Greetings from Baghdad.
We are counting down the days until our expected return to home. We are hoping that special day will be sometime around Thanksgiving, and wouldn't that be a wonderful time for a homecoming.
We still have many missions ahead of us, and we've tackled so many so far.
One of them is just about to end. It is yet another partnership mission with Iraqi engineering soldiers. I do not see much media coverage about our continued partnership with the Iraqis, but it is still happening. I will tell you more about it in my next blog entry.
HEROES ON THE BATTLEFIELD
There are heroes among all of us, especially in a war zone. I got to know one of them a lot better this week, and when you talk to him, he is as humble as any hero should be.
Capt. Darby Boudreaux of St. Martinville, Louisiana, serves proudly with the 225th Engineer Brigade. Four years ago, Capt. Boudreaux did not know he would even live, much less be able to return to Iraq to complete his mission that he started all those years ago.
His story serves as a reminder of how never to take for granted the second chances that are afforded to many of us.
Soldier returns for unfinished mission
By Lt. Col. Pat Simon
225th Eng. Bde. PAO, MND-B
BAGHDAD - May 25, 2005 is a date that is burned in the memory of Capt. Darby Boudreaux, 225th Engineer Brigade.
On that afternoon, his platoon was conducting a route clearance mission near Ghazaliya in western Baghdad. The site was supposed to be clear, but wasn't. Chaos suddenly broke out.
"I got blown up by an [improvised explosive device] while we were dismounted, and we started taking direct fire ... getting shot at immediately after," said Boudreaux. "I knew that I was hurt really bad because of the amount of blood that I was putting out."
A minor artery in his right leg was severed. In just 30 seconds, in back of medical humvee, Boudreaux remembered a shocking site. He was lying in a two inch puddle of his own blood. His blood pressure dropped to 60 over 30. He was close to death and losing consciousness.
Thankfully, doctors managed to stabilize him. Boudreaux would then spend the next three months recovering and going through painful rehabilitation.
"There really shouldn't be any reason why I am standing here upright, walking and talking," said Boudreaux.
The most traumatic part of the whole ordeal was not the impact of the blast or how close Boudreaux came to losing his life. It was the fact that he had to leave his soldiers behind and how he wanted to get back to them.
Four years since that attack, Boudreaux convinced his command to let him return to Iraq.
"I have a couple of pieces of metal in me. I am fine, they let me deploy," he said.
Boudreaux may not be with the soldiers he was forced to leave behind in 2005, but he is serving an important purpose; using his near death experience to give soldiers a chance at success and a better chance to stay alive.
Boudreaux is currently the officer in charge and an instructor at the 225th Eng. Bde.'s Task Force Iron Claw Academy. The main theme of the training is IED identification, interrogation and detonation. He does this with added caution and care to make sure all of his soldiers return safely from missions.
Boudreaux wasn't looking for TFICA, TFICA found him. His previous experience is the reason he was selected to teach soldiers the best route clearance tactics; and now he spends long hours training soldiers with precision and attention to detail, knowing that one mistake could make the difference between life and death.
"It's very real when I teach ... I take this extremely seriously. I realize what can happen," said Boudreaux. "You try to take as much risk out of the equation as possible."
Sure, he is a different person with shrapnel still lodged throughout his body, but he takes that in stride, especially when talking about his wounded legs.
"I still have a little pain when I bounce them around. I can't run very well, but it's not a bad thing. I hated to run to begin with," Boudreaux said with a grin.
Boudreaux now has something else to smile about: the ability to finally complete his mission on the battlefield.
"I always thought I had left something unfinished," he said.