Sunday, September 13, 2009

Home for the Holiday

I spend a lot of time bashing the ne'er do wells who ride my trains, so today I want to praise Pvt. Luis Feliciano, Army-82nd Airborne. He was on my Waterbury train on Friday night, September 11th (of all days), returning from a stint in the God-forsaken mountains of Afghanistan. He told me that he was heading for his home in Winsted, CT for 30 days of R&R before reporting to Fort Bragg, NC.
"I'm surprising my wife" he said," she has no idea I'm coming home, and hopefully, I can talk her into coming to Ft. Bragg with me."
I thanked him for his service and asked how things were in Afghanistan. He said conditions were rough, considering we had to climb snow covered mountains, twenty five thousand feet up where the air is makes it hard to breathe. "We were trained for these conditions at Fort Drum," he said, "but nothing prepares you for those mountains."
When I asked if he'd seen any action, he nonchalantly said that he'd been in a few fire fights...only one scary one...but he acted like it was no big deal. He then changed the subject and asked how much a cab ride would be from Waterbury to Winsted. I was about to say that I had no idea, when another passenger, a fellow Army vet, chimed in saying that Winsted was about 30 miles north of Waterbury...and that a cab ride would cost a bundle..."but don't worry," he said, "cause I'm driving you home tonight."
I helped Pvt. Feliciano take his bags off the train, while the army vet got the car and a soft rain began to fall. A street lamp shone upon two silhouettes walking to a late model Ford and loading duffel bags into the trunk. I thought about Luis' unsuspecting wife waiting at home and the surprise that awaited her. I thought about all the members of the service who never made it home. I thought about the families of those lost in the terrorist attacks on that clear, crisp morn eight years ago. It was September 11th...and I got a sudden lump in my throat.


Jamie said...

We live in the greatest place on the planet at a cost of a lot of life. Praise God for our military who is the reason our freedom is so valuable. Nice post and puts things in perspective!

Anonymous said...

what a great story. my son will be leaving for boot camp with the Air Force soon ,only to make me even more proud.

Landlady of Fat said...

What a great guy. Both the one on the train and the one who drove him home.


Anonymous said...

Having been born and raised in Waterbury... living through the good, the bad and the ugly of my hometown, it is nice to know that there are still some great people who live there or just pass through that can do some really nice things. Train crews included!

Anonymous said...

really nice post - a moving, brief view into one life that has so much more story to tell. have to imagine this is your job day in and day out.

well done

Roger Ramjet said...

One of my fellow Train Riders on the 7:40 form Milford, told me about your Blog. you have some great stories here and I will be checking it out regularly. Love this story.

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed if they had them go that high without oxygen. In maintaining persons higher than 16,000 feet for four hours or more caused severe headaches, nausea, and vomiting. I'm also very thankful for everyone of the men and women who serve. But if they don't get oxygen at that height we are not offering them the ability to survive as they would have little chance against someone who has lived there and developed differently.

Love the column found by a happy error :)

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