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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

After heartfelt weekend, it’s off to the war

 (The Spokesman-Review)
Rebecca Nappi The Spokesman-Review

Last Saturday and Sunday, Peter Borg spent his final weekend of freedom in Spokane. As you read this, he’s on a plane to Kuwait. Ultimate destination: Iraq. The 30-year-old Army National Guard cavalry scout can’t wait.

In 1992, the Shadle Park High School graduate joined the Army. At boot camp, his allergic reaction to insect bites was so severe, he had to leave the military. In April 2000, he joined the Army National Guard. In November, his unit – Washington state’s 81st Armor Brigade – was mobilized. At Fort Lewis, while waiting to go overseas, Borg was plagued with foot problems so debilitating he worried he’d have to leave the military again.

But the foot problems were resolved and this weekend, Borg will finally join his brigade buddies who have been overseas for months. He’s ready.

Despite this eagerness, Peter cherished his final weekend of “normal” life. No matter what happens to Peter in Iraq, he won’t return the same as he left. He will become “part of all that he has met,” to paraphrase the poet Lord Tennyson.

Peter and his mother, Sue Borg, kept a journal of Peter’s final free weekend. Here are excerpts, fleshed out with details from an interview I did with both of them Monday.

Saturday, 8 a.m.: Up and out the door. Peter cleans and changes the oil in his Ford Focus. He’s leaving the car spotless for his girlfriend, Allison Coons. His mother remembers: “Even as a small boy, he had his clothes and toys lined up with military precision.”

11 a.m.: He and Allison eat breakfast at Knight’s Diner in Hillyard. He orders orange juice, hash browns, rare steak, raisin bran, eggs over-easy, whole-wheat toast. At almost 6-foot-4 and 280 pounds, he’s a big eater. Coming soon: Army food.

12:45 p.m.: He and Allison curl up on the couch and watch the WSU Cougars game on television. He’s hoping for a glimpse of his sister Leah, a cheerleader for the Cougs. No glimpse. He savors his favorite beverage – Corona beer.

2:30 p.m. Peter drives to Dan’s Barber and Styling Salon on North Monroe Street. He waits for Bert, the barber who has cut his hair since Peter was 14. He doesn’t tell Bert he’s leaving for Iraq. He wants the weekend to feel normal. A discussion of the war would not make it so.

They talk about Peter’s work for the city’s sanitation department. Later Peter tells me that he is grateful that the law protects the jobs of those who are called away for guard duty. It gives them something normal to look forward to upon returning home.

7 p.m. Dinner with Allison at Ankeny’s restaurant. Peter orders the New York strip steak dinner. After dinner, Allison returns from the restroom to find an engagement ring under her napkin. Yes!

Allison is a special-education major at Eastern Washington University and had assured Peter she would wait for him. But he wanted to get engaged “to make it solid.”

10 p.m. Peter’s parents, Sue and Greg, toast the engaged couple. Peter and Allison then visit older sister Sarah. More congratulations.

Sunday, 9 a.m.: Out to breakfast at the Rosauers in north Spokane. Peter orders a mozzarella and cheese omelet. It is raining outside, but Peter and Allison feel cozy inside, chatting, eating and reading the newspaper together.

2 to 6 p.m. Party at the Borgs’ home near Shadle Center. About 30 people show up. Most are family members. Peter belongs to a big Spokane family rooted here for many generations. There are firefighters on his dad’s side. His mother, whose maiden name is Clarke, has a family tree filled with attorneys and judges.

In the kitchen, the women grow weepy thinking about Peter’s journey to a war zone. Later, Peter tells everyone how proud he is of his fellow soldiers in Iraq. He says some of them don’t have families, and he asks everyone there to write those men letters, too. Now, more than just the women cry.

10 p.m. The final weekend of freedom ends. Peter wouldn’t change a thing. Great food, greater love, an engagement to paint in his future. Yes!

Good night, sweet soldier.