TUESDAY, JUNE 15th.
Day 401 of CPT Patti's deployment.
One year, one month, one week.
A soldier who was under CPT Patti's command, but did not deploy with the unit contacted me yesterday to see if I would remove the personally owned items from the office that was CPT Patti's when they left. (The office will belong to the current Gators commander upon their return.)
I spent an hour doing so. The scene reflected our total lack of understanding of just what we were in for, 401 days ago.
We had left her office intact...as if she were gone for the weekend. Diplomas, pictures and plaques on the wall. Toothbrush, toothpaste and contact lens solution at the sink. (Yes, the commander's office has a sink. Like a bathroom sink. The inclusion of a sink in the office I believe anticipated the normal occurence of a company commander being at work around the clock on many days. Also nearby and available for the commander and 1SG...showers and laundry facilities. Nine - to - five this ain't.)
I viewed the office and chastised myself a bit for our naivete'. Four-hundred and one days ago the 1AD families looked to Bosnia and Kosovo as the model for deployments, and expected a six month absence. I was the pessimist, predicting it would be 9 months. How wrong we were.
But perhaps that was a blessing. Had we known from the outset this deployment would stretch beyond a year, well, I'm guessing the pessimism and depression may have been much deeper and more rampant than it actually was.
That may be the big difference between the 1AD deployment and those who came later, like the 1st Infantry Division and the 1st Cav. They have no illusions of a short stay.