Orange in aloha land

This entry was written in Dec. of 2007 when I was mobilized to Pacific Command HQ TMs for 10 months to provide support for Operation Enduring Freedom

Joe Fields and I have one thing in common, we both played college football in Central New York. Joe, of course, as been a defensive back for the Orange, the past two years. Me, I had a much less remarkable career, also as a defensive back, but for Cornell and it was about a million years ago. That is pretty much where the similarities between Joe and I end except for one more. Through a strange turn of events the two of us today find ourselves standing together on a palm tree lined practice field in the middle of Pearl Harbor Naval Station. It TMs about as far from Central New York as you can get, four thousand eight hundred and thirty one miles to be exact.

Joe TMs journey here to play in the Hula Bowl, started as a boy on the streets of Houston years ago. Back then the young Fields was a quarterback and had dreams of being the next great "Joe" to play the position, following in the footsteps of other famous "Joe TMs" like Namath and Montana. But college scouts didn TMt see it that way. They saw Joe TMs freakish combination of strength and speed and wanted him to play on the defensive side of the ball. Only one school offered Joe a chance to follow his dream behind center so he packed his bags and headed north to Syracuse.

My journey from Central New York to Pearl Harbor began with a bulky yellow envelope jutting out of my mailbox on a beautiful Indian Summer day. Pursuant to presidential executive order of 14 Sep 2001 you are relieved from your present reserve command and ordered to report for active duty. Last time I had read those words I ended up spending almost a year in a tent in Bosnia. This time I was sure I was heading to Iraq.

It is funny how life works out sometimes. Joe never did get to be the star quarterback he had dreamed of as a child. He was thrown in as the starter against Purdue before he was ready. SU got embarrassed on national television that day and shortly after that Joe found himself on the bench. After two years of holding a clipboard, Joe had enough. He was on his way out the door when new head coach Greg Robinson convinced him to stay and give safety a try. The rest as they say is history. Joe turned out to be one of the best safeties in the league and now looks to be heading towards a career in the NFL.

Myself, I never did make it to Iraq. Instead I ended up being assigned to Pacific Command Headquarters which is how I ended up in Hawaii. With so many reservists being called up to Iraq and Afghanistan, I am sure I will eventually be called to go. When that day comes, I will, like I did before in Bosnia, answer the call. For now though I find myself here on this strange little tropical island far away from home. Though it has been almost two months, I am at times still somewhat bewildered by the twists of fate that brought me to this little tropical island. Joe being a fellow Orangeman knows the feeling.

"The view from the hotel where we are staying is unlike anything I have ever seen in my life." he says to me when I speak to him after practice, "I still can TMt believe I am here."

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