Well, I’m on my final flight home, and excited but a bit anxious about everything. It took six days of travel to get to Norfolk (with two days of briefings and clearing customs at Camp Phoenix). In the final days, two people I’d worked with were shot a mile from our camp by a deranged Afghan Soldier (they’re still alive, but two of their coworkers, who I also knew, were killed). And, there were two rocket attacks along the road to the Kabul Airport. We were really glad to get out of there. With the travel and 5 days in Norfolk, I’ve had some time to decompress, but realize that after trying to be a warrior for the last 14 months, I’m not quite back to normal yet. I’m just greatly relieved to get back to my kids and family, and can’t wait to just be Dad for awhile. The kids are vibrating with excitement, and I’m sure will talk non-stop about all the new things they can do until they pass out from exhaustion. It’s been a long year, they were 2 and 4 when I left, and they’re 4 and 6 now.

It surreal being back in the States. The grass and trees and salt air are great (we went to Virginia Beach one night, and the Naval Base is on the bay). People really don’t know what to say though, since all the news is so negative. The reactions while I’m in uniform are fairly strong, and mostly are very positive. A pilot bought my coffee at Starbuck’s this morning, and then turned out to be the Captain on my flight home. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at home, but at the same time am a bit nervous. I’m fortunate in that I didn’t see heavy fighting or trauma, and believe I contributed to the development of Afghanistan, but I’m looking forward to getting past all the stories and back to my pre-war self. Don’t worry though, I do have a lot of stories to share.

My business is already on the road to recovery, but I’m putting off full-time work until July 1st. I’m returning to about eight listings and one property under contract, and will be implementing a new business model I’ve sketched out over the last year. I’m looking forward to getting back to the industry and will be also doing a bit of speaking to professional groups about this past year in Afghanistan and how to keep your business going. On the Navy side, I’ll be back to drilling with Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, where hopefully I’ll be able to provide lessons I’ve learned from deploying with the Army in a combat zone. It’s been a good experience overall, and maybe I’ll write about it someday.

I would be really interested to know how many people these emails have been forwarded to. Between my wife and I, the address list is about 350, but I think the real number of people who’ve shared my experiences is much higher. If you could, send me a note and just let me know how many folks you’ve regularly forwarded these to. I really appreciate that so many people have been interested, and writing about the experience has been cathartic and has helped me use you all as a touchstone of normality. Reading about births and job changes has reminded me that my world consisted of more than barbed wire and bullets, and thankfully that the ubiquitous weapons were temporary.

If you’ve missed updates you’d like to read, surf to www.jonsingleton.com to read them, see the pictures and to post comments. Feel free to forward this to anyone who may be interested. If an email of your’s is kicked back by my SPAM filter, just resend with the word “ADD” in the subject line, and I’ll receive it. Raise a cup of Starbuck’s for me, and I’ll hurry home