Tyler Edward Parten
West Point, 2007
Be Thou At Peace
Posted by Mother on January 7, 2010:
Jan 1, 2010
I woke up at 4 am. I can't sleep and I'm feeling a stirring in my soul. My thoughts are on my family and our recent loss! I'm trying to, make sense of it and I know I can't. I turn to God and Tyler in prayer....asking "what am I to learn or do with my life's journey?
I turn on my iPod and go figure....the first song that plays on my shuffle is Don Henley's "A New York Minute". I stand there and laugh....Yes; everything we take for granted can change in a New York minute". Lyrics mean so much more to me today than ever before. I make my coffee and listen to the words.
I then go to what I dread the most....Tyler's Afghanistan journal! I have read the first 5 pages prior, but very quickly. It was so painful. I make a cup of coffee and settle down in my robe and a cozy fed fleece blanket pulled over my legs, as I curl up with his scarf in my lap and I begin to reread.
He speaks first on May 25, 2009 relaying the past few days. He begins of having to pack in a frenzy 24 years of possessions in a 10 by 10 storage unit because his deployment date had been moved forward and he had made plans to to travel to Arkansas to surprise his sister for her high school graduation. His girlfriend and others helped him pack while he was gone. He speaks of the day of his deployment.
His words" At that moment began the distinct feeling of surrealism that had to this point been overpowered of the crazed frenzy of moving 24 years worth of possessions into a 10 by 10 storage unit, finalizing finances, closing utilities and services, and otherwise preparing to fall off the face off the face of the earth. The feeling was magnified when I settled in to call up my family as we waited in the gym for buses to the airport. Hearing Mom cry was expected, but can never really prepare for, Dad was next, and although our conversation consisted mostly of final business arrangements. There was much more of a hopeful undertone in his voice. The one time I almost teared up was when my sister, after passing the phone off to everyone on Mom's side of the family finally broke down as she told me she loved me and said goodbye. Of course I could always count on Daniel to pick me up...always matter of fact, always encouraging. "See you at the top".
Tyler goes on to explain the next several legs of flights and a book he finished by a 2000 West Point graduate and former infantry PL in Afghanistan, "The Unforgiving Minute" by Craig M. Mullany. Tyler's words, "In it he describes the in immaculate detail the challenges, successes, merits, and horrors of being a combat leader." Tyler then describes his frustrations of having a newly created unit and not being given the resources or time needed to his expectations to get them as ready as they needed to be. His words, "Thus I can't help wonder, is it my fault? Should I have fought when the XO denied all my requests? Should I have put my complaints higher than my commander? I know that if I were to fail a mission, or were to get a soldier hurt, due to our lack of training, I could never forgive myself. But, how could I have done anything different? I begged, pleaded, fought and did everything in my power for more training time and resources, more men, but to no avail, Could I have done more? No, that is not the question. The question now is what can I do from this point forward. Train, train, train is the answer."
He continues on to feel blessed for having extra leg room and a small window as they are packed like rats in a C-5 cargo plane where all of his men had to carry their weapons on their laps. He speaks of the breathtaking mountains he could view out the small window through the mountain pass in the Hindu-Kush, of being almost parallel in altitude to the peaks he was flying through.
His next entry I will put in his words as written. "Stepping off the cargo ramp onto the tarmac was nothing short of surreal. Mountains surrounding the base in all directions, some snow capped peaks, some scraggly rock formations, all just intimidation. As I was thinking to myself that I'm finally here. The mountains confirming all that I had read in preparation for this deployment, my thoughts were interrupted by a rather unpleasant anal SGT making us to line up on the side of the tarmac. When I finally found out why, it made the realization of our arrival even more surreal. We were part of a "fallen comrade" ceremony, there to honor the memory of three soldiers who had been killed by an IED explosions just days prior. As the trucks carried the caskets, draped in ceremonial American flags drove by with their escorts on board, we rendered a hand of salute. For me though, it was much more than a salute. It was an acknowledgment, of what they had sacrificed, of what and where I was. Of how real it was now. As the caskets were loaded onto the cargo plane to the sound of brass playing "Holy, Holy, Holy! I said a prayer, for the soldiers, for the families, for my soldiers, for me and my family. Welcome to Afghanistan indeed!"
I get up and throw open the balcony to listen to the ocean and try to breathe. The grief is unbearable!
Tyler, I feel your pain, your self doubt, and your courage. Little did you know you would be returning home 4 months later the same way. I think I will put your journal down for a bit. My heart is broken.
I shift my music to you on my Ipod and listen to you sing. I am now playing the "Lion and the Sparrow, your 6 minute symphony created while you were there, otherwise known as "Meg's Lullaby. Son, can it be my lullaby also? It helps me grieve. It's so beautiful! The sun is rising over the ocean now, bright and calm. I feel your presence.
Americans don't understand as they go about their selfish ways. It is because of men like you from the beginning and throughout the history of our country that those like you were willing to step forward when others can't!
How can I make people realize? How can I make a difference in the world? I pray to God for inspiration and for all of your men! I pray for Daniel. I pray for Anna Laura, I pray for your father.
I will pick up the journal another time after I grieve over these first 5 pages.