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.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Minus 136 Days - Real Fear

Wayne and Lauren called yesterday afternoon while driving home from a sales convention in Dallas, adding a new chapter to the continuing influence of Cindy Smith’s letter of thanks which quietly appeared in our mailbox last Wednesday.

“It was awesome!” Wayne began. “First, the emcee read Mrs. Smith’s letter from the stage. Three thousand people were already cheering when they asked me to stand and be recognized. If that weren’t enough, they invited me to say a few words to the audience. What started out to be 45 seconds turned into 5-1/2 minutes.”

“I talked about fear,” Sgt. West continued, “or at least the perception of fear. Most people we talked to at the convention had expressed a fear of cold calling, or talking to people they don’t know. From the stage, I said , ‘Let’s talk about real fear. Real fear is leaving with a convoy of military vehicles at 2:30 in the morning because you heard the #2 Al-Qaida guy is holed up in a village two miles away and your job is to go get him.”

“Real fear is being stuck up through a hatch, headed down the road to that village in pitch dark, seeing only what’s visible through the green glow of night vision goggles…then BOOM! A bomb goes off right in front of you, and the guys in the vehicle straight ahead are bouncing around like ping pong balls.”

“Real fear is hearing your commanding officer call you on the radio and ask if you can get around the disabled vehicle. Real fear is knowing it’s not a question of ‘Can I get around it?’, but
‘Do I want to get around it?’”

“In the split second when you know it’s just you and God, you still have to overcome real fear and move ahead. But being afraid to talk to somebody you don’t know about your business? That’s just a chemical surge in your brain. It’s not real fear. It’s an illusion.”
As Dr. Laura says, "Now, go take on the day!"

(Posted in Mudville Gazette and Basil's Blog.)