Going Home: a Tale from Combat to the U.S.

By | August 9, 2021

[August 9, 2021]  A year in combat on the battlefield of Iraq, and now my fellow Engineer Soldiers and I were sitting on a U.S. Air Force C-130 cargo plane readying to fly.  It was uncomfortable sitting in the webbed seats, but we were happy to leave the warzone finally.  My mind was on the possibility of SAM missiles, but our takeoff was uneventful.  Going home would not be what I expected.

As we boarded a commercial airliner in Kuwait, we seemed to know that our lives were about to change once again.  We were better people.  We understood what it took to live through a year in what we knew was the longest year of our lives.  On the flight to Europe, our first stop, the plane’s crew had turned the cabin temperature down as a gesture of those coming from a hot desert environment.  We froze.  I asked the senior flight attendant to please increase the temperature or, jokingly, I said there might be a riot on our hands.

I returned home directly from Atlanta, Georgia, which was our stateside destination.  Bypassing Fort Sill, I traveled to Philadelphia International.  Good friends picked me up, and we had great conversations on the car ride home.  My family welcomed me back with a big sign and dinner.

Like I had been briefed, things changed at my home.  Your family adjusts in your absence.  Life goes on without you.  Don’t expect folks to see you step back in like it was before you left.  They changed, and, more significantly, you change even more.  They may be patriots or not.  Many are not because they watched the news media, CNN, ABC News, or read the New York Times.

The media “distorted” what was going on.  They twisted the war into something that would sell.  Many published stolen classified information and used Iraqi stringers, many of who were insurgent propagandists with an anti-American agenda.  Lying about the war by some reporters was blatant if you knew what really happened.  You were there and knew better.

Most folks I know back home understood me and said it was good to have me home.  There was no problem getting back together.  We had a few beers and a few cookouts, going to the shooting range (at my request) for a good time plinking at metal targets and yakking it up.  The small town I lived in came out to greet me whenever I walked down Main Street.  Men would pat me on the back and say they were happy to see me.  Women would give me a hug and a kiss on the cheek and tell me they had prayed for our troops “over there.”

A talk show host I know today created a radio program called Welcome Home Veterans.  He did this to help our Vietnam War veterans who had a terrible time coming home from their war.  They were spat upon, called names, and sometimes assaulted.  Good Americans learned from that shameful experience and vowed to welcome home new combat veterans properly.

I was welcomed home properly.  Some of us never returned.  I cannot imagine what others before me went through, but my life would change and not all for the better.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

20 thoughts on “Going Home: a Tale from Combat to the U.S.

  1. H. M. Longstreet

    “Going Home.” This is what we all want and forever. Gen. Satterfield, I think you touched a nerve with this one. And, I want to say that I totally agree that there are many traitors in our mist. I do not want them harmed, no never … but I do want them shamed for their lack of moral judgment. That is their failure and will, sadly, always be their greatest failure. We no longer teach people how to do this well.

  2. Steve Dade

    Gen. Satterfield has a running dialogue about his time in Iraq — 3 tours, I believe. Look back over his articles, search on “Iraq” and you can find them. I highly recommend you search for these and read them. They do you well to better understand leadership in difficult circumstances. This article is a bit different from them but links them all together, I think anyway.

    1. Janna Faulkner

      Joe Griffies is the host of a weekly Saturday live radio broadcast for veterans called Welcome Home Veterans Radio on WIBG in Ocean City, N.J. Griffies served in the Army in Vietnam from 1966 to 1968 and was a founder of the Philadelphia Veterans Parade. He also led the campaign to have the VA Hospital in Philadelphia renamed for a young soldier who died in Vietnam.

      1. Greg Heyman

        Yeah, I’ve listened to him on the radio. Great Janna for highlighting Joe Griffies.

      2. Silly Man

        Good show on veterans’ issues. This guy has a tremendous line up of guests. If you dont’ listen, you’re missing out.

  3. Willie Strumburger

    You were very fortunate to have good friends pick you up at the airport. Where was your wife and family? Regardless, I don’t know the circumstances but wives do well when they directly support their husbands. And, vice versa as well. You are in our prayers even today. Gen. Satterfield, we are on your side and the side of all our veterans.

  4. Colleen Ramirez

    Wow, Gen. Satterfield …. a powerful story. And we tend to just gloss over those stories. I wish all the best to you and your family. Yet, I sure you were still happy to be away from Iraq and back with people like yourself. Small towns are great.

  5. Bryan Z. Lee

    Whoa here, great commentary on the tale of “going home.” I cannot imagine either combat or going home from combat. Thank you Gen. Satterfield for a peek at this issue.

    1. Tom Bushmaster

      Too many of us just assume everything goes back to “normal” whatever normal means. I don’t think so. Not just PTDS or TBI or other unknown ailments from being in a horrific environment. Thanks to all those who served. And a special note to those like traitors Jane Fonda and John Kerry, we know who you are and will never forget you let down our country.

      1. Roger Yellowmule

        Spot on comment, Tom. We support our vets and our first responders. They are the ones who help keep us safe. And, they are part of our communities as well. 👍👍👍👍👍

        1. Jonnie the Bart

          You got that right Roger. Gen. Satterfield is the best. I wish I knew more vets like him.

    2. KenFBrown

      Yes, Bryan, I agree. We cannot imagine it and will never be able to. That is okay. Treat our veterans with respect, no matter when or where they served. They gave their lives up for us.

    3. JT Patterson

      Thank you Bryan. Excellent!! My dad was in the Korean War and I remember the troubles he had until the day he died. Don’t take our vets for granted.


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