Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Thoughts And Iraq

I have just returned from New Hampshire, where I spent a glorious day worshipping and visiting with family members, including my two adorable grandchildren. On my drive back down to the Boston area, I was reflecting on what a joy it was to be able to spend time in worship on this special day among special people, and then to enjoy a wonderful meal in which we celebrated the Resurrection of the Lord. He is Risen indeed! Then, we spent the afternoon calling absent family members and leisurely watching the children play. It does not get much better than that!

On my drive back south, I also thought about the thousands of men and women serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the globe who are thousands of miles way from their families on this Easter Sunday. A few days ago, one of those men, Captain Michael Cooper, wrote me an update on what life is like for him and his troops these days. Mike is on his second deployment to Iraq, and I offer his thoughts as a way of directing your thoughts and prayers on this day towards Mike and those like him who are far from home and family.

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Wanted to drop a little note to everyone and let you all know I’m doing fine. Been busy working 12 hr days in the operations center. 90% of the time its business as usual (which is good), however the other 10% is pretty crazy. Today was one of those pretty crazy days, however for the 1 minute it took the us to possibly save someo'nes life made it all worth it. I don’t get to go on patrols like I did the first time, but I do get to help those that do, for example, by coordinating for air assets to move those critically wounded in some kind of attack. We have been lucky so far in my unit…knock on wood…lets just hope it stays that way.

Not sure what the news is saying back home, but to clear things up we are progressing over here each day. We are getting closer and closer to turning over Iraq to its security forces (ISF). This probably won’t happen in the next year, but eventually it will. We are conducting combined patrols with the ISF and the locals are gaining more and more confidence in their abilities. Of course they prefer U.S. patrols in their neighborhoods (and who wouldn’t), but feel good about their own security forces. I don’t want it to sound like everything is good over here because it’s not. Soldiers are still dying and we are still fighting a war in which many people seem to forget. For all of those that have, just remind them that we could be fighting this war on our own turf and lose. Instead the American Soldiers are fighting it over here and are winning.

As far as my personal time goes I have been busy actually reading a couple different books. Found some interesting ones and haven’t been able to put them down (courtesy of Al Chase). Aside from reading, in an attempt to impress my wife when I get home I have been working out every so often. I don’t know if it’s helping any but I will continue to try. I figure this is my last chance to look good seeing as how I am alcohol and Taco Bell free for an entire year. The most dangerous is of course the combination of both! I try to keep in touch the parents and the wife but like any other adult male my communication skills are sub par. Not too much changes though when you work the same hours every day with the same people in the same building, but for some reason women just don’t understand that! I should be home for my two-week leave in July and will mostly likely hang out in Texas the entire time. Can’t wait for that of course. We should be out of here a couple months later in November, maybe even before Thanksgiving but I’m not holding my breath. Unfortunately I will miss out on NFL opening day with Dallas visiting Jacksonville. I’m sure Hunter and Tyler will attend to boo Terrell Owens, maybe even mom and dad. Hopefully I can catch a game or two in December.

Well its 2045 (8:45 pm for you non-military types like my wife) and I’m going to lay down and actually “read” for a little bit. I hope everyone is doing well and thank you all for your prayers. Can’t wait to see everyone again and have a beer or two or eight!


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Just a day later, I go this addition update from Michael:

Just finished up with 'Medici Effect' and just got through reading about Level 5 Leadership in 'Good to Great.' Really have enjoyed both books. Plan on reading 'Medici Effect' again just because I found it so interesting.

Things over here are starting to heat up along with the weather. We have had 98 IED attacks since we took over back in Jan in our area of operations! That’s pretty crazy isn’t it? So far we have been very fortunate. Let me tell you, the M1114 series HMMWV is one of the best pieces of equipment the Army has right now. Those vehicles have saved more lives and I hope that everyone involved in constructing them is aware of that.

I plan on writing General Motors, once I get a good point of contact for the M1114 HMMWV, just to let them know how much the Soldiers over here depend on that vehicle. I bet they don't hear that enough.

Michael, a 2002 graduate of West Point, is a fine example of the kind of leaders we can be proud of who are wearing the American uniform in Iraq. Please continue to keep him and the others in your prayers.


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