September 5, 2007

A TIME OF REFLECTION

Well, I am officially retired. Because of the long weekend, I could not go in and trade my active duty ID card in for my retired one until now. I have been ready to retire for awhile now and I am excited to be starting a new chapter in my life. I was not prepared for the feelings I would have however, when I received my blue card and was all done officially with the Navy. You see, I joined the Navy when I was just sixteen on a delayed entry contract. Now, 24 years later, I am leaving the only thing that is familiar to me - and that is a scary thing. I know intellectually that it will all work out, but wow! it is quite the feeling to know that I am now not a part of the Navy anymore - at least in an active sense. So, I have been doing a little reflecting back and thinking of the good times and the not so good times - I met and married my husband while in the Navy, had three beautiful kids, I have been all over the world and I have had job security. I have received great education and training and met and worked with some wonderful people who I am privileged to call my friends to this day. There were also some tough times - long deployments away from my family, missed birthdays, school events, major milestones, and some anniversaries. I have been put in harms way several times, all in the name of doing my job. My most recent separation from my family (well, besides the current one) was my several months away while in Iraq. Just last summer I was coming back - it's hard to believe a whole year has gone by since I returned. You are not really supposed to take pictures while over there but I did and I am not sorry I did. I wasn't taking pictures of National security secrets, just chronicling my journey to share with my family. But when I got home, I was not quite ready to see those pictures or share a whole lot - you see some pretty bad things during a time of war and I saw my share. However, I have decided that it is time to start my Iraq scrapbook so that I can have those memories to share with my children as they grow up, allowing them to appreciate what we have in this great country. So, I am sharing this first page with you. No recipe - just sharing. This is me preparing for a night hop in the helo - we tended to travel at night when it was dark for obvious reasons. As I am waiting for my flight, I am wearing approximately 90 pounds of gear - I have body armor, kevlar, a kevlar helmet, a rucksack with emergency equipment, a 45 pistol, and an M9 machine gun. I also have several extra clips of ammo in my bag and on my body. Add to this the over 100 degrees temperature and it makes for quite an experience! The glasses are the finishing touch - the sand is so bad there that you need them to protect your eyes even when it is dark. So, there you have it - my fashion statement. This was an easy one to share - pretty innocuous and gives you an idea of what I got to wear on a daily basis. I know a lot of you who are Army are wondering - isn't she wearing Army equipment, and the answer is yes - that is why Navy folks in Iraq tell people we have joined the Narmy because we typically are not ground troops. But, there is nothing typical about Iraq. I hope you enjoyed my rather lengthy explanation of this page - thanks for reading!

23 comments:

Rose Ann said...

Your page is really awesome! What an accomplishment!! Congratulations on your retirement!!

One of my older brothers was in the navy for six years, though it has been a while since he's been out.

Rita said...

That page is awesome Alexandra! Congrats on retiring. A whole new world is opening up for you, good luck in your ventures! My son just got out after serving 9 years in the Army, he was an apache helicopter pilot. Now he is searching for a job in the outside world know to you as civilian life. I also made a scrapbook of his Military life now I have to add the final pages of his career. Take care.

Charmaine (CharmWarm on SCS) said...

WOW, now that is something! Your page is just wonderful. Thank you for sharing that with us. I can't imagine all your experiences!

Reality Show Reject said...

Your page is great! Thanks for sharing it and your experience with us. Thank you for serving our country so well.

Kimberly said...

What a GREAT page and your reflections just made me think of my life as a military brat. I remember when my dad retired from the Army and he had the same feelings you are having.
I think you are amazing. Truly amazing. Good things are coming your way! Smooches my friend. You are the best.

mum on the run said...

Love the LO, and loved reading your post!

Nikki said...

Wow Alexandra! What a huge milestone! I seriously got misty eyed reading about how you feel retiring from the navy. My husband has 6 years to go with the Army and we are definitly looking ahead to retirement but I can relate to those feelings (on the spouse level) of the unknown and the sadness of leaving the only life you've really known. Kudos to you for being so brave and strong and thank you for being one of the brave who helped protect our country! {smiles} :)

dasimonds said...

"CONGRATULATIONS"..on your retirement. Your page is very
touching..We all thank you for
your time"serving our country"
May you have a very happy new adventure in Life. HUGS..to you and your family.."GOD BLESS"

CAKVD said...

Congrats on your retirement! Not many people your age can say they are retired!! I love the scrapbook page! It is perfect!!
Cheryl KVD

The Williams Family said...

ON behalf of myself and my family I send you a great big "THANK YOU" for all you did for us. Congrats on retiring and sharing. Makes us remember it is still happening and we need not forget.

Flossie's Follies said...

Great page, I know that new roads can be scary but there are always fun new things to see and learn, it will all turn out fine.

stampingranny said...

Alex, What a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing this with us! You gave to our country and you are so brave! I am blown away by your inner power and strength! You get my BLOG LADY OF THE YEAR AWARD! GO NAVY! Love your scrapper page!Your bud, Deb

kathleenh said...

Thanks for sharing your story and your page Alexandra. I thank you for your personal sacrifices for securing our freedom!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I too got teary-eyed just reading a little about your experiences. I'm English born, but now Canadian, but you sure spoke to my heart. Thank God for people like you who are willing to sacrifice for the freedom of all of us, whatever our nationality. I haven't had much of a look of your blog, but I'm very impressed by what I've seen, you obviously have talent in this area too and I've put you in my faves. I wish you a happy and blessed future. Diana

Marie said...

Alex, I love the way you told your story about this page. I hope you find the time to journal all your Navy experiences (24 years worth)for the future generations in your family.
Marie

Elizebeth said...

You should feel very proud of your accomplishments throughout your career. You definately had a difficult job and through it you met your husband and had children. Your new life is going to be filled with one adventure after another.
Im happy that you are at a point where scrapbooking your journey is a good thing, this is definately a story worth telling.

Dawn Easton said...

Wow Alexandra! This brought tears to my eyes! Congratulations on your retirement! Are you still planning on being involved in the Navy in some way? I wish you the best of luck in whatever you do!!! That scrapbook page is fantastic! I think it will be a great way to share this experience with your family.

Shannon McGann said...

What a beautiful scrapbook page. You are so brave! God bless you for serving your country as you did. I can't imagine what you experienced there. You are such a strong woman! Wow! I can't even think of the words to say right now! Thank you for serving. I'm sure your children will appreciate the effort you're putting into this album. One day they will be able to show their own children and tell them about their amazing grandma!

Kirsten said...

What a great and meaningful page!

Heather P. said...

Wow, Alex. Add me to the list of the weepies, that was such a beautiful entry. My mom was in the Air Force for 24 years and retired back in 2000. We were very fortunate to have had the experiences we did, and that she was never deployed somewhere we couldn't go with her.

God bless you for your service. It's amazing!

Julia Stainton said...

I sooo enjoyed reading this! Thanks so much for sharing. Congrats on your retirement...I'm sure great things are in store for you. I'm Canadian, not American, but I just wnated to thank you for doing your part to make the world a better place. I can't imagine the experiences you've had. Blessings to you.

Bee said...

Waow, I can't even imagine what it must have been for you, your experiences... I sure understand the little pinch at the heart now that you are retiring!
It will be wonderful now to have more time with your family :-)

I love this page and I think it's great that you are making a scrapbook to keep those memories and share them with your loved ones.

beate said...

Alex, I didn't know! Thanks for sharing this with us.

Your first page looks great! You look like you mean business.