Monday, August 4, 2008

A Little Laugh For You, A Little Scary For Me

Well, I told Jeremy I would come up with some stupid/funny/retard pictures of me and I have. I have to give you the background, well not really, but I have to mention Freedom somewhere and she plays a part in this post. I was in a REALLY good mood thanks to her the other day. A lot of you know that I act like an idiot and say and do stupid things when I am in a good mood. I can usually get a laugh out of the most upset/depressed/unhappy person in the room if I am in a really good mood. Well, I had been pressuring Freedom to send me some pictures of her smiling face and she gave me the age old "I look like crap/I don't have make up on/blah blah blah". I told her it does not matter to me, I just want to see a smiling face and decided to show her how easy it is to just snap a picture and send it on, no matter how bad you look at the moment. That is what these pictures are. I named the files on a spur of the moment to add to the stupidity: (that took a while to remember where I put them) Green Rambo, Spoony and Too Cool. I used the webcam on my laptop in my room and just grabbed stuff and started snapping pictures. I sent them to Freedom and got a great laugh out of her and then sent them to mom and she said they got a good laugh at work. I hope it does the same for you. Just remember bro these started as something to make Freedom laugh and turned into something funny for you all.

When you have someone like Freedom (typed her real name and had to delete it TWICE) in your life, it is the little things that will make you smile ear to ear and act out like a fool because you are so happy (Jeremy had something to say to you right here, but had to erase it; you know why because we have talked about it several times). It does not take much for that happen with her. All it takes is hearing her voice and I am good to go for the day and no one nor nothing will bring me down. We do all we can start each others day off the best we can and there is nothing to replace that. I want to go on and on about great she is, but you have heard it all. Well, most of it. She is going to move to Fort Campbell while I am on leave so when I get off the plane she is there and I have somewhere to go home too. I am very excited that she is willing to make that sacrifice to move away and be in a strange place for me to try and make me as happy as possible. We are going to move her up there the last week I am home on leave. I have never met someone that is willing to sacrifice so much and do all they can to make someone happy, let alone that someone being me, especially after what I have been through the last ten years. She has said so many things to me recently that keep pushing her up the perfect/amazing/unbelievable/awesome scale that you cannot even start to imagine. I never thought someone could ever make me this happy and bring so much joy and happiness to my life. This is truly an answered pray and blessing from God. I can only hope I am the same for her. Wow I want to keep going on and on about her. I cannot remember the last time I hand wrote a letter, let alone SIX pages front and back to someone and spent most of it telling them how great they are and how much I love them. I cannot remember the last time I sent flowers THREE times in one week just to show I care and I am thinking about someone. I guess I will stop boring you all with all that.

On to my perfect little angel. I am still getting to talk to Courtney on the phone, but it is different now that I am fighting to get more time with her when I get home. Christina is not telling much or helping the conversations or translating for me. It is hard understand a four year old on the phone at times and I need help but do not get it. Courtney usually talks for a second until she realizes she is not playing or whatever she was doing and then she blows me off. It is OK nd understandable from a four year old. The other day I called to talk to her and she asked me when I was coming home. It was really hard not to get choked up but I asked if her why and she said she misses me and wants me to come home. Hopefully Christina will see this and realize that Courtney needs to spend a lot of time with me no matter what her personal opinion is about me. She also needs to know that being here does not make me or the other 10,000 fathers and mothers bad parents. I really miss Courtney and cannot wait to see my little angel again. She is so precious to me.

OK, now the scary. You want to know scary? How about BOOM? How about close enough to rattle the b hut and cause you to jump a little? How about REALLY scary? How about "AMBER ALERT AMBER ALERT? That is means the base is under attack, but nothing and no one is inside the wire. That will get the blood pumping for a minute. How about I just crapped my pants along with the 8 other people with you? This one deserves a little description. We were doing PT the other morning when this one happened. We put on our IOTV (flak vest/bulletproof vest), PT uniforms and boots to do a 4 mile road march. The gear we had on weighs about 40-50 pounds and it is all on you shoulders. We were strolling along down the road on the outer edges of the base on the inside of the "wire" when
BOOM. I had to make that bigger for emphasis. About 50 FEET from us a landmine went off and scared the living crap out of us. A few of the guys started to dive for cover and the rest started laughing. You see, there were two dogs running around right before the boom, and after there was only one. We thing the dog started digging at something and caused the mine to go off. We were so close that it rattled our ears and caused some to actually hop skip and jump to the other side of the road. We started giving SGT Howard a hard time and asked him what he yellow stuff was running down his leg, although he did not pee himself, we thought we was going to. After we realized it was mine, we started laughing. Of course with me being awards, they all started asking me if we could Combat Action Badges and I told them no we were not "engage by the enemy" although we were close enough if it had been anything else. I told them if they go the hospital for ringing in the ears they MIGHT get a Purple Heart but that was it. We all laughed about it the rest of the day and talked about it for a day or two.

Other than all that, life is still the same here. I finished watching my four seasons of scrubs last week and now I am watching a season of the Simpsons (season 11 before you ask Conway). I am trying to find another show to watch to occupy my little free time between work and school. Oh, I am at over 97% so far in both classes and today I just turned in my final for the class that is only 6 weeks and I should come out with an A in that one, History of Western Culture. I took my midterm last week for my computer class and got 100% on it. Seeing that the history class is now over for me, I start Sociology next week. Hopefully I can keep the trend going with good grades.

I said it has been quiet, but that is not completely true. I wish I could tell you about why, but I cannot because it has not been released in the news yet, so I have to wait like Jeremy does. I will tell you it was bad, real bad. If you read or watched the news last month you would have seen there was a guy from the Knoxville area that was killed. I think I told you about this already, but I was processing the paperwork and saw he was from Clinton and it really hit hard. I also know that Knoxville really did a great thing for the family. The day of the funeral it was my day to do News Weather and Sports in the office I was able to use that as my local news from home. The worst part about it all, he was killed on 17Jul and he was so close to home. To tell you how close, he only missed going home by about a month. ONE MONTH! Like Jeremy said, it can all be gone in a blink of an eye...

Well, I guess it is time to start the closing here. Courtney, you are my precious little angel and I miss you more than anything and Daddy will be home soon. Freedom (typed the real name again) I love you and miss you and have a lot of surprises in store for you when I am home.

Mom and dad. Mom and dad. We cannot thank you enough for all that you have done. We love you so much and are the luckiest sons in the world to have parents like you in our lives. The support that you are providing for so many things is a book that still needs to be written. One day it will. You support and help with me trying to get more with Courtney in court is untouchable. Your support for me and Freedom and the things I want to do is just as great. I am happy that you are happy for me with this. You have done more for Jeremy and me in a few months than should be asked for in a lifetime. We owe a lot to you and will make it up to you. Oh and there are some surprised in store for you, it just depends on if I can stop buying flowers and stuff for Freedom, although I have one last thing I have to buy for her and you all know what that is.

Jeremy, you are my hero now. I look up to you, my little brother, for all that you are doing. It is amazing we have people in out military that is willing to VOLUNTEER to serve in a war zone and leave before even seeing your wife. You are truly and American hero and deserve to be recognized for it. I love you bro and the first beer is on me when we get home but you are coming to Fort Campbell to get it!!!

Once again, Mom and Dad I love you and thank you for doing more than you ever should or need to.

Freedom, I love you and there is a great future in store for us.

Courtney, I miss you and cannot wait to squeeze you and spoil you again.

To everyone else, thank you and please keep praying for the troops and about all that you read here.

Oh and 54 days and a wake up and I get on a plane headed home for a 18 days of R&R!!!!

SGT John Strader
Bagram, Afhganistan



WendyDarling said...

Hello :-)

I was referred to your blog by someone in Soldiers' Angels. I just wanted you to know that we (my family and the SA family) support you. We are praying for all of our heroes everyday.

Please, take care and know that even with the negative you hear about on the news, there are A LOT more people who do support you and understand all of the positive you things you are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan. (They just choose not to talk about us, but I won't go there.) :-)

God bless you all, and your parents have every right to be proud of you.

MOM said...

john are you sure you were not the one with yellow running down your leg .... mom knows best and I bet it got you good!
Sure wish we could give Courtney a squeeze for you but we have not seen her for about a month now.
how many days until you get here??