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.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Day 328 - Find Us Faithful

For the past several days, our email boxes have been flooded with news announcing the arrival of the first two waves of soldiers returning from active duty with the 155th Brigade Combat Team. During their tour in Iraq, the soldiers conducted more than 500 operations ranging from the brigade level down to company- and platoon-level participation.

Brig. Gen. Augustus L. Collins, who commands the group, says since February, his unit has been responsible for security and stability operations in Babil, Karbala and Najaf provinces, with a detachment in eastern Anbar province.

After praising the soldiers for their military as well as their humanitarian efforts in the region, Collins said, "For the last 11 months, I've had the opportunity to serve with the absolute best soldiers that the United States has to offer," Collins said. "Every day they surprise me with their level of commitment."

Collins expressed his sentiments toward the soldiers who have given their lives. "Words can't express the grief that we have," he said. "Those soldiers were our friends. We fought alongside of them. We miss them, and they will always be heroes in our eyes."

(Read the entire interview here.)

All of us, including Wayne's newest newphew, Connor, have found something to chew on in anticipation of Wayne's arrival sometime during the holidays.

Recently, my father sent the lyrics to a song one of his choirs sang at a Thanksgiving performance. While re-reading the words today, I meditated on the the sacrifices of our faithful soldiers.

Find Us Faithful
Joh Mohr

We’re pilgrims on the journey of the narrow road,
And those who’ve gone before us line the way,
Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary—
Their lives a stirring testament to God’s sustaining grace.

Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
Let us run the race not only for the prize;
But, as those who’ve gone before us,
Let us leave behind us
The heritage of faithfulness,
Passed on through godly lives.

After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone,
And our children sift through all we’ve left behind,
May the clues that they discover,
And the memories they uncover
Become the light that leads them to the road
We each must find.

O, may all who come behind us find us faithful;
May the fire of our devotion light their way.
May the footprints that we leave
Lead them to believe;
And the lives we live
Inspire them to obey.

O, may all who come behind us find us faithful.
And just as importantly, we're grateful to all our faithful friends and extended family, who are making the last leg of this journey with us.