stands for Task Force Med Eagle. For those of you who have been on this mailing list since its origins in my 1998 Bosnian deployment, the above abbreviation may make some sense. For everyone else, it sort of goes as follows:
In 1998 when I was the Commander of Würzburg MEDDAC/67th CSH I was tagged to deploy to SFOR as the Medical forces commander in support of Multinational Division North (which was 1 Armor Division at the time). Oh, yes, and take along several hundred of my very best troops while I was at it. We deployed in April 98 and redeployed in Oct of the same year. Since I had been on email for about 12 years at that point, it was the mode I planned on using to stay in touch with scattered friends and family. Using the DSN phone system meant I could call back to Europe, but otherwise cell phones were only slightly smaller than Motorola radios, text messaging effectively didn’t exist and in any case calling was extremely expensive.
Email at that time was much less complex than today. ASCII character programs, the newer ones of which actually had progressed beyond line editing. The government was not so concerned about computer security that the servers could be used to route email through to private systems for distribution. My choices were to use the CHCS mail program which would have involved individual emails to everyone on the list or routing through to min.net in Baltimore which was where I had my private account courtesy of Halla’ connections.
What I was determined to do was stay in touch with people without having to write numerous daily emails and so the original list was born. I don’t honestly remember if I even bothered to give it a name other than to think of it as my distro list. It became both a communication device and my own personal journal.
For whatever reason, the habit sort of stuck and I continued the practice through the subsequent years, sometimes being extremely reliable about updates and other times not writing for weeks. Deploying for OIF in 2003 pretty much reenergized me and the list grew. Technology had progressed and websites were now more than static repositories on information. The military had developed strict guidelines for the use and distribution of information on the internet effectively limiting the use of websites containing anything more substantial than smiling friends waving from un-identifiable and non-security risk locations. For some reason email lists marginally fell through the cracks and I didn’t ask permission.
In Spring of 2007 saw me decide to compile my TFME emails into more coherent document similarly to what I had done with the Kuwaiti daily emails. After tracking almost all of them down and finding that there are very few of us who save every single last email offline that we receive I started the process. Rapidly I discovered that ASCII email is a pain especially written by an exhausted someone who has no spelling skills at the best of times much less more than a marginal connection to grammar. Even eliminating all the headers, I was still left with six monthly documents averaging 15k words each of interesting but rarely structured writing.
The task seemed overwhelming and after adding monthly and daily headers, I put it aside in favor of the by far more interesting job of creating a few websites. Ravelry had just been establishing and chatting about knitting was by far more interesting. I was bored at work, but not so bored as to invest in seemingly endless edits and revisions.
Since then, the world has changed and I have added a few years. This April will mark 16 years of email lists and if I don’t start now, I am not sure it will ever happen. Last fall I loaded the six documents onto my computer and always intended to start editing on sea days. It didn’t happen in 2013, since knitting and chatting along with reading seemed a lot more fun. I finally started on April 98 yesterday. The good thing about imposing order on chaos is that the word count steadily decreases even on a first run through. If any of the about 20 of you remaining from that original list are interested in reading and commenting I will gladly send you each month in both the original and revised format. For that matter, anyone else who wants to make comments would be welcome.