I have now been in Iraq for seven months and the time has flown by. While the area of responsibility for the 101st is huge, it has proven to be very manageable thanks to the great leadership skills of all of the combat commanders and Soldiers within the Task Force. I have been fortunate enough to get to travel to each of our larger Forward Operating Bases and see the professionalism and motivation of all of our Soldiers. I have also been able to see an amazing landscape that you could never appreciate thru pictures. I am amazed everyday by the ability of multiple elements of the military as well as coalition forces and the Iraq forces to come together and work as one team for any mission.
It is unbelievable how many things that we take so for granted at home which go without even being missed over here. I have not used and have rarely seen a cell phone while in Iraq, but if I were to drive along Highway 68 at home I probably couldn’t count the number of cell phones I would see in use. We do have cable TV (Armed Forces Network) but it is limited to 5 channels at most places and is usually showing tape delayed events. More notable to that is the fact that we never see a commercial like you see at home. All of the commercials over here are military related commercials. We do not ever wear civilian clothes and most of us don’t have any civilian clothes with us. When we are lucky enough to be using a real bathroom we are sharing it with many other personnel. While those are just some of the things that we take for granted at home, all of the Soldiers over here realize how good that we are living. While we can not even begin to relate to the hardships of those great Veterans who have gone before us we do truly appreciate the great things that we have here.
The support that we have received from home during our deployment has been overwhelming. We have received numerous letters from the students of Trigg County schools. These letters have been wonderful and have included drawings and words of support and encouragement. We have received letters from many schools all across the country but it definitely means the most to see them coming from home. We continue to receive care packages daily and many are marked simply To Any Soldier. It seems almost like Christmas each time they arrive as Soldiers all gather around to go thru the goodies. We are all truly thankful for everything that we receive from home.
I wanted to tell what it meant to me not only to be serving in the United States Army but what it means to be serving in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I come from a long line of military service that goes back to World War I. My maternal Grandfather served in World War I, my paternal Grandfather in World War II, my Father spent three years serving in Germany during the Cold War era and I had a couple of uncles serve tours with the Army also. I met my wife in an Army school and she went on to spend 7 years serving in the National Guard. While that history and my patriotic upbringing resulted in me joining the Army shortly after I graduated from high school, none of that had any impact on why I wanted to serve in the 101st Airborne Division (AASLT) and in Iraq. That is because of the youngest member of our family who happens to turn 11 years old this month.
I want to know that I have done everything within my power to ensure that she never has to live a life of uncertainty due to acts of terrorism or threats to her freedom. I want to know that she will always be able to walk down the sidewalks of her town as a free American, that she can vote in elections, that she can go to church where she chooses, and that her children will enjoy those same freedoms. As America helps spread these freedoms and values we also help ensure they will remain in our own Country.
Even though I and my family endure hardships now because of these operations, we are all doing a part to help build a free and democratic Iraq which can be an ally in the Global War on Terrorism and help bring future stability to the Middle East. We can all be proud of the fact that America has not and will not back down from those few people who stand in the way of freedom. Air Assault!!