21 May 2009

Letters from Iraq, Part 11

This exchange between a father and son, show the fears of a family, as well as the hope for a brighter tomorrow… and it showed on 5/26/2007

Hi Ry, Hope all is going well pal. Just wanted to run some thoughts by you regarding the above subject. I have been reading a lot of things on the net and in the papers and magazines regarding the current status of our Army and Marine Corps in particular, and our military as a whole. There appears to be no doubt that our land forces are stretched really thin for the various missions around the world. There is also apparently a real problem in retention of personnel especially officers and mid level NCO’s. In my estimate, we need to close to double our number of soldiers and marines on active duty and reserve status. This will not be easy seeing as we have no draft to rely on. I don’t know what your thinking process is about staying in for the duration until you retire? I think you will probably stay in would be my guess. You have invested so many years already and in the long range planning 8-10 more years isn’t that much. My thinking is that if history is correct and follows form, those who stay in and weather this current storm, will benefit career wise down the road, with better advancement, better assignments and be better positioned to build a new Army for the future. I tend to agree with many experts that if a large portion of our career soldiers leave the system and we cannot recruit/train first class replacements, we will be in a world of hurt. One thing that was pretty evident to me was that the Army you serve in today, and which led us to such a great victory in Desert Storm/Desert Shield was led by career soldiers who were forged on the battlefields of Vietnam ie: Norman Schwarzkopf and Collin Powell. It will be critical to our Army of the future that men of this caliber, your caliber, stay in to keep our force viable. I am not trying to influence your thinking on this one way or the other Ryan. We know what a strain this war has put on you, your family in Texas, and your extended family. God knows that we worry about you every day and should you decide to get out after your current commitment and pursue other avenues, we would support you 100% there as well. I know there is plenty of time before you have to make any decisions along these lines, but I want you to know that Jan, Tom, Nancy and I are all there for you to bounce thoughts off of. For now, keep up the great work you are doing and know that we are all extremely proud of you. Let us know how things are going and “soldier on”
Love ya pal

I have to say that after this experience, there is nothing else to pursue career wise. I originally was going to stay in for 20 and retire. Now, I have decided to stay in for 30 plus years or until the Army kicks me out. I truly have the best job in the world. I work among heroes. I serve with the best America has to offer. I am actively engaged in the future of my country. My greatest hope is that my children and grandchildren will live in a world of peace. I will never forget September 11th. We cannot back down to this enemy. We must crush them before they crush us. America has not faced an enemy of this magnitude before, who will stop at nothing and has no love of life. I’ll never forget overhearing Kaitlyn tell her friend Molly about how she learned of September 11th in school. Kaitlyn who at age 5 was so sad by what she had learned in school decided to tell her friend Molly. I remember she said “Molly come into my room I have to tell you something that’s really sad.” Of course I had to listen at the door. Then she told Molly “some really bad people crashed planes into some buildings and a lot of people died, Isn’t that sad Molly?” I almost cried because her idea of the world had been twisted into a terrible place. It broke my heart. After she was done telling her friend about September 11th, I called Kaitlyn into my room and shut the door. I knelt down and said “Kate, I heard what you said to Molly about September 11th and I’m really proud of you for telling her. I told her that it was really sad and that is why daddy is going to Iraq, to go get the bad people. Kaitlyn said “are you going to shoot them with your helicopter?” I said “yes honey I am, so that no more bad people will hurt anyone.” So at age 5 the events of September 11th hit a nerve. It also hit a nerve with me; I will not sit on my ass and take a chance of anything like September 11th happening again. I’m sure you can understand how we feel over here, when your country calls you to fight and the people back home question it. Politics….Who needs them? I wish our country would come together as one and make a decision because while the politicians in DC are submitting bills and voting to pass legislation Americans are dying over here. I wonder if this same kind of divided Congress existed during WW2? Probably not and hence our victory, Americans back home played a major role in the war effort. Americans back home today seem preoccupied. Now don’t get me wrong, I have received so much support from hundreds of Americans who truly care about what we are doing over here. I think the American people were duped by a handful of politicians who promised an end to the war without having a true understanding of the fight that we are in. Iraq is just one battle in this entire global war on terrorism. A victory in Iraq will be equivalent to the critical victory at Gettysburg for the Union Army. We must prevail and God willing we shall. I have seen more soldiers reenlist over here than I’ve seen back home. Soldiers who were done with the Army and just wanted to get out and try something new have decided to stay in for 6 more years. So I say to you Dad, the state of the Army is overwhelming strong. Our sense of purpose is strong and we fight side by side with or without our country’s support. I hope I have shed some light…

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