Gathering Soldiers After Fort Hood

“My mission at Fort Hood is to shield my soldiers from … all the media hype that’s going on out there so we can focus on the mission at hand,” Captain Todd Bostick, USAR, commander of the 802nd

On Wednesday, the 802nd Ordnance Company headed to Fort Hood for their final stage of training before their mid-December deployment to Afghanistan. On Tuesday, their community came out to say good bye and Godspeed. Businesses put well wishes on outdoor signs and people lined the streets in the rain to wave as the busses went by.  Ladder and bucket trucks were rolled out to unfurl giant American flags over the streets of Gainesville.  The Lovall family spent hours the night before lining Riverside Drive with American flags and Riverside Military Academy readied to welcome the 802nd.

This is what we do in towns and cities around the country.  We recognize those who serve and we treasure them. Less than 24 hours before this send off, there was scrambling.  Someone made a posting on a blog saying that he would make the 802nd send off “like another Fort Hood.” A decision had to be made as to what we would do.  We never considered canceling the event. But we had to change the program and who was involved.
After investigating, all the law enforcement agencies involved determined there was not a substantial threat.  However, in addition to providing escort for the 802nd, the deputies and police officers stayed on site as well as check the parking lots with bomb-sniffing dogs.  Since the send off was open to the public as well as to family members traveling from all areas of the country, how to screen the attendees was a challenge.  They decided to require a picture I. D. to enter the auditorium.

After all the concern, by the time they 802nd headed down the streets of Gainesville, we were focused on cheering our heroes and law enforcement was focused on protecting us. At the end of the event, Captain Bostick was recognizing the organizations making this possible. When he called out the Hall County Sheriff’s Department and the Gainesville Police Department, no one was in the auditorium to accept the plaque.  Captain Bostick said, “I guess they are outside protecting us.” To that was a big round of applause.

The real news from the event came from State Representative Carl Rogers.  Carl’s son, Carlton, is a Marine pilot and has served two tours in Iraq.  He spoke as a father who had been where these families are — saying good bye to a son going off to war. 

Rogers stated his dismay over the Obama Administration’s weakness in dealing with Afghanistan.  He supported General McCrystal and said war strategy ought to be left up to the military and not with the suits in Washington. “They should give General McCrystal what he needs to get the job done and come home,” Rogers said to thunderous applause by the reservists and their families.

Hours later in an interview with Major Garrett of the Fox News Channel, President Obama defended his tardiness in making a decision on the plan in Afghanistan.  He believes he’s got to listen to all sides and then make a decision. Commander and Chief is the loneliest part of the president’s job because no matter how many people you consult, you make a wrong decision and it’s your legacy.  This is President Obama’s war now and the men and women of the 802nd Ordnance want clear direction from the Commander in Chief.

“We’ve got all of our personnel. We’ve got all our equipment. We’re completely trained. We’re ready to go. The last step we have now is to collect those final embraces from our friends and our family members, and the community here, and we’ll take that with us. And we’ll look forward to seeing you when we return,” said Captain Todd Bostick in closing. Godspeed to the men and women of the 802nd, see you in 400 days.