Saturday, January 10, 2015


As cliche as it is to begin a letter this way, I can't think of any other way to do it. So here goes . . .

If you're reading this, I didn't make it home, or at least I didn't make it home the way I intended. For that, I cannot apologize enough. I never intended to have you suffer the way I can only imagine that you are now. I always wanted to do something bigger than myself, and I felt that the military was the best way that I could give back to my country. It never went exactly like I thought or hoped it would, but sacrifices are never supposed to be easy. Looking back now, I would probably rather have stayed home and been a park ranger and still been there with you and Dad for all the birthdays, holidays, and Christmas mornings.

As far back as I can remember, you and I have been connected in a way that I really cannot explain. Even as a child, you knew when I was upset, needed encouragement or could have used a helping hand. You've always sent me little cards and notes that I have kept over the years. They have always been a source of strength and comfort to me. The countless conversations that we have had remain forever in my memory and will always be among my most cherished reminiscences of our time together. Even now, your influence in my life is apparent as I try unsuccessfully to refrain from the use of the passive voice.

I don't really know what to say, Mom. I feel like I owe you some viable explanation or comforting words. I know that probably seems as if I am placing such a great value on me as a person. It just hurts my heart as I sit here writing this in my bedroom knowing what will have transpired for you to read this. I just hope that regardless of the situation or circumstances surrounding my death that you will know that I was serving my country with everything that I had within me. I brought with me to work every day all the things you and Dad taught me, and I have tried so hard to implement them in the way I treat others.

Mom, you have been the single greatest influence in my life. As far back as I can remember, I have always cared deeply about your thoughts and perceptions of me and my actions. I have always trusted your judgment and advice, even though sometimes I didn't want to hear it. I knew that you only had in your heart what was good for me and that you only wanted to see me succeed and avoid failure. For these things and your perpetual guidance, I thank you.

I would be remiss to leave out your great strength, faith and personal drive. If anyone in my life has taught me the importance of setting goals and achieving them no matter the cost, it is you. As a child and a young man I watched you go from running to the mail box, to 5ks to the Memphis Marathon. I stood witness my senior year in high school as you worked on your bachelors degree, pursued a masters and eventually added Ph.D. to the end of your name. In the midst of all that you still loved me and made time to do things with me. I have learned so much from your time, hard work and dedication. Thank you!

You also taught me how to have fun. I will always cherish the movies we went to see together, the concerts we attended, and the museums we visited. As I sit here now, I remember being Charlie in The Foreigner while you played Betty Meeks. I can't tell you how fun it was to be on stage with you. It is easily one of the happiest moments and memories in my life. I don't know how many other 26 year olds spend their Spring Breaks with their mother's flying from one museum in London to another, but I had such a great time because you were there to share it with me.

I cannot think of any important event in my life when you weren't there. You have been a constant support and guide for me in my life. You gave me strength when I wanted to quit. You knew the abilities and strengths I had within myself even when I did not. You never let me forget that and you always pushed me toward bettering myself and helped me to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I feel as if this letter should go on forever. Even as I draw it to a close now, I feel like I am doing you a disservice by not coming back home to you and not providing you with a novel that you may read over several days and receive some sort of closure. Please have faith that my soul has gone to where you always prayed it would go. Take comfort in the fact that I am now waiting for you in eternity, and I am not alone. As surely as I write this to you now, I know that Papaw was waiting for me when the angel carried me home to await the day that you and the rest of the family would join me. While my body is now gone, my spirit will linger there with you forever. Please know that if there is anyway I can watch over you from heaven that I will do it. I pray that you will think of me fondly and with a smile on your face instead of with tears in your eyes. Think of me when you hear the Arkansas Pops, when you attend a performance at The Rep, see a movie that Dad wont' go to or when you complete an extremely difficult crossfit workout. Please don't become bitter. Don't let my leaving affect your ability to influence others for the good.

I'm so sorry that I have to stop writing you. I hope that you are proud of me. I pray fervently that my actions in this life have not been an embarrassment to you but a life that you can look upon and be proud to have influenced so greatly. I am proud of you, for what it's worth, and could never ask for anything better in a mother. I love you so much, and if anyone can be plagued by sorrow in the great hereafter by missing someone left behind on earth it will be me missing you. Push forever forward. Live every day to the absolute fullest, and please remember me.

Love always, your son,


Friday, February 4, 2011

New Job

Well, this marks the end of my first week at the new job. For the last year+ I have been serving as a platoon leader in the 82nd ABN Division. Throughout that time I have learned more than I ever thought possible. It has been tough and not always rewarding, but looking back on it, I now know that I will remember the experience as one of the best of my life.

At present I am serving with an infantry battalion in the 82nd. I'm still interested to see how I am received by the other officers since I am not combat arms. So far, however, I have been treated extremely well. We have been working long hours on training exercises, but I look forward to this job more with each passing day. I already feel like what we do makes a difference. As time goes, I hope I grow to love it more. We will see.

Egyptian protests? Tunisia? Yemen? They say there is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come.

Monday, January 17, 2011

It's about time . . .

Well, I have allowed more than a year to go by without posting. I'm sure that all the millions of people out there that read this have been anxiously awaiting for my return. Well, wait no longer. The glorious day of your liberation has arrived. I am sitting here in Fayetteville on the end of a four day weekend, or a 96 to some of you. I have thoroughly enoyed my three and a half days off, and I think I will prob spend the rest of this day dreading tomorrow. That seems to be my new schedule: anticipate the coming weekend and, once it arrives, dread the coming week.

With that being said, I am spending my last two weeks in my current job before switching. I am actually swapping job positions with a good friend. He will be coming to take my job, and I will take his. Unfortunately, we will do this on the exact same day so there will be no time to pass of any knowledge. It's not the end of the world, but I'm certain that a day or two together would help pass quite a bit of instiutional knowledge on.

The stressor in this job change lies in the fact that I will report to an infantry battalion. They generally push their officers to go to RANGER school, and I am gearing up for the pressure that will no doubt be laid on me as soon as I enter the door. I have spent the last several days trying to drum up in the internal stamina and intestinal fortitude to convince myself that I want to go to Ranger School. I know it would suck to do, but I'm sure the reward and fulfillment at the end is worth the hunger, lack of sleep, loss of energy, loss of massive amounts of weight, teeth falling out, hair falling out by the roots, general loss of will to live and co-exist in a meaningful manner on the planet, and so on. A piece of cloth with RANGER on it has got to be worth that doesn't it?

I haven't figured it out yet. I'll try and post more and keep on top of things here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Das Abzeichen für Leistungen im Truppendienst in Gold

While attending the Military Intelligence Officer's Course, I have had the opportunity to pursue the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge (GAFPB). This is one of the few foreign awards that U.S. personnel are allowed to wear on their dress uniforms. To acquire the badge you must participate in several different events performing to a particular standard. Your reward is the badge to the left in either Gold, Silver, or Bronze depending on your level of performance. To win Gold you must complete the following events:

200m swim-6:00 minutes
3000m run-13:00 minutes
100m sprint-13.6 seconds
High Jump-1.35m
Shot Put-8m
25m Marksmanship- Shoot 5/5
18.7 mile ruck march- 5:00 hours

What did I manage to get you might ask? Well, it came down to the ruck march and the swim. I failed the swim twice before finally coming in 30 seconds under time. Go figure! And for the grand finale, I finished the ruck march seven minutes early with a whopping 4 hours and 53 minutes. Nothing like coming in at the last minute. Somehow I managed to get the Gold GAFPB, or as they say in Germany, "Das Abzeichen für Leistungen im Truppendienst in Gold."

I'm quite pleased.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

For the Fallen (Sept. 21, 1914), September 21, 1914

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Written as a reaction to the high casualty rates of the British Expeditionary Force at Mons and Le Cateau
-Laurence Robert Binyon