Around this time last year, I was ordered to tag along with major brass (generals) to greet soldiers. My job was to take pictures, while the generals shook the hands of soldiers, and the sergeant majors started NCO small talk with buck sergeants and E-6’s.
“Where you from, stud?”
“California, sergeant major.”
“How many push ups can you do?”
“67, sergeant major.”
“That’s all. I can do 78 and I’m an old man. You better do some PT.”
We went from one base to the next and it was the same story every time. Some soldiers grumbled. “Who gives a f#%k that some general is here. I had to wake up for this.” Others were honored. “Sir, may I get your picture.”
The higher ups are much like sports players… they are the well-paid in a poorly paid profession. They are constantly in the limelight, whether in the civilian or military media. And they make decisions that affect everybody in uniform, (which is more like an owner than a player).
I spent countless hours with different generals and or Paul Bremer types, documenting important meetings between them and the Iraqis. And during these mission-oriented events, they did their job; maybe even faking enthusiasm, but you could tell deep down that they would rather do something else. However, when the higher ups visited the lowly soldier, their eyes twinkled and you sensed a re-borne enthusiasm.
Gen. Casey said it best, “I just love soldiers.”