Skip to comments.Keep the Faith: A Letter from Iraq
Posted on 04/07/2004 2:46:12 PM PDT by AmericanMade1776
Keep the Faith: A Letter from Iraq
by Joe Roche
I'm in Baghdad, Iraq.
I'm a soldier with the U.S. Army serving in the 16th Combat Engineer Battalion.
The news you are hearing stateside is awfully depressing and negative. The reality is we are accomplishing a tremendous amount here, and the Iraqi people are not only benefiting greatly, but are enthusiastically supportive.
My job is mostly to be the driver of my platoon's lead Humvee. I see the missions our Army is performing, and I interact closely with the Iraqi people. Because of this, I know how successful and important our work is.
My battalion carries out dozens of missions all over the city -- missions that are improving peoples' lives. We have restored schools and universities, hospitals, power plants and water systems. We have engineered new infrastructure projects and much more. We have also brought security and order to many of Baghdad's worst areas -- areas once afflicted with chaos and brutality.
Our efforts to train vast numbers of Iraqis to police and secure the city's basic law and order are bearing fruit.
Our mission is vital. We are transforming a once very sick society into a hopeful place. Dozens of newspapers and the concepts of freedom of religious worship and expression are flowering here. So, too, are educational improvements.
This is the work of the U.S. military.
Our progress is amazing. Many people who knew only repression and terror now have hope in their heart and prosperity in their grasp.
Every day the Iraqi people stream out into the streets to cheer and wave at us as we drive by. When I'm on a foot patrol, walking among a crowd, countless people thank us --repeatedly.
I realize the shocking image of a dead soldier or a burning car is more sellable than boring, detailed accounts of our rebuilding efforts. This is why you hear bad news and may be receiving an incorrect picture.
Baghdad has more than 5 million inhabitants. If these people were in an uprising against the United States, which you might think is happening, we would be overwhelmed in hours. There are weapons everywhere, and though we are working hard to gather them all, we simply can't.
Our Army is carrying out approximately 1,700 convoys and patrols each day. Only a tiny percentage actually encounter hostile action. My unit covers some of the worst and most intense areas, and I have seen some of the most tragic attacks and hostility, such as the bombing of the United Nations headquarters. I'm not out of touch with the negative side of things. In fact, I think my unit has it harder than many other Army units in this whole operation. That said, despite some attacks, the overall picture is one of extreme success and much thanks.
The various terrorist enemies we are facing in Iraq are really aiming at you back in the United States. This is a test of will for our country. We soldiers of yours are doing great and scoring victories in confronting the evil terrorists.
The reality is one of an ever-increasing defeat of the enemies we face. Our enemies are therefore more desperate. They are striking out more viciously and indiscriminately. I realize this is causing Americans stress, and I assure you it causes us stress, too.
When I was a civilian, I spent time as a volunteer with the Israeli army. I assure you we are not facing the hostility Israelis face. Here in Iraq, we Americans are welcomed by most Iraqis.
I'm not trying to sound like a big tough guy. I'm scared every day, and pray before every mission for our safety and success. This is a combat zone. We are in the heart of the world's leading terrorist birthing society. I remember well how families of suicide bombers who attacked in Israel received tens of thousands of dollars from Saddam for their kins' horrendous crimes. A generation of Iraqis was growing up in a Stalinist worship of such terrorism.
They are no longer.
Instead, Iraqis today are embracing freedom and the birth of democracy. With this comes hope for the future.
Yes, there are terrorists who wish to strike these things down, but this is a test of will we must win.
We can do this, as long as Americans at home keep faith with the soldiers in this war.
We are Americans, after all. We can and must win this test. That is all it is.
# # #
Joe Roche serves with the U.S. Army's 16th Combat Engineer Battalion in Iraq and is an adjunct fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, a Washington think-tank. Comments may be sent to him via firstname.lastname@example.org
(Excerpt) Read more at nationalcenter.org ...
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It is in the breaking news sidebar!
Doyle Hufstedler Fighting Aggie Class of'01 was killed last week in Iraq, you may have seen the story about the huge roadside bomb on the same day the 4 civilian contractors were killed. Please pray for the families of all who where lost in this horrible incident. We will remember Doyle and all the others as we attend Muster this year.
Subject: Please remember at AGGIE MUSTER
Dearest Friends and Family, March 31, 2004
Just wanted to say Howdy from the sands of Iraq and let you know that I am doing fine and thinking of you all. As I write this, I have just returned from a patrol which was attacked by the worthless cowards you hear about everyday. In this particular destroyed vehicle, 5 wonderful Americans were killed, one was a young Fightin' Texas Aggie, Doyle Hufstedler.
I met him the first week I got into this new location and I would like to tell you something about this fine young man. He had a smile as big as Texas. Truly, a vibrant and dedicated officer. He and I realized a bond which transcends the complexity of life in a combat environment as our Fighten Texas Aggie class rings knocked on that first handshake. I felt like I had known him for years.
I was seeking an escort to another camp, since I was the new guy on the block, and it just turns out that he was tasked with route clearance detail. One of the toughest and most essential jobs here in Iraq. He never complained about it he just did it with intensity and with the sense that his efforts were saving the lives of the many U. S. soldiers, Marines and innocent Iraqi citizens by serving as their guardian day in and day out. I passed him twice since that first day. Once in the chow hall, and once in the PX. Both times he was in between trips and just grabbing a hurried rest before facing the daunting task of facing terrorist weapons eye to eye but he and I spent a good 30 minutes just bonding in the familiarity of another Aggie. We had the opportunity to speak about "42" and days at the "Dixie Chicken" , Fighten Texas Aggie football games and Old Army Days on the "Quad". Our last conversation was about how Aggie Muster this year would be a great time to get together and swap stories.
Well Ags, I will get together with him in my prayers and I would ask you to please honor Doyle this year at Aggie Muster. I can still see the intensity and genuine Aggie Spirit in his eyes. I can feel the firm grip of the trademark Fighten Texas Aggie handshake and the closeness we felt as Aggies here in Iraq. I will miss Doyle. No, Freedom is not free and today I feel the heavy price of freedom weighing on the backs of Doyle's family back in Texas. I would ask that all of you pray for his family and thank God for young Americans like him that have sacrificed everything they have. They have sacrificed all the promise and future they had for the wonderful lives we are privileged to live in the United States. It is through the sweat and blood of young Americans like Doyle that this chaotic nation will realize God's gift of peace and happiness. I do not like it one bit. It enrages the warrior in me to think of such a fine man being removed from this world by such worthless wastes of humanity.
I can only offer my testimony that Doyle and his soldiers are accomplishing great things here in Iraq and say to you all that there are good people here and they do need our help. That being said, and not to take away from my work with the Iraqi people but the BEST people in Iraq are the Americans. The people who understand the real reason we are here, the people who are not taking for granted the everyday blessings of running water and electricity. The people who know firsthand that being able drive your car to the local store without having to look behind every sign or under every rock to make sure there is not 500 pounds of TNT planted there is a blessing of freedom which was paid for by the millions of servicemen who have been fighting for it since the United States was formed. These are the realities of Iraq right now and the cowards who claim lives in the name of their warped evil cause will be dealt with, both here on earth and afterwards, be rest assured of that, God will make all right. As we continue to work towards turning this country back over to the Iraqi people, I will always remember Doyle and how he embodied the true "Spirit of Aggieland".
Thank you all for the support you give these guys over here because they are doing wonderful things, everyday, for the right reasons. It is not for weapons of mass destruction or for oil. It IS for Freedom's sake alone that we wage this war on evil. I look forward to hearing from you all and once again look forward to seeing you again when I return. Lee H Evans ' 92
Joe's 'letter' actually made it into the Houston Chronicle a few days ago - a small miracle, that, lol, but I like this title, and am so glad to be able to add it to my homepage today, ping others who may have missed it.
Joining you in prayer, texgal, for the family of brave Aggie 1st Lt. Hufstedler, and his fellow fallen Soldiers.
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