A Marine’s letter in the din of Iraq

Been doing my normal trolling of the blogs, I came upon this letter at the Fighting 29th (this is a blog based in Rochester, NY focusing on the NY-29 seat). In reading this letter, I was surprised and intrigued by the content, honesty and bravery I read within. I have never been a supporter of the war in Iraq – prior to the invasion, I used to argue with my Israeli family members about the “domino effect” if could have in terms of building up further anti-American resentment. I have watched the talking heads and read the blogs, but this was a letter that spoke with a poignancy and honesty that reminded me of why should stand by the fighting men and women of the US Military.

Some particular quotes in the letter had me:

Most Profound Man in Iraq — an unidentified farmer in a fairly remote area who, after being asked by Reconnaissance Marines if he had seen any foreign fighters in the area replied “Yes, you.”

Bravest Guy in al-Anbar Province — Any Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician (EOD Tech). How’d you like a job that required you to defuse bombs in a hole in the middle of the road that very likely are booby-trapped or connected by wire to a bad guy who’s just waiting for you to get close to the bomb before he clicks the detonator? Every day. Sanitation workers in New York City get paid more than these guys. Talk about courage and commitment.

Second Bravest Guy in al-Anbar Province — It’s a 20,000-way tie among all these Marines and Soldiers who venture out on the highways and through the towns of al-Anbar every day, not knowing if it will be their last — and for a couple of them, it will be.

Biggest Surprise — Iraqi Police. All local guys. I never figured that we’d get a police force established in the cities in al-Anbar. I estimated that insurgents would kill the first few, scaring off the rest. Well, insurgents did kill the first few, but the cops kept on coming. The insurgents continue to target the police, killing them in their homes and on the streets, but the cops won’t give up. Absolutely incredible tenacity. The insurgents know that the police are far better at finding them than we are — and they are finding them. Now, if we could just get them out of the habit of beating prisoners to a pulp…

Highest Unit Re-enlistment Rate — Any outfit that has been in Iraq recently. All the danger, all the hardship, all the time away from home, all the horror, all the frustrations with the fight here — all are outweighed by the desire for young men to be part of a band of brothers who will die for one another. They found what they were looking for when they enlisted out of high school. Man for man, they now have more combat experience than any Marines in the history of our Corps.

and he ends it almost poeticly:

Most Common Thought — Home. Always thinking of home, of my great wife and the kids. Wondering how everyone else is getting along. Regretting that I don’t write more. Yep, always thinking of home.

I hope you all are doing well. If you want to do something for me, kiss a cop, flush a toilet, and drink a beer. I’ll try to write again before too long — I promise.

While I may not agree with the reasons or actions of the Iraq war, I can only respect the men and women who work to make it right. To the unnamed author, thank you for the glimpse.

NOTE: I make the assumption this is a true letter based on Time magazine’s Sally B. Donnelly efforts to authenticate it. If proven otherwise, I would find this a cruel statement of the PR tactics of the Bush Administration.

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