It was a rainy, muddy night, with the cool desert wind blowing and the troops coming by the scores and the tents filling like a harbor by the sea. They knew there would be sanctuary in food, warmth and beds and they came in long convoys. They had no idea that hundreds had shared their idea. As the clock ticked into the afternoon and the shift change came, it was apparent it was no ordinary day or night. The British, Polish, Latvian and Mongolian armies came with the Americans.
Each convoy arrived in need of the sanctuary within what has become known up and down the Military Supply Route (MSR) as Freedom Inn. It was tough, as there were sacrifices that had to be made. Soldiers had to sleep on floors and on counter-tops.
Then this young, battle-hardened lieutenant arrived and he asked the billeting coordinator (an old gunnery sergeant and sergeant major, retired) for anything available for his men of the H Troop 1st Calvary 1st Armored Division (Old Ironsides). With a little team patriotism and effort, the men of 1st Calvary and others were placed in tents and offices with heat and given comfort for the night.
The daylight broke, and it was time for the convoys to head out. The old warrior greeted the young soldier of the 1st Calvary and told him nothing was too good for the 1st Calvary and saluted him; the young soldier dropped his gear and gave a salute back, and then took his 1st Calvary patch off his sleeve and gave it to the old warrior, who stood rigid with pride. The old warriors would keep the patch and display it to show pride in today's great American soldiers. They exchanged camaraderie, and the young leader then drove off into the desert again like the cavalry has always done.
Now ask me why I am here again!
Camp Cedar, Iraq
(Rick Givens is a retired U.S. Marine and Columbia County resident, working as a civilian employee in Iraq.)
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