By SPC Mark M.
The caller i.d. said LIPE. I opened my cell phone and
put it to my ear. “Merry Christmas bro.”
“Same to you man. whats up?”
“Ah, nothing man. Lying on the couch. I’m a little hung
over to say the least.”
“Right on man. Listen the reason I'm calling is I’m
“Wait. What? You're at work? You didn't take leave?”
“Nah man, I stayed cause they're actually going to let
me stay for the (my) wedding.”
“Oh. How nice of them.”
“Yeah, surprised the hell out of me. But listen I'm on
CQ and I've got some bad news. The call out roster has
been initiated and they're calling everyone back from
“You're fucking kidding me.”
“No man, I wish I was.”
“At least they waited until the day after Christmas.”
“Yeah right. Well, I gotta let you go man. I'll see you
when you get in.”
“Alright bro, I'll see you soon. Peace.”
I closed the phone and my arm slumped down off the couch. I let the
phone drop from my hand on to the floor. Sat there
motionless, thoughtless. Mom was in the other room
and wanted the news that she probably already knew.
With a sigh, I broke the news. Picked myself up off the
couch and headed for the shower. It was the day after
Christmas, nine days since I left Fort Bragg on leave,
and about 20 days since I landed at Pope Air Force
Base from Iraq.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
I had survived my first tour in Iraq despite having
kicked doors in every hot spot in country. . . every bad
neighborhood that you hear about on the news . . .from the
Sunni Triangle of Death to Tikrit to Ramadi.
We landed at Pope to welcome home banners, joyful and
cheering family members, and the 82nd band playing the
82nd song. Some officers spoke and told us “welcome home”
and “good job” and “enjoy yourself you earned it.”
But it was to be short lived.
For some time now the President and some generals were putting together a
plan to escalate the war. . . a plan they called a “surge” that would flood the streets of Baghdad in
a desperate attempt to secure the Iraqi capital. Being
“AMERICA’S STRATEGIC RESPONSE FORCE,” we were the obvious
choice to spearhead the surge. We specialize in
rapid deployments and can get out much faster than
most of the Army.
The day before the President went before the nation to
announce the plan, we were called into work. My first
sergeant came out and from the look on his face and
the commander's face, we knew it was bad news. There
had been whispers that we were going back but no one
“Bring it in men and sit down.” He preceded to read
the warning order that basically spelled out that we
were to begin preparations to deploy some time around
the 1st of January. Not believing my ears, I scanned
the room and every face was blank. No emotion. it
really felt surreal.
The hardest part was passing off the news and listening to my mother cry on the other
side of the phone. They decided to send us home for
14 days of leave before we actually started
preparations. Really didn't have much to do. All our
equipment and gear never left Iraq. I went home with
weight on my shoulders that was nearly unbearable. Christmas
that year was a somber affair.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
I had 48 hours to report back to Bragg. I turned the
shower on and climbed in. Sat in the tub and stared at
the drain. I got in the shower because I didn't want
my family to hear me cry. It was a strange feeling.
shedding a tear. Two tears and a sniffle, I soldiered
up and started packing my bags. Hugged my parents and
At least they waited to 'til the day after Christmas.