Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Life In Tan And Green Is…

The Life in Tan and Green is exciting.

You can be terrified, happy, sad, even giddy. And all at the same time. Seeing new things, meeting new people, going to new places. The ARMY has taken me to 9 countries, 11 states, over 4 continents. I have felt weightlessness, and extreme positive g’s in a C-130 performing a combat landing into Iraq. And the same in a not so controlled crash in a civilian 747 over Alaska’s ice bank. I have cowered as close to the ground as I could possible get and fired my rifle at the enemy all with a white knuckle grip. I have run to the point of exhaustion in the mountains, and relaxed in a pool at one of Saddam’s palaces. No matter what, even when bored out of my mind. It is exciting.

The Life in Tan and Green is scary.

Through Bombs going off in the distance, Rockets landing within feet, and bullets zipping by in the air and combat landings in a land of war, you are sure to be scared. But it is also things like going to a promotion board, your first time stepping into a new country or maybe being on a boat with a broken engine in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. There is rarely a day in this life where I find that I am not scared by something. The funny thing is that everything that makes it scary makes it exciting.

The Life in Tan and Green is painful.

In the past 13 years I have broken 12 different bones with a total of 19 breaks over those 12 bones. I have had 3rd degree burns 4 times. I have been indirectly struck by lightning 2 times, been shocked by 220 volts twice, and 110 volts so many times I can’t count. I have dislocated 6 joints, one of them 8 times. Sprained both of my ankles at least 5 times each. Had to have my skin stitched or stapled back together over 15 times. Been hit in the head by a round casing so hard that I could not walk straight for 3 hours. And been knocked unconscious 25 times before I stopped keeping track. I have been diagnosed with both PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), and have such bad memory loss that most of my youth is not known to me, and if you tell me something now there is a good chance that I won’t remember it in 2 min. Oh and all of my friends. I am sorry I don’t know your name. I have fallen off of a 30 foot cliff. Been in 2 major vehicle crashes, and been shot in the face by a powder (or blank) round causing temporary blindness. This all in the line of duty. Painful? Maybe just a little.

The Life in Tan and Green is satisfying.

I have fed the homeless, fought fires in Colorado, helped to build a school, brought internet to people that recently had never seen a computer. I have had my hand in the freeing of the population, the bettering of a country, and the cleaning of a state. Years ago the men on the Iraq Olympic soccer team knew that going home without a medal meant the death of their families. Now, no matter how well they do they go home heroes of a nation. I helped do that. I was never the one doing it, but I was one of the thousands.

The Life in Tan and Green is lonely.

I have never felt so alone in my life. Standing on the deck of the USNS Bob Hope in transit to Iraq. Looking up at the sky at 0300 and feeling that I am the only person in the world. Driving down the MSR from Balad to Baghdad when a “stray” round hits the side plating. Walking a perimeter in Wyoming on guard duty without a building or another person in sight. Or the same thing on an empty airfield Christmas Eve watching water freeze. Or even sitting in a barracks room in the middle of a building full of people. Struggling through the hours of night, the day that a divorce is finalized. Or celebrating your 18th birthday stuck in a foxhole slowly filling with water for a South Carolina summer storm.

The Life in Tan and Green is almost over.

My goal was to make my 20 but it seems that this goal will not happen. All throughout my carrier I have had to fight to stay in. PT has always been a weak point, and I have always been right on the edge (and sometimes over) the weight limit. No, that is not true. It should read body fat limit. My max weight allowed is 195. I don’t remember when I last weighed that little. As of right now I am hovering in the 220’s. But the ARMY says that I can be over my max weight as long as I fall under a certain amount of body fat %. And that is where I fail. Three months ago I was 3% over my limit. Since then I have lost almost 30 pounds, but due to the way that they measure I am still at 3% over. And that is a no go. The AR (ARMY Regulation) says that due to my struggle with weight it is time for me to go home. So that is what they are going to do. So after 13 years of great service without ever once being in serious trouble I am out. I consider myself to be a great soldier and a tremendous leader. I take a lot of pride in what I do, and I really don’t want to have to stop. But after fighting all that I can it is out of my hands. There are two things that can be done. I can either be removed from service once we get home from deployment, or they can wait until my current contract runs out in two years. But after that the “Life” will be over. I have been barred from re-enlistment, so there is no continuing. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. So what comes next? That I have no clue. I have never had a “real” job. I have never gone to an interview. I have been doing this since I was 17. I truly for the first time in my life feel lost. I am in the dark. And my flashlight is fresh out of power.

The Life In Tan And Green. Thank god there are thin people that can carry the torch.

Back To The Sand


  1. You will start a new journey. One that includes your sweet little girl. Maybe you can start a career at Disney.

    A whole new world.

  2. Sorry to hear. As one door closes a new opens. The funny thing is we all know what we must do, and for some reason we humans still do not do what needs to be done.
    So even if you work hard and bring that percent down and keep it down, they won't reopen that door??

  3. My friend - if anyone knows about feeling lost - it's me. But trust me - you'll find your way - and with such a great support system in place, you and Maria and little Samantha will be fine. I have no doubts that you'll find a way to move forward. Never backwards!

  4. No matter the outcome of your PT and percentage of body fat you are amazing. You are a true hero and you are an inspiration to many.

    I have no doubt that your leadership and work ethic from the Army will lead you to fabulous new experiences. These experiences may not always be exciting, but hopefully they will not lead to more near death experiences.

    You'll get your excitement from watching that sweet little girl grow and learn and do her first everything and love every minute of it.

    I truly appreciate everything you've done for all of us over the last 13 years. That's something to be proud of and something that will never change, no one can take it from you.

    Good luck as you look at beginning the next part of your journey!