May 10

Reflections from Afghanistan.

Well hello again from Afghani land! I have great news to share with all my fans and friends out there… this guys on his way home! I have been waiting 9 months to say that and get there. Tomorrow sometime I get on that big C-17 in the sky and start the long process of getting back to the states and my family. I have been away too long, but that’s part of the job. Right now things seem to be going along ok at home. The kids are signed up for spring/summer sports so I will get to be a busy dad when I get there. Laynee and Jax are doing softball/baseball, and I think Evan is as well. (Hasn’t been confirmed yet) My mother is still there keeping an eye on things and trying to make the best of the situation. I’m glad she’s been able to stay for so long and I know she’s as ready to get home as I am.

I am going to forgo the usual and comment on books first then soldier life. With books on May 4th I had the re-launch of Transition Man and it went very well. I had many fans who have read the book drop in and give their support and a few new readers who actually asked me questions about the characters and plot. It was a lot of fun and I need to thank my friend Aurora Martinez with Elizabeth Delena Rosa author services for promoting and hosting the event while I was at work. (Being deployed has its draw backs like…they want you to be at work on time and stuff) So far sales are still slow but I’m building a better reach base and hoping that over the next 12 months I’ll get some kind of traction. In the next week I’ll start promoting the next release which will be True Immortals: Genesis on June 15th. I’m very excited about this book, it’s more teen friendly and has a great message I think. Being based in Biblical history it should be fun for anyone who has some kind of Christian back ground. So keep your eyes peeled for that.

Now on to the soldier aspect of my life. This post is about my time overseas in the fight against terrorism, or at least that’s what we’ve been told we’re doing here. We thought we were fighting to keep people safer at home and come to find out attacks are still happening there. The Boston Marathon bombing was an eye opener for me. We fight here and we capture and kill a lot of bad guys, but this country and region of the world is full of them, and with the new rules of this war we can’t just kill them all. Spending time away from the ones I love most in the world and knowing they suffer when I’m gone has brought me to a point of reflection on my experience and I wanted to share it with you. I write a series of essays to my kids that one day they may want to read and this is the subject of one of those essays. I’m not going into such detail as I put into one of those as I like to keep my blog posts reasonably short and my essays are about 10 pages per subject but I can share some thoughts with you.

Separation. This is what first comes to mind. I’ve been married for 14 years. I’ve never spent more than a couple of months away from home and that time has always been hard. Most of those incidents were based with me going somewhere else in the US and my family knew I was safe. Even my last deployment to Kandahar was a short deployment, not quite 4 months and I never left the base. Kandahar is a large base here and so I was pretty much safe there as well. But this one has been completely different. Though I have a phone and internet access, I still feel the sting of loneliness and seclusion that comes with this type of work. Missing the companionship of someone who knows me so well as my wife has been hard to bear. It is true that I’ve made good friends here and the experiences I’ve had made an enduring  bond that will last my for my entire life I’m sure. But she is my girl forever and missing her has been a struggle. My children are all at growing stages of their lives and they have had to spend the last 9 months going through that without me there to advise them and guide them. At the ages of 13, 11, and 8 each of them are having unique challenges that I know I can help with, only, I’m not there. Jules is doing her best and now with the help of my mother and hers they are having some success in adapting to life as it faces each of them.

Safety. I have had a new experience with having something threaten my life. This is the first I’ve mentioned it at all, but the indirect fire (IDF), and missions we flew indeed to me literally into bad guy’s back yards. Many of you may not know this but the Chinook isn’t a small or quiet helicopter. Most of our missions we didn’t get shot at, and we weren’t in great danger. But occasionally we were and that makes a person think about what in life can be really important. I can’t hear a loud boom, or even a door slam without thinking something is blowing up nearby. I can’t hear the sound of an alarm without hitting the deck and praying it’s not my time anymore. I’m sure this will pass when I’m out of harm’s way and back in my own house but as I’m reflecting I can think what I want. I have worn a gun on my hip every day for the last 9 months, prepared to use it if need be. I’ve had a round in the chamber and the weapon in my hand waiting for someone to twitch, thinking they might try something while we flew and I’d have to stop them. I’ve done landings where we could see people’s houses and those same people moving around their courtyards and I had a machine gun aimed at them ready to shoot if they pointed so much as a pistol at me. Luckily on all of these occasions I was protected and kept safe, by God’s hand and I’ll be forever grateful I didn’t have to pull that trigger but that doesn’t change the fact that I would have in a second and I truly doubt I would have felt regret.

Work. This has been the craziest one yet. I’ve worked for more hours than I care to count. When I owned my own company I worked long hours, but nothing like this. We work 12-14 hours a day 7 days a week. We get a few hours off and call it a reset 1 day in 14 and that usually got messed up. I haven’t added it up because I’m a little scared to but I think I’ve worked 2 years’ worth of hours in 9 months. Even when we were off duty, we were still here. I wasn’t going home to my couch and TV, I wasn’t going home to my shower and my bed. I was still in this crap hole, doing what I was ordered to do, doing my job. I was excited to come here and do my part in defending my family and my country from evil men who want to hurt and kill the innocent. But the way we are told to fight the war, all we are doing is getting good people killed, and not really doing much to increase our safety at home. It’s not my place to criticize those making these decisions, I’m a soldier, and I do what I’m told. But I do hate to see good men and women die, and not be able to go get the Bast@#$* doing it. We are told we are winning the hearts and minds of the people, all I see is a bunch of Haji’s wanting us to leave, so they can get back to their simple life of fighting each other without us in the way. I’m proud of my service here, and I will come back if they order me to, but I honestly hope to never see this place or these people ever again.

Spirituality. This is a big one for me. Most of you who read this blog or know me personally know I’m a faithful member of the LDS church. I don’t just believe it, I live it. Back home I’ve tried never to miss a week of church. I love meeting and worshiping with other saints and members. Our mutual faith builds off of one another and we are strengthened by the interaction. In the last 9 months I’ve been to church twice. That has been hard, but as I’ve studied and read, prayed and pondered my faith has grown. My knowledge and understanding of God has increased. I’ve had several meaningful and spiritual conversations about God and his plan for us. I don’t know if I’ve affected anyone but I’ve tried every day to live and set an example as God would have me do. I’ve felt his love surround me and buoy me up when I was down. I’ve felt his sword of protection over me when I felt afraid or threatened. It is through this faith growing time that I’ve come to understand that he never has and never will abandon me or leave me alone. During my families struggles I know he’s been there to help each of them in the way they needed. And even through the trial of our faith he has given us exactly what we needed to be happy and grow.

Alright I’m done, so much for my rambling. (Imagine being one of my kids reading 10 pages about this!) Next post will be from home! I’ll be travelling for a few days and not having good internet to post so looking forward to writing this blog from my kitchen table in the near future. That’s it for now, as always I’m proud of my kids and my wife. Play to win! And you stay classy planet earth.

About the author

Jon Pew

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