Letter to the Editor

Your view: It's not good-bye

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

So Long, Charlie Company... Not Goodbye!

14:15 (2:15pm), Sunday, 23 October 2005 - The last formation is over. All the remaining soldiers of Charlie Company have been dismissed. The yell of"CHARLIE COMPANY!" "HOOAH!" "CHARLIE COMPANY!""HOOAH!" "CHARLIE COMPANY!" "HOOAH!" has died away...only left in memory.

All the lights are out and the doors locked up. The next soldiers in the armory in Sikeston will be those of the 1221st out of Dexter.

Everyone is gone except for Charlie Company's Commander, CPT Ratcliff and Lts. Gandt and Toft, and myself. The final drill is over for Charlie Company. Some of the soldiers will stay on in Sikeston with the 1221st... or go to Portageville and become MPs. Others will get to stay with the 1140th, either at Farmington or at Cape Girardeau, while others will either move to other areas of service, quit, or take retirement.

The four of us sit in the office, just talking about nothing... a movie or something... or joking around with Lt. Gandt who's making the move to the Quartermaster Corps...no one making that last move out the door just yet. Finally Lt. Gandt gets up and says his goodbyes. We wish him well and hope to see him again sometime. He'll do well at Desoto. Now its time to go.

Cpt. Ratcliff, Lt. Toft and myself leave the armory together...the office is closed and locked...the outside door shuts behind us. Lt Toft and I wave goodbye to the Captain and we walk to our cars... me joking with him about how small his car is and how big he is.. We'll see each other again soon in Cape...he'll be there... I guess so will I.

The Captain wants a meeting about the future of the Website.... we'll see what happens.

I've spent the last two days talking to the soldiers that were left. The ones that showed for this last drill weekend... trying to say goodbye... listening to them, watching them...not wanting to say goodbye.

Some I'll see again... others I don't know, but I hope I'll get to see them all someday.... at a Charlie Company reunion maybe. I Hope. This was hard... no, not hard... difficult.

Hard was saying goodbye to them when they were deployed to Iraq. Watching them, listening to them I realized that these soldiers were nothing like the ones I said goodbye to that January day 2004. Iraq changed them. I knew that it would.

I knew that my relationship to them would not be the same as it was before they left, because I had also changed while they were gone. It happened no matter how much I tried to keep it from happening...it was inevitable just as it was that those soldiers, my soldiers that I served, would change.

Yeah, I call them "My Soldiers." I'm very proud of them and when I talk to anyone about them they are "My Soldiers." They always will be, no matter where they go, what they do. I am proud of each one, and honored and humbled that they allowed me to be a part of the Charlie Company family these past few years to serve them and their families as their Webmaster. They gave me an insight into their lives that few civilians get to see in soldiers and they called me a part of their family.

So this last drill, this final time before the Charlie Company family is split up, I made the rounds among the soldiers... talking, joking, mostly just listening. I didn't carry around my camera like they are used to me doing. Don't get me wrong...there are pictures from the weekend, I just didn't take them. I gave my camera to a soldier. I didn't want to hide behind my lens this weekend. I wanted to be with them and not have anything hamper this last time together.

And I listened and I heard. I heard the hurt, the frustration, yes even the anxiety. Some of the soldiers felt betrayed, some still didn't understand. I can't say that I understand either but I just listened.

A long time friend came up to me... he had made the Guard his life... 25 years, he said; "You know, Doc, this used to be fun. I'm done."

What do you say to that? How do you respond? They are deployed to war... so proud to be part of the Best!

Charlie Company! HOOAH! Southeast Missouri supports them so much. Sikeston and all the other towns of Charlie Company are so proud of their soldiers and they come back and BAM! they get hit with reorganization and (no doubt in my mind) the best Company in the Missouri Army National Guard is on the chopping block.

"So sorry you'll have to find another unit to serve with, change your MOS, have to be retrained." Its sad and I don't understand...but I will continue to support My Soldiers the best I can...because that is what I do. If I can make life easier for them, I'll do it.

They are the soldiers, THEY are the Heroes... you bet they deserve the best, all that I got if I can give it. One of the hardest questions I was asked this weekend... "Hey Doc, you are going with us (meaning the small group of soldiers around me) and be our Webmaster, right?" What can I say? I choked. Not only did they assume that I would always be there for them, each one of them, but that I couldn't say 'no' either. I didn't give a definite 'Yes" but I did smile and tell them that "Hey, I'm always here for you soldiers, you know that!"

I can't tell them no... just can't do it. I love 'em, as a friend and part of the family, too much. I owe them, as an American citizen, too much. So we'll see.

Well, that's it. The day is done. An end of an era... So Long, but not Goodbye.

Darryl L. "Doc" Spurlock

Webmaster: Charlie Company,

1140th EN BN