Forgotten Family- dispatches from America's war on terror

2LT Corbin E. Copeland

1-508 th (ABN) IN

Somewhere in Afghanistan-

When I graduated from Oklahoma State University, I knew I was going to either Iraqi of Afghanistan. I didn't know when or where, until I got to my unit in Italy.

During the months from June to December, we were gone a total of at least two months doing pre-combat training. I never really had a problem during those months, because I knew that I would see my family in a couple of weeks. But the weeks, especially the days, leading up to our deployment, it almost felt as if I was just waiting to die. Like I had a few precious days before it was all over, and there was no stopping it. Now don't get me wrong; I knew what I was signing up for even before I graduated from high school.

My wife knew from the start what she was getting herself into; but I couldn't help but feel guilty for my children. Did Kylee sign up for this? What about Justin? He was only able to see his dad for a month before I left? We tried as best as we could to transition into my being gone. We talked to my daughter long before the deployment and let her know that daddy was going to go away to work for a long time, and that we would not be able to see each other. But, she watches TV and she sees soldiers dying in the movies and on the news.

We thought we'd be smart and tell her that those people were not dying; they just fell down and they would be OK. But everyone knows how kids think, and it wasn't long until she started crying and telling me that she didn't want me to go to work because she did not want me to fall down. What do you say to something like that?

During the small amount of time that I have been gone, approximately a month so far, I often wonder about my wife and children. Will my daughter still look at me the same way? Will she remember how much I love her and how everything that I do is for her and my family? Will my son even know who I am when I get back? All of these questions you think about everyday. Sure you talk to them on the phone, and you try not to let any of them see or hear you start to cry, but the questions and worries never go away. I cannot imagine how hard it was for soldiers to deploy when there was no e-mail, phones, or digital cameras.

As you lie in bed at night, or in my case during the day, you often wonder will I be remembered? Will your family, who you know loves you more than anything in the world, remember you? You don't really know why you wonder that, but you don't ever stop thinking about it. Then another soldier knocks on your door to make sure you are awake for your patrol or shift, and at that moment you realize, he has a family. He is wondering the exact same things you are. He doesn't look worried or sad; he's ready and willing to do anything that needs to be done. So you get up, put on your uniform and boots, grab your weapon and move out. Everyday when you start to doubt or you start to wonder the “what ifs”, all you have to do is look at your friend and know he is just like you. Your family will never forget, your wife will always love you, your kids will always know you, and your friends will always be there to support you when things are bad. Thanks for all of the support, letters, care packages, don't forget about the families, and always remember.

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