A Walk in Darkness…the start of the second deployment…unedited…

Author’s note: I want to clarify something. These soldiers, those I had just met, while most were unproven in combat, that’s not to say they were incompetent. These guys, especially the lower-enlisted trained me. I wasn’t surrounded by sergeants who trained me. Everything I learned about setting up and tearing down FARP’s, I learned from them. To this day, I’ve not worked with anyone who’d beat them in setting up a FARP. In my opinion, they’re simply the best at what they did.

As soon as our orders came through, our training tempo went through the roof. Of the year we had to prep, I spent nine months in the field preparing for our deployment. Along with the constant prepping, I spent one month attending the army’s primary leadership course, known as Warrior Leadership Course.

I spent another three weeks taking the European Hazmat Course, and two weeks in Antwerp, Belgium correcting certain people’s inability to follow simple instructions.

In between all the schools, correcting mistakes, and training, I managed to sneak my family on vacations to Italy, Luxemburg, and other locales, and in between all of this, I struggled with the baggage of my first deployment.

With the additional training and prepping, I grew close to my soldiers. We learned each other’s quirks, strengths, and weaknesses.

They covered mine, and I did my best to cover theirs. We all worked together, and eventually, we got to where we could lay the entire system out in a matter of minutes.

My family and I made great friends in Europe. To this day, I am blessed to have these guys in my corner. The friendships I made have lasted, but that’s not to say the fifteen-month deployment went easy.

On one of the last training exercises, my soldiers and I spent about a week at a place called Wildflicken. Flight Ops are the guys tasked with maintaining radio operations for the pilots, they also track other bits of information. For some reason, I got tasked with tracking ammunition and fuel expenditures for flight ops. My redneck voice seemed to pour through the microphone. On a rainy night, one of the pilots asked, “who let the redneck on the radio?”

Long story short, I became the RTO for the platoon. Oh, RTO is short for radio transmitter or operator.

On a warm June day, 2-159 Air Cav deployed to the Middle East. We arrived in Kuwait, and once again I struggled to acclimate to the extremeness of the heat. My soldiers and I went through the hoops of qualifying on the range, taking PT tests, mine training, and other fun stuff. There was no driving into Iraq this time. We flew in.

Do you remember when I mentioned the air base at the end of MSR #1 earlier in the book? That’s where this portion of my story begins.

Like my first deployment, we hit the ground running. Our op-tempo shot through the roof. Unlike my last deployment, I would not leave the air base and run convoys. Instead, I stayed put and ran fuel for a variety of aircraft.

Until after I took leave, at which point I got sent to a small camp called Camp Charlie.

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