Even for those of us not leaving wives, husbands, children behind, it was hard to hold back tears as we rolled away from the Hastings armory. The outpouring of emotion, of goodwill, of care, is overwhelming and humbling.

Hardest of all was seeing our unit readiness NCO hugging our platoon sergeant, his face red, tears on his cheeks, obviously overcome. And as the buses pulled away, one man stood next to his car- his black jacket sporting an American flag- and saluted perfectly – middle finger touching the brim of his baseball cap – holding his salute until the last bus passed. Another man, probably old enough to have been in the Korean War, stood aside his Taurus with South Dakota plates, his hand over his heart.

That was almost too much to bear. Such respect from these men who knew none of us – what have we done to deserve such honor? I hope we can live up to their faith in us.

It’s 75 and sunny here at Fort Benning. Supposedly we’re getting up at 0400 tomorrow (4 am). WTF? Active duty soldiers, indeed.