Where is Home?


It’s been an overcast weekend. The view of storm clouds are at full display to the west. There has been a peaceful and melodic sound of rain pattering off the roof. I’ve been hearing it from the comfort of my full size. I was tempted to stare at the back of my eyelids again while engulfed in the rhythm of God’s music.  Against my deepest desires I stood up and plugged in my portable phone charger, adjusted my nuts, and then proceed to my latrine to take a piss and brush my teeth. Staring in the mirror I crack a smile to myself and step away.  I grab my jeans from last night and throw them on.  For the first time I glazed at my shoe rack to decide which pair to wear based on the memories I have had in them. I threw on a red and black pair of AIR FLIGHTS.

Opening the front door of the house I noticed it was drizzling. Light enough rain for me to actually enjoy the soft mist. Walking down manor drive I took a deep breath in, appreciating the clean airy smell. My smooth pace reminded me a company march across white sands missile range. Only now I’m sparking a joint instead of singing a cadence about a yellow bird. I always felt bad for that yellow bird. I exhaled the smoke and clipped what was left. I continued my stroll, taking in the nostalgic feel of my home town.

Most of my youth was spent in a 7 block radius spanning from Lombardy to Westminster. After being away for so long it is almost a unreal feeling to just walk the streets and take it all in. It almost seems unfair to have grown up here. The sound of the ocean crashing is what rocked us to sleep as infants. Our own version of the Aurora Borealis being projected from lightening bugs in the grass as toddlers. Super bowls were being played against kids from the other blocks in the bay parking lot during our early teens.

This is also the very location where would smoke pot, cigarettes, and get drunk for the first time. House parties in the basement riddled with alcohol, drugs, sex and physical altercations. This is the same place where we watched some of the people we knew stray down paths that should’ve never been taken. The years finally caught up and we were no longer naïve little children blind to our surroundings. All in all this is the neighborhood which for the most part formed who I am; this place consists of the building blocks in which my personal character was created from.

I left for nearly 6 years. During that time I was exposed to all different types of life. I spent years in New Mexico, nearly 2 years in Afghanistan, and also took the opportunity to visit some of the western states. I tried my best to see as much as I can and accept all the different things I have experienced with an open mind. In that time I have met some very amazing people and have had very memorable moments. From the back alley dive bars of Reno, Nevada to the back alleys between mud huts in the villages of Ghazni province, Afghanistan I have managed to open my eyes wide and absorb all the culture and knowledge I possibly could have.

In doing so I managed to expand my mind past these 7 blocks of South Shirley and continued to surpass the 118 miles of Long Island, New York.

The euphoric sound of the rain crashing into the bay water started to fade. I no longer enjoyed it. The feeling of home I so eagerly wanted to come back to was not there. I vividly remember a very dear friend was drunk back in may 2013 when I came home for post deployment leave, he told me “Don’t you fucking come back here for good Andy. I swear there is nothing here. Do not fucking coming back”.  Those words reverberated in my brain for a long time. The image of his drunken anger and sincerity has been replaying in my mind like a traumatic event. I often think back to that when I’m not happy and I ask myself, should I have listened to him? I’ve been back in New York since October 2014. Since then there has been highs and lows. More of the latter and I ask myself, why did I come back?

I stood up from the bench and took one last glaze at the water. I took a deep breath, smiled, then proceeded to step off my left foot just like the drill sergeants taught me to do so many moons ago. I kept a slow pace during my walk home all the while thinking of the answer to the question I had asked earlier. Pondering an answer that would satisfy me.

Throughout the these past few months during the times I have been uneasy about being here, there has been a lot of factors that have made me upset. Through all the bullshit I have been struggling with during this transition of being back home there has been something that hasn’t changed. Something that makes every crappy day better.  With all the variables there has been a constant. That constant is my friends and family. No matter what my family and friends have been there for me in my roughest of times. The images of football games and house parties are the past that I truly do cherish but we all have somewhat evolved from that.  We are adults that positively reinforce each other to do better at whatever it is we strive to do. We promised to make memories that will last forever, just as those ones we still reminisce on.

Sometimes you will feel like you are somewhere you shouldn’t be and doing something you have no business doing. Whether you’re still in your home town or already ventured out into the world, the place you truly belong is where the love is. The power of love can get you through anything.

I know this all may seem like the rambling of an inebriated man but I really needed to this. I wrote this to help me figure out what I really want to do with my life. I have been in the air about leaving New York. This helped me make my decision; maybe reading this will help you. Probably not but I could hope so.

Home is where you feel most comfortable and the most love. Home is where you can wake up and smile and appreciate where you are. Home is where the positives of that place make the negatives worth dealing with.  My home is Long Island.

sorry for the hiatus

Dear Readers,

I understand its been a while since I have posted anything. The past couple months have been a whirlwind of emotions for me. There has been a lot going on. I finished my first semester of college, I moved into a different apartment, and the most heart breaking thing of all my current events, I watched the New York Rangers get eliminated in the Stanley Cup playoffs (maybe next season boys).

The last time I posted was in March. I have been writing, a lot actually. I just haven’t had the time to re-read and re-assure that they are worthy of being released. Not that I’m Stephen King or anything. I just do not want to put something out and it not be worth the time of you wonderful people. I’m sure y’all wouldn’t want to read 600 words of something with no purpose. I do apologize for the people who sincerely do enjoy this.

Over the past few months I’ve had the opportunity to talk to some Veterans who have read this blog. It is a strange feeling to tell a Vet that you write a blog about military experience only to have he/her respond with ” oh no way, I’ve read that.” Its an amazing feeling when the response is full of praise. I also really do appreciate negative criticism. No sarcasm there. Upon speaking to these Vets they’e been telling me things that they have a hard time dealing with since being out. These stories and conversations have enlightened me and have given me an idea of the things that I should be bringing up. Things that need to be addressed so that the brothers and sister have a better understanding of their emotions.

I’m not going to drag this out so I will get it over with and stop taking up any more of your time. After one of my post got an uncountable amount of praise I was a little fearful of posting with the thought of not keeping my writing up to par. That feeling is long gone. I’ve promised myself that I will no longer second guess my writing. I am going to be posting a lot more. Everything will not be just about the military. I do a lot of free writing and I plan on posting that also. Who knows maybe some of you will enjoy it. As far as the military topics go. I would appreciate it if you would contact me and let me know what you would like to read about.

In closing, forgive me for rambling about something some of you people may not have even cared to read. I just needed to say those things to clear the air on why I haven’t posted recently. I was going through some stuff and figuring things out within myself. Be on the look out for some new entries. I promise they’re coming. Thank you for reading and most of all thank you so very much for your continued support.


Andy Gomez

God bless the Sappers in the sky.

Its currently 0447 on March 21st 2015. I rolled out of bed with something weighing on me heavily. This certain something weighs heavily on the shoulders of many other brothers in arms. Tomorrow is a big day for the veterans of 573d Clearance Company. A day simply known by the men and women bearing a sea horse patch as SGT.Wade day. Almost 2 years ago, on March 22nd 2013 the life of SGT. Tristan Mykal Wade was tragically taken by an IED Strike while on patrol in the Qarah Bagh district of Ghazni Province in eastern Afghanistan.

We all board the plane to go overseas knowing that we may be the one who doesn’t get back on the plane to go home. As Combat Engineers you load up and say ” Fuck it. I’ll deal with that when the day comes.” The day when reality hits and there is an empty seat hurts. A blistering pain throbbing in the hearts and minds of comrades who grew accustom to the relieving feeling of having one more Brother. It raises confusion and emotions you have never known existed.

On March 22nd 2013 things were looking up for all the soldiers of 573d Clearance Company. Some of the men in 2nd platoon were completing the companies final mission of our deployment rotation in Ghazni province. A task of teaching the incoming Bravos certain hot spots on highway 1 and things to look out for on route. Finally after 8 months and some change the final rip mission was being conducted. Some Sappers had already flown to Sharana to start the exodus back to America, The rest were packing there shit up in bags and tac boxes while watching FOB Arian hastily be torn apart. The complaints of having only one shower didn’t matter anymore. Nothing mattered.We were going home. While myself and a couple other guys were packing the LT came into our tent with a look on his face. I’ve seen this look before. With next to no emotion he says ” The Commander wants everyone in the chow hall in 10 minutes.”  I knew. I didn’t want to believe the feeling in my gut but I knew.

Upon arriving in the DFAC I seen the few people who were still on FOB Arian from our company. All the chatter echoed loud in the Alaskan tent. maybe it was just all the thoughts in my head I was hearing. People were still walking in, most likely some stragglers who got the CO’s command a little late. It didnt take too long for everyone to report in. The company CO walked in. A stern man with a caring temperament to him. He took no shit but was willing to serve side by side with any of his joes and could complete any task that was expected of anyone. He earned every bit of respect that everyone wearing a uniform gave him. when he spoke you listened.

The commander put his head down, joined his hands together, and took a deep breath then proceeded to say words that no one ever wants to hear.

He began to inform us of a TIC that happened just some time ago. While conducting the mission 2nd platoon and the soldiers who were to replace us came in contact with a IED strike. SGT.Wade was hit. He continued to speak but the only words that rang clear were “he did not survive.”

There was a silence that to this day I will never forget. A silence that anyone in the dining hall will never forget. The sobs began. The blank stares formed. Tears from some of the strongest men I have ever had the chance to know crashed on tables and floors. Some people stood up and embraced the closest person to them. Joining hands letting one another know that they are not alone. At this moment the true meaning of brotherhood was expressed. We were released by the CO and encouraged to speak to our battles and the chaplain about what we were feeling. Most of us were still speechless.

Anyone who knew Tristan Wade would tell you that he was a slick talking guy who would always crack a smile no matter the situation.They would tell you that he was a man who would never shy away from the opportunity to be heard. His presence was felt when he was in the room. You knew he was there with you. SGT.Wade never turned down any type of challenge, he welcomed it. He loved to play football and could most likely get a reboundover your head in basketball. He was a student of great leadership and transformed into the teacher. He was a mentor to many soldiers to come after him and left a great impression on the soldiers of a time before him. He loved his soldiers and treated everyone with a high level of respect. He was a man who put everyone before himself. He was the prime example of a proud Combat Engineer.

From that day on there was a guaranteed empty seat on the plane ride home… From that day on there was a guardian angel for all the Sappers of 573d  Clearance Company. The memory of him rest in us all. He has eternal life through the hearts and soul of his brethren. Rest in peace Brother. Clear the route for the rest of us. Til we meet again.

( I do not own the rights to the following video)

Home sick from a place we never wanted to call home.

I often wake up hoping I’d be in a cot. Hearing Jason screaming the lyrics to barbie girl. I’d roll over and click play on the pre-mission playlist; Big Krits  “Rise and Shine” plays. Maybe Poly would come in and slap my foot and say lets get chow or Ryan would have already been up giving me his leftovers while I tell him his sister is beautiful, A running joke that has been going on for nearly 4 years now.

I wake up in a full size bed on Long Island. No chow hall but easily accessible food everywhere in sight. I can get a breakfast sandwich if I really wanted. Freshy Fresh isn’t too far. I no longer see the faces I’ve grown comfortable and accustomed to seeing. The things that were so agitating have become memories and jokes. We would tip beer bottles and laugh about the indirect fire and Rashaldo’s reaction to it. The time when First Squad’s tent got deflated because of people playing with knives. It was a big deal, angry faces and threats left and right but in the end, why be mad? Brothers forgive. I can still hear Big Davis, Gabe, and Tony P arguing over the state of hip hop. Life was simple.Life was good.Life wasn’t promised.

When over there things didn’t matter. It just was. We had no control over what happened back in the United States. The only thing we could do is complete the task at hand. When that was done we had to enjoy the time we had. We never wanted to go there but we were there. We made the best of what it was. We hated the taste of dust in our mouths. We hated 10th Mountain’s leadership for making the rules that made our lives difficult. We hated the Taliban. We hated the IED’S.

We landed in El Paso, Texas and said hello to America. We put on normal clothes, Laced something other than combat boots and PT shoes, and Hopped in vehicles that weren’t MIne Resistant. Something felt missing and couldn’t explain what it was. Unlocking the door to our barracks room felt unreal. Eating jack in the box couldn’t compare to taco Tuesday on FOB Arian. The shopping mall didnt give you the same excitement as the PX on FOB Sharana. The comforts of America no longer made us feel normal.This wasn’t where we belonged. We became home sick for the place we never thought we would call home.

This is supposed to be where I draw you in???

I’ll start off by saying who I am. My name is Andy Gomez. I’m 24 years old and also a veteran of the United States Army.I have served two tours of duty in Afghanistan’s northern region and in Afghanistan’s eastern region. I joined the military at the age of 17 and to be quite honest its because I knew i wasn’t going to do shit else with my life.I will never beat around the bush I plan on being very honest in this blog. I enlisted as a Combat Engineer with no general idea of what the fuck the job actually was. I’m pretty sure most of the other guys who joined for that MOS didn’t know what it was either. During the training it was all smoke and mirrors because upon arriving at my unit I come to find out that what I trained for as my job wasn’t even what I would be doing. That is a story for another time. During my time in the military I have had the opportunity to meet some of the best men and women I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. On the other hand ive had the chance to meet some one the most worthless and low people. Got to take the good with the bad right? In this blog, actually fuck that I don’t really like that word to much. In this collection of writings I’m going to document my time in the military and most of all my transition back into civilian life. Use this as a resource to whether or not you want to serve this beautiful country or if you are a veteran fresh out of the service looking for a sense of direction. I do not have all the answers but I have some and knowing a little something is better than knowing completely nothing. I’m going to close this first  part of my collection with me saying this. This blog was initially directed to service members and Veterans to try and help them to cope with whatever situations they’re dealing with IE ; toxic leaders, transitioning into civilian life, and that bitch military spouse everyone hates. Most of all to let them know they aren’t alone. There are over 2 million veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, you are never alone. Secondly this is not exclusively for the military type. One thing almost every Vet respects is a civilian with a good understanding of the lifestyle. So if you are a civilian who just wants to be more in tune with what goes on in a soldiers life than by all means read along. you are welcome with open arms. I appreciate you sticking through over 400 words of me blabbing and I hope you continue on.