|This picture was retrieved from a news website around 8/12/09.|
JH knew from early in high school that he wanted to join the USMC. He did physical training with Marines to prepare. He worked hard to finish school and join. His enlistment was set prior to his graduation from high school. He graduated on Saturday and he was to report for enlistment on Monday, Memorial Day. Yes, my baby brother left for the USMC on Memorial Day.
I was pregnant with Spike when he left. I cried an ocean of tears over him going in the military. Our dad was in the USArmy during peace time and I just knew that this would be different.
We have soldiers in combat zones around the world. We have soldiers fighting in two serious, deadly war zones in the Middle East. I was truly afraid of what would happen, but I was also proud of him for doing what he wanted to do. I knew that he would be a good soldier because it’s what he wanted, so I supported him. I also cried an ocean of tears…did I mention that?
JH graduated from Basic Training in August and then went to Missouri and on to 29 Palms, CA for his final duty station. While there, he was deployed two times. JH, a young 19 year old was sent to Iraq. While I know that he is not the only one, it was still devastating and scary. He returned from Iraq and soon after received word he would be going to Afghanistan. After four years in the USMC, 2 tours of war duty, he returned home safe and sound…or so we thought.
Once JH was home, he began sharing stories of what he had been through. He told us about giving candy to the kids in Iraq. He told us about giving them Pop Tarts and school supplies. He told us about the kids who came to know and trust them. The kids who grew to love them and they grew to love in return. He told us of the kids who did not like the American soldiers, the ones doing things that make me shudder. He told us about falling 2 and a half stories from a tower, cutting his leg all the way down and then landing on his head.
JH also told us about Afghanistan. He told us of his truck being blown up, the truck was blown so hard that the axels came off, the truck was thrown quite a ways, and he hit his head both on the ceiling of the truck and on the windshield. He told us about setting up convoy and the truck with his dear friend being blown up. He told us about getting that person to the medic tent and trying to get him help. He told us a funny saying that person shared with him and that he said, even until the last minute.
He did not share everything with us. He did not tell us the nitty gritty, most scary parts. Frankly, I am glad he never shared. The things he did share are scary enough.
After the injuries he endured, after the things he has seen, JH has received a couple of diagnoses. He has been diagnosed with TBI and PTSD. He has also started to suffer from some strange seizure type spells. They are scary and nerve wracking, they leave him exhausted for days. He is on the road to discovering the reason for these spells and will hopefully receive treatment for them.
JH is only 22 years old. He has seen things that most of us have never seen and will never see. He has experienced things that I pray none of us ever have to experience. However, he also came home to us. How blessed are we? We have our son, brother, uncle back. Our soldier left a little boy at the young and naive age of 18 and came back as a man at the age of 22. I praise God for just letting him come home.