Staff SGT Donald Wayne West, Jr., enlisted in the United States Army National Guard on September 11, 2001. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Company A of the 150th Combat Engineers served active duty Aug 29, 2004, until Dec 30, 2005. SSGT West returned to college in January, 2006. He married Lauren Ritchie June 9, 2006, at Seaside, Fla., and they have three children. SSGT West completed military service at Camp Minden, LA on Aug 23, 2009.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Day 25 - Welcomed by Fire. Preserved by Humor.

When the cleaning ladies came for the first time Thursday, I wasn't sure if I wanted them to put Wayne's things away or whether I wanted to do it myself.

I've heard stories about surviving spouses who wait a long time to wash clothes that still smell like the loved one they lost. I always thought that was kind of perverted, until Wayne left for war. Since then, I've picked up the last shirt he wore at home probably a hundred times, inhaling the familiar smell always associated with a huge smile and roaring laughter.

We did wash the clothes, and finally put up all Wayne's green camo, which had been replaced with desert camo at Camp Shelby.

Physical reminders put away, I still haven't slept through the night since Friday, a rare occurance for me. Wayne's first email from inside Iraq explains why:

For an update, we made here just fine. We flew into an airbase, where we stayed a few hours before we convoyed for approximately one more hour to where we are now.

We arrived around 7:00 am. Within the same hour, we were welcomed by the locals with two mortar rounds about 100 meters in front of me. Quite an eye opener.

I guess they were having technical problems, because it took them several more hours before they shot off the next round of about 5. That second round kind of ticked me off because I was sleeping good by that time, but I had to get up and put all that gear on.

When I first saw those mortars hit the ground, I was actually kind of disappointed, because they are not that impressive at all. I mean, you would have to be within 5-10 meters of where it hits for it to do any type of damage.

Um, other news. There are no phones here, no PX, no fastfood places, or gym. This little internet place consists of 13 computers, of which 2 are not working.

So, I have two words for the engineer mission while here: FOB IMPROVEMENTS.

The good news I'm hearing is we will be here for only a short time. We are staying in hard-standing buildings with concrete floors. Although I dont have a clue what the place was used for before the army took it over, at least it's not a stinkin' tent. So I'm excited about that!

Anyway, that's all the news.

Here at my desk, the first thing I see though each dawn's early light is the yellow ribbon tied around the tree in the front yard. Several times each week, people driving through the neighborhood slow down or stop, bow their heads, and drive on.

That's what we're all doing. Pray, work, pray, try to sleep, pray and drive on.

" all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us." Romans 8:37