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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.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Final post?

I suppose it's about time to wrap this puppy up. I have been getting a lot of emails recently from people asking me what's going on in my life and why I'm no longer writing. The truth is, I really don't feel like I have much to write about anymore. This blog was something I started in order to keep in touch with family and friends, it shifted to an outlet for my thoughts and feelings in Iraq, and then morphed into an insight into the wars for people around the country. This site has been around for four years, had hundreds of posts, thousands of comments and over a million hits, but I think it has run its course.

I'm a civilian now, a very happy one. I spent the last four years proudly serving in the Marine Corps and now it is time for me to find a new direction in my life. That new direction begins tomorrow when I get on a plane and fly to South America for a month. I'm excited to travel, to see a different part of the world, to see and meet new people, new cultures and new ideas. And all without my finger on a trigger or the hair raised on the back of my neck. Hopefully I will spend many more months in the coming years travelling, wandering.

What's next? I can't say I really know. I have applied to four graduate business programs- Stanford, Northwestern, UCLA and USC. All have great entrepreneur programs, which is something, somewhere, and at sometime that I'd like to get into. Three are in California, where my heart currently resides, one is in Chicago, near my family. I won't find out for a few more months the decisions on those applications, but I'm feeling fairly confident. Of course, I'm not sure I've ever applied for anything and not felt like I was the perfect candidate, something that's sure to disappoint me at some point soon.

I do know that I want to continue to work for something worthwhile. Clay has recently piqued my interest in his involvement with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). He's one of 10 national spokesman for the organization, and I can see him roping me into contributing hours and manpower to that in the coming months while I flounder around. But before I do that, I think I'd like to go down to my local VFW and buy a few war heroes some beers. There are a lot of salty old vets out there looking for a young buck like me to bounce some war stories off of, and I realize that I have not paid them the respect they deserve.

So how do I end this? How do I wrap it up? Part of me hopes I find something else in my life interesting enough to write about, but I know I'm only fooling myself. I can only post so many "this weekend was so crazy" stories before people get bored.

I suppose I can only stare at the screen for so long before I realize that this wont type itself.

The last four years for me have been unbelievable. Before I joined the Marines I felt that I had a pretty good grasp on life. I pretty much knew it all. There was life, and there was death. Good and bad. You had honor, and courage and commitment. Virtues of innocence, honesty and charity always trumped the pitfalls of man. The American Dream. Terrorists were real, and so were heroes. The Wisconsin Badgers won Rose Bowls. Prayers were always answered. All you needed were faith, hope and love.

Right? Sometimes. Maybe. Not really. The Marine Corps only taught me 1% of what I learned in the past four years. The other 99% I learned from my family and friends, who were with me every step of the way, who showed me what love really is, what prayer feels like from 5,000 miles away, and what a hug means when you return from war.

I want to thank all of you who have been a part of this. The vast majority of you I will never have the pleasure of meeting, but through this site and through packages and letters and cards, we have gotten to know each other quite well. There are a hundred names I can still bring to mind, names of people who with simple gestures, like a card on Easter made all the hard times good again. I can never repay you all for your kindness or your generosity, but please know that you all hold a special place in my heart. It's a cliche gesture, but if there is ever anything I can do for you, you know how to get a hold of me.

Thank you. Take care, and God Bless.

36 comments:

  1. God Bless and keep you, Marine.

    You did double duty. You stood the line and, while doing that, helped those of us stuck on the home front by providing us your insight, humor, wisdom and clarity to help us with our own moral and morale battles.

    Keep on keeping on. You'll get to where our Lord needs you to be, and you'll be the best at where ever you end up, and at every stage along the way.

    Keep the Faith.
    Semper Fi.

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  2. Ahhh, Jake, while we'll miss your humor, your insights, and your candid comments; we'll never miss you. You'll always hold a place in our hearts as a part of our "blog-o-sphere famaily." May God Bless you and bring you well-deserved success in whatever is "next." Semper Fi, young man, Semper Fi.

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  3. Very proud to have known you, you are a fine young man and I know in my heart you will do great things, touch many and continue to make yourself and your family proud. God bless

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  4. You are a scholar and a gentleman. I am humbled to know you. Your past achievements are awesome and those in your future will be spectacular too. Thanks for always writing back while you were deployed.

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  5. Thought of you yesterday sitting with the Boilermaker fans at the Wisconsin-Purdue game. Good brats, perfect football weather, very bad score for my friend's son's team. Good luck and best wishes for a long and happy life. You've earned it, my friend.

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  6. May you have a blessed life. Enjoy your time in South America - don't drink the water. I'm not sure why you chose Stanford and USC over some place say like OU, but hey, it is your life :)

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  7. Jake, it has been a pleasure reading about your life post Madison. All of your thoughts and persepctives, especially from the inside, on this war we are still fighting. Have fun in South America and good luck in graduate school and whatever the future may hold. If you are ever in the DFW area, look me up. If not, hopefully our paths will cross someday back in Madtown and I will owe you a beer.

    Breanne

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  8. God bless you in all your future endeavors, Jake. You will always be a hero to me. I've read every post you've written and prayed for you and your guys every day. Please don't ever take this site down. It's a fantastic record. Thank you!

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  9. Also, don't forget that there are parts and places in Central/South America that are rather infested with AlQ and associates.

    Be careful where you go and don't take your head off the swivel, just because you aint in uniform anymore.

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  10. Jake, many thanks for the insights you provided on this blog for people like me, who have never met you but are so proud and grateful to live in a country served by men like you. I'll miss reading your posts.

    May the Lord guide you through the next adventures in your life -- and may that life be long and happy and prosperous and blessed beyond measure.

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  11. Jake,

    Please leave your blog up as a reference for your thoughts and insights. I have a feeling that someday in the future you will resume blogging when you accept your next challenge.

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  12. Jake,

    I am honored to know you and humbled by your sacrifices. It has been an amazing thing to watch your thoughts and ramblings turn into this blog which so many have read. I have checked in on you often and read each post - laughing or crying for all the amazing experiences you've had and shared.

    You are a couragous, intelligent, and honorable man and I am inspired by you. I pray our paths cross againm but until then, stay safe and God's speed.

    Katie :)

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  13. I do hope, that by now, you realize that you do have a good book or few in you.

    It's none of my bidnes, but I do suggest you leave this blog live. You can use it for notes later on, and you can regale us readers with tales of your adventurous travels from time to time.

    You know you're gonna want to regale us. I dare you to try not to.

    Either way, you done well and good. Especially in the area of proving that our war fighters are not deranged or semi retarded slackers who only joined up because they couldn't get a job.

    In your travels around and about the South/Central America AO, I know I'd be most very interested in hearing your 'adventures' as you go humping through jungle type terrain. There's whole sorts of misery unique to that type of environment.

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  14. God bless you, good luck in the future and I'll miss reading about your adventures. Take care.

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  15. Salute Marine, Badger, and, perhaps, neighbor (We live in Hermosa Beach)! It's been an informative read.

    Thank you for stepping up. And thank your parents, too.

    Our son is in Basic at this moment.

    Pat and Nancy

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  16. Jake

    I thought of you at the Purdue game. As a fellow Badger I am proud to "know" you and wish you God speed in your future. Now more than ever this country needs a lot more guys like you who understand patriotism. I hope you keep your site and keep us posted on your future. Thank you for your service!

    Larry

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  17. I can't remember how I stumbled upon your site but I've read every single post, and like many, many others, I've laughed and cried right along with you. Stay safe and hopefully we'll hear from you again someday.

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  18. Jake, I directed to your blog from a post on mine, someone listed your blog as one they follow, Your post 10/31 touched me deeply. You are a talented communicator through the written word. Fellow Veterans will be blessed to have your voice advocate...my Son too enjoys a beer with the local vets when home on leave...much more so then the guys his age...no pressure to talk, a sympathetic understanding ear when ready> God Be With you in all you do, thank you for your service to Our Country

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  19. Good luck in your travels and schooling. I still think you should have gone for a commission. Do your homework on the IAVA. They are not without controversy as to where they get their funding (Soros) and where they lean (to the left). http://thisainthell.us/blog/?p=3758

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  20. Happy Birthday Marine! Semper Fi!

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  21. Thank you for your insights and your posts over the last few years, Jake. It's been really eye-opening to read what you write and I wish you the best of luck in the future. Thanks for being so honest and presenting the Marines and the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan as you see them. It is really wonderful to be able to get your perspective on these things. God bless you in everything you do in life.

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  22. So, Jake, did you make it to a Marine Corps Ball on the 10th?

    What's it like as a nasty civie?

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  23. Jake,
    As the saying goes, "All good things must come to an end." My blog is in its 2nd incarnation right now as it is. May you find happiness and enjoy your time in South America. God bless you and keep you! A belated Happy Veterans' Day, Marine! Thank you for all that you and all of your brothers and sisters in the service do for us! Semper Fi!

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  24. Jake, please keep your blog up, even if you discontinue posting. It is a chronicle of both tours my son was on with you, including a reminder to thank God that you guys came home safely, and a reminder to pray for the families of the ones from 2/7 who did not. I pray for God's blessing on your life. Remember, that whatever God leads you to, the only things that last and count in life are the ones that make an eternal difference.

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  25. You end this blog by knowing you've done well, you've touched people's lives and will continue to do so in other ways.

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  26. hope your month in the woods has been good for ya'll, see you soon. ...and i'm not one of 10 spokespeople, just 10 they chose to do this new PSA with the ad council... You'll always be a boot to me, by the way. ha. I wish buddy- it was a long trip for all of us- time for whatever's next.

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  27. Final and last suggestion (at least until I come up with another one).

    If you are dead set on closing your open blog, I suggest you start up a private one. Password protected, invite only.

    Use it as a place for your own "facebook" where you and your Marine crew can keep in touch, share info, talk to each other, such like that.

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  28. Thank you for sharing your life with us strangers over the past 4 years Jake. I really enjoyed your posts from Iraq, felt like we had an inside connection from somebody who was really there reporting the reality. Good luck in your time off and selecting a grad school. Hopefully you'll be blogging again someday in the future. Thank you for your service to our country.

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  29. I am glad you are through with your tour. You are a fine man and I wish you all the best in the next phase of your life. I will turn my son (who's currently serving in Iraq) onto this blog for insite and wisdom.
    God Bless and keep you safe. Thank you for your service in keeping my freedoms free.

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  30. Jake, thanks for sharing as you made your way through the world as a marine. Your blog made a big impression on our family, including our army and marine vets. Please consider an earlier suggestion that you have a book or two in you. Just reading "Lone Survivor," powerful stuff. I am still moved by losing "the twins" in 2007 and amused by the Thursday river bath days. It could finance another trip while you hone your pirate skills. Thanks again for sharing, and your service to our country. Best wishes for any path you travel.

    David

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  31. Merry Christmas to you and all your kith and kin.

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  32. Happy New Year Jake! Hope 2010 is a great year for you.

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  33. Jake,
    I havent read your blog for quite some time. I am thrilled to find that you are home and well. Job well done. Thank you and God Bless You for your service to your country, as well as your service to your countrymen through your blog. Nathan Windsor was my nephew, and you were by his side when God took him home. You were instrumental in helping this civie understand why my nephew chose his life as a Marine, and died happy to be doing what he wanted to do, where he felt at home, at the side of his brothers. You are obviously a fine man and a fine writer, imho. God Speed in your new life, may it be filled with adventure and everything your heart desires.

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