I’m Nothing Special

September 20, 2007 By
Posted in Military Life, Why We Serve

I just happen to be a blogger. I’ve had a lot of opportunities open up to me because of the people I’ve met through the internet and because of my writing, but I don’t think that means I’m anything better or worse than anyone else. I serve in the military, something ANYONE can do. However, not just anyone can raise kids, build a house, pave a road, deal with customers over a phone all day, serve food to picky eaters, or clean up after us after every movie.

I didn’t start blogging because I want to be a famous celebrity. I didn’t start blogging so that I could get freebies or discounts. Heck, I got those way before I started writing. I just ask, “do you have a military discount?” I would like to take a little time and reintroduce myself and my motivations for writing because there are some people (who will remain nameless, but are probably reading this) who think that I write for selfish reasons.

I began blogging back in 2004 because I got frustrated with our stories, the Soldiers’ stories, being ignored. I started a little blog called “Chcknhawk’s Harem” over at Blogspot. I called it that because most of my fans were female troops supporters and I thought it was a funny play on words. I began my blog as largely a humorous way of getting through some of the things I was facing after returning from combat. Writing made me feel better. I didn’t feel like there were a lot of people I could talk to, including my own family. But, I’m also grounded enough to know that I’d go crazy if I kept it all in.

Blogging was my way of “talking to somebody without talking to anyone at all“. There were people out there listening, but I wasn’t talking directly to them. By writing about my experiences, I was able to revisit them and deal with them in a positive manner. In 2005, I published my war journal to mark the second anniversary of when I was notified I was going into battle. We were no longer training to the “what if”; we were training for war.

However, there is a lot that I never wrote in my journal because I knew that it would be read by others one day. There are some things I still don’t like to deal with. I’ve slowly found ways to deal with those areas as well. For example, losing friends. I started They Have Names because of a specific person, CPT James “Alex” Funkhouser, but he was just the catalyst that brought together the various reactants of losing friends and feeling like no one else cared about it. The hardest one to accept has been the loss of SSG Stevon Booker, a friend and fellow Tusker who was killed during the first Thunder Run into Baghdad on 5 April 2003. He was a combat proven veteran of Operation Desert Storm in the early nineties and knew his stuff. He cared deeply for his Soldiers and died trying to protect them. But, you won’t find Booker’s story on THN yet. I still can’t write it, but one day I will. Earlier this year a building at Aberdeen Test Center was renamed after his memory. I write so that people don’t forget people like Booker. And I still write

Anyone who knows me knows that I care deeply about Soldiers. I care deeply about Marines, Airmen and Sailors too (collectively known as Soldiers from here on). It frustrates me beyond belief that their sacrifices are becoming so taken for granted. Their stories are not being told and I feel that by telling these stories I’m taking care of them. Naturally, I take care of the troops directly under my supervision and care as well. This war is about the Soldier. There is a reason that Marine General Peter Pace, retiring Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke predominantly about the Soldier during his farewell speech. Look at the people paying the highest price in this war and you’ll see the names of Soldiers, peppered with NCOs and Officers here and there. Someone needs to tell their story and I feel like I need to be that person.

There are plenty of stories that are “sexy” or “newsworthy” and deal with death, destruction, blunders and botched decisions. There are also plenty of people willing to expose them and ensure they are known as far and wide as possible. But, who is there to tell the Soldiers’ stories? Unfortunately, it falls to a band of devoted military bloggers who make it their goal in life to get out the good news – and there’s plenty of it!!

I get nothing out of blogging. What little pittance of money I make of my writing goes to pay for bigger, better things (pay close attention to ASP in the near future) to help tell the story. It goes to paying for postage of care packages to troops who are away from the flagpole. It goes to organizations like Soldier’s Angels, Adopt-A-Platoon, and Wounded Warriors Project. ASP has donated more than $35,000 over the past four years to various causes, including the Camp Lejuene Ballerinas. And to be honest, I don’t care if anyone ever knows we do it. I’m sure the dollar amount will surprise even our diehard readers because I don’t advertise it. I don’t write for recognition and I don’t write to eventually meet the President. We could have used that money to pay off our bills, that’s for sure.

I’ve put a lot on the line to write. I’ve stunted my military career in ways by narrowing the types of jobs I’m qualified for. I’ve annoyed and pissed off senior military commanders and supervisors, though I’ve never tried to hide anything. I’ve taken away valuable time from my family! This is something I feel strongly about and as long as I’m able, I’m going to continue writing. If no one ever reads another word I write, I wouldn’t care. It’s therapy.

Hopefully, I’ve made some sense here and some people’s eyes were opened. To those people I say: you don’t have to like it or agree with it – just accept it. I’m nothing special.

10 Responses to I’m Nothing Special

  1. Having met you in person CJ, I know for certain that you’re a very special person. One of the most kind, compassionate and caring people that I know. Those of us who’ve read your blog over the years know that your motivation is just as you say, to tell the story of the Soldier. I look forward to continuing to read what you write, my friend.

  2. To me, you are special – we all make ripples in the great pond of life – some mean more than others.

  3. Well, I’ll have to disagree with you CJ, you are someone special!

    I am sorry you have to deal with people that question your motivation for why you write. Anyone that really knows you knows your heart and why you do what you do. Keep on keepin’ on CJ!

    By the way, I had to laugh at the name of your first blog! LOL I was not reading blogs at that time, so I never read it, but the name is very humorous! :)

  4. I know that you don’t care to be regarded as special, CJ. Without wishing to offend the loyal people who’ve written to express their support of that aspect of your character, then, let’s try this from another tack:

    Say that you aren’t special. Maybe that is the key to all this. Say you really are Joe Average, CJ, finding your way through (as much as possible) a regular life; ups and downs, good and bad, faith and hope and luck and the occasional wad of chewing gum holding it all together at times. The point is that being ‘average’, you’ve made, and continue to make, choices that aren’t simple, choices that you’ve acknowledged cost you time with family, pain of various kinds, hours and hours of effort – in order to do what? To answer a higher calling in support of your fellow man. You said it yourself: “I feel that by telling these (Soldiers’) stories I’m taking care of them.” **Therapeutic aspect or not. And I take leave to doubt that having to cope with some of the fallout (read, fecal matter) you’ve dealt with as a result of your writings (look to the reason behind your writing of this post for but one example) would be regarded as ‘good for one’s blood pressure’.

    The problem is, active kinship of this sort SHOULD be SOP – and thankfully, many, many, MANY good people do see more than their own daily grinds and grieviances, looking far past their egos to respond to the needs of others – BUT, these days it’s anything but the norm. Sad, but true. The cult of ‘me!’ is busy peddling the virtues of a life on Easy Street. Caring, commitment, conscience? – AWOL. By their blindered reckoning, these are fraught with difficulty, and difficulty of any kind is to be avoided; distained like some species of noxious roach. When facing the challenges that have crossed your path, average ol’ you continues to choose the ‘hard right’ over the ‘easy wrong’, CJ. The reason people are drawn to, and applaud your efforts, imho, is in part due to not enough people responding naturally, NORMALLY in a like fashion anymore.

    You may not feel you stand out, and why should you? Of a certainty, the company your choices have allowed you to keep is chockful of like-minded folks carrying similar torches. You and your compatriots in the milblogging world in particular are in a unique position to paint verbal road signs and read the map (or at least explain the difference between the map and a Butterick pattern ;-) ) for the rest of us, going thru life as we all do sometimes getting caught up in our own worries, never realizing that we might be losing sight of the Big Picture. By your example of what the NORM should be, by presenting us in your posts with others who exemplify that quality, you inspire us to respond in kind, and to check our focus. You remind us that we ARE indeed our brothers’ keepers.

    So keep on being nothing special, CJ, my friend; you’re doing one heck of a fine job. :-)

  5. CJ, You already know what I think of what you do for others. Take a Deep Breathe and sit back and don’t let others bother you. What you do is a Great Thing as far as I am concerned.


  6. CJ,
    You are someone special! You serve in our military and you have great integrity! I have read your writings for awhile now and I can tell what kind of person you are by just reading them. Not just anyone can serve in the military. Either because of age or some other reason or they just don’t want to. Thank you so much for serving our country so well and for writing too! I throughly enjoy reading your posts!!

    Please don’t let anyone discourage you from writing. You will never please everyone and I know you know that. Many people get jealous of someone when you make alot of friends and even go to the White House to meet the president. I say “bravo” and good for you, CJ, you deserve the praise!! Please keep posting!! :)

  7. You say you’re nothing special … I respectively disagree and I’ll just leave it at that.

  8. I do believe you’re special, in several ways. None of them have to do with you being a blogger.

  9. I think all our men and women in uniform are SPECIAL. Keep blogging and maybe you’ll open the hearts and minds of some of the folks that don’t have a clue.

  10. Chris…you are so very special. I’m sorry that I haven’t been more support for you. But know that I love you very much. Please keep writing. It is part of Gods plan for you. I know that because you do it freely and out of love for others. Hugs, Aunt Mary

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