they have raised such a man -- and you'll be back w ith your mom soon.

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  9. Keep your powder dry, Jake. You and your comrades will be in our family's thoughts and prayers.

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  10. Thank you for what you are about to do. Stay safe.

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  11. Stay safe Jake and know that you are supported and I pray for you and your other Marine buddies a safe return!!

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  12. Bud, is the addy you listed good for the 'Stan? If so, I will get right on it. Anything you especially need/want? Do what you have been expertly trained to do by the Marines. Happy huntin' and get home safe.

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  13. When I was 10 years old, I witnessed my uncle leaving his family for his second tour in Vietnam. That is one memory that will always be with me. I'm sure your family feels the same.

    I do hope you can blog from Afghanastan - people want to keep up with your life.

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  14. I'll still be reading, no matter what you write. God bless you (all of you), God bless your family (especially Mom). I love the pictures. You have a great looking family.

    Take care, stay safe.

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  15. Be safe, we'll keep all of you in our thought and prayers.

    PS...the addy listed on this blog is not an A'stan zip.

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  16. God Bless you Jake. Stay safe and come home to your mom. Thank you and your fellow service men and women for the job you do for us here at home. I will continue to read no matter what you write.

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  17. God Speed Jake! Thanks to you and your fellow comrades for the sacrifices you make for our GREAT country!

    God Bless!

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  18. Good luck, Jake! Stay safe and keep your buddies safe. Thank you all for serving and protecting our country.

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  19. Still praying, Jake. My best friend's son (a Marine, of course) is there in Afghanistan now, and my other friend's Marine son will be on his way in July. He's been training to drop in and rescue (the last I heard, anyway). I was so glad to see him Saturday night when he came home. He left back to Camp Pendleton this Memorial Day morning.
    I sooo appreciated your blog when you were in Iraq, because both these young men I've watch grow up were there, too, so their moms and I would read what you had to say and feel like we knew something of what they were going through. I understand why you can't write all that now.
    You'll always be dear to me--especially since you hate the Hawkeyes, and my friend (the one who's son is in 'Stan now) was left by her ex for another woman--he pissed me off and he's a "Hawkeye". ;) Sorry--that wasn't nice of me.
    God Bless You and ALL of our MEN!!

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