****** 23 JAN 2007 0953 ***** UPDATE: Welcome to visitors from Stand-To. This is a lovely surprise. I don't know how this came about, I am an exceedingly small blog devoted almost entirely to nonsense. The person who directed you here almost certainly means for you to read the really great story below (which I *found* and did not *write*). However, I am sure MG Rick Lynch would be alarmed should he come to find out all the nonsense I write about him in this blog. There is really no need for him to know what a crush I have on him, right? So, read the story and keep the rest under your hat, ok? Thanks, Maggie ********
So this sentence pops up "Major General Rick Lynch, commanding general of Fort Stewart, probably regrets giving me his e-mail address at a press luncheon last November. ..." And I thought "Gee, I'd love to have that!". But just as quickly, I thought "Oh, that would not be good!" But I read the story anyway and even though it's not really about Rick, it's a good read.
When Humble Sacrifice Met Awkward Gratitude
by Carol Megathlin
He was going off to war. I was the one he was fighting for.
When I stumbled upon an episode of "Combat Hospital" on CNN a couple of months ago, I thought I couldn't bear to watch. But I did.
The 30-minute slice of life inside a field hospital in Iraq spares the viewer almost nothing. The sundered chests, bleeding stumps, and shattered faces overwhelmed me with fury. I felt powerless to help the situation I saw unfolding on the screen. That's when I e-mailed the general.
Major General Rick Lynch, commanding general of Fort Stewart, probably regrets giving me his e-mail address at a press luncheon last November. I asked him to give me a soldier to support during the 3rd Infantry Division's upcoming deployment to Iraq.
I wanted a private, someone who didn't have much family, someone who had enlisted after 9/11. I wanted a guy who stood a better than average chance of ending up in a combat hospital. The general gave me Joe.
PFC Joseph Dana is 25 years old, a gunner on a humvee. He has one sister, his parents live in Iowa, and his mother is seriously ill, so he told me in an introductory e-mail last week. He said he was leaving for Iraq the next Tuesday, flying out of Hunter Army Air Field.
"I'm a Red Cross volunteer so I will be able to come out to Hunter to meet you on Tuesday," I wrote back. "Just so you can identify me, I will be wearing jeans and a black turtleneck sweater and a big nametag with 'Joe' printed on it."
The plane was scheduled to leave at 1:20 p.m. I allowed enough time, or so I thought, but I ran into a glitch getting through the Hunter gate. By the time I rushed into the Hunter air terminal, the soldiers were no longer milling about, but standing in two lines on opposite sides of the room.
Carroll Baker, head of the local Red Cross chapter, corralled me immediately. "Carol, two soldiers have been looking for you for an hour!" One of the soldiers was instantly at my side. "Are you looking for Dana, Joseph?" he asked.
I nodded. He sped off, then returned with a blue-eyed, gentle-faced soldier in tow.
"Are you Joe?" I asked, eyeing him intently as I extended my hand.
"Yes, ma'am," he said shyly.
We groped for words, we two Americans - I in my jeans with "JOE" in big black letters stuck to my sweater, he in his helmet and body armor with a weapon strapped to his back. We were strangers, suspended in a moment of clarified truth.
He was going off to war. I was the one he was fighting for. Humble sacrifice and awkward gratitude stood face to face, unable to speak.
As his unit leader called Joe to get back in line, I dug into my jeans pocket. "I have something for you." I pressed into his hand a four-leaf clover made of silver and mother-of-pearl.
"A friend gave me this a long time ago when I was starting out on a perilous journey, too," I said.
I have heard that a talisman may help a soldier cope when he faces life or death situations for long periods of time. I don't believe in luck, but there's one thing I do believe in - the power of praying intensely for someone, especially by name.
Just before the soldiers board the plane, the Army secludes them in a "sterile room" at the terminal, focusing their minds on what they are about to face. The Red Cross and USO volunteers formed two lines on the tarmac, creating a path that led from the doors of the sterile room to the idling World Airways jet. Two large American flags lifted in the breeze, one on each side.
As the soldiers emerged in an orderly line, some of us quickly handed out small flags as they passed, others clapped and said "thank you" over and over again. I stood silently, scanning each face, looking for Joe.
It was probably against the rules, but when I saw him, I stepped forward and hugged him.
He put an arm around my shoulders. "Be careful," I murmured. "I'll be praying for you."
"Yes, ma'am," he said, and moved on toward the plane.