I've been back in Iraq for 3 days now, sitting in my CHU, with my mud-caked boots at the doorway, a 50-foot pool of rainwater surrounding my front step, and more mud than a congressional debate beyond that. It's hard to reconcile this dreary scene with the beaches and jungle of Kaua'i, or even the coziness of home, with a dog in my lap and my spousal unit by my side. Even after the rigors of travel from Baghdad to home and back (8 days), I am glad I went. Not every soldier feels the same way after returning from mid-tour leave. Some have tough family situations to deal with, others just hate the travel, or more accurately the pain in the neck that is military travel. Especially when contrasted when flying First or Business Class on a major airline (like when we flew to Kaua'i), long hours on a military transport or a charter aren't very comfortable. Worse than the flights themselves are the deadly dull periods of waiting in metal and cement buildings, or tents, undergoing endless briefings and accountability formations.
One aspect of coming home demands special mention: The folks at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport USO, American Airlines staff, and the people who happened to be in the DFW terminal when our flight arrived were all simply Class Acts. I especially appreciated having access to a private, deluxe shower at the American Airlines Admiral's Club so that I was "de-stinkified" when reunited with my sweetheart a couple of hours later. Thanks to all of you special folks!