Aloha Dragon Families,
We are approaching 5 months since we’ve left you, and though our rendezvous with destiny still continues our reunion with you still awaits. As many of you already know, President Bush announced his decision to return to twelve-month theater deployments. Unfortunately, this decision will not affect the Golden Dragons. It will affect units deploying after 1 August 2008.
I know that all of you held hope that there would be some reprieve bestowed onto our families, but what you need to know is – this decision was made possible by your Golden Dragon. It was by their hands that security improved in Tarmiyah, Iraq and the fruits of precious family time are given to others so they may RESET before return.
This type of selfless sacrifice is an uncommon attribute among the world today. The average citizen getting a latte at Starbucks does not comprehend the profound sacrifice that you and your soldiers endure. It is a fact, we Dragons are enduring the unendurable; our entire families are selfless servants to the Nation’s Mission – Provide security and stability to the people of Iraq, notions of freedom for those who may otherwise never experience these tenets.
Now, the battlefield calculus is enabling sustainable security. We are doing this through two means - Securing the population where they sleep and developing Iraqi Security Forces (both Army and Police). We are fighting, too. When the International Zone (IZ) was pounded by dozens of rockets from Sadr City, thus killing and injuring both Iraqi and Coalition civilians, we were called upon to fight the Jaysh al Mahdi uprising in Sadr City and Bravo Company (Bushmasters) fought magnificently.
In four hours, Bushmaster assembled from the most distant location in our battle space, rearmed and deployed to Sadr City. Many of you have seen their exploits on CNN, CBS and in the NY Times… these boys are the real deal. What you need to know is their success kept the Government of Iraq (GoI) intact. Sadr wanted to displace the GoI from the IZ, thus delegitimizing it. I well up with emotion when I talk about them.
As I noted to you before, we must develop “waypoints.” The best waypoint is R&R Leave. We are 10% complete. Each month we will push 10% home and our program will end in November. I use a colorful analogy with the men to illustrate just how important block leave is – it’s like swimming out to a life buoy, you have to battle the ebb and flow of the tide, but you know when you get there you can rest before you swim back. Please ensure your team is developing routine contacts in the form of weekly mail, phone calls on the speakerphone, or a monthly VTC. Any method you choose… it’s all about contact. Notes and Photos are every bit a morale boost as a big care package. Sound Familiar?
I am astonished by a group called “Soldiers' Angels.” This organization is unbelievable. It’s cared for by great Americans with true character that empathize with our sacrifice. They send me packages and mail that I deliver to our Dragons out on Patrol Bases. It impacts soldiers. I’ve seen them stop what they are doing, sit on their cots and start reading their cards from a complete stranger that simply says – “Thank You” in their own words. It’s because of you and the people of Soldiers’ Angels that we endure the unendurable. I will close with a note from a Soldiers’ Angels Card – “May No Soldier Go Unloved.”
God Bless You - Golden Dragons!
“Right of the Line”
LTC Thomas D
As I read this letter, I couldn't help thinking of Cassandra's extraordinary post yesterday. Or this one today.