DOING GREAT, BUT BUSY! I apologize that I have not had more time to write... it's not due to a lack of interesting experiences, but rather to a hectic schedule. Now that I am getting settled into a routine, I tend to travel throughout the week, visiting Marines at various posts (where I often can't access the internet at all). When I return to my "home base" of Camp Fallujah on the weekend I am busy processing all the interviews I conducted and photos I took during the week. If I'm lucky, I finish that process before it's time to go out and start again. There are so many stories here and so many Marines doing great deeds that SHOULD make the history books, that I wish there were more hours in each day and more days in each week.
On Thanksgiving Day I had a unique and unexpected opportunity to conduct a brief interview with the Secretary of the Navy while he was in Iraq visiting troops. The comment that resonated the most with me was how impressed he was with the high morale he found among the Marines and Sailors in Iraq. I have to say that, among my own sampling of the troops I have interviewed, the Secretary's observation is right on the money. Each day I am uplifted by the positive energy I encounter among these noble young people. By and large they believe very deeply in what they are here to do and are convinced that they are making a difference. They are also realistic. I have been impressed with the sophistication of even junior troops. They recognize the inherent differences between our cultures and continually emphasize the importance of patience as we strive to help the Iraqi people turn in a new direction.
A few random observations about life here...
- It struck me as somehow odd that everyone at church this morning was armed except the Chaplain and the choir (I think the choir had left their weapons on the side of the stage though.)
- The Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) folks organize a race at Camp Fallujah once a month for all us deployed running nuts. My friends back home in the Syracuse Chargers will be amused that one section of the course is known as "Purple Heart Road" because it occasionally recieves indirect fire and one runner was actually wounded during his lunchtime run a while back. This morning's race was a 9.5 miler (I finished 4th in 67 minutes - not bad for only training once or twice a week).
- The food on all the major bases is great. Lots of people complain about contractors like KBR; but few of them are in Iraq! (At least not in the chowhall!) KBR also runs the laundry service, which is so efficient that we joke the laundry people should be in charge of the whole war effort. I should note that there are many troops in remote outposts who do NOT have regular access to this great chow... we need to figure out how to get ALL the care packages to them.
That's all for now. I'll try to write again soon. It's o330 here now and morning will come all too soon. Thanks to everyone for their continued thoughts, prayers and kindness.