Happy Thanksgiving From Afghanistan


Old Glory flies confidently over Kandahar Airfield at dusk, Nov 23. Photo by CJ.

As I write this, the majority of Americans are tucked safely into bed in anticipation of the next day’s food and festivities. Here in Afghanistan, Soldiers are beginning to wake up. Breakfast is just being served and others are out exercising. I want to take a moment and just tell you what I’m thankful for this year.

First and foremost, I’m thankful for a forgiving God. I’m thankful for the atonement of his Son, Jesus Christ, that made it possible for me to live again in spite of my sins and shortcomings. Though many, I have been provided with opportunity and grace through humility and repentance.

I’m thankful for my life. As some of you know, I had a close call last year and the past 18 months have been rebuilding and strengthening my mental and emotional well-being. It’s been a rough journey for me and especially my family. Which leads me to my next thanksgiving.

I would not be here without family. Dealing with me has not been easy the past few years. Nothing hurts me more down to the core than to know that something I have done causes my family to wonder if it is worth it or if they are capable of dealing with it. My wife, Emily, has been my stalwart ally in this fight against mental demons she couldn’t see. She’s had to endure her husband disappearing and sleeping in his car. She’s had to endure sleepless nights and angry days. Yet, though it all, she was my backbone; my cheerleader. She was there to tell what I needed to hear. She was there to hold me accountable. She was there to give me reason to live. She is my rock, my love, my everything. I am so thankful that a beautiful, young woman gave this long-haired punk kid a chance. I love her more today than I have ever loved her or anything. She completes me; makes me feel like in all the chaos of life there is something sweet, innocent, kind, generous, and loving on this earth.

I’m thankful for my awesome kids. As I watch them grow without me, I’m in awe at the wonderful things Emily and I have created. They are smart, outgoing, kind, and just the greatest kids. While I could do without some of the attitudes, I’m so thankful that they are in my life and a part of my family. They make me proud to be a father every day just seeing them smile and make us laugh.

I’m thankful for the troops I have the honor of serving beside. While you’re reading this in the comfort and safety of your home (unless you live in Chicago), there are troops outside the wire right now sleeping on stiff cots, in the dirt, on the roof of a house, or hunkered down in some rocks on a mountainside freezing their tuckus off. While I sit in the comfort of my air conditioned “chu,” there are troops patrolling the streets, blowing up IEDs, and clearing villages of murderers. There is no personal space, no personal time, and no personal clothes. Every hour of their day is accounted for, but they do it for something they’re deeply thankful for. And I’m thankful they’re out there ensuring my safety in here as well.

Our great country. I am thankful for the United States of America. I’m so appreciative that I am privileged to serve the greatest country on earth. In spite of our shortcomings, America is a nation deeply embedded in the ideals of liberty, charity, and community. While some – myself included – may think that those ideals are slipping from our grasp, rest assured that there are those willing to give their lives for its assurance. I’m grateful that I serve a country that does so much good at home and abroad.

Finally, I’m thankful for my friends – all of YOU. One of these days someone will convince what I’ve done to deserve such support, love, and devotion. I am constantly in awe of the people I’ve been privileged to meet and become friends with over the years through my writing. I’m thankful for the opportunities it has presented to me. I’ve seen some awesome things and met some awesome people. Some of you I’ve never even “met” but would drop everything in an instant to be there for you. Thank you for just being there.

I promise I’ll post pictures later of the Thanksgiving meal.

P.S. Heh. I just noticed I’ve been posting a lot of silhouette photos lately. Sorry about that.

12 Comments on “Happy Thanksgiving From Afghanistan

  1. I will contact him? He was named Mattes James an Officer of the United States Army . Which is now on a mission. Afghanistan I just know he has a few days. I love him very much and he was worried. The next month will be the day of his birth. I want to send a birthday gift to him. What should I do? He will get. the gift I sent.

    • I will contact him? He was named Mattes James 34 years.an Officer of the United States Army . Which is now on a mission. Afghanistan I just know he has a few days. I love him very much and he was worried. The next month will be the day of his birth. I want to send a birthday gift to him. What should I do? He will get. the gift I sent.

  2. I’m a CIB holder from the Korean War and interested in soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and awarded the CIB, CAB, or CMB. My reason is, I have found a way to honor these soldiers. I would appreciate hearing from anyone interested.
    dvalley1@san.rr.com

  3. I’m a CIB holder from the Korean War and interested in soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and awarded the CIB, CAB, or CMB. My reason is, I have found a way to honor these soldiers. I would appreciate hearing from anyone interested.

  4. I give thanks everyday that I was raised in the military by parents who held our country, faith and respect/love for others with such high regard. With their examples and watching those around us, it was almost natural to grow up with those same values. And I give thanks that we (Jeff and I at Stardust Radio) have had and still do have the opportunity to host visits with so many of our very special men and women who serve. It is through these visits, that we are able to pass on messages to the families that we are aware of how very much they also contribute to our country and freedom. It is always an honor to say thank you to one who has served in uniform and to their family members who have also served.

  5. My son wants to know if they make turkey dinner MRE’s!

  6. Your comments about your wife ring loud and true with me. My greatest teacher and mentor has been my wife. She has been strong when she needed to be and she has been patient with me always, for almost 38 years now, and she always told me saw in me the man I would become. I am grateful to Heavenly Father for putting her in my life to teach, guide, love me and to work with him in molding me. Without my wife, and my Father in heaven, my life would have turned out very and dramatically different. I shudder at the thought.
    As far as the atonement of Christ and its work in my life, let’s just say there would not have been a chance in hell I would have ended up where I am and who I am. My wife has always said that with my extreme nature, I would have been a terrorist or something of that extreme nature, had I not met her. I think she is right.
    I also love my country. I served in the U.S. Navy for 23 years and I did it for the flag waving and heart throbbing emotions I still get when I salute and render honors to Ole Glory and her Red and White stripes, Blue field and White Stars. May she ever wave and may she ever represent the principles of the Constitution of the United States of America.
    I will always keep my Oath and defend her against all enemies foreign and domestic!

    • sorry to bother you I can’t help but notice you are in Afgainstan and I have someone over there saying they are in the military over there, By the name of Johnny Richards is there any way to find out or questions I can ask if this is true? or not, he clams to be coming home but says they have to pay there way home from there and that he has his son there with him. Please help me find out the truth.

      • Ask him for his AKO address. If he doesn’t know what that is or gives you some excuse that it’s for “official use only” or some other bull, he’s not real. An AKO address should end in @us.army.mil

      • @ Melissia That is a CROCK of Bull why would his Son be there in Afghan with him these scammers are so freaking pathetic but hes right his Son if he has one is with him in Scam Central or Malaysia but this is definitely NOT a Military Member check the last Name the scammer even added the typical S at the end as most scammers do another thought ask to see him on webcam an interactive chat for 30 minutes to an hour if he says he cant for ANY reason he is a SCAMMER Anonn

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