Weather changes and long preparations

Published 9:07 pm Monday, February 11, 2013

By SFC Ed Holland

My prediction came true — the Baltimore Ravens are the World Champions! Just a quick note to my brother, Marcus Elam: It will be OK; the Kleenex are in the mail.

The weather here has finally turned. We are excited, because the fighting will significantly slow down. Here at Forward Operating Base Lightning, we have been getting battered with snow and ice for the last four days. It has put a huge damper on individuals trying to redeploy and go home on leave.

Email newsletter signup

As we try and stay warm, our mission is constant. We took time out to watch the Super Bowl. It was a festive atmosphere. All the chicken wings, jalapeño poppers, chips and bottled water we could want. This was a time when we soldiers could sit down with our friends and relax a little. Amidst all the madness, we had common ground to come together and appreciate one another.

As our time here comes to a close, it still remains hectic. We are accounting for our property, and we have a huge task of preparing all the equipment we brought from Fort Campbell, Ky., for shipment home. This calls for a lot of moving pieces and tons of paperwork, but our supply sergeant and battery executive officer are doing a great job, so it should go pretty smoothly.

I want to take time to reach out to any of the young readers out there. I also have the honor of being the re-enlistment non-commissioned officer for the battery. I assist younger soldiers in making well informed decisions about their future. So far I have done a pretty good job, and I have seven soldiers who will stay in the Army.

I am not promoting the Army, but for all you young men and women who are undecided about your futures, it is always an option. I have been defending my country for 18 years. I have met my fair share of challenges along the way. At first, it was just a job. But now I do it for love. Love of country and family.

I read the newspaper every day online, and I look at the police section. I have seen quite a few individuals who made bad decisions and have become statistics. I very easily could have been that guy. But thanks to some good old-school people in my neighborhood, school and sports, I was able to make good decisions.

Kevin Alston, Ed V. Young, Nancy Ritchie, Joe Jones, Mike Debranski and James Dabney are some of the individuals to whom I owe a great deal of thanks, because they kept me grounded. I can still hear Coach Alston calling me “Little Ed.”

And, of course, I thank my small yet significant family, which always gave me tough love. Marcus and Marvin Elam are the best brothers a guy could have. They were always there to kick me in the butt and motivate me to keep going.

My mother is a different story. She gave me all the love, motivation, drive and determination a young man could ask for. I have always called her “my favorite girl,” because she is. She is my best friend.

To the friends I have remained in contact with, thanks for all your hugs when I am home, for the Facebook messages and updates.

I want the young men and women in Suffolk to take a moment to thank their coaches, teachers, parents, brothers and sisters. I have been deployed six times and have had my eyes opened to how lucky we are. We have a lot more opportunities than your normal Afghan and Iraqi citizens. Take this opportunity to make the most of it.

It is 1630 hours. My day is winding down, and it is time to go to the gym. Today has been peaceful. But who knows how long will that last. Rest assured that the soldiers and NCO’s here at FOB Lightning are standing by.

God bless, and take care.

Sgt. First Class Ed Holland, a 1989 graduate of Suffolk High School, has been in the U.S. Army for 18 years. He is on his sixth deployment, including five to Iraq and one to Afghanistan.