~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I O 93 93/93 I O ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Location: LaGrange, Kentucky, United States

The opinions and interests of a husband, analyst and Iraq war veteran.


Friday, August 05, 2005

The post you haven't read since 9/11

[This is a rant. Many have ranted on this topic before. Those familiar with the "sea story" storytelling tradition might appreciate this one, though.]

So, there I was...... No kidding!(I'll keep this PG) I was wandering around LAX in January of the year 2000, almost two years before 9/11, when I was approached by the LAX military liaison, a Sergeant of Marines. "What are you doing traveling in uniform?" he demanded.

I explained in a stammering voice that my instructors at MCT (Marine Combat Training) in North Carolina had required that I travel in uniform to Califonia for Arabic Language School. Understandably, I might add. There had been a rash of fresh MCT graduates arriving at their secondary schools without their proper uniform. [Note: When a Marine reports to a new command, a certain uniform is required. That uniform would've done me no good if it was packed away in the underbelly of an airplane headed to another city.]

The Sergeant elaborated, "This is an international airport. We have bad guys flying through here every day who would love nothing better than to bomb you! Your uniform makes you an easy target. Go and change into some civillian clothes. Now!"

I managed to change clothes in the airport bathroom thanks to a delay in my connecting flight and with the help of a retired Army Colonel working in claims who helped me recover my checked baggage.

That sergeant recognized the dangers of international terrorism...... years before 9/11! Trust me. I was well chastised...

So don't try to tell me that America's defenses were caught with their pants down concerning international terrorism on 9/11.

[Fast forward one day.]

So, there I was... in my destination city, and I (having redressed myself in the required uniform) was inspecting myself in front of the Denny's bathroom mirror, about to call for a cab and report to base, when this random guy came in and said, "Hey! You in the Marines?" I answered, "Yes, sir!" (training runs deep... what can I say?) He asked, "Did you travel in that uniform?" I answered, "No, sir! I traveled in civvies!" he looked me up and down for a few seconds, (it seemed like an hour!) and finally confessed that he was actually a retired Staff Sergeant of Marines, and said, "Smart thinking, Marine. You know there's a lot of people out there who would love to target a service member."

So don't try to tell me that America's defenses were caught with their pants down concerning international terrorism on 9/11.

[Fast forward almost two years later at Arabic Language School]

By this point, even a newbie like me had noticed the obvious. During the cold war there were undoubtedly more Marines studying the Russian language than Arabic. But now, out of six platoons, covering four languages there were two platoons studying Arabic. The two largest platoons were studying Arabic.

So don't try to tell me that America's inteligence comunity was caught unawares on 9/11.

[Fast forward to my third school in Texas]

So, there I was...... in the Great State of Texas, learning the last details of what I needed to know in order to do the job I'd contracted to do in the Marines. By this point I'd been in for almost three years. And that's when those planes were deliberately crashed by Islamic fanatics into three buildings, and one (thankfully) was diverted by it's passegers and crew into a Pennsylvania farm field.

My roommate woke me saying, "You'll never guess what's happened."

I found myself in shock, like much of the rest of the nation, but by the end of that day I understood what I'd been training for.

[Fast forward to what I call "The Most Important E-mail of My Entire Life"]

So, there I was.... My old sweetheart (now my beautiful wife) e-mailed me while she was touring Europe asking if I was okay (i.e. "not dead") on 9/12.

I answered back and long story short... we were married on a beach in Hawaii, just months before I was deployed.

[Fast forward to my deployment to Iraq. My first and only deployment.]

For seven months in Iraq I did the job I'd trained for. The job that had taken years of training. The job that Pentagon leaders planned ahead for. The job that did not catch anyone unawares.

September 11, 2001. Never forget what happened that day, and never forget that a savvy US military is always planning ahead for the threats that lie on the horizon.

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