I want to make a note. I could never understand or fathom the emotional and physical stress that my sweet, sweet wife faced during those long 24+ hours and countless nights without me. She is my rock, she is our rock. So, I will not dare attempt to tell her side of this story. I could not possibly justify it in any way.
From the western most border of Iraq, I called the hospital I knew Evie was going to be at while giving birth to our children in CO. The elderly women who answered the phone at the hospital was so sweet and I'm sure to this day that she was an angel. She connected me to Evie's room who just minutes before gave birth to Robert. As, I spoke to her on the phone, I felt my chest poke out in pride as my throat tightened in despair. I would not let her hear me cry,(she was doing plenty for both of us) rather I remained high spirited and excited about the, surely, quick arrival of Peter. I had a three hour guard shift coming up and figured I would be able to call immediately following shift. It was three hours of gut wrenching hell. My soldier, Jared Baker, a kid from Philly, kept my mind occupied. He intimately knew Evie and I. He was very excited as well. He did his duty of telling me jokes and stories of his childhood mischief. Though those three hours felt to be six, without him it would have been nearly unbearable. My shift ended at 0600 and My platoon sergeant, Spencer Polwort escorted me to our Colonels office, so I could call Evie. I began to feel an immense sadness as the phone started to connect. I figured it was just the sadness that comes with separation and missing such a momentous event. I hear Evie pick up the phone.
I hear the faint audible of my wife's cry. I asked her what was wrong. She answers," Something is wrong with Peter. I'm so sorry." My sweet wife.. Taking her duties as a mother so serious, she felt inclined to apologize to me. I give reassurance to anyone still reading this, I have never felt so helpless, I have never felt so inadequate, I have never felt so insignificant and unworthy as I did at that moment. I fell to my knees and humbly conversed with our Heavenly Father. It was a most sacred appointment and calling. I came out of our little room that we slept in and met with my commander. He told me I could go home to be with my family. Our phones were inoperable and none of us knew what happened or if Peter was even alive. I was given ten days. To find my way from Ah Rutbah, Iraq to Colorado Springs, CO and back to Ah Rutbah.
I packed my gear and wondered how I was going to find my way home through a war torn country. By happenstance, I was talking to a friend next to the XO's office. His runner, PFC Steele, gave him a message that he is to report to the Colonel's office in Hit, Iraq, about 75 miles from Baghdad Airport, immediately... It was my first small step towards home.
As we loaded, the truck I felt a rush of excitement come over me. We drove for three and a half hours east to Hit. I jump out of the truck and make a b line straight to headquarters to find the next thing smoking to Baghdad. I introduce myself to S-3(logistics) major and ask for a ride to the airport. His look was not only one of amusement but a bit of pity. He said that I would have to wait for two days for the supply convoy to make its route back east. On a positive note, I did manage to dodge the several mortar rounds that made its way on the FOB those two days.
After two days and nights in the charming villa tucked away on a quaint hill of sand, heat and trash, I found a ride out of that town. I am sure it was the land of Nod. The convoy would take me to Ramadi, just about an hour from the airport. Absent of any tuscany backdrops.
As we drove onto the FOB, I realized that it was one of Sadaam's palaces. The problem was that brass was everywhere... They had priority on all modes of transportation in and out. I would sleep in somewhat comfortable conditions, with resonating sounds of small arms fire, for the next two days. As frustrating as it was, I was still getting closer to home.
In the late morning a chinook greeted me at the palace. The young crew chief met with us before boarding and gave a warning that a sandstorm was blowing in and that the airport was only allowing mission essential aircraft taxi. Unfortunately, I wasn't mission essential. Nevertheless, I boarded the helicopter and prayed for a miracle. The helicopter dropped us off close to the terminal. I exited the aircraft, tired and fatigued, I through my gear down outside the door listening to the mumbles of disappointed soldiers. They puffed away on their cigarettes angry that the weather was keeping them from going home. I didn't even bother walking inside to check-in, as everyone was being told that there would be no flights out for four days due to inclement weather. I couldn't take another let down. I sat down on my duffel. I reckon I looked a bit whipped because a female Major sat next to me and talked with me. I told her what my last six days consisted of and my concern for my wife and our babies. Her brown eyes held back tears and she cracked a smile. She gave me her regards and said I can help. I couldn't imagine how, but she walked into the building and came back out with a female full bird Colonel. She asked me what the problem was, in which I explained. I told her I wouldn't be able to fly for at least four days. She smiled and pointed to the Tarmac at a small leer jet sitting there. She said "you see that plane? Get on it, we are leaving in five." In later conversation she informed that if she was essential then I was essential. We flew into Doha, Kuwait, where an escort of Tahoes was waiting for the colonel. Her convoy of SUVs took me to the manifest office. She personally made sure I had my itinerary and wished me well. I will never forget her.
The next morning I left. I met my wife at the Colorado Springs airport where she took me home. I was welcomed in by my mother-in-law and a set of beautiful 7 day old twin boys. At last, we were whole. For a short while anyway. I wish I would've had maturity to appreciate in its fullest capacity, the event my family was blessed with.
As you can see for yourself... We all met and from there our story began. By the way, we are convinced that Peter was just being a jokester and was trying to pull one over on the doctors.