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Words from the troops and families

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Nicholasa Reed
  • 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Much of American history is preserved and discovered in written correspondence; whether an official memorandum from a commander in the field or a letter to home from a private or Airman deployed.

With the evolution of technology and its greater availability, even on the warfield, historians are faced with a modern-day challenge to find, compile and preserve today's frontline stories.

The National Endowment for the Arts accepted this challenge two years ago. The result is a literary anthology, Operation Homecoming: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front in the Words of U.S. Troops and Their Families, released late last year.

Inspired by several bestselling authors and writing workshops set up by the NEA, servicemembers and their families were asked to write and share their wartime experiences for the book.

The book recounts more than 100 stories, poems and diary entries about servicemembers missing family, being anxious about their first deployment, experiencing amusing everyday incidents and more.

One of the stories published in the book was written by a Liberty Wing warrior, Maj. Robert Lindblom, 48th Fighter Wing Safety office.

While deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2003, Major Lindblom recounted a tragic situation he experienced and how he was forced to step up and lead.

"Roker, Roker, Komodo 11 is down!" were the words heard over the radio just 14 days before the major's unit was set to rotate back to the states from deployment.

Komodo 11, a HH-60 Pave hawk helicopter, was en route to medically evacuate two wounded Afghan children. The helicopter never completed its mission. It crashed during aerial refueling, killing all six of the crewmembers onboard, including the squadron commander.

In Operation Homecoming, Major Lindblom recounts his feelings of anxiety and uncertainty on his ability to lead the squadron of more than 25 Airmen.

"It didn't matter whether I was ready or not," he said. "The rest of the unit needed me. I don't think I did anything different than anyone else would have done, I just did what the Air Force needed me to do at the time."

The book includes many stories similar to Major Lindblom's experience, about stepping up to leadership roles and recovering from catastrophe.

"The book is very unique, as it's told from the perspective of Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen fighting, and their families. Many times our tales are told by reports and historians who are detached. This book is told from those directly involved," said the major.

Major Lindblom will be signing copies of Operation Homecoming Saturday at the RAF Lakenheath marketplace shoppette from 1 to 4 p.m. and again at RAF Mildenhall's Bookstore Feb. 24.

The book will be given to military installations, schools and libraries. Proceeds from the books sales will provide arts and cultural programming to U.S. military communities.

The Public Broadcasting Service is scheduled to run a television documentary on Operation Homecoming Apr. 17. An educational video is also slated for production for future use on military bases.

For more information, visit the NEA website about Operation Homecoming at dex.html.