Sunday, April 7, 2013

Naomi our little Lady

Naomi is 16 mo. old. She loves all girl things. This is not normal for us because Hazel was content to play superheroes and ninja turtles when she was this age. I had to post pictures so you all could imagine how much I'm enjoying her being such a girl.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Pictures are in!!!

Monday, February 18, 2013

First day back... What a great Valentines present.

More pictures to come....

He's back and adjusting well....

So far, John has made himself busy with doing alot of home improvements. I have a new kitchen faucet, a non wobbly kitchen table, kids who think dad is awesome because he can pass levels i can't on the wii, and alot of other things... We sure like having him home.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Home again, home again, jiggity jig... -Last email

Dear all,
It is with great pleasure I write this last email from Afghanistan. It
is also with a little sadness...

Deployment was an experience. That's is all I can say. I am
certainly looking forward to coming home. I miss my wife
and my kids. I'm happy to say they miss me, too! It is time to come

Now, let me tell you some of the benefits of deployment. I know, it
sounds like a strange thing to be saying after 9 months away...but
there are good things about deployment, too. I've learned a lot about
myself and about those with whom I've deployed. Some people will fall
into bad habits and do things they normally wouldn't do at home,
simply because they are free from the watchful eye of those that love
them. More people rise to the occasion and make something of
themselves. I have been surprised on many occasions to see bad men
becoming good and good men be moving better. People growing up and
realizing that there is way more to life than what they had with their
sordid pasts. People recognize a better way, and they flock to it.
Deployment allows for nearly unlimited access to them and their
stories...without the distractions of the world or a toxic
relationship. And I will miss seeing that.

I will not miss FaceTime. I am certainly glad for technology, but it's
time to really see my family! Having been on a mission, I thought
this would be similar. It's not. Saying goodbye to mom and dad for
two years was WAY easier than saying goodbye to my kids, some of whom
wouldn't know me when I returned, for 9 months. I love my parents,
but it's different.

Now, it's only been 9 months. It could have been worse. I like to
think I'm the same as when I left, but I know that's not true. We all
grow with the passing of time, for me it's no different. Trying to
give you the experiences I've had is not possible. Just like trying
to be there for Naomi's first steps... But I'm great full for the
support of all of you, my family and friends. I have a feeling that
the best is still ahead! I can't wait to see you all and I'll talk to
you soon...face to face!


Monday, January 28, 2013

Letters from John...

I know I haven't updated my blog in about 6 months but I would like to post all of John's e-mails on here for anyone to read. If you weren't aware, John has been deployed since May of 2012 and will be returning home to us in a few weeks... WE ARE EXCITED!!!! The emails will be posted in consecutive order so you'll see his most recent first... just scroll down or go to the last post that says #1.

LIfe at a VSP #6

LIfe at a VSP  
I travel a lot.  I've been to every FOB (Forward Operating Base -
usually large) and every COP (Combat Out Post - usually small) that
falls in my jurisdiction.  Most of them multiple times.  This week, I
was requested at a VSP (Village Support Post - ridiculously small).
These are locations where a team of 12 Special Forces stay along with
a handful (there were another dozen here) infantry support stay.  That
is it.  No one else.  Just you, the team and the surrounding village/s
you support.  One of the SF guys broke a tooth and it needed to be
fixed.  They called and asked if they could pull it, but it sounded
like it could be fixed, so I volunteered to visit and help with the
"winning the hearts and minds" mission for a couple of days.  I would
see American Soldiers on the first day, Afghans on the second, then
come home.  Too easy.

Plans change...but I digress.  Let's start from the beginning, shall
we?  So there I was...the start to any good story...  The head medic
from the SF group on Sharana, where I stay, came and asked if I could
call the VSP, which I did.  After volunteering to go, the logistics
needed to be worked out.  Since I would be flying to a location that
we did not service, air transport would be arranged by the SF.

"Finally", I thought, "I get to fly in a Chinook!"
The Chinook is the large double-rotor helicopters that the SF uses for
transportation.  I had been wanting to fly in one since I got here.
Awesome.  The medic would work his channels and then call when
everything was set.  It usually takes a couple of days to get things
lined up, but he was trying for a quicker turn around because of the
situation and weather. So I waited for the call.

The phone rang.

"This is Captain Brady."
"Hey, this is Jason."  ...oh yeah, they are all on first name basis in bad
"I've got some good news and bad news... The good news first: We have
you on a flight in one hour so we can beat this storm.  The bad news:
there's not room for your assistant.  Can you go alone?"
"Sure, no problem."  I mutter.  My tech is going to be heartbroken!
How could they have filled up such a large bird so quickly?  Oh well,
we have to move quickly...
"Great, I'll pick you up in 20 minutes."

After apprising my tech of the situation, he's upset, but is still in
good spirits.
"Don't have any fun while you're there", he says.
"Of course not", I reply, "I'm going to be spending all my time trying
to figure out how to work this equipment!"

The ride comes and we're off.  Driving to unknown parts of the FOB.
As we approach a new area, the driver is visibly confused.  We stop at
a gravel area about the size of half of an end zone on a football
field.  Hardly large enough for a Chinook.
"I think this is it", the driver states nonchalantly.
"You think?  Don't you guys fly out of here all the time?"
"No, to get you out fast before this weather, we found a small
contract company to take you.  They are the only ones flying right now
in this weather."
"I need to use the restroom..."  (I didn't actually say that...I have
to save face, of course, but I most certainly thought it!)
Ten minutes later a little tiny helicopter like those they use to
cover the news comes flying around the corner and lands there in the
gravel.  The pilot has one of those furry hats on with the ear flaps
hanging out like wings.  He looks the type just crazy enough to fly in
this kind of weather.

My suspicions of his mental status were confirmed when we took off.
The bird was only large enough for the pilot, two passengers and our
gear.  The other passenger was already on when it picked me up.  I
loaded my gear and sat in the back.  He motioned for me to put on the
headset that was dangling in the back.  I should have put my seat belt
on first...

"Are we ready to go?", the pilot asked.  This is a normal question for
a normal pilot to ask before take off.  He was not a normal pilot.  By
the time the question, traveling at the speed of light through the
wires, reached my ears, we were sideways.  I don't claim to know how
to fly helicopters, but as I was looking at the ground fly by as if I
were being dragged from a horse, I wondered to myself if I should have
taken a convoy...

Apparently he was trying to beat the weather...

I mentioned that this was a contract helicopter.  They have different
rules of flying.  He flew in a straight line to his destination
instead of following the routes of the commercial flights.  That
seemed safer to me.  He flew low to the ground and REALLY fast to
catch anyone wanting to do us harm by surprise.  That seemed safer to
me.  With all that, he still had the look of a crazy man....  That did
not feel safer to me...

Well, we made it safe and sound after traveling all over the AO (area
of operations).  I greet those at the HLZ (helicopter landing zone)
who are there to pick me up and we walk my equipment to the aid
station.  It's a thirty second walk.  This VSP is the size of a home
with a decent sized yard...because it was someone's house.  The SF are
just renting it while they are there.  We put my gear down and they
inform me that daylight hours are for site improvement.  That means,
while the sun is up and it's still warm, we do projects to improve our
living conditions there.  It's a good thing I spent those summers
working construction with Grandpa and all those Saturdays working with
handy dad!  While I was there, I built a sniper tower, two desks, a
few sets of shelves and put floors in two of the rooms.  Yes...I'm the

At about 1800 (6:00 pm), the sun went down and it got cold...really
cold.  They decided it was time to do some dentistry.  We went inside
and I took care of all the people that needed work.  There were only
about six Americans that needed work, so things went pretty quickly.
As I was putting my stuff away, the head medic informed me that my
guard shift was the midnight to 0100 shift.
"I'm sorry, I didn't hear that", I chuckled.  "I thought you just said
my guard shift was from midnight to 1:00 am!"
"Yeah, you'll be with Nate.  He's a good guy."
Perfect, I feel better that he is a good guy...

Midnight rolls around and I head up to the roof.  I see Nate.
"Since there are two of us at night, one of us stays here and the
other goes to the gate.  You've got the gate tonight."
"Okay", I say, "I don't have any do I let you know if
someone is coming?"
"At this hour, no one should be coming.  If you see someone trying to
get in, shoot them."
No one came...lucky for me.  Had someone come, they probably would
have been lucky, too, knowing my pitch-black, midnight shooting

The next day brought more projects.  To break it up, one of the guys
decided to take me on some driver's training.  He pointed to the four
wheel drive ATV with a .50 cal machine gun and asked if I knew how to
drive it.
"Long skinny one on the right?", I asked.
"That will do...let's go."
I started the engine and we drove out to the HLZ.  He told me to do
some cookies and test out the capabilities of the ATV.  After a few
minutes of what I thought were a successful run, he turned to me and
said, "You are going to have to learn how to DRIVE this thing...I've
seen these things up on two wheels before!"
Don't worry, mom, I didn't oblige him...
"Take a left here", he said.
A left looked like it would take us the opposite way of the did.

As I left the HLZ, my SF turned tour guide companion decided to point
out all the homes of those he new in the village.
"That's where the Elders live...over there is the house of one of our
informants...that the police chiefs house..."
And that was how my driver's training went.  I feel trained.

I also got to watch a supply drop at 2300 (11:00 pm) one night, but in
comparison, that was just a regular occurrence.  A big airplane flys
by really low and out come a bunch of boxes on parachutes.  I also got
to go do dentistry on the locals that were around the area.  That was
pretty neat, since most of them had never seen a dentist.  The guys
all got to practice taking out teeth....yeah, I took them on
"dentist's training"!

The weather did not cooperate with air travel, so I ended up staying
there a week.  No showers, no was roughing it!  When the air
finally went green and helicopters were flying again, they got me a
trip back to a Chinook!  The experience came full circle!
 I must say, however, that the news helicopter was a lot more

The pictures are of the mud house we stayed in, followed by my "weak"
week attempt at growing a beard.  The next one is the ATV I was
telling you about followed by the first of many projects I completed.
If you can't's a desk.

I love you all and have a great Christmas!