Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Slim Jims and Sergeant Majors
Seth's skin grafts have all taken, so they are no longer bandaged. When Bryan Dilberian saw him at PT, he said, "Pack, I hate to say it, but your leg looks like a Slim Jim." We couldn't argue; it's true.
Yesterday was a quiet Labor Day made significant by a visit from Command Sergeant Major Cook who is on leave from Afghanistan. His Cavalry division works side by side with the 10th Mountain Division 1/32 Infantry of which Seth was a part. He came to greet the injured soldiers from both divisions.
He wanted to let Seth and me know how proud we should all be of him. Seth acted bravely, putting mission before self and putting himself in the path of the enemy. CSM Cook recounted the successes of both divisions and statistics about these two divisions taking much of the brunt of the fighting. Their main goal is to prevent the Taliban from having access to and control of a main road through Afghanistan. Whoever controls the road controls the economy of the country. According to Sergeant Major, Seth's and his units have done well pushing the enemy back and keeping the road secure.
Sergeant Major was nervous to visit the soldiers and wondered how their families would react to him. Well, this mom, for one, was very grateful to hear a rough and tumble Army guy praise my son and his bravery. The Sergeant Major also said IEDs are a chicken*** way to fight and that so-called "suicide vests" should instead be called "murder vests." He gave us insight and information that we won't get elsewhere, and it heartened me.
Many people since we've been here have called Seth brave, and, at least once, he questioned whether this is true. I told him that just putting on a uniform is brave; it identifies him as a target and makes him accountable for his every action. This enemy doesn't haven't the guts to wear a uniform and has been known to hide behind women and children. Seth went out on patrol knowing full well he may find an IED or come across the enemy face to face. I don't know what is not brave about that.
And now when he drags his metal-encased leg out of bed into the wheelchair to go to PT when he knows it will hurt and push him to his limit, he is being brave all over again.
Vanity does not die in the face of tragedy. Five people (including the sergeant major) have thought I was Seth's girlfriend or wife. I can't say how Seth felt about that, but it made me feel pretty darn good.