Saturday, February 25, 2006

This is it

It has been quite some time since my last post, which I closed with a promise to post more. I've noticed the same problem with other milbloggers as well...especially reservists like me. When I peruse the blogs of others who have journaled from inside the war zone and have recently returned home there seems to be a trend of posts that state "I'm going home...I'll post more soon". But those follow on posts never really seem to materialize. Of course, I can't speak for others but I can definitely share why I went from a dedicated blogger to having nothing more than crickets chirping since I've returned.

Its not that I have stopped caring. To the contrary I think about the war every single day, and I think about the blog almost as often. I think about the troops that are still there and how their story needs to be told, and I think about the loyal readers I had while I was still in Iraq and telling my story. When I think about the latter I actually feel a bit guilty... that I have somehow left people hanging by not continuing to post as I had promised. The reality, however, is that I can't tell that story any more since I'm no longer there. While I was deployed this blog became my outlet and I was passionate about making every single post as compelling as possible. I wanted to tell stories that kept readers interested by revealing people and places they wouldn't see anywhere else. But I don't have those stories to tell anymore. Even more so...those stories have been replaced with just good ole' regular life back in the U.S. After I returned I took the family to Disney, took a few weeks off, and now I'm back to work at my civillian job. I'm not a politician, or an activist. I obviously have my opinions, but at the end of the day I'm just a guy trying to be the best husband and father I can be and who also happens to be a resrvist that got deployed for a year in Iraq. I'm proud of what we accomplished there. In fact, my only regret is that I personally didn't do more...that I didn't try harder to make a difference. There are days when I wish I could go back with the knowledge I have now and do things better (my wife is gonna hurt me when she reads that). But my turn is over, and we still have the best trained, most professional military on the ground, and they will continue to do the stellar job they have always done. They still need your support so keep lifting them in prayer and keep the care packages flowing. Despite our short attention span as Americans, this war is not over nor will it be any time soon. So let's not forget about those who put themsleves in harms way on our behalf.

As for me...I'm going to get on with the business of living. I still have a lot of lost time to make up for and I intend to do so to the best of my ability. I want to thank all those who supported me while I was deployed. Sometimes it was an encouraging email or post, and other times it was a care package that came at just the right time. So many of you I have never even met, which makes it even that much more appreciated.

I will forever be amazed at how this blog became so much more than I ever intended, and I am glad I was able to share my small story with so many people.

The local news did a story on my return which is archived here.

This is Panther 4...out.


Anonymous Steven Smith said...


All the best to you and your family. We appreciate the sacrifice you all made during your time in Iraq.

I followed your blog for quite a while and often mentioned to my co-workers and family that there was another side to the conflict in Iraq that was rarely portrayed by mainstream media. Thank you so much for posting the truth with such clarity and emotion.

God Bless!

Steven Smith
Austin, TX

12:21 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...


I offer you a humble THANK YOU for your service to our nation. Men like you keep us safe and I thank God for you.

Also, a heart felt thank you to your beautiful wife and gorgeous children for the sacrifices they endured during your absence.

I will miss you like so many other mil bloggers that have come home, but that's just selfish on my part...isn't it?

Now go. Live your life.

12:41 AM  
Anonymous Monica Orluk said...

Words cannot begin to adequately convey my appreciation for your service, your sacrifice and your blog. I have laughed, cried and worried along with countless others as we were given the priviledge of sharing your deployment.

Personally, your blog provided me with insight and inspiration as I moved forward in my efforts to support the troops. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

On behalf of all the volunteers at Operation Troop Appreciation, Kristen Holloway, President and myself, God bless you and your beautiful family. We were honored to have been able to help you and your men, and with you the best.

Monica Orluk
Vice President of Public Relations
Operation Troop Appreciation
Pittsburgh, PA

6:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was an honor to be able to read your blog for the past year or so. I am grateful to see your family reunited for all of your hard work. Thank you again and God Bless!

Christian Bair
Vancouver, WA

9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to add my thank you. As it has been throughout the years, citizens of this nation owe a great debt to our military and their families for the sacrifices endured for our benefit.

Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. Now, enjoy your family.

9:15 AM  
Anonymous remy said...


Don't worry about letting it go. I'm sure there is all kinds of downtime on deployment to work on this and even though I've wanted to it's kind of the same reason I never started a blog, with a wife and 6 kids who the hell has the time! Enjoy your family and don't give a second thought about putting them first.

God Bless you and your family, thank you for your service, and congratulations on the Horns in the Rose Bowl

9:57 AM  
Blogger Josh said...

Thanks very much for sharing with everyone about you, your family and what was going on there.

3:24 PM  
Blogger kate said...

Hey, thanks so much for all you did over there, and thanks for taking the time to write about it all. Thank you and God bless!

7:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. We tend to take so much for granted. Your departure and the strong faith of your family helped strengthen our family. Although you were away, you were the constant topic of Amy & the kids. It’s great to see you back home reunited with your family, plus now you can help me build my deck! :)

Your friends & neighbors,
The McCue’s

7:20 AM  
Anonymous Chris Oakley said...

Just found this blog...sorry you're closing up shop.

9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dearest John,

Our family salutes you for your courage, selflessness and commitment. We are so blessed to know you personally! Yes, world, John is the "real deal"!

God has given you the gift of articulation... you have transported so many of us to your adventures and now back home. We celebrate you home, with your amazing family, and we look to you as hero and friend.

Forever thankful for your service and forever friends,

The Winsetts
Austin, TX

12:00 PM  
Blogger NYC TAXI SHOTS said...

welcome home brother peace be with you and the world i am trying to track down a soldier who i posted on my blog on taxishots2 he was in nyc for a weekend before going back for his second tour the picture is of him his wife and baby in the backseat anyone seen him

4:13 AM  
Blogger Leesa said...

Others can read what you have written for the past year and appreciate the sacrifice you made for your country.

6:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Son,

Just wanted to let you know that there was an article in the Columbus, Ohio post dispatch about your blog. I always knew you would be famous! We'll send you a copy as soon as we can. Love you lots,

Mom and Dad

7:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Atlanta, Georgia ! Thank you Panther4 for your sacrifices. Thank your wife and children as well. May God Bless you and your family. From Emily & Greg in NE GA.

2:57 PM  
Blogger Cary said...

Welcome Home.

8:03 PM  
Anonymous MissBirdlegs in AL said...

I can't say it any better than it's already been said, but just once again - thank you for your service. Your blog was a nightly stop for me for many months and you just have no idea how much it was appreciated. Wishing you and your family all the best for the future. God Bless!

7:15 PM  
Anonymous Suzig63 said...

I am a wife that's husband, also a Reservist, deployed to IRAQ. I read your story in USA Weekend. I set up a homepage for his unit, through

So glad to have you home, and Thank you for all you and your family sacrificed, as I live it daily also!

I just hope an dpray that America does not forget that there are many still over there fighting, and their family's are in need of our support also!

Thanks AgAIN!

8:33 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Thank you for your service and sacrifice! I'm glad yoru home now! We are a reservistr family as well, and went through our own deployment to Iraq. Thank you for everything!

8:45 AM  
Blogger Uncivil said...

Just wanted to say Hi.

I saw an article titled "Words, War & the Web" in the USA weekend paper from "The Daily News" (J.ville NC). Ring a bell?

Anyway.....I saw your article and pic along with a few more soldiers and just decided to visit your blog.

Thanks for your sacrifices to help make the world a better place.


3:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear John,

I'm so thankful to the Lord for bringing you safely home to your family. As we've said before, He is faithful!

Within the past 6 weeks, my son Seth has also come home safely from Iraq. The day after he left there, his usual observation post was struck by an RPG. How good God is to have taken care of the tiniest details of time and space! Now I pray for all those men who took the place of you and Seth -- and their families, too. Having been active participants in such an incredible time in history, the two of you have served faithfully and well. We thank God that you, Amy, and all your family gave witness to true steadfastness and courage. I'm still hoping, John, that you'll eventually put your blog and exceptional photos together in a published book so your stories can be shared with others yet to come. I'm happy to finally be able to say it: Welcome home, John!


9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi son,
It's your Momma again just to tell you how thankful to God everyay that you and your sister are both home safely from Iraq. I hope you don't mind that I tell Laurie I am so glad her son is home as well. We bonded when we me met, since we were both going through the same thing. I am so very proud of you, and especially your blog. I don't know how you were so good at your abilities, it had to have come from your Dad, and maybe a little bit of me. Your country should also be proud of you, and grateful also. I love you with all my heart! And Laurie, give Seth a big hug from me. Love always. Momma

5:03 PM  
Anonymous Adriane said...

Please accept one more "Thank You!" for a job well done and a blog well written.

The last chapter, or maybe the endnotes, of Robert Heinlein's Friday was "people with happy and interesting lives don't need to write memoirs..." or something to that affect.

May you & your family have a happy and interesting life back together.

2:57 AM  
Blogger Maggie45 said...

John, and all the other Uppermans, God bless you for all you've done for our country. Thank you.

1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Stud
Never out your higher and the people are your higher....

Out here....

7:30 PM  
Blogger Wayne's Mom said...

We've had the same to end the blog journey. I promised to keep folks posted until our soldier son gets married this summer.

I'll always be grateful for your strong, Christian perspective from the front lines while you were there. You were one of 'my adopted ones.'

6:02 PM  
Blogger DEANBERRY said...




4:03 AM  
Blogger Greaneyedgemini said...

I enjoyed your blog. Are you still checking this blog for comments? I am soo glad the technology is here to allow troops to communicate their experiences. I've been reading blogs like yours all day. They have all been unique. Don't let the previous comment discourage you. My husband is a former Marine who served in Iraq. I've posted his picture on my blog Adirondack Mind. You are truely brave. Don't ever forget your part.

9:44 AM  
Blogger Wayne's Mom said...

It's Memorial Day, and I'm scanning the blogroll which kept me sane last year. Just wanted you to know I appreciate all your posts last year, and I appeciate your service even more.

God bless you,
Wayne's Mom

8:07 AM  
Blogger princessoctober said...

Dear John and family,
Thank you. I can't imagine what you all have gone through while you were a part. I am waiting for my brother to come home safe and sound. In the meantime, I am glad and take a sigh of relief for everyone of our members of the service who get home. Thank you for serving. thank you is not enought, but, what else is there to say.

11:52 AM  
Blogger Bluebonnet Texan said...

I really enjoyed reading your blogposts and valued your insight. The media often squashes a lot of the aspects of the war and you brought about an insight into the humanistic things that are also a part of the process. I only wish that there were others like you who would journalize online -- especially, those in Iraq and other countries. It is wonderful to get a bigger picture of the world out there....

I have been blogging, myself, since June 2003 or 2004. It has been a while and many blogsites later that I continue to blog about one thing or another.

Lately, it has also been with sites such as (which entails much about the immigration issues and/or other issues affecting Austinites in some form or fashhion) or even (which entails my learning spanish once again at 40-Something).

My ex husband is now in Iraq, not as a soldier but working for a corporation. I worry about him and others who are there, especially without the skills and training that you had while there. However, life goes on and my father reminded me that the odds of people returning from Iraq are very good.

Thank you for providing your insight through this blog that you had done. I respect your decision to slow down on this blog to keep up with your demands of family, working as a civilian, and so much more.

Do you know how we can find other mil bloggers to follow up on what is happening on the other side of the world???

2:19 AM  
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11:58 PM  
Anonymous Maj Pain said...

Good stuff warrior! Stay tuff and kick ass! semper Fir

8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU I wish I could say that to all of our soldiers. You fought for this country and that is a big deal you and the others will never fully feel how truely greatful this american girl is. THANK YOU


4:26 PM  
Blogger UnitedStatesAirForceAuxiliaryMember said...

Hi there! Thanks for serving our country, and great blog!

6:43 PM  
Anonymous healey said...

Helloooo...where did you go?
Keyboard broken? We miss you!

2:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


12:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just spent a couple of hours reading the entirety of your blog. Thank you most of all for your service. Thank you for sharing your pov of the Iraqi people and your experience there. I can honestly say I've never read/seen anything like it.

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is a very touching story I feel for you and your family I hope that you are home safe with your family
YOou are in my prayers and thoughts God bless and thankyou

9:28 AM  

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