Saturday, April 21, 2007

Be of good cheer – a commentary from a family member

By Tom Mansur
Family member

The news that the 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment “Wolverines,” 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) will be extended in Iraq for up to three months is of course disappointing for all of us who hoped our Cavalry Soldiers will be home on time.
The notion that the unit could be extended has always been a possibility. Many units serving in Iraq before and now have had their tours lengthened according to the tactical situation and the readiness of units scheduled to follow. It is of course, quite a difficult task to man and schedule units so that they are trained, shipped and deployed into a combat theater. And, more importantly, the units have to be engaged and disengaged according to the tactical situation on the ground.
For the Wolverines, the tactical situation is greatly improved. The soldiers have, by any measure and all reports, served with honor, achieved steady progress and accomplished every mission. The work remains difficult but there remains no doubt that our Soldiers - our sons, our brothers, our husbands and wives- have been up to the task.
One of, if not the most important keys to the Wolverines' success has been their morale. After all, no unit can succeed without a positive outlook. There has been not any instance in the history of warfare where a unit was able to win victories on the battlefield without a belief in themselves and their cause. In every combat situation there is always doubt and fear and, to be sure, there is not a Soldier in the Wolverine squadron who would not prefer to be home. But, every Soldier there can be proud of the success they have achieved, the commitment they have made, and the daily striving they undertake with their fellow comrades.
The commitment and success of the wives and children of the Wolverines has been no less heartening. Either as a part of the family readiness groups or by individual charity, the spouses of the rear detachment Soldiers have stuck together. To be sure, there have been tough days, there have been challenges, and there have been upsets. With any organization there are always differing opinions, different styles and conflicting ideas but that is no different than with any organization.

The key with success on the home front is the same as success on the battlefield. We have to think we can win. As a wise sage once said, "The man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can't are both right." Our success, our forbearance and our happiness as waiting families depends first and foremost on our willingness to be successful, be patient and be happy.
Yes, happiness is really a choice. It is something we decide to do, not merely something that happens to us. Even as I write this, I wonder if this is true. I am not so naïve as to believe that there have not been or will not be unhappy days, unhappy events. On the contrary, our unit has had losses, our spouses are lonely and our children long for order and calm in our families.
And perhaps the best way to achieve all of these conflicting challenges is simply decide to do so. Know that our unit has undertaken a worthy cause, its leaders strive for tactical excellence and the Soldiers are tough and heroic. They will be home soon. We certainly have reason to be of good cheer.

Tom Mansur is a retired soldier from Oklahoma who now works as an engineer. His wife Cindy is a cheerful Army wife.

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