Friends for Life: Strangers Brought Together by the War in Iraq
by Jennifer MackInday Patti Donahue
||Sandy Island Press
||May 1, 2009
Friends for Life Book
Friends for Life is a new non-fiction war story told through the voice of two women, chronicling the experiences and emotions of a yearlong deployment to Iraq. Patti, the mother of Army medic Jon, and Jennifer, sister of Infantry soldier James, forge a friendship back home as their soldiers fight to stay alive in one of the most dangerous cities in Iraq. After meeting online, Patti and Jennifer joined forces to support their soldiers and comfort each other while their boys battled with the infamous Deuce Four Stryker Brigade in the fierce fight to secure Mosul, Iraq.
A new non-fiction war story told through the voice of two women chronicling the experiences and emotions of a yearlong deployment to Iraq. Patti, the mother of Army medic Jon, and Jennifer, sister of infantry soldier James, forge a friendship back home as their soldiers fight to stay alive in one of the most dangerous cities in Iraq. After meeting online, Patti and Jennifer joined forces to support their soldiers and comfort each other while their boys battled with the infamous Deuce Four Stryker Brigade in the fierce fight to secure Mosul, Iraq.
Though the two women were separated by thousands of miles, age, and interests, they were drawn together by shared terror and the overwhelming desire to communicate with and comfort their soldiers. This memoir contains actual emails and instant message communications with the soldiers, offering a unique and intimate look into the deployment.
Using a simple, easy to read writing style, this work illuminates both positive and negative aspects of a modern day deployment. From surviving the loss of friends, to understanding military operations and dealing with PTSD, this book also serves as a resources guide for veterans, military families and anyone wishing to support the troops.
There are many family stories emerging since the invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003. As I sit in airports waiting for flights, I am often in the company of soldiers. Some are coming home for much needed reprieve from the war. Others are making their way back to war. Some are somber, some are strong, others anxious. All are precious.
One soldier in particular caught my eye on a cloudy June morning in St. Louis. In fact, it was D-Day, June 6thth. The soldier was a Private in the Infantry, short and slim he looked more like a kid who sat next to me in math class than a soldier returning to war. He was fidgety and nervous. The way you are when you wait in the hospital while a loved one is in surgery. He was unsettled. As I stood behind him in the security line, I watched him empty his pockets of coins, money, and papers. There were many papers. I imagined they were well wishes from family, email addresses and phone numbers of pretty girls he met while home on leave. I asked him if he was coming home or going back.
“Going back Ma’am,” he responded. His eyes darted uneasily as he watched guardedly for snipers, terrorists, anything dangerous.
“Thanks for your service,” I chirped. “Stay safe.”
“Yes ma’am,” he said with a slight smile. The young soldier then headed off to the smoking room to wait for his plane. He joined several others, one man wearing a Vietnam Veteran hat. The veteran saw the soldier fumble for his cigarette and lighter, then stepped forward to offer one of his own. A small comforting gesture that I hoped would ease the young man’s tension. After he finished his smoke, the soldier shook hands with the veteran and strolled out of the smoking room, down the corridor and out of sight.
I prayed for him silently as I waited in the terminal for my flight. I prayed he would return to his family, friends, and perhaps the pretty girl whose phone number was written on one of the crumpled notes in the soldier’s pocket. In my heart, I knew he may not return. If he did return, I knew he would forever be changed.
Many books have been written about the Iraq war, from a Soldier's first hand experience to a military wife's journal. This is the first book I have read told from the view of a mother and a sister. A Soldier is trained for battle, a wife has many more resources at her disposal, a mother in Arizona and a sister in Indiana often have nothing to help them understand what their loved one will experience or how to even get the answers they might need throughout a military deployment. Friends for Life is a story of two women who despite time, age and distance were able to find the love and support they needed to survive and thrive during their respective loved one's year long deployment to Iraq. Friends for Life affirms, despite the horrors of war and the fear that lives in the heart of every Soldier's loved one, that sometimes something as beautiful as a lifelong friendship can be found. The story they tell will touch the hearts of military and non-military families everywhere. A must read for any family member who is unsure of what to expect when their loved one deploys.
--H.S. Bartel, Schofield Barracks, HI
Deployment Sacrifices Revealed
This book is a must read for anyone who has any interest in what soldiers and families sacrifice for our freedoms. This story is written by two women, a mother and a sister of two soldiers who served in the Iraq War. These women, complete strangers before the war, became Friends For Life through this experience. The book allows those of us who have never experienced the terror of having a loved one in harm's way to have a glimpse of what happens to the families and the soldiers who are serving our country. The resource lists alone would be worth the price of the book. --Dr. Evelyn Brister
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