My aunt sent out an email on Friday to tell us all that my cousin, currently stationed at an air force base in Germany, is being deployed to Baghdad in November. The airman that was supposed to go got into a fist fight a few days ago. The disciplinary action that followed cost him a stripe on his rank, and now the only person with both the rank and the experience to suit their needs is my cousin.
He's coming back to the U.S. next week for training somewhere in Mississippi. His wife and two children (a three year old daughter and a newborn son) are going to live with my aunt and uncle in Virginia while he's away. It's only supposed to be a six-month deployment, but he was told that it could be extended to eight or nine months.
I was afraid something like this would happen. When he joined the air force, my cousin was trained to work with the missiles. He was stationed in Cheyenne, Wyoming and looked to be there for quite a while. Ironic, isn't it, that the safest place to be right now is tending nuclear weapons? He got restless, though. Because the job is so specialized there isn't much room for advancement. So he got retrained a few years ago and now he's in the post office for the AFB at (I think) Bitburg. My aunt says that's what he'd be doing in Iraq, handling the mail. Somehow I think it's going to be more difficult than that.
In my head, I still see the little boy I used to babysit. It's hard to think of him in a war zone.