While in this country of Iraq, I have seen a lot of great things transpire, people stand up and a country become proud and strong. I could tell you how your Marines brave small arms attacks; tracers in the cold night, IEDs exploding just feet from them, sometimes underneath them, nightly Islamic prayers played on loud speakers during sundown and intermingled with a low base IED explosions off in the distance. The smell of trash and tires burning continuously throughout the day. I could explain how during a cold brisk morning we went out and about through the city escorting a few more “passengers”. Life is good, things are just freaking chipper. The schedule is on track and we pause and stop to observe some new Marine Corps equipment and as we begin to get briefed from the Soldiers who run the gear, two enemy sniper rounds fired from at least a mile away hit in close proximity. The Marines know what they heard and move to protect our passengers when a 60mm round hits about 30 yrds in front of us. We had a good berm to cover us and we continued to move into our hummers to evacuate the area before they can bracket us and lock onto our position and do some real damage.
But what I will tell you about is the smell inside an envelope from home. Where you can actually smell some of the things that where there when the letter was written. You can close your eyes and recognize the smell of the familiar little one who wrote you the letter. You can pick up on familiar surrounding’s like the pledge cleaner that was used on the table where the letter was written on or remember where the flowers are in your home that are neatly placed and accompany your letter. The smell of the room where the letter was written in cuts through the familiar burning tire trash smell you’re currently surrounded in. It’s a nice treat to get mail regardless who it is from. You get the letter here in a country that doesn’t even have a mail system. It might have been a week old which is better than past wars where it could have been months before you received a piece of mail, it’s a special piece of home.
I can tell you about the sacrifices your service members have made in this war alike the ones in the past. The birthdays you miss, the graduations that are complete minus dad, the dad that has to be both a mom and dad. The feeling a young Marine father has who stands guard on a post during a national holiday while his kids open presents back home. Having to deal with monsters in closets and taking off training wheels at home while their warrior is away helping a country take their training wheels off as well. The simple words from a youngster saying “I just want my daddy home” can carry a ton of weight just as much as a warrior says, we will prevail and we are here to help. Both know the meaning of sacrifice, both smell the envelopes from their loved ones.
Your service members and families know sacrifice because they not only feel it, they live it. Not just from Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, Vietnam, Beirut, but as long as this country has had to make war, we have made sacrifice. Sacrifice as a country at home and a far. Its not easy, its not always fun but when we make a sacrifice it is for the good and a good cause. We help others who have no hope, we dedicate our loved ones to complete the mission. We don’t take it lightly and we play to win. We know the sacrifice and we are proud of what we do. The next time you write your service member a letter, know what is going into it and what they will get out of it. While in the country of America, I have seen a lot of great things transpire, people stand up and a country become proud and strong.
Things continue to keep you on your toes. IEDs a plenty and the sporadic small arms fire are continuous. Marines continue to take the fight to the enemy and continue to show the enemy the definition of sacrifice and we allow them to experience it.
Iraqi Army soldiers and U.S. Marines uncovered hundreds of mortars, artillery rounds, rockets and other warheads during the 3-day sweep near the ancient town of Hit in Al Anbar province.
“This was our biggest find to date,” said 1st Lt. Antonio Agnone, the combat engineer platoon leader for Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. “We’ve uncovered numerous, and significant caches the insurgents have hidden in Hit in places where they thought they would have easy access to them.”
In just a few days, Iraqi soldiers from 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division and Marines under 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), 2nd Marine Division unearthed nearly 500 rockets and artillery and mortar rounds, along with approximately 100 tank rounds and large quantities of rocket propellant, fuses, and blasting caps. These supplies are the components insurgents commonly use to make improvised explosive devices. A stockpile of assault rifles, ammunition and two IEDs were also discovered. The weapons and ordnance were destroyed.
Iraqi soldiers patrolled the perimeter of the cache sites to keep residents away from the insurgents’ unexploded ordnance and answer their questions concerning the operation.
According to Agnone, what amazed many of his Marines, who are new to the theatre, was the lengths the insurgents would go to hide the caches. In one instance, the insurgents defiled a local cemetery to place their stash.
Acting on a tip, Iraqi Army soldiers and Coalition Forces carefully searched the cemetery and found caches in grave spots adorned with both head and foot markers.
“We went over the area very carefully with mine detectors,” explained Agnone, “and that led us to the sites. We were very careful and didn’t disturb any civilian graves in the process.”
In addition to BLT 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, the 22nd MEU (SOC) consists of its command element, MEU Service Support Group 22, and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 (Reinforced). The 22nd MEU is in the Western Euphrates River Valley area conducting counterinsurgency operations under the 2nd Marine Division.
Time for a CeeGar!