Forever Changed #13: flying our flags together

What a week! I know I say that every week. But it’s is true. How many of you aren’t happy unless you are running your life at 100 mph with your hair on fire? Most of you know that pretty much describes me.

My week started with your responses to last week’s e-mail. So many of you told me things that I could not see for myself, that I sounded tired (spiritually and otherwise), and you know what, you were right. So this week I spent extra time recuperating and wouldn’t you know it, the enemy wanted to come in and mess that up for me. Yet, today after a worship service and a late night last night as we held our combat dining in, where I served as the president of the mess, I still feel as though God has done something new in me this last week. So thank you to all of you who told me to slow down, and I wasn’t even on a motorcycle.

The Air Force deploys us for a short duration of time that they have determined they can send someone here before they begin to become less efficient. The Army has realized this among their soldiers who deploy for a longer period of time and are working to shorten their deployment length. Of course, I realize there are costs involved in the formula. Everything has to also be fiscally responsible. But I think it is true. I have been trying to bring together coherent thoughts to pass home to you since Sunday and here it is Tuesday and my head is still in a fog. Thus the randomness of my thoughts…

Iraq and American flagsSomething really cool that has begun recently is the flying of the Iraqi flag with the American and Air Force flags. Who would have thought when I joined the military 15 years ago that they would see this? I mean really. When I joined up we were gearing up to invade Iraq and liberate Kuwait. I was in the Air Guard and activated for active duty service during this time. Some of you served in and around Iraq during Desert Storm you know what I mean. We have people stationed here who actually dropped bombs on this base in 1991 and now here they are helping to rebuild it. A strange turn of events.

Yesterday I received the following email.


I’ve started seeing some LOEs and decs coming up that look pretty plain.

The ONE BIG THING that sets all of you apart here from most everybody is that you are under fire. Be sure to put that in the LOEs using those words, or ones like combat, mortar/ rocket attacks, etc.

All of you have been shot at, and it’s important that honorable military distinction is in your records and decs.

You great guys are ALL heroes, and don’t let go of that ever.

I won’t say who wrote to us that message, but I think it is funny that he had to say it. Since I have been here we have had a little over one attack every couple days. Now that is on average. Sometimes there are several attacks in one day. But I think we have all gotten so used to them along with the controlled detonations that EOD does on a regular basis which are usually louder than the mortars, unless the mortar is close and then I can tell you it is really loud. In fact you get so used to them that you can always tell the difference in the two. Who would have thought that explosions whether they be, explosions from the C-4 that EOD blows up, or a mortar round impacting, or the counterfire batteries taking it to the enemy would all be distinguishable to the ear. Distinguishable enough that people walking around outside usually do not even react to the counterfire or C-4. And the ones who do react usually cause a smirk to run across the face of the others who have been on the ground for a while.

And one final thought for you before I close. There are certain things that are applicable to our location that are just plain true. Here are a few things I have learned while being stationed in Balad, Iraq…

  1. 20 mph = 32 kmph (most of our street signs give you mph or kmph but the vehicles are always kmph so you often have to convert the sign in your head)
  2. BBQ beef, braised beef, and cubed beef that they serve in the dining facility all suspiciously look and taste the same.
  3. The dining facility cooks food just like momma would cook it, if momma was an Indian, Pakistani, Iraqi who was cooking for 5,000 people at a time.
  4. Fed-Ex? What Fed-Ex???
  5. At one point or another you will hear the phrase, “Are we ever going to have fun?”
  6. Controlled detonations and explosions, there is a difference

OK, well there you have it. I will begin traveling to some of the Forward Operating Bases soon including places like Baghdad, Talil, Kirkuk, and Tikrit. So keep those trips in your prayers. My Band of Brothers is doing great. These guys have really been honest and open and we have been able to deal with some life issues that have allowed healing and wholeness to take effect in their lives. The battle continues to make their hearts whole again, but I know that marriages and individual lives are being transformed. I am on the downhill slide with only a little more than a month left. Gladiator signing off…

ABPnews will publish one entry a week from the journal then-Capt. Charles Seligman kept while deployed to Iraq as an Air Force chaplain in 2005. Now a major, Seligman currently serves as the deputy wing chaplain for the 59th Medical Wing at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. He is endorsed by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

You can read more of his story published September 11, 2013. You can also read older journal entries from Maj. Seligman

Chuck Seligman

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