I am on my second Afghanistan deployment. I am not sure anymore why we are still here.

Billy and Wally got killed last week on a patrol. That was sad, but even sadder was the fact that Wally was going home in time for Christmas. I’m sure that will ruin his family’s Christmas.

What a waste that was. I pray that doesn’t happen to me. Eighteen months and a bag drag and I’ll be home.

My wife, Renee, back in Chimney Corner, West Virginia, works every day and then comes home to our two children. When she has time to write she always puts perfume on whatever she sends. I keep her letters in an empty ammo can. Every once in awhile, I open the can just to smell her perfume. As they pass the letter back to me every G.I. that handles it has to take a sniff. I get a kick out of it.

How sweet she smelled when she got ready to go to work. I miss her smile, her frowns, even her tears. Sometimes her tears were from hurt, mostly because I had to go. Many times, like when I get home, her tears are of joy. It’s hard for me to understand. She’s a good mother to our two children.

Ben is a chip off of the old block. Six years old and everybody says he looks just like me. Then there is Cheryl, she’s 9 years old. You could swear she was more like 17. She has the “older sister syndrome” down pat. Poor Ben; he calls her “bossy.”

Sarge has started mail call. I sure hope I get a letter from home. Heck, I would settle on a catalog from the Bass Pro Shop, but I really want to hear from Renee.

Christmas is about 10 days out. This time there are a lot of care packages. Lord, I hope I get one, that would make my day. He starts calling names, “Petersen,” and he pipes up with a cheerful “Yo.”

One left, but Sarge is hesitating calling out the name. We all wait with the anticipation of children waiting to open their Christmas presents. Then he shouts, “Umm Umm this package sure smells good.” I can feel my heart race, is it for me?

He hesitates a bit longer. Now I want to go up there and throttle him, he’s killing me with his humor. Then he calls out “Worley” and my heart nearly leaps out of my throat. Again the guys have fun sniffing the box and giving me a good ribbing.

I take the package back to my tent to open it. Two of the guys who didn’t get mail come over to check me out. They didn’t get mail because Little John is single but Bobby is going through a divorce. We all know his heart is breaking, but he gets up every morning, carries out his duties, and stands watch and volunteers for every patrol. Some of us think he has a death wish; he always pulls point. He has gotten out of quite a few scrapes, even got wounded once.

It’s an unwritten law of the jungle to share your care package. As I open it, I can see some chocolate chip cookies. Goodness, there must be three or four dozen. I pull out the bags and give the guys one. You would think they never ate the way they were smacking down on my cookies.

There’s a picture. I can’t believe how big Cheryl is getting and Ben, he’s missing a couple teeth. Then there is Renee, her smiling, dressed in one of her pretty dresses, sitting there holding our children. I tear up, just a little bit. I don’t want the guys to see me crying, but they say, “Let it out Kevin, you’ll feel better.”

None of us want to be here!

I read the letter. There are teardrop stains all over it. That tells me that Renee’s heart is breaking too. It’s hard not to get choked up. My tears mix with hers. The letters always ends with, “I love you and miss you more each day. Be safe, come home to me. Love, Renee.”

Lights out! Tomorrow is a new day. “Goodnight Renee, give my love to the children! God, please keep us all safe.”

(Pack may be contacted at rickypack@peoplepc.com. Letters to the editor regarding his column may be e-mailed to ckeenan@register-herald.com.)

 

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