October 6, 2006
   Letter To Dad From Son In Iraq

(AFP/File/Marwan Ibrahim)
Dad,

This has been an amazing couple of weeks. Time gets away from me; and, before I know it, it's been several days (weeks?) since I've filled you all in on what we've been up to.

The Squadron has had some significant successes and some frustrations since I last wrote. The successes have included finding several weapons caches, an fairly large gunfight we won with no casualties, searching a couple of mosques where we found multiple weapons and ammunition storage facilities, and continuing our work with the local community. In many ways, we've made great strides in moving this country forward.

There have also been some setbacks. We continue to struggle working with the Iraqi police that are no where near ready to take over law enforcement. They are undisciplined and abuse their authority. Many times I think they commit more crimes than they solve. In the face of a crime, they run. I had to turn three of them back to the crime scene they fled for fear of getting in a fight. They came running up to me in full body armor, armed with AK47's, and full helmet telling me a lady had been shot by someone in a car. They needed me to come help right away. I asked them why they weren't trying to catch the killers and they said, "they have guns!" or something like that. I was disgusted....

We also can't seem to stop the sectarian violence. These people not only hate the US, they hate each other and are killing each other in large numbers. We had a dozen dead bodies show up tonight...all executed.

Despite the frustrations, the guys continue to amaze me with their professionalism. They always conduct themselves so well, even when the Iraqi's don't treat them too well. There are times when I think we care more about their country than they do. Yet the men continue to do the right thing every day.

We've had a few casualties, but fortunately they will all be okay with time. That's where I want to thank you for your prayers. We've had so many close calls, I can only attribute our relative safety to God's grace. Some examples:

1. Our Chaplain was walking across a parking lot and a rocket attack occurred against our base. The first rocket went over his head and exploded in the distance. The second hit the ground a few meters away and skipped across the ground in front of him...a dud.

2. A suicide bomber drove his car into one of our Strykers and blew himself up. The car had 300 pounds of explosives and we didn't lose a single guy. Relatively minor casualties. One soldier had a mark on the back of his body armor where a piece of shrapnel hit his armor plate...one inch higher and he would be paralyzed at best, dead at worst. The blast lifted the Platoon Leader off the ground and threw him into a concrete wall....he got up and walked away unhurt.

3. A soldier was sandwiched between two concrete barriers and his body armor was positioned in a way that kept him from getting crushed.

4. Mortar rounds hit our base camp in a place where there are almost always soldiers walking or working....that day no one was out.

5. Yours truly was getting my laundry when a rocket hit in a building 10 meters away. It blew me sideways and knocked me a little woozy, but left me unscathed. When I went to the building the next day to check the damage, the wall was full of shrapnel holes...except for the place where I was standing. In that spot, the shrapnel put dents on the wall, but didn't penetrate. If they had penetrated, the shrapnel would have hit my left side. It was almost like the holes made an outline of my body...

I don't tell you these stories to scare you, but to encourage you to keep praying because it works. I pray that God's grace would continue to shine on this Squadron. His protection is the only thing I can imagine is protecting us the way we've been protected. I am so grateful for your prayers and only ask that you continue earnestly to pray for me and my men.

Name withheld for obvious reasons



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