Many of you have asked me to list the superlative adjectives that best describe my deployment in Iraq. OK, you likely didn’t know you were asking for “Superlative Adjectives,” but here’s my list anyway.


Several weeks ago, my editors volunteered to print a list of items needed in our Airman Ministry Center called Troy’s Place.

Athena Tickner, manager of Troy’s Place, reports receiving “hundreds of boxes!”

She writes, “Your column has generated not just stock (our stockroom runneth over), but most importantly, friendships. Nothing we have ever done has generated this sort of response.”

Your personal letters were given to me separated from the package and many of them did not contain a reply address. Therefore, it won’t be possible for me to personally reply. However, Troy’s Place will send a confirmation from the mailing receipt.

(FYI: You can continue to address packages to me long after I’ve gone, but please consult the Web site before mailing:

Kids of Iraq is another place needing our blessings:

Most awful

If it seems that our hospital at Joint Base Balad is 24/7 traumas, it’s not. It’s often extremely uneventful for long periods of time — until interrupted by moments of sheer terror.

The most awful event occurred recently when three soldiers arrived in our ER.

In just a few minutes of controlled chaos, clothes were torn off and chest compressions were made by desperate technicians. However, the more experienced doctors stepped back from the litters — staring at their bloody boots.

The room filled with a deafening silence as if it had been covered with the same white sheet that draped the bodies of the soldiers.

All I could hear were short sobs and the snapping sound of elastic gloves being removed in defeat as we realized the soldiers were all DOA (dead on arrival).

I tried to write a column about it, but the words kept sticking in my throat as I dropped my face onto my keyboard.


That’s easy. It’s working with men and women who want to make a difference in our world. It’s working with heroes who never would accept that title. These are fearless service members who worry more about their buddies than their own life.

It’s also getting to worship with these heroes and hear them sing, pray and sometimes cry.

Most dangerous

When I wrote about mortar fire last week, one reader told me she was worried for my wife, Becky.

It’s true we are attacked here, but the attacks have decreased significantly. At the end of the day, the most dangerous things probably are the rocks we trip over during our nightly walk to the dining facility.


The food. We have dessert bars filled with pies and Baskin-Robbins ice cream — perhaps this makes the food the most dangerous thing.

While most people are trying to lose weight, I facetiously announce that my goal is “1 pound a week.”

“Really?” they ask, sounding so impressed. “You’re trying to lose a pound a week?”

“No,” I say as I sit with my apple pie a la mode. “I’m trying to gain a pound a week.”

Feigning excitement, I add, “I think I’m a bit ahead of my goal.”


That’s easy. It’s not the weather. It’s not the dust storms or the rain that creates mud like papier-maché . It’s not the 24/7 wearing of a uniform. It’s not the portable toilets. It’s not the miles of rocks and sand. It’s not the 72-hour workweek.

The worst thing is that I miss my family — especially my soul mate, Becky. On most days during the past 29 years, I’ve awakened to feel her warmth. I tell her things I never could tell anyone. I tell her things I’ve only told God.

Next week is her birthday, and I miss her immensely.

She’s also smart. Right after she explained superlative adjectives to her fourth-graders, she explained them to me.