05 June 2007

The Week of Milestones.. Part Two

Originally posted March 30, 2007

On Wednesday I got a call I hoped would never come; 3M had been injured as a result of a Suicide-Vehicle Bourne IED. He is okay and has already been released from the hospital. It is still too fresh to really talk about, I don't think my thoughts and feelings would be anywhere near logical but suffice it to say I am so incredibly thankful that he and the members of his team were not seriously hurt. There are so many families (too many) of our brave men and women who don't get to hear from their husbands that something terrible has happened but they are okay, so I feel so fortunate to have been able to hear 3M's voice and know that things are going to be alright.

Here is the story of the attack from the journalist who was embedded with them. Thank you Bill, for sharing the stories of our brave Marines during this difficult time!

Please keep 3M and his team in your thoughts and prayers.

I am a firm believer that lightning rarely strikes twice.
Two Months later....

The 28th marked two months since the morning when I received the phone call from 3M. I haven't talked or written much about the attack and his injuries because it somehow feels like it never happened if I don't think about it or talk about it. But it did happen.

3/26/07- 3M told me that he was going on an extended mission and would not be in contact for several days. He assured me what he was doing was "no big deal" but he would not be by the computer or phone for a few days.

At 0920 I put LM down for his nap and heard my cellphone ringing. I ran to get the phone and heard 3M's voice on the other end. I thought it was strange that he was calling and he didn't sound right. I immediately panicked and started asking him over and over is he was okay and if something was wrong. There was a lot of noise in the background. 3M told me that he was just fine but something big happened where he is in Iraq and I might see things on the news. He told me not to worry about it because he was fine. He has said that sentence to me several times before so it calmed my fears- a little. He then asked how our LM was, told me he loved me and said he had to go.

I knew something was wrong, something just didn't sound right. I called my Mom and told her about the "weird phone call" and then googled to find the story he was talking about. It didn't take long to find out about the attack on the government center. I was sure this was what he was talking about but had the feeling that if something was wrong he would have told me.

LM woke up from his nap and my worries were sidelined by our little boy's need to eat and play. He and I went about our day until the phone rang again. This time it was another wife from 3M's team. She was calling to see how I was. How I was??

And then it hit me...

I was right, something had happened. The poor wife told me what she knew since she was the KV who had been told everyone had notified their spouses and referred me to the local Family Resource Officer (a Marine tasked with most things family related including notification of injuries of fellow Marines). He told me what he knew and apologized profusely. Apparently 3M was adamant that no one call his wife, he would take care of it. They didn't know that he didn't tell me. I didn't know what to do.

So there I sat. I didn't cry. I was mad. Actually, I was furious. How could he keep this from me? Why would he not tell me that he had been hurt? Didn't he think I wouldn't find out? Did he not think I was strong enough to handle the truth? I played the scenario over and over in my head. Did I miss something he said? Was he really alright? He sounded alright. What did I miss?

Slowly my anger turned to fear. I realized it was easier to be angry. If I was angry I didn't have to process how unbelievably terrified I was. Then the tears came.

3M was finally able to call and told me what had happened and explained why he didn't originally tell me what had occurred. I was never happier to hear his voice and confirm that he was alright.

On the morning of the attack, 3M and 5 of his teammates where sleeping in their temporary room. This place was in the center of town. At 0600 a Suicide vehicle bourne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) was detonated at the front gate of the compound. They awoke to the sound of the explosion and mortar fire. They decided to get up and get dressed, just in case, and that is when it happened. A second SVBIED detonated just feet from their room sending the concrete wall of their room in on them.

The SVBIED contained a chlorine gas. They didn't have their gear on, they couldn't see, the gas was so thick. 3M told me later, that he initially followed light to what he thought was the way out. When he got there he realized it was the back of the building where the explosion had occurred. He would have to go back and find another way out. He was worried, he thought maybe something bad would happen or he wouldn't make it out. Hearing him say that was the hardest thing I have ever heard. My Marine, who makes light of so many things, was scared. I could have lost him.

He found his way out. Actually, he helped two other Marines out of the building and then established cover so that two of his teammates could go back into the building and get his roommate, who did not make it out because of some more serious injuries. After several hours of fighting without shoes and through sickness, 3M was finally medivac'd out to Balad.

When he arrived in Balad he was handed a phone. As they stripped him of his clothes, inserted IV's, poked and prodded he was on the phone with me. That was the background noise, that was the source of the strange sounds.

Thankfully, he is okay. He spent several days in the hospital, receiving breathing treatments, recovering from his concussion, and healing the avulsion on his foot (from fighting without shoes for several hours). He returned to work and is doing much better.

I was so scared. I kept telling myself that lightning rarely strikes twice. The stupid line I kept telling myself in order to forget how dangerous 3M's job truly is.

Last Tuesday, 3M went on his first extended mission since his injuries. When he told me my heart hit the floor. Not again.

LM's birthday kept me busy on the first day and Mom's return home occupied the second day but my stomach was in knots. There was a Suicide bombing at a Iraqi Police recruitment center in the town where 3M is stationed. Not again, I kept telling myself. Not again.

At 0345 on the third day my phone rang. 3M was safely back inside the wire. He was on scene for the bombing but military was injured. Thank God.

Never in my life did I think that I would be faced with the stone cold reality of 3M's job. I always knew there was danger but I tried not to think of it. I refer to the attack as "the incident". I talk about him "being at work". I live in denial but it is the only way I can continue. I can't bear to think that I might lose him. I can't fathom LM not having his Dad teach him how to ride a bike, drive a car, or simply watch him turn into his own little person.

Even after explaining what happened I still can't accurately put into words how I feel about the attack, his injuries, and how terrified I am that I could lose my husband. No words can describe it, no feelings seem adequate. It just isn't possible, it just can't happen.

Until he comes home I will continue to count on my belief that lightning rarely strikes twice.

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