From the Frontlines: Pat returns to Fort Benning

Here we go ... BACK AT BENNING!

Hello everyone. Not many people know that years and years and years ago (21 years, 5 months, and 21 days), I first set foot HERE at Fort Benning, Georgia as a young Private First Class in the United States Army. I signed up for two years as an infantry soldier and I was proud of it. Basic Training was the most difficult thing that I had ever experienced, but it taught me so much about myself and it tested my limits. I still recall the first time I dropped to do pushups on the hot asphalt during what must have been the hottest summer ever recorded in Georgia. I am now "Back at Benning" ... the HOME OF THE INFANTRY ... and I am humbled to be in the position I am in right now.

With my limited time, let me highlight my experience so far. Mobilization is all about long days, shoving uniforms and equipment into duffle bags, weapons qualifying, immunization shots, extensive and important classes to help you survive on the battlefield, and so much more. Most importantly, it is also about dedicated soldiers. The staff here at Fort Benning is making sure we are squared away and ready for what's ahead. And the soldiers lining up right beside me are some of the best Americans I have ever met. From Flint, Michigan to Charlotte, North Carolina, they are the finest people around.

Oh and get this. I met an instructor today from Shreveport. I just happened to be eavesdropping on his conversation with another soldier (folks, this is how I break stories - I actually listen) and he mentioned that he grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana. I quickly walked over to him and shook his hand and introduced myself.

Retired Sergeant First Class Joseph Williams served 21 years in the Army and is a veteran of Desert Storm (Gulf War One, 3rd Ranger Battalion). The class he taught was about first aid in a combat zone, and he briefly mentioned his battle scars on his hands. I told him how much that I appreciate his service, and I am sure you do, too. By the way, Mr. Williams has been helping mobilize soldiers here at Fort Benning for two years now.

This is just a sample of what I will be reporting on this blog.

I am sorry to have to cut this entry so short, and it may be a while before I can write again. I have received so many warm wishes from you, and I am overwhelmed by your generosity. I promise that one way or another, you will see what we are doing and read some wonderful stories about your soldiers' efforts in Iraq.

Before I go, here is my new address in Iraq in case you would like to write:

Major Pat Simon
225th EN BDE
APO, AE 09344

Until next time, God Bless.