Letters from Iraq




I am now back in the United States. It is good to be home, and I want to
thank everyone who was good enough to send a kind word, a care package, or
simply to remember me and the guys in their prayers.
While it would be wrong to say that everything in Iraq is sunshine and roses,
I have to say that it is not nearly as bad as the news media proclaims. I
can’t emphasize this enough. Iraq is in the process of re-building a nation
based on democracy, coming out of 35 years of dictatorship under a most
monsterous thug and his cohorts. It may be hard for folks in the States to
understand, in this world of instant information, fast-food restaurants, and
so forth, but such a process takes time. They are moving. For those who
don’t know, and without violating operational security, my job in Iraq was to
train, mentor and advise the Iraqi Army. I lived with them. I ate with them.
We shared all the hardships, we went on combat missions together. Sometimes I
grieved with them, shared joy with them, shared blessings with them, and I
watched them grow.
Yes, they are making progress. I can’t give a time-line on when they will be
ready to take charge of their own security, and no one should press the
President for such information. It is far too fluid for such time-lines to be
set. I do know that the unit that I dealt with was ready to assume full
operational control of their sectors. This is happening throughout the country,
and more soldiers are being sent to further push this effort to train, mentor
and advise Iraqi units. So much has been said about the President not having
an exit strategy. Folks, we ARE the exit strategy. And even though the media
can’t seem to report on this aspect of American efforts in Iraq, it is working.
I can’t begin to give numbers of bad guys that were taken by my Iraqis during
my tour. I can’t begin to give the number of operations that resulted in
disrupting terrorist activities in our sector. But I can say that these
troops are professional, tough and loyal to us. Totally loyal to us.
When I notified my Iraqi troops that it was time for me to leave, and that
another American contigent had arrived to continue the work we began, tears
were shed. It was so touching for one Lieutenant Colonel (a Sunni), two of
his best friends (a Shia Major) and a massive Kurdish Sergeant Major to
embrace me and call me their brother for all time. They proclaimed that I
have a “white heart” and I must say the same about them. The Colonel
indicated to me that my leaving was one of the reasons he hates the military. He said that he builds such bonds as we have, only to have them torn by
rotations. Yes, I shed my own share of tears as well.
I wish there was no need for a military. But only the most uninformed and
self-deluded individuals could believe in such a utopia coming about in the
world that we live in until Christ returns. No true soldier doesn’t try to
work him or herself out of a job. But we all understand that there is a job
to be done, and we do it. Regardless of the hardship involved, we do it.
Yes, that includes my Iraqi brothers in arms.
My home-coming has not been without difficulties. Oddly, the very
availability of things we all take for granted has overwhelmed me. Americans
have no idea how good they have it. When I hear about the plight of the
people of lower income here in the States, I’ll think about the things I saw
(and didn’t see) in Iraq. When I hear the politicians spouting their unending
appeals for votes based on what they can give individual and small groups of
individuals, I’ll think of what I experienced in Iraq. Count your many
blessings, and understand that but for the Grace of God, you could have been
born in a place not unlike where I just came from.
We welcome Sgt. Dannison and all our soldiers returning from Iraq and other posts, and we continue to pray for those still overseas. Our thanks go to Sgt. Dannison for his service to our country and for giving us an inside look at a soldier’s life in Iraq.
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Letter from Iraq: 10/15/5
Letter from Iraq: 10/12/5
Letter from Iraq: 10/5/5
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