Sunday, January 13, 2008

Leaving Camp Blue Diamond

These past couple of weeks have been especially busy for me. First, we have packed up and closed down operations at Camp Blue Diamond and returned to Camp Ramadi: where we spent the first two-and-half months of this deployment. Moving from place to place is common in the military; it is especially the case in combat. Closing down Camp Blue Diamond meant saying goodbye to creature comforts and the coziness that comes from knowing I was the chaplain for everyone I saw throughout each day: Soldier, Sailor, Marine, or contractor. Closing down Blue Diamond is also an indication of the success we've been experiencing this year.

Another exciting event was the visit of my dear friend and fellow chaplain, Tim Fary. His battalion is attached to a Marine regiment, so I haven't seen him much this year. Some of his Soldiers are attached to our battalion, so he thought he would come check on them and if that meant we could spend a few days together, that would be fine too. A real test of his friendship is that his opportunity to travel required him to fly when his team--the Tennessee Volunteers--were busy schooling the Wisconsin Badgers in the Outback Bowl. We had a friendly wager on the game. I lost and am busy learning the words to "Rocky Top".
Our last worship service at Camp Blue Diamond was memorable. We have spent the last ten months getting to know one another, and our returning to Camp Ramadi meant an end to our small worship community. After the service, my friend and brother, Marine Colonel William Dwiggins, presented me with a framed certificate of appreciation and flag that was flown over his team's headquarters on Christmas Day.
Finally, a few weeks ago, I was tossing the football with Sergeant Maltezo, NCO of CSM Sumner's Personal Security Detail: the convoy of gun trucks we travel with during the week. He has quite an arm. I misjudged the direction and speed of the ball, and bent my ring finger back and broke off a piece of bone. I waited until after the Holidays to have it x-rayed. I had to fly up to Al-Asad airbase, where they have a hand doctor. As it turned out, the doctor decided not to do surgery. I'll be in a cumbersome splint for three months. The most memorable event of the trip was the emergency landing we made when the Black Hawk experienced serious problems with the rear rotor. There were three fire trucks and an emergency vehicle waiting for us when we landed. Although we knew something wasn't quite right, it wasn't until we landed and witnessed the crew's sense of relief that we realized it was a close call. I presume that many--if not most--close calls in combat go unnoticed.

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it is always insightful to visit you thru your words. Thank you for being everywhere.. You are a blessing. WE had our son LT Walker home for RR the end of Nov and Beginning of Dec. It was great to see all The Lts at Sedwick in there holiday hats. Thanks for the photo. God bless JUNE WAlker

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