Hey, some comments on the blog would be nice so I don't think I am babbling to just myself!!!!(Just kidding, I always do that.) Here is a sneak preview of this week's piece for the Vermont Times. Originally I was going to get quotes from Governor Douglas and Martha Rainville, and contrast those with feelings the family members of guard soldiers have about the war. Well, it turned out just a bit different than that.
This isn't just a game......
For some, the third annual hockey game between the Vermont National Guard and The Vermont Law Enforcers to benefit the families of guard members serving overseas, was just that, a game. For Andrew Labounty, this game was the last bit of ice time he will see for the next year; next week, Labounty, a Swanton resident, will be deployed to Iraq.
Andrew Labounty is a member of the Vermont National Guard serving as a pilot on Blackhawk fighter planes. He has served six years in the guard, and has always wanted to serve overseas. Ideally Labounty would be serving with his unit, but as they don’t have any space, he will serve with a unit based in Alabama. He said even though he will be serving with an Alabama based unit, he will be serving his home of Vermont, and is not unlike any other soldier in that he leaves home with quite a bit of anxiety.
Sunday’s game, a 6-4 loss, gave Labounty a chance to play in front of 30 members of his family, some of which will not see him for the next year. “I have been playing hockey all of my life, today was a good chance to spend time away from work with guys I have been working with for the last six years.” Labounty continued to say he has very mixed feelings going to Iraq, not because of any personal beliefs, but knowing he may not come home.
Labounty will be flying assault missions in Iraq, a sharp contrast to dodging checks on the ice. As we spoke, one of his nieces and nephews came over the glass to hug him and just be around him. Later, he posed for pictures with various family members. I don’t know about you, but I say a good hockey game and spending time with family is a pretty good way to be sent off into war.
Note: Originally I had planned on writing this article on the feelings family members of guard soldiers have about their loved ones either being deployed overseas, or the possibility of that happening. After hearing about Andrew Labounty, my article instantly changed. Be well Andrew, and come home safe so you can play in this game again next year.