Thursday, 10 July 2008

Fort Lewis, Washington

I read somewhere that Fort Lewis is the third largest post, after Fort Hood, TX and Fort
Bragg, NC.

If you want to see the Army, this is a great place to be.
With three infantry brigades, one artillery brigade, an MP brigade, and engineer brigade, a MI brigade, a Ranger Battalion and a Special Forces Group, along with various support units, Fort Lewis is a very busy place.

Here at Fort Lewis, reminders of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are never far away. Recently, the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team returned after 15 months in Iraq. The ceremony welcoming them home reminded everyone of the cost of freedom. During 15 months of combat in Iraq the brigade suffered 54 killed in action and over 300 wounded in action. Many of the wounded Soldiers, even the seriously injured Soldiers, participated in the ceremony on crutches or in wheelchairs.

For me the hardest part of being back here is reading the news from Iraq and Afghanistan. I wish I was still there, still in the fight. In Afghanistan I felt needed and in control of my own destiny. My mission was real and immediate and there was no ambiguity. Here, I have no mission, or the mission is less real and immediate, and everything is ambiguous. Here I'm not really needed and I have no control of my destiny.

I love the Army, but even with the nation at war the Army tends to be bureaucratic and slow to change. In my current job I manage the training for medical units deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan. Even after 7 years of continous deployments and combat operations we are sometimes reinventing the wheel when we train units to deploy. Often the training does not meet the reality of the missions "downrange".

I love my family, but after being gone for 18 months I sometimes feel like I don't fit in anymore. My views have changed after seeing the dead and wounded up close and personal, after carrying a weapon 24/7, driving an armored vehicle fast and aggressively wherever I went and after living in close quarters with Soldiers for months on end. I can adjust to the changes, but I hate to give up the sense of purpose and mission and yes, the danger and thrill of being deployed.

I write these thoughts not looking for sympathy or help, but because I know I am not alone.

Recently I met a group of Soldiers with whom I was deployed to Afghanistan, and after some polite conversation we all reluctantly revealed the same thought, "I wish I was still there, in Afghanistan, doing a job I loved with people I cared about." And this thought was expressed by a group of Army Reserve Soldiers, all of whom had good civilian jobs and happy families. If they feel this way, how much more do "full-time/career" Soldiers miss their recent deployments?

In my current job I work almost exclusively with Active Duty Soldiers, most of whom have deployed recently, many of whom are preparing for their second or third, or even fourth, trip to Iraq or Afghanistan. We all tell our war stories with the same underlying theme, "Those were the days..." Life is different "over there", not better, just different.

War is hard and the separations from home and family are stressful, but Soldiers and families are tough. The media makes it sound like servicemembers deploy reluctantly, and can't wait for the war to end. From what I see, nothing could be further from the truth. Soldiers want to deploy, to do their part and then return with honor. They want the war to end, but only with victory and only after achieving our nation's objectives. I'm personally tired of seeing friends and colleagues killed and injured, but I want to see those sacrifices honored with victory and peace, not squandered by defeat and surrender.

Every day I visit a great website, Honor the Fallen, to read about the heroes who have given their lives in defense of this great nation.

Every day I see the wounded coming and going around post and at Madigan Army Medical Center, reminding me of the cost of war.

You can't live and work at Fort Lewis and not realize that war is an ugly thing, with a high cost that cannot be measured in dollars.

I'll keep blogging as long as someone is listening, and maybe beyond. Sometimes it's easier to write my thoughts than speak them, and I hope my ramblings can shed some light on the current situation, or at least reveal the view from my foxhole.

Until later,

Phillips, out.


Haole Wahine said...

Thank you for your service, and your skill with words.

We are blessed by the light you shed.

Gratitude and prayers

Chaotic Mom said...

I MISS Ft. Lewis. But I think the feelings you've expressed here are the same ones my husband has been trying to share for some time now. I will just never understand. He left last week for an Afghanistan deployment. I won't ever understand what he and the other Soldiers are feeling, but I really appreciate reading your thoughts. Thank you for sharing.

tankerbabelc said...

Rich you are not the first Soldier I've had express many, if not all, of the same thoughts as you. I respect you and appreiate you for sharing.

Isn't our society something? A man chooses to be a doctor, engineer, lawyer, etc. He does his job well. He may or may not give back to his community. Regardless he is respected and often recognized for his work.

A woman chooses to be a Psychologist, doctor, accountant, etc. She does her job well. She may also be a mom. She may volunteer in her community or not. Regardless she is respected and often recognized for her work.

Both the men and women sleep peacefully, live freely, have opportunities without limits.


Because of the men and women like YOU. The men and women who, for the past 35 years have VOLUNTEERED to serve our nation. And men and women for centuries before - some who volunteered, others who didn't - who served our nation. Men and women who give so much; who give up so much. Men and women who receive incredibly low pay; endure long separations from family; put their lives in danger day in and day out.

Men and women who ARE doctors (medics), attorneys (teaching rule of law, etc), engineers, accountants, psychologists (on SO many levels), etc. Warriors who battle on not merely with guns and tanks and air power but with word and deed, leadership and by example.

I could go on and on but I think you understand my point and how I feel.

Rich, let me assure you. ANYTIME I see an American in uniform they receive my highest degree of respect. You've given so much. Your family has given so much. I imagine you'll have another opportunity to deploy so spend time with your family while you can. All the work you did, are doing and will do makes such a difference.

THANK YOU for being a US Soldier!

mikentexas said...

Most soldiers who've "seen the elephant" feel like you do. You go away into an intense situation, with folks you develop strong bonds to, then have to come back to what seems trivial and unimportant, given what you've seen and done. You probably will never recapture the intense feelings of combat, but you can help the next "generation" to get ready for the fight. That is the most useful thing you can do for the Army. The most useful thing you can do for your family is to cherish them (which I know you do). The most useful thing you can do for yourself is to continue to meet with those you served with (or others who also served over there)and encourage each other to see the value of life after it all.
God bless you, brother.

Anonymous said...

Thank you LTC Phillips for your service to our country. And thank you for continuing to share your experiences with us. My husband will be returning home for rr in a few weeks,then home for good or at least a while in a few months from salerno afghanistan (hospital). I have followed your blog since last year. Your sharing has helped me to be more patient, considerate and I hope a better understanding partner for my husband whom I love deeply. God Bless you and yours

David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post - From the Front: 07/12/2008 - News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post - From the Front: 07/12/2008 - News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

I'm a veteran said...

i checked the "Honor the Fallen" site and it's a good way to commemorate the heroes of our nation.

Brian H said...

What mikentexas said;
But also: your need and willingness to write and talk is VITAL. A vet observed that he understood now why other vets of other wars didn't talk to "civvies": they knew/felt they couldn't POSSIBLY find the words to express the intensities and the subtleties necessary to do it justice. Plus they knew that many listeners would recoil and shut down if given some of the rawer detail.

Yet -- it's a disservice not to talk. The whole truth is impossible to see or speak, but without communication, understanding is impossible at any level.

So, request to vets: if asked "what it was like", make a pro forma disclaimer like, "It can't be conveyed accurately." And then say -- whatever comes to mind. Those who want and need to hear, especially family and ESPECIALLY children, will then have something real to work on. Which beats imagination resting on ignorance all hollow.

Infantry Dad said...

Thanks for your service, and your thoughts LTC.
On the subject of talking about war; I've found that a lot who talk the most did the least.
Some can talk comfortably, others prefer not to because of the memories.
Then some just put the memories in a lock box, stuff it away somewhere, and throw away the key.
I've made it my policy to never ask a vet about his service, and never talk a lot about mine.
But that's what works for me.

My son just came home with the 4th.
He's home now on block leave, but will soon be back at FT. Lewis.

Anonymous said...

Pam Schuffert Confirms Guillotines Stored at Fort Lewis

By Pam Schuffert
June 28 2008

Pam Schuffert Confirms Guillotines Stored at Fort Lewis (June 28, 2008)

Sat, 28 Jun 2008
From: Truth 4 All To: Ken Adachi
Subject: Please post this ASAP! THANKS!-Pam



NOW he and the men who he told about my reporting, on HOW the guillotines will be used against their fellow Americans, ARE BEING ROUNDED UP AND HUNTED DOWN LIKE DOGS..

Humvees and helicopters surrounging their homes...military pay and all access to bank accounts and credit cards being cut off...and NOW HE IS ON THE RUN! All because they found out the truth about MARTIAL LAW and the guillotines FROM ME and have agreed among themselves to NEVER GO ALONG WITH THIS TERRIBLE NWO AGENDA!

-Pamela Schuffert reporting live from NORTH CAROLINA

I was riding on a bus from BUTTE MONTANA to North Carolina, when I met a young man all dressed up in full and impressive ARMY RANGER uniform. He carried his 445 mag gun and many knives and several phones and military backpack and other equipment. He told me he was a STAFF SERGEANT from FORT LEWIS! Fort Lewis is where many MODERN GUILLOTINES have been stored for a long time, for use in martial law.

I teased him at first and told him I knew all about the MODERN GUILLOTINES in Fort Lewis. HE WAS SHOCKED! He said, 'HOW DID YOU KNOW...THIS IS HIGHLY CLASSIFIED INFORMATION!' He then admitted he was a Christian. I told him that the US MILITARY WAS NOT TELLING THE YOUNG MEN LIKE HIM, but these guillotines will be used on AMERICANS AND CHRISTIANS in the future udner martial law, to behead all NWO resisters.

The longer he listened, the angrier he got. Using a few choice expletives, he said, 'THEY NEVER TOLD US THIS WOULD BE USED ON AMERICANS UNDER MARTIAL get RID of all CHRISTIANS and NWO RESISTERS! We THOUGHT they would be used in IRAQ or something!' He then asked me to tell him more and more. He even filmed me.

Finally, so angry at how they were being deceived and brainwashed, he told me,

'I WILL NEVER go along with this NWO agenda! I am A CHRISTIAN! I will contact my men in my platoon (64) and those I can trust who are Christians, I will tell them the TRUTH. I was supposed to go to Fort Hood for more SPECIAL OPS training next week, and THEN RETURN TO TRAIN MY MEN IN HOW TO OPERATE THESE GUILLOTINES!

There is a special underground training center where the guillotines are...we are not allowed to bring in any cameras. cell phones, etc, because of HIGH SECURITY AND SILENCE regarding these guillotines.They are 6 and a half feet high, with hand restraints and a place for a person's head as they stand. We were going to use dummies for practice...BUT NOW I AM REFUSING THIS ASSIGNMENT and I will contact the men under me who I can trust...who will NOT go along with this NWO agenda and will come out instead with HUMVEES, WEAPONS and everything we can get our hands on to fight this NWO agenda!'

We parted in Indianapolis...I wondered about the outcome. I was soon to find out! I called him the next day. He told me he talked to his sister and family and they were shocked...they were all military...they told him, 'HOW DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THIS NWO MARTIAL LAW AGENDA...IT IS ALL HIGHLY CLASSIFIED!'

When he told them about ME (I had given him a copy of my AIRMAN MAGAZINE in it with my famous USAF father's cartoon in it..he was quite amazed and impressed) he told me his USAF aunt would submit my name to USAF intelligence computers to see where I stood in the sight of the USAF. He told me, 'She said you are RED FLAGGED (subject to arrest and interrogation) and are classified by the USAF as A THREAT TO NATIONAL SECURITY!' (ME???A THREAT TO NATIONAL SECURITY??? ALL for telling AMERICA THE TRUTH about coming MARTIAL LAW!)

This ARMY RANGER had told me that IF HE HAD BEEN ON THE SIDE OF THE NWO AGENDA, he was authorized as an ARMY RANGER with highest security clearance and much special ops training to MARCH ME OUTSIDE THE BUS AND SHOOT TO KILL for knowing this classified info...OR he could have called the nearest military base and had vehicles come to arrest me immiediately and take me away for interrogation and termination. THAT IS HOW CLASSIFIED MY INSIDE INVESTIGATING AND INFO REALLY IS! And YESTERDAY when I called him, he had even MORE shocking information for me.

'I AM ON THE RUN NOW...they are trying to pick me up...and my USAF sister too! OUR PAY AND MILITARY SERVICE AND BANK ACCOUNTS HAVE ALL BEEN CLOSED OFF...we cannot access anything now! THEY ARE NOW ARRESTING HALF THE MEN IN MY I talked to who agreed that THEY WOULD NEVER GO ALONG WITH A NWO MARTIAL LAW AGENDA...all THEIR pay and service and bank accounts have been cut off from them now too....military helicopters and humvees are surrounding their homes..they are being watched and picked up one by man in my platoon defended himself when they broke into his home, SHOOTING FIVE MILITARY SOLDERS TRYING TO TAKE HIM in the process ( some were killed) before they were able to arrest him! We are on the run now, my sister and I...they are after us too.....'

I am actively now on the phone with Staff Sergeant Donnie. His aunt who ran my name through USAF computers is now being questioned by USAF authorities. I am SURE they are angry with ME right now as well! They may be searching for me at this time as well....with this military scandal breaking and ME in the middle of it!

GET THIS WORD OUT TO EVERYONE! These brave military men are paying the highest price to say THEY WILL NEVER GO ALONG WITH THIS NWO MILITARY AGENDA to kill innocent Americans and to destroy our Constitution and our freedoms and people of faith and character in our nation. PRAY for Staff Sergeant DONNIE BOYSEL and his sister NOW and for the men they are now hunting down like be interogated and KILLED! PRAY ALSO FOR ME! I may be picked up soon for my role in this military scandal.

PRAY FOR THE MERCY OF JESUS to preserve me through all this! FORWARD THIS BREAKING NEWS TO EVERYONE ON YOUR EMAIL LIST! And NOW YOU KNOW....the GUILLOTINES ARE REAL! (Revelation 20:4) He told me they ARE FORT HOOD, FORT BRAGG, FORT ALL the US MILITARY BASES including GERMANY where he was stationed... (yes Europeans will be beheaded for their faith as well in the NEW WORLD ORDER!) PASS THIS ON AND PRAY FOR ME, FOR DONNIE AND HIS CHRISTIAN MEN THEY ARE HUNTING DOWN FROM FORT LEWIS! -Pamela Schuffert reporting LIVE from across the nation

"It is now TIME for the Christians of USA/CANADA to PREPARE for the COMING CRISIS. It will NOT be without PERSECUTION, TESTING and BLOODSHED. I dare say, in fact, that it is TIME for the Christians of North America to PREPARE FOR MARTYRDOM for their faith. END TIME BIBLE PROPHECY is about to unfold in this nation as NEVER BEFORE...and I can prove it!" -

~Pamela Schuffert,
Noted author, investigative journalist, lecturer, radio/television,and Christian evangelist

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Retorter said...

HMMM...guy writes in Japanese looking to sell liquor to Japanese...does he think we need a stiff drink after reading Schuffert's smoke which is repeated all over the web. Schuffert may be flagged alright...for spreading rumours and inuendos but I don't think she is in any danger...just suspected of needing a psychiatrist or perhaps being a Muslim?