Who knows what got into me today, but I decided to attack a storage closet to see what could be given away and what should be thrown away. So there I was, making a pile for the Goodwill and a pile for the trash can and a pile to go through, before sending it to one of the other two piles.
I found a plastic bag with the words, Sheraton Hotel, Kuwait printed in gold letters. Inside the bag, Leroy’s military ID. In big red letters, “EMBEDDED 3ID, valid 2/28/2003 to 4/28/2003. He’s not smiling in this one, in fact he has a very serious look on his face. I remember when he got home, he said some young soldier wanted him to hand in this piece of identity, but he had refused. He said he’d earned the right to keep it after being a part of the “Tip of the Spear” as the 3rd Infantry Division was first to roll across the desert when the war with Iraq began. I guess he won that argument.
What a little treasure chest I’d found.
Leroy’s luggage tags from his flight home from Kuwait, with a big blue security sticker next to the letters “IAD” indicating his flight home to Dulles Airport and his eating utensils. A neat little fork, spoon and knife that looked like a boy scout cook-out set.
I found old photos from his time in the war. Pictures of him smiling, shaving in the mirror of the Humvee, grabbing some sleep sprawled out on the hood of the truck…He was 6’5″ and there just wasn’t room to stretch out inside the Hummer, and there were photos with soldiers, friendships made in time of war.
For some reason, he’d kept a sealed first aid field dressing kit. I guess he carried it in a pocket of his chemical suit. If it had more meaning, I’ll never know.
And then I found my little notes I’d stuffed in his luggage…”I love you” and “Come Home Soon,” and “HI, remember me?” They had been folded and folded again but the message was loud and strong.
It still is….almost 9 and a-half years later…it still is.