Stephen A. Peterson
After more than eighteen years in the United States Army, Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth Becker thought he had seen everything. But something happened while on duty one cold December day in 2007 in Mosul, Iraq that altered all of that.
Colonel Becker was concerned about having the unit’s duty extended for another six months. He wondered how his wife and children would receive the news of the extension; if after the six month period would the unit be able to REALLY return home; if he ever would see his family again with the action between rival groups and the rising death among coalition forces.
On that call, windy, smelly day before Christmas, the temperature was twenty degrees Fahrenheit. It was clear as to what the weather was going to be but who cared. The unit was stuck here. He was its commander and that was the way it was going to be. He knew what it would be like serving in the Army years ago as a member of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program in school. He also knew that the good of the Army would be the first priority for any officer regardless of rank.
“It is the worst time of, “Colonel Becker whispered. “Absolutely the worst time of the year. I hate this but I can’t carry this attitude before my personnel. I’ve got to lead by example and be positive.”
As usual, around 0600 hours, Colonel Becker met with his staff to go over the previous days activities and deal with the plans for this day. The morning report, security concerns, equipment, training and so forth were gone over with few questions asked. “How’s the Battalion’s moral?” Colonel Becker asked.
“Pretty good, sir, understand the circumstance. There’s some gripping but nothing we can’t handle,” Major Kern responded.
“Major I want as good a Christmas party as we can come up with. Get whatever we can to kick morale up through the roof. We can all use a boost after the bad news.”
“Sir, yes, sir! I’ll be the best Christmas party you’ve ever seen.”
“Major, I know it will be. You’re a good man and a fine Executive Officer! Say when are you going to get your promotion? You should be due.”
“Thank you for asking, sir. I have eight months. My promotion packet is in and being reviewed at home station.”
“Great! Now let’s get on that party. And you’re going to get that promotion. Thank you for your service!”
“Thank you, sir!”
With all information and planning for military and non-military activities dealt with, all staff officers, non-commission officers, company commanders and first sergeants left to carry out their orders for the day. Upon meeting with key personnel, Colonel Becker felt much better about the situation.
As the morning sun broke through the day, commotion presented itself at the north entry of the camp. Through heavily guarded, an Iraqi man and woman sought entry. Making his way to the area of concern, he found a poorly clothed man with an equally poorly clothed woman. Both looked to be very young. Upon closer examination, the woman appeared to be pregnant. But because many Americans and Coalition camps experienced bombings from couples who appeared pregnant every precautious was taken. After it was determined there was no threat, they were allowed entry.
Colonel Becker noticed neither was wearing shoes. “Lieutenant, take these two people over to clothing and get them some warm clothing and, for goodness sake, some shoes. Let them clean themselves up as well. When they have done everything they need to do, escort them to my office.”
“Yes, sir!” shouted the Lieutenant.
In less than an hour, the couple was brought before Colonel Becker. “Do either of you speak English?” Neither responded. “Sergeant Major, get me a translator on the double.”
Within less than five minutes, a young female Army Specialist appeared in Colonel Becker’s office.
“Oh, my!” shouted the Specialist followed by a flood of tears. A similar reaction came from the Iraqi woman.
“Sir, this is my sister! I thought she was dead. I can’t believe it. We have not seen each other in more than six years. I escaped to American while everyone else remained here in Iraq. I’m sorry, sir, for my outburst. Please forgive me.”
“No, no! This is great! Could you ask your sister and her husband why they came here?”
After questioning her sister and her husband, the Specialist learned they made their way to any Coalition camp they could find. It just happened to be where her sister was stationed.
As the sister re-acquainted themselves with each other, the time arrived for her child to come into the world. According to the Specialist, the child was not expected until January. The child had other ideas. Following a long labor, a baby girl was born two hours after midnight.
“Praise, Almighty God!” shout the happy mother. I have a beautiful, precious baby daughter and I have my sister restored to me. I have been truly blessed by God!”
Once the Specialist explained what her sister had said, Colonel Becker experienced joy and happiness like he had never known. Colonel Becker came to realize that he and his unit was part of God’s grand plan for re-uniting this Chaldean Christian family with its living family members.
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