CHRISTMAS 2006 MESSAGE FROM IRAQ
I just wanted to take moment to wish all of you a Merry Christmas from Camp Fallujah, Iraq.
All is well here and I am so busy that the time is flying by... I am usually on the road about 5-6 days out of every week and have had a chance to see a large portion of the Marines' area of operations in Western Iraq. It is still an unpredictable and sometimes dangerous place, but the Marine Corps and those who fight along side her (including a growing force of Iraqi soldiers and police) are making real progress here. It's sometimes disturbing to see so little reported about what is happening in Al Anbar Province. Most journalists don't venture beyond Baghdad, so few know of the strides being made here. I have been asked to write an article highlighting some of this progress and will be sure to pass it along to all of you when it is complete.
They have taken good care of us here for Christmas... we have excellent food every day, but somehow they made it even better for the holiday. People talk about being with their "Marine Corps Family" for Christmas and it's not just a cheesy expression... there is an incredible bond among the people here and even though we would all MUCH rather be home with our wives, children, and parents, we take great comfort from companionship with one another. I have been sharing Christmas cookies and other treats with my fellow Marines. They have noted the regularity of my care packages and I have explained that it is a benefit of living in a small town like Cazenovia!
The Marines here are simply amazing. I am so proud of them and so honored to be among them everyday. They work incredibly hard, assume tremendous risks, absorb terrible losses... without a complaint. The irony is that in unit after unit that I visit, every leader tells me the same thing... the more difficult the mission and the harder they work, the happier they are. They truly believe in what they are doing. It gets hazier the higher you go, but at the street level, these youngsters are putting their lives on the line to make Iraqi communities safer and more stable one neighborhood at a time.
I wish I could be with you today, but I am honored and humbled to be among the company that I do share on this Christmas 2006. Please continue to pray for the safe return of these young Marines and the soldiers, sailors, and airmen here with us... and for a safe future for the brave Iraqis who have stood up for their people by joining the army and police.
Very best wishes to you all in 2007 and Merry Christmas.