The following letter, via Seamus, is about the Connecticut State Troopers providing a send-off for a National Guard unit, heading for Afghanistan:
Hi folks the following is a copy of a letter that young James Dolan (SGT CSP) wrote to a fellow Trooper serving in Iraq. I don't think he will mind if I share it with you. After 23 years on the job and young james was my wingman I figured out by myself it was a young mans job and retired.heads up get the Kleenx-- James Michael
With your Norwich University education and CW3 status as an Apache pilot you’ve got to be kidding me.
How are things over there in the big city of Bagdad?
Here's a story you and your boys might enjoy.
I suited up yesterday, which was Saturday, my day off, belted 2 1/2 year old Aidan into his car seat in my State Police car, and drove to the National Guard Armory in Manchester to escort the 102nd Infantry Co. to the NY State Line. I had two other Troopers on this voluntary detail in their cars to assist.
One of the 2nd Lt's in the 102nd is 31 year old Jason DeSousa, who as I mentioned in a previous e-mail, is in the Guard and was recently activated to go to Afghanistan. He's also a good friend of mine as well as a fellow Trooper out of Troop "A" Southbury.
I put the word out at the Barracks that any one who wanted to jump in or wave to the convoy from the shoulder of the highway as we travel I-84 west bound to NY was encouraged to do so and it would be appreciated.
We left the Manchester Armory and, as you know how those send off’s are from being deployed, it was like being at a wake. TFC Art Walkley and I cleared every intersection along the sides streets and all along Main St. until we reached the highway. TFC Dwight Washington, who is a CSP classmate of my brother John and also a Capt. in the Guard, led the convoy of three buses through town. I have never seen so much respect from the public. Everyone pulled to the side and honked their horns or waved from their seats or got out and cheered. I welled up.
As we drove down the interstate we took over the left lane and even though we were only going as fast as the busses allowed, which was at top speed 70 mph, no one would pass us. There was also a marked car from New Britain P.D. with us to support one of their officers, US Army Sgt. Scripio. A New Britain Lt. and a Senior, I mean hash marks past the left elbow senior, Patrol Man in the New Britain cruiser became part of the escort. What great guys.
Traveling west we wove through the Capitol City of Hartford and toward the setting sun into West Hartford and Farmington then on through New Britain, where in honor of Sgt. Scripio, we sounded our sirens. Then we passed Plainville and Southington. The snowy landscape never looked so peaceful. TFC Washington reluctantly had to go back to Hartford because the off ramps and bridges had frozen as the temperature dropped and there were multiple accidents being called in.
I took over the point as we entered Cheshire, which is our Troop area. As we drove through Waterbury I saw a cruiser with its strobes on parked at the top of the exit 18 on ramp. Facing the convoy was Tpr. Matt Bell, hat on at attention saluting. Impressive and emotional.
We passed through Middlebury and into Southbury where on the median divider turn-around was another cruiser with its roof rack on. Standing there at attention was TFC Glenn Messenger, saluting his brother Trooper and Soldiers.
About two miles later at the Newtown line on the median were TFC Mike Downs and TFC Dionne Dunham and her K-9 Jagger. They were not only at attention with their strobe lights on but Dionne had her crazy K-9 on the hood of her cruiser lying in a perfect prone position.
Shortly after seeing Downs and Dunham we saw two sheets hanging from the River Rd. overpass. One said, "God Bless the 102nd" and the other said, "Kick Ass In Afghanistan!"
After that sight and well into Newtown, to the right, between the exit 10 off and on ramp was yet another Trooper with his cruise lights on waving to his colleagues and friends.
I figured that was it until we crossed through Bethel and entered Danbury, which is Jason's favorite and usual patrol. Virtually every entrance ramp was blocked by a cruiser to allow the convoy to pass and as we did the Troopers joined the procession. I looked in my rear view mirror and saw at least 8 to 10 State Police cruisers following in the pack.
We needed some type of finale to the day so I got on the radio and told the entourage to move ahead to exit 1, the New York border, and line up. We punched it and as we approached I requested someone to take the median. What I meant was for someone to park in the turn-a-round at the state line. So 4 Troopers parked behind each other straddleling the left lane while the rest of us pulled onto the shoulder creating a gauntlet.
Everyone was out of their car with their "Big Hat" on and as the buses rounded the bend. I yelled out, "Here they come, Attention, Present Arms!" and we all snapped to and saluted.
As the buses passed the drivers were laying on their horns as the soldier’s crowded the windows smiling and waving. Some held cameras or video recorders to capture the moment. In one of the buses, a soldier was standing on the front steps by the exit door at perfect attention returning the salute.
And off the 102nd went into New York en route to Fort Bragg and then Afghanistan. See you in April 2007 boys.
None of the Troopers spoke. We just got into our cars and drove back to our patrol areas, or headed off to answer pending calls, or like me, brought my son home from his first brush with history.
The entire ride I was teary-eyed and remembering when my brother John was activated as an US Army 1st Lt. back in 1990. And when another Trooper and I did his escort from the Massachusetts line on I-84 to his Company HQ in New Haven. He came home different and ultimately died from cancer--a cause I contribute directly to Gulf War exposure.
It was a depressing day and I stayed silent, believe it or not, throughout the evening. Around 1900 hours Jason called me from New Jersey. He could only talk for a minute but he said he wanted to thank us for the send off. He said, "You have no idea how much that lifted our spirits, it's all the guys are talking about."
I told him, "That was nothing. Wait until you see what you guys get when you come home."
I have to say that escorting the 102nd Infantry on Saturday January 7, 2006 was probably the classiest event I have ever been involved with during my almost 18 years with the Connecticut State Police.
I am proud to be a Connecticut State Trooper and God Damned proud to be an American.
Thank God for people like Jason DeSousa and you, John J. Reopell. Can’t wait to Welcome You Home.
Be safe and be strong,
Yours truly, Jimbo
Sgt. James Dolan #268
Connecticut State Police