Topic: Reflections

Jessica Morse and her husband at a deployment homecoming in 2013 at Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis, New Mexico. Photo courtesy of the author.

‘Murphy’s Law of Deployment:’ What Can Go Wrong, Will Go Wrong. But I Am Brave Enough.

Fifteen years later, I no longer cry in bathrooms, but I do follow the terrified-looking new spouses in to reassure them they are brave enough.
A B-52 bomber takes off from Andersen Air Force Base in support of Linebacker II, the “Christmas bombings.” Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force.

Banana Meringue Pie, Smokey Robinson, and the Christmas Bombings of 1972

When a deafening roar woke me on the morning of Dec. 18, 1972, I raced outside and watched in awe as wave after wave of KC-135s headed off the island.
The Virginia Air National Guard’s Virginia Beach-based 203rd Red Horse Squadron holds a memorial service March 3, 2014, at Camp Pendleton to honor 18 unit members and three Florida Army Guard aviators killed on that day in 2001 when the C-23 Sherpa they were flying in crashed in a cotton field near Unadilla, Georgia. The 203rd members were returning home after completing a two-week military construction project at Hurlburt Field, Florida. Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, courtesy of the Virginia National Guard.

We All Have Stories. After All, We Didn’t Just Watch History, We Made It.

Inspiration abounds, and in uniform, it is everywhere, every day, because every day we do things of consequence for our nation.
Joel Searls visits 1st Lt. William Donnelly IV’s gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery. Photo courtesy of the author.

Come Thanksgiving, I Will Think of His Sacrifice and the Human Cost of War

I thought about his lost future and struggled to compose myself. I knew it was up to all of us who make it home to carry on the memory of those who don’t.
Spc. Robert Blair, Capt. Douglas Dicenzo, and Spc. Matt Owens were on their way back from a district council meeting in southern Baghdad when an EFP struck their M114 up-armored Humvee. Blair and Dicezno died instantly. Owens and Lt. Justin Watson were severely injured. Photo courtesy of the author.

The Joy and Misery of Survival Took Root in My Soul. Neither Has Extinguished.

I didn’t deserve life any more than the guys who hadn’t made it. How the hell could I be celebrating at a time like this? 
Ted Englemann spent Thanksgiving 2008 with soldiers in Iraq. Photo courtesy of the author.

Nobody Leaves War Emotionally Healthy. The Path to Recovery Is Unique to Each Person.

Traveling to Iraq left me with a continued understanding of wartime trauma but not why some people’s paths end in suicide.
A Russian general reminds Col. Rick Kiernan of the relationship between the USSR and the United States in World War II. Photo courtesy of U.S. Army.

A Vision of a Russian Cultural Transformation Comes Full Circle and Shatters

I left Moscow feeling as if we’d accomplished what we set out to do. Hope for a free ‘information architecture’ reigned—for a while, then shattered.

Holding On When Leaving Feels Like Letting Go

I feel a sense of bereavement that I know, even in the moment, is outsized. But in a few weeks, my family will not own this home anymore.
“At his hands, I experienced military sexual trauma that was disguised as romance. First, he made me feel safe, then he made me feel important, and then he made me feel hopeless,” writes Andrea Rathbun. Photo by Paola Chaaya, courtesy of

He Used a Position of Power, In a Time of War, to Get What He Wanted. 

I wouldn’t know that this is when I lost my sense of service. I wouldn’t know that there was a reason I couldn’t stand to be alone in a room with a man.