I’m sitting here tonight full of emotions that I’m not sure what to do with. My husband and I just got back from farewelling Greywolf 6, the first brigade commander I’ve served under since becoming an officer. They showed a slide show of everything that the brigade had gone through in the last twenty four months and its hard to believe that much time has actually passed.

The DCO tonight spoke of the mission we had. We were the main effort in Iraq, there to subdue Ninewah province. It had not been done and yet, we accomplished the mission. We were there to set conditions to pull out of Mosul by June 30th. We did that. But we were more than the main effort in Iraq. We were the tip of the spear for our nation.

But tonight wasn’t about the mission. It was about saying goodbye to the people I served with on my tour in Iraq. To the brigade commander who will always be Greywolf 6 to me.

I’m not sure what the source is but it started with the slide show. It started when I looked back on that week in July 2008, when I was Greywolf 6 aide de camp for one hellish week. A week where I learned more about the army and being an officer than I’d learned in my last 14 years in service. A week where I learned about what happened in 2004 to Greywolf 6 and why the things he focused on were important to him.

Everything I did, I did because his priorities were the soldiers on the ground and I never wanted to hear “MEDEVAC follows…” followed by static. Communications were what he tasked me to provide for the brigade. He looked at me the first day he met me and said “you’re prior service, right? How long?” I told him 13 year (at the time). He said “I expect you to perform as a major.” And I said yes sir. And held on for dear life. Half the time I was making it up as I went along, the other half the time, I was stepping on people’s necks trying to get things done.

The emotions always seem to surprise me. They hit me when I least expect it and in the oddest of times. Tonight was a time for laughs but also for tears. In bidding farewell to Greywolf 6, it was also a farewell to the battalion commanders that I worked for as the brigade S6. It was a farewell to the S3s who jumped up and down on my desk and demanded to know why they couldn’t talk (another story for another time). But in seeing everyone tonight, I realize that I have not fully come home from Iraq. That a part of me that I have locked away surfaces every now and again. I am not the same person I was before I deployed. I don’t know that any of us ever truly are the same again but perhaps, the unexpected emotions are part of my new normal.

Looking back on the last 2 years in the Greywolf Brigade, I am incredibly proud of my time here. They say that once Cav, always Cav. For me, that will be true, but I will always be Greywolf. Something changed in me this last two years and tonight, in wishing the brigade commander farewell, I can only hope that I will be a better officer for having served in his command.