Sorry to have missed this -- it's a few months old -- a piece in the Washington Post from August by Colonel Matthew Bogdanos USMC, devoted guardian of the Iraq National Museum and a genuinely nice guy, as I found on our brief acquaintance. He writes a reflection on the strength of the bond among those who put their lives on the line for the security of others.
It's not long -- read it all.
Post-deployment, we are also engaged. Despite countless other tasks after a combat tour and the need to begin preparing for the next mission, we pause to value what has occurred, trying -- not always successfully -- to reconcile the horrors of combat with the bond created during those horrors. Perhaps it is the dimly perceived recognition that together we are better than any one of us had ever been before -- better maybe than we ever would be again. Or the dawning awareness that if we store up enough memories, these might someday be a source of strength, comfort or even our salvation.
Take the simple act of goodbye, of wishing comrades in arms fair winds and following seas. Those who have seen action together are not morbid about it. Just serious. It is, after all, the nature of the profession of arms that goodbyes are frequent and often final. But there is also the recognition that each of us has our own life and family to go back to in the "world." And even if we do "keep in touch," it will never be with the same intensity, never again as pure as it was when I had your "six," (your six o'clock, your back) and you had mine.
And whisper a little prayer that, should the President's unutterably STUPID decision to try the mastermind of 9/11 in civilian court actually come to pass [I refuse to believe it cannot yet be derailed], Col. Bogdanos, in his capacity as an assistant district attorney for New York City, will be given the opportunity to get a piece of him.