Thursday, June 29, 2006

A Warrior Reflects – Words From Kevin Stacy

It is difficult for most of us Americans to have any inkling or idea about the gamut of emotions and experiences our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are required to deal with on a daily basis. It is virtually impossible for those of us who have never experienced combat to understood the lifelong price that must be paid by those who have seen enemy combatants, innocent civilians and comrades fall around them. Nonetheless, it behooves us to try to place ourselves in situations that enable us begin to walk a mile or two in the moccasins of those who have been our nation’s “boots on the ground.”

It is a rare gift when one of those warriors is willing to share his internal musings about the experience of being in combat and then returning to “the world.” Such a thoughtful warrior, poet and philosopher is my friend Kevin Stacy. Kevin wrote me yesterday in response to the Blog posting I had done a few days before about remembering those who have fallen.

As I read Kevin’s words, they helped to shine a light of understanding on some of the memories he lives with, challenges he faces and demons he wrestles with as the legacy of his two deployments as an Army aviator and leader in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Not wanting to hide that light “under a bushel,” I asked for Kevin’s permission to share his powerful words with the readers of The White Rhino Report. He was gracious in granting that permission.

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Thanks for the note. I sat on your blog for about a week now--thinking about what I wanted to say in response. I can only tell you that the choices I have made in combat have not made things any easier. You hope to leave combat with an undeniable level of pride and confidence. I can tell you that my departure only called on my guilt and need to stay until the entire operation was complete (impossible to expect from someone). There is not a single day that goes by that I do not re-live those days and those moments - the decisions I made and the ultimate consequences we felt for how we fought. Despite the pain, the unrelenting moments re-lived...we would not face a fight any differently.

The "normal" day to day never seems to come around. Too often I am humbled by my location, by my inability to operate how I did, and by the limited access to reality. I am stuck surfing internet sites for something tangible, staring into the news hoping to see something I recognize, or reading the intelligence reports to gain familiarity or consistency.

We have spoken about Dennis--the person he was, and the memories I hold close. I had the opportunity to interview for a memorial and oral history on OIF [Operation Iraqi Freedom]. We spoke often of Dennis, of how we fought, and the values we affirmed in every mission. For those who are quick to judge OIF, often to remark in haste, and eager to criticize, I find no words that will capture what now has become my soul's endurance...the mission in Iraq. The glimmers of hope and the differences made every day unrecognized for its greatness in hope--these are special moments for those who took part. I wish these moments were meant to be documented more closely--but how many times do we hear about good deeds going unnoticed?

We are a fast food nation, driven to excess and demanding in our snap-of-the-fingers expectations. Seldom, if ever, do our lights go out, water stops flowing, or neighborhoods seized by gangs or terrorists. Rarely have we endured times of civil unrest, military weakness, or government chaos. Never has it been all at once. Yet we are ready to run and easy to clear our conscious of making right a wrong set of conditions. This is the standard in Iraq. I am continually impressed by the manner in which Common America boasts itself as on top, but fails to assess and identify the critical basic components necessary for progress (safety/ security/ infrastructure) or willing to stick in acknowledging the error in our earlier ways.

In our times of trial, our response should not be political, but tactically aggressive andoperationally firm--we will not lose. We have no choice. There is no time to lament--we must find it in ourselves to never allow those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to fall forgotten, or allow the insurgency to find victory in our pain. I wonder if this captures what I intended. Those who live it every day cannot forget. Those who seem to never understand it, never will. Somewhere--the average is stuck in the middle, not knowing what they don't know.

Your GDA brothers are doing great things, because in the end, we do what we know is right, and we do it for those who cannot help themselves. To know there are people out there who look beyond their concerns or interests and seek betterment--this is the hope we witness in our operations. I always wondered if there were people who took to a cause without previously suffering a direct impact in their life--now I can see that there are. Amazing. True charity.

Al--extend my thoughts to GDA. Let them we know we are thankful. Let them know my words will never capture how I feel.

I appreciate you.

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Recently returned from Iraq, Kevin Stacy continues to serve with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Ft. Carson, Colorado. I am grateful for the kind of soldier that he is – for his courage, his determination, his resolve. But I am even more impressed with the kind of human being he is, and I am proud to call him my friend.

Kevin and his comrades deserve our support. Let someone know today – by spoken word, written word or listening ear – that you appreciate his/her sacrifice in being willing to forego a lifetime of “normal days” so that the rest of us can have the luxury to take our freedom, our way of life and our intact infrastructure for granted.


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