Soldier's Diary: Hoping Bitter Enemies in Iraq Can Turn Into Best Friends

Editor's note: U.S. Army Capt. Dan Sukman is serving a one-year deployment to Iraq. For previous entries and his bio, see the Soldier's Diary archives.

13 July

We had a farewell ceremony for Major Shannon last night. He has completed his two plus years with our brigade and will be returning to the British Army on Friday. The ceremony was held in the conference room, and was attended by most members of the command. It was a simple ceremony, some words spoken by the commander, some words by Major Shannon, and a farewell gift exchange.

For as many soldiers and servicemen and women our Army employs you would be surprised how small it can be. No matter where I've been over the years, I have run into soldiers I worked with from other posts and stations. Sit in any chow hall long enough, you will see someone familiar.

As a going away gift, Major Shannon was presented with a print depicting the British surrender at Yorktown.

We often joked with him on the success of the American Revolution, and the print was an extension of the joke, but it represented a little more. In the words of our commander, the surrender at Yorktown was the starting point on a long road of friendship and cooperation [between the Americans and the British] that continues to this day. No one could have personified the friendship better than Graham.

Yorktown was over 220 years ago, the end of bitter fighting that would again flare up and culminate in the War of 1812. I look at where we are now, the military cooperation, the joint operations, and having British soldiers assigned to our units. Arguably the best friendship on the planet began as a rivalry between two bitter enemies.

As a soldier I look at that and can only be hopeful for the future of Iraq.

12 July

Over the past few days, I have been walking around with my new XO [executive officer], Lt. Knud (it's Danish, I am spelling it correctly) Hermansen. He came into my company approximately a week ago and has been an instrumental part of our day-to-day operations.

Lt. Hermansen deployed over here with me last August and has been working at the division headquarters up until he assumed his new job. He volunteered for the XO job knowing it would extend his stay for about a month; by the time we depart, the two of us will have a little over 400 days in country. He's proud do it, and ready to do anything he can for the soldiers in the company.

The only disappointing part is that he is from Maine, thereby making him a fan of Boston Teams such as the Red Sox. That puts two Boston fans in the office, and to paraphrase Dark Helmet, "I'm surrounded by Sox fans."

Knud will be in charge of the redeployment for my company. It is a tedious and often thankless job. Sending soldiers back to home station requires a lot more than just putting soldiers on an airplane, although getting on the airplane is probably the best part.

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