26 June 2007

The Passing of the Sword

CSM Mellinger, right, passes the sword symobolizing the change of responsibility for Multi-National Force-Iraq to CSM Hill, opposite, at Al Faw Palace on May 5. For the past month the two CSMs have been working side by side on the handover.

Gen. David Petraeus was the presiding officer of the ceremony and recognized Mellinger's dedicated efforts as the senior enlisted advisor on the ground in Iraq. Mellinger's responsibilities included four Corps headquarters, over 13 division and Marine Expeditionary Force headquarters, over 68 brigade and regimental combat teams, and countless brigades and battalions of combat support and service support elements as well as the important contributions of coalition forces.
U.S. Army photo by Spc. Beatrice Florescu-Vila Verde, MNC-I PAO.

This past Saturday we were in one of the dayrooms at the Landstuhl outpatient facility unpacking the groceries we had just purchased at the Commissary. Soldiers' Angels provides fruit, cereal, microwave meals and other late-night snacks for the patients arriving after regular meal hours.

I'd been told there were some VIPs scheduled to come through but didn't think much of it because that happens all the time. So when First Sergeant Lowe came in the room and said, "MaryAnn, I'd like you to meet CSM Mellinger", I was speechless.

Well, not exactly. In fact, I blurted out, "I know all about you from Michael Yon!" (Ok, I might have said, "OMFG, I know all about you from Michael Yon!", but I'm not sure.) He replied that I "shouldn't believe everything Yon writes" but that's just because of the type of guy he is.

Anyway, we spoke for a few minutes and since he's pretty chatty I don't think I did all the talking. We talked about the MSM's war coverage, how some politicians are too impatient with Iraq, noting that Germany didn't have a post-WWII government until 1955 or an Army until 1956. I mentioned the latest Gallup poll showing that the American people have 5 times more confidence in the military than they do in Congress, but how at the same time it was a damn shame that more people know Anna Nicole Smith than Paul Ray Smith. From there the conversation devolved into why some women would want their chests to look like somebody's butt, which in retrospect was probably not an appropriate topic of conversation but which was pretty funny at the time.

When I asked what he's going to do now, he replied "go home and practice being Kim's husband."

After 34 months in Iraq, I think that's a wonderful idea.

If you didn't click on the link above to Michael Yon's post above, do it now. CSM Mellinger also contributed an article to Michael's Frontline Forum, and here's the transcript of a great interview with TroopTalk Radio.

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