I am sitting here on Thanksgiving Day, and wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving!
It is very interesting to realize that although Americans celebrate the holiday with incredible vigor, such that it now seems like lots of businesses and even government offices are closed on the Wednesday prior, I don't think they really, really understand being thankful unless they have served with the military in a combat theater.
I am not try to belittle anyone's thankfulness, or career, or any of that. I am only trying to say that folks here have a whole new perspective on Thanksgiving and being thankful, and today is very sharp and focused for us. I can see the difference in the faces of my soldiers, and the differences in mind are very stark.
Although I have been thankful before, it was nothing compared to the thankfulness I am feeling today, and the feelings of absence I am experiencing only serve to increase my thankfulness and eagerness to return to those I love. I am very thankful for all of you. I am thankful that I have an incredible number of folks who love me, and support me. I miss you all terribly, but knowing that you care about me makes it much easier for me.
I am thankful for my family, and I miss them more than they know. I don't think that future Thanksgiving celebrations will ever be the same for me, because I now truly understand all the many blessings and joys of being with loved ones on this holiday.
Events here have been interesting. Everyday, various commodities are tracked and the status is reviewed, and problems identified and resolved. About 3 weeks ago, turkeys became one of the hot items that was being tracked. It has been pretty humorous to watch the NCOs who track various food items, have to track turkeys. Daily reports on numbers of turkeys headed for each base camp, whether they were Butterball or Perdue turkeys, how much turkey per head on each camp. What was going through my mind was the question "Aren't we in a combat theater? Don't we have better things to worry about than turkeys?" However, as we drew closer and the reports expanded to yams, stuffing ingredients, and pie fixings, it became obvious that leaders who have been here before understand the huge morale impact of providing the best Thanksgiving dinner they can to all the soldiers and airmen who are working so hard day after day, and won't get to be with their families on Thanksgiving. Today has been the proof, and all their effort paid off. The dining facilities were decorated really, really well, and the layout of food was pretty staggering. I didn't eat too much because it is really easy to overeat here, but I did thoroughly enjoy some eggnog and the pecan pie!
Today wasn't exactly a normal work day, but it was a work day none the less. We were able to have reduced manning in the office, much like Sunday, and most of the officers spent some time in the dining facility (DFAC) serving Thanksgiving dinner to soldiers, airmen, and contractors. I spent a couple of hours there, came back to the office to get some work done and then eventually went back to the DFAC to eat.
Since I got back from my R&R to England, it has been getting cooler. It was rainy for about a week when I first got back, and so the gravel that everyone was hating before is now appreciated for its ability to keep the mud down. We haven't dipped below freezing yet (or even gotten close) but everyone here is whining about how "cold" it is. I ride my bike down to the track 3 mornings a week, to do some focused running workouts with some of my NCO at 0530, and am still running in shorts and short sleeve shirt. I have worn my jacket a couple of days, but just yesterday had to put on a long sleeve shirt.
I am not currently doing as much strength training as I was, but that is because I started taking an Aikido class, 0515-0645, the other three mornings each week. It is really, really fun, and I am enjoying learning all the moves and techniques. I can see all the payoff for lots of other things, including fighting in the SCA, and wonder why I wasn't doing aikido before. We shall have to see whether I continue it when I return to the US, or just take it because it is convenient and easy right now.
Other things that have been happening are that I finally moved my office from the old building to the renovated building. The size of the office is virtually identical because we are in the same space in a similar building. Both spaces used to be a dirt patio (surrounded on three sides by concrete walls), but the old space had a "temporary" plywood wall, plywood floors, and a plywood roof, with data cables and phone cords running along the walls and floors, along with daisy-chained extension cords for power. The new building has a concrete floor covered with tile, a cinder block wall that is plastered over and finished, and a nice suspended drop ceiling. We also have multiple data, telephone, and electrical outlets along both side walls. There are still some challenges because the tin roof above the suspended ceiling is incredibly noisy when it rains. It was so loud the other day that we were yelling in the office just to communicate.
It is now getting late, so I will send this off. I need to get up at 0500 to run tomorrow. I have a PT test on Monday, so tomorrow is my last training day before the test (except for aikido on Saturday).
Peter / Terafan