Woke up this morning, walked downstairs, poured a cup of coffee, walked to the beach and just stopped.
Some mornings you just need to stop before you even start your day. It's a habit I picked up on a deployment to Saudi Arabia back in the day. The night I arrived we had SCUD missile warnings going off and, being the newb that I was, I freaked out and hit the deck. This was about a year or two after the first Gulf War and Iraq was amassing troops on the border of Kuwait again so the threat seemed like a big deal to me.
The next day my NCOIC (the greatest Chief Master Sergeant I have ever met) pulled me aside, took me outside and handed me a cup of coffee. He explained that we were going to be working our asses off over the coming weeks/months - 18 hour days became a normal things - and that he'd need me (and everyone else) at our best. So take a moment to stop, look around and ask yourself how freaking out is going to make the situation better.
He was right, I knew that. As it was, I had never been one to panic, but I was also never in a potential war zone before. In short order the SCUD warnings became mere background noise.
Shortly thereafter I met a boy. He was 18 and a Marine. He had a newborn and joined the Corps for the same reason a lot of boys do - he needed a job. He joined thinking the war was over and he'd be relatively safe. Despite his ooh-rah! attitude, the worry was written all over his face. But then he told me, almost as a reminder to himself, that he was trained for this shit. He believed it and I did, too.
I think about him and a others that I served with. I know the war we were preparing for that fall never happened and we all went home safely. I know that if that boy made a career of the Corps he likely ended up back in the sand as a full grown man. I know that his baby has a daddy she can be proud of.
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