Please forgive the format and somewhat impersonal nature of this letter. I truly wish I had time to respond to each and every one of you on a more personal basis; however, I was recently flooded with more packages and letters than I can manage to respond to with all we have going on here.
That being said, I feel it very important that I respond in some manner to let you know how much your love, compassion and generosity is appreciated. For those that sent cookies, kids never grow up. Something about a cookie can make even the most callous Marine break into a smile. I suppose that is something our mothers instill in us from childhood…All things are made right with a cookie :-)
As if your care packages were not enough, the kindness and support you extend by your actions and letters helps tremendously in knowing what we are doing is right. While there may be some that disagree... That just reinforces the primary reason for our existence... to allow them that right... to disagree.
To those that are new to the Red Dragon family, we are a CH-46 helicopter squadron. Our primary mission here is medical evacuation. I would love to tell you we are under employed or just sitting around like the Maytag repair man, but, that would not be accurate. The sad reality of what we are in business for is being realized by all here on a daily basis. While it is heartbreaking for us to know our fellow Marines and sister service personnel are being hurt or wounded, we put a positive spin, if there could be one, on the issue. We make a difference in getting that person to medical attention, many times with just enough time to save a life.
We are currently about a week away from hitting our half way point in the deployment. Many of the Marines you have chosen to support in this unit are here on their third tour. Good in the aspect that they are experienced and know what to expect, bad because they are tired. They all realize that comes with the territory and they continue to keep high spirits and morale. Each of you is a big part of that.
When not deployed here in Iraq, this unit is based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton Ca. For those not familiar with the location, the base is in Ocean Side California just north of San Diego and the better know base of Miramar. (Where TOP GUN used to be.)
The sandy beaches and temperate weather in Southern California is a far cry from the hot, blowing sands of Iraq. I don’t think you will find any here that aren’t eager to return home. That is standard with any deployment, but, much more meaningful returning from a war zone than just a standard training deployment.
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In closing I will tell you that I think all of you are great Americans and the support you provide is beyond incredible. Deep down, we do this for our country and it is a blessing to be able to hear back from them that they are proud of us and support us in our efforts.
A kind word can make such a difference, especially when extended by someone that you have never met. God bless you for the time you invest in putting a smile on a face more than 7 thousand miles away. As you keep us in your prayers, we also pray that we will remain worthy of your praise and support.
P.S. I will enclose a poem I wrote last year in honor of my last unit’s Angels. I publish almost all I write on my web site, however, this is just for Soldiers' Angels and only appears to our Angels in a letter or E- mail.
* * *
I Believe in Angels
They are a blessing from heaven,
to me and my Marines,
these people called Solders’ Angels,
whom we have never seen.
Yet all throughout our time in hell,
they’ve sent us special gifts,
to let us know we’re thought about,
and give our spirits a lift.
Through their wonderful packages,
each one would send their care,
with cocoa, food and candy,
or warmer cloths to wear.
In their letters they were consoling,
for the holidays that we had missed,
They told us that we made them proud,
and thanked us for our service.
Each one of them from across our land,
these angels from above,
made sure that my Marines and I,
didn’t go unloved.
Copyright © Billy F. Dial Feb2005
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