Dispatch From Downrange

Once more into the fray

 

This is my newly assigned explosive detection dog, Mad. Who the hell names a dog Mad anyway.  This picture was taken just before we deployed to Iraq

 

Once more into the fray

 

I am very conflicted as I write this latest edition of ďAs I See ItĒ  for the Cannon.

There are so many things happening and so many things that have happened that it makes it hard to start--- but start I will.

As most of my readers know, Iíve been in the service of my country, my county, and my city for a long time.  It is part of me, part of my genetic makeup.  Maybe Iíve seen myself as one of those tragic Don Quixote types but that is probably for others to decide.  What I do know is that there are several things that mean everything to me.  Service, patriotism, honor, trust, loyalty and doing what is right are the tenants of life for me.  Often, Iíve been told that I was a throwback, a person that would have been happier in a much earlier and ancient time.  That was a time where truth and a manís word, a handshake, a promise were all a person needed. That was something people counted on.  Sadly, that is not the situation today and I, and people like me, have a hard time understanding the morals, the decisions, and the lack of intestinal fortitude that was so much a part of times gone by.

Iíve always been an all or nothing type guy.  When I joined the military, if a 30-year enlistment had been offered I would have taken it.  It always irked me to see the soldiers that were in the Army for the college only or they just wanted to stay for one tour.  I never really understood that.  To me the military was a calling, a lifelong commitment.  The service was life.  I had a hard time with the part-timers. I often said that Iíd stay in the Army for free as long as my family was taken care of.  To me it was a noble cause.

I saw my law enforcement career the same.  That to me was also a calling.  Do the right thing, do the best you could, treat everyone fairly and honestly, protect the public, and place their life before yours, always.  Law enforcement was a profession to be proud of.  We were knights in blue armor and we came to the rescue when called. It was noble. Unfortunately, I found few senior officers that saw it the same as I did.  What became so prevalent and so unfortunate was the abundance of self-serving and self-interested officers looking to quietly retire, led by politically driven administrators. This had become the norm and the model for new officers.  It was hard; in fact, it was intolerable for me to be part of that. During my law enforcement career, I actually arrested my own chief of police at one department I worked in.  Iíve helped prosecute bad officers because they were tarnishing the profession and violating the trust I held so dear. Over the years, Iíve paid the price for doing the ďright thingĒ.  Now I donít mean to say that all officers are that way. Many, many officers are still idealistic and want to serve the public the best they can. There are still noble knights out there but it is becoming harder and harder to keep the armor polished.

Recently, I served again as a contractor in Afghanistan.  My job was to find IEDs and narcotics that, by the way, fund the terrorists, with the help of my canine partner.  With a son in the Army, in my own mind, I always felt that any IED I found was one less that our troops, maybe my own son, would  step on.  Yes, Don Quixote again, I know but it worked for me.

I came home last October and met with our Chief of Police here in Gonzales.  He talked to my wife and me about a position with the Gonzales Police Department.  I was to be the senior patrol sergeant and K-9 officer.  After a very convincing talk, my wife and I looked at each other and together decided to take the position.  I would resign from my job in Afghanistan and join the Gonzales Police Department.

Fast forward five months later, and I was informed that my services with the Police Department were no longer needed.  I was informed by the Chief that it just wasnít working out.  For me it was a complete surprise.  I had done and had been doing what I was hired to do.  I guess my style of leadership was not understood.  At one point, I was informed that military style leadership didnít work in a police department. Really?  That may be for someone who is not steeped in the military experience, who hasnít spent their life in small unit leadership, team building and subordinate development. Maybe they just donít get it. That was a bell weather moment for me.  I knew at that moment that the ethic, the calling, the selfless service that law enforcement is, and the decision to place your own life at risk to protect the public, a public that you may never know, was NOT the most important mission.  Clearly my opinion of my employer had changed. The most important mission has become self-serving and self-interest. Donít make waves, maintain the status quo was of utmost importance. The Chief was right , I clearly, didnít fit.

Therefore, I was now, without notice, without a single piece of paper, without a single incident of discipline or job performance concern,  out of work.  My family had been put at risk. My future was at risk. My home and financial well-being was now at risk for, what at least I understood as, doing my job.

So now, Iíve gone back to a place where I fit, to a place where people like me are understood. Iím joining a group of people that understand commitment and ethics and complete trust.  Iím returning to the war zones. Iím headed to Iraq to once again look for IEDs and protect our people from terrorists but this time, instead of Afghanistan, I will be at our outpost and Consulate in Balad, Iraq.

I guess I just fit that environment better.  It is less forgiving, less political and right and wrong is decided in the instant of a muzzle flash. I will once again write the Dispatches from Downrange that were so popular in the Cannon and were such a blessing for me to write. Iíll let you know what is going on there, uncensored and raw.  You will get the real story, my story and you can hopefully get a feel for what those of us who choose this way of life are going through.  Besides the fact that I have to leave my wife of 32 years again, besides the fact that she now has to again fend for herself and once again put up with the worry of what Iím doing.  Without her acceptance and understanding of who I am, or what I was meant to do, I could never go off on these adventures.  But because of her understanding, I canít think of a place that Iíd rather be.

I remember a SEAL instructor standing on the beach looking out at the ocean.  He was asked what he was looking for. His answer?  ďIím looking for a war.Ē  Sometimes I feel like that warrior. Iím looking for a hot spot that people like me fit into. The world has plenty to choose from but right now, that place looks like Iraq.

I leave tomorrow, Friday.

This is Jon Harris and this has been

A Dispatch as I Head Downrange