Sunday, August 24, 2008
Been There, Done That, Got the T Shirt/Final Post
We are back home! 447 days from the start of training to returning to the US. 87 days of training and 360 days "Boots On Ground". One day delayed due to mechanical issues, but here we are. I am thrilled! We are incredibly proud of the improvements made at the hospital while we were there. The hospital is now nationally reputed as one of, if not THE, best in Afghanistan. We made great friends with the staff and interpreters, and I get occasional emails from some of them. Although Navy represented less than one quarter of the military at our base, we made lions' shares contributions to both the quality of life and mission on base. I especially want to thank my wonderful family: Linda, my wife, who I spoke with just about every day via Skype, defense system phones and cell phones (at 55 cents a minute) and kept the home fires going; daughter Cristina who sent several touching greeting cards; son Andy who could always give me a chuckle; my sister Paula (who has a retired Navy aviator hubby) who sent numerous cards and care packages; my other bros Mark and Dave who kept in touch regularly; nephew Steve and family who sent an enormous care package in the spring; and the Oak Leaf Club of Naval Hospital Pensacola who sent care packages 3 times (other commands sent 1 at the most).
To my shipmates: Phil, who helped a "mature" doc make it through training; Captain Mark who headed our team during the year here and also helped me make it; to Chiefs Luis and Kelly who performed outstandingly as senior NCOs of the team; to "LT" our admin sharpshooter who kept us the best informed and cared-for of all; to Carl and Zack and their willing heavy labor (especially those donated books); DJ the artist; Grant the "care package monger" who got us on the list of every "America supports you" website out there; Chief Marc, my student; Chief Terry who set a great fitness example; Jim and Charlie, the kings of the OR. Especially thanks to Don, my battle buddy, bunk mate at Riley, roommate at Camp Stone and guy who always watched my six.