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Click on pictures to
see larger image

In this picture released by
the U.S. Marine Corps Wednesday, April 27, 2005,
a dust storm, similar to
special effects on the big screen, is seen bellowing
across the western desert, near Al Asad, Iraq, on
Tuesday April 26.

The storm was spawned
near the border of Syria and
Jordan. Weather forecasters here described the dust
storm as a downburst.

The ensuing storm increased energy as the winds pushed over the desert, which
created a wall of dirt.
Weather officials said that a downburst this strong is extremely rare for this region of Iraq. The storm passed over in about 45 minutes, leaving a heavy sheet of dust in its wake. Forecaster say the
wall of dust may have
reached 4,000 to 5,000 feet.

Editor's note:  ...and back
home we were complaining because it rained three days
in a row




      Iraq Border Kids           ______________

Night Vision Goggle View


Definitely Not St. Louis


What's On that Sign?

Mom writes from Galt



Greg writes from Iraq


- A Soldier's Letters Home -


May 22, 2005 - Greg Writes


Hello all;

The date is 22 MAY 05, and I find myself needing to write again. Before I start, I want to say that I am completely overwhelmed with emotions. A brief history if you will bear with me. Approximately 3 weeks ago, I was contacted by my mother regarding a friend of a
friend with whom she had been sending my letters for entertainment purposes I am sure. <grin>

Anyway, I received an e-mail from some guy whom I had never met named "Swordmaker" asking me if he could print my letters on an online newspaper. I thought it a funny at first, but two days later, I was sent a link, and surprise, there it was. This has been an
awesome journey for me. When I first read some of the responses from "Freepers", I got choked up, and misty eyed (seriously). I couldn't believe the support that you all have shown. I cannot tell you how this has made me feel. I have shown some of the posts to my soldiers, and they are so full of pride for our Country right now. I appreciate all of your prayers as they are needed and well received. I write this as a
precursor to this...

On Friday, 20 May 2005 at about 2300 hrs, we were heading to the Wolf Brigade Compound to meet with them. There had been several IED's (Improvised Explosive Devices) on one of the main routes that
evening, so we (my three trucks) took another, less traveled, rural and small road in the outskirts of outer Baghdad. About four miles into it, I was watching the tail lights of my Commanders vehicle as we were driving blacked out. All of the sudden, an explosion and my Commanders vehicle disappeared in a large cloud of dirt and smoke. I immediately attempted to gain communication with him and his crew and could not see anything ahead of me. After several attempts,
he came over the radio and stated that he was up and everyone was alive.

At that time, my truck began to receive automatic gunfire, and my gunner started to engage the enemy. My first truck gave me their report that they were clear. Thinking that they were now ahead of us, and we were split apart, I ordered my driver to shoot through the
smoke. He looked at me and said "Sergeant, I can't see anything". I told him to act as if it were a NASCAR crash and shoot the smoke. He replied with "roger that" Let me tell you about a bat out of hell. He
punched it and off we went. When we got about 400 meters down the road, I saw a vehicles tail lights, and knew that we had caught up with the other two vehicles. As we approached, I only was able so see one

After establishing that it was my lead truck, I got a sick feeling in my stomach. I then called to my Commander, and asked where he was. He told me that they were able to pull out of the ditch and head out in the direction from which we came, but now the vehicle could not move and they were in the middle of this road and unprotected.

I immediately turned both trucks around and once again headed into the danger area hoping that there was not a secondary IED. When we arrived at the initial blast site, the visibility was still zero, and we once again flew through the kill zone only hitting a pothole jostle. A few seconds later we arrived at the other truck which was completely destroyed and was amazed that they were able to drive it at all. A quick reaction force was assembled from another unit who was in the area to assist us, and provide an escort back to the Forward Operation Base (FOB Falcon). After taking everyone to the Medical Center for minor treatment, our day was finished.

The following day, we continued mission as usual and took the same road to see the blast site and look for evidence for our Intelligence Section. Here is where your prayers took over for me. When we arrived at the blast site, my mouth dropped. "The pothole" which we ran over at 60 mph was 17ft in diameter, and 8ft deep. The bomb squad had stated that it was a 500lb Russian bomb which was used. The crater was in 1/3 of the road, and right in the path which we were driving.

When we drove over it, I found out later that my Commanders vehicle was in that hole, and we should by all rights have driven into the side of them at 60mph plus. The second time back in that direction, the same path was used (middle of the road) and 2 times we missed the crater driving blind through the smoke and dust. The blast itself took out the entire front end of the vehicle. If the bomber had only waited a fraction of a second later, the explosion would have been center mass.

I also found out that just prior to the incident, the gunner had just lowered his upper body back down inside of the vehicle to ask a question, thus saving his life from both the explosion and shrapnel. After driving around for three weeks in old style HUMVEE's which only have armor additions placed on the doors, we were given three brand new complete up armored HUMVEE's that morning.

If there ever were any of my soldiers who did not believe in prayers or miracles ...They do now.

So my new friends, this is not a letter home as my family has not heard yet. This is a thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your support and all of your thoughts and prayers. I do have to say, if the Insurgents are right and WE are the infidels then Allah must have had blinked or fell asleep, cause he sure did miss this one.

God bless G.W. and you. Thank you for everything,


May 14, 2005 - Greg Writes


The date is now 14 MAY 05, and my team is near exhaustion. We have been going on back to back nights, with little or no sleep, then back to work because citizens are calling the brigade with more intelligence. We are now at over 200 arrested, several weapons, and countless of them, (85-90% showing signs of explosive residue on their persons. It is at this time, that I reflect as to what I (we) are doing and the tiredness goes away for a brief while. We are putting in over 24hrs non-stop, then off to bed for a few hours. The "morning" consists of attempting to get supplies for the brigade, as it is this team that is
begging, "borrowing", or------ I hate to use this word as it is such a strong word--- "stealing". The Army has this saying. There is only one thief in the Army ...everyone else is just getting their stuff back!! This
unfortunately holds true for us. This Unit which we are working with, and is making the most difference has been left alone to scrape for themselves. My soldiers are running around, digging in the base dump
(yes, it's true) finding usable, discarded items which the brigade can use. 

The Iraqi government is doing little to support them.  They have "Soldiers" who go on these raids wearing flip flops, because of the lack of boots. There are little uniforms, mainly mismatched sets. The
communications are horrendous. The main Cellular phone company is "Iraqna" and they own a monopoly, and all Sims cards are through this company. Never mind hearing a pin drop, because you can hardly get
through. The officers are coordinating during the raids with these personal cellular phones that are pay by the minute, and use these "Sims Cards". My commander, CPT ***** who is with E Battery, 216th
Air Defense Artillery, gave his own personally purchased $30 Sims card up to the Brigades intelligence officer to assist with the cost of talking to informants. 

These Soldiers make squat, and are once again using their meager salary, taking away from their families to make this work, and work for a safe Iraq. I feel so helpless, but outside of a few donations from my
personal gear, a few purchases at the PX, there is not a whole lot else I can do. I would be bankrupt in 3 months. I have kids for that <grin>.


Dad and Mom, if you want to send anything to me, you can get online
and buy "Iraqna" Sims cards even one would be huge. These and uniforms/boots are the most important things to make this whole thing succeed, and you don't have those. However, I do remember as a kid, other kids telling me "My mom wears combat boots" So, if you can
find those boots in the garage mom, you can send them to me <grin>. 

I do want to add, that there is not a word of grumbling to be heard from them. It is a pleasure to watch them work, and we are beginning to have a strong bond and a friendship, that I could never have
imagined 1 year ago. When we arrive at the compound, their eyes light up, and they are so happy to see us, as we are them. 

There is a bond here that cannot be broken. As it was explained to me by a Lieutenant Colonel with the Brigade, "There is a bond with Warriors so strong, that it is stronger than with family and brothers." I
thought about what he said later, and do agree. As soldiers, we live in the dirt together, watch each others backs in firefights, do things that I have never done nor will do with my own siblings, and live in the same danger together. Knowing their culture the way I do now, family is everything to them, and male siblings (brothers) are next to everything. For him to place a warriors bond ahead of his own family is
something to be said. I do not doubt the sincerity of his words, and I do embrace them. 

Well, I must sign off again and get ready for this evening. Just want everyone to know that we are making huge steps. I am so proud to be a part of this historical change. God bless "MY" Commander in Chief,
and pray for him to find wisdom in all that he does, as I know that he needs it as do we all. 

Till then Salama, and I love you all,


May 11, 2005 - Greg Writes



Salome-Ma-La-ka (Peace be unto you). 

The Date is now 11 May 2005, and I find myself writing you once again. I know ..."WOW, two letters in less than 4 months, he must be bored." (Not that that is a bad thing, except if you are on the receiving end of my mundane letters). <grin>

My newly assembled Team has now been on several large raid/ strike operations with the famous Wolf Brigade and in three raids, and have netted over 156 suspected insurgents. For you curious persons, if you go to Google.com and type in "Iraq Wolf Brigade, you will have some interesting reading. Anyway, the first raid that we did happened at 0100hrs. For you which do not understand the highly intelligent military time group, Mickey's big hand is on the 12, and his little hand is on the 1. (Sorry dad, stole your ancient joke, but couldn't resist) On this raid, we hit over 40 target houses in just over 3 hours. My U.S. Army team was responsible for the "Breach" , this constituted driving a Humvee up to the front gate, and either ramming it open, or attaching a tow chain to it, and quickly backing up, thus popping the gate open. At that time, the great Mongol Horde (approximately 20 Wolf Brigade Soldiers) ran through, and kicked in the door of these "innocent" insurgents. If you don't believe that they are innocent, just ask them. It is not unlike the State penitentiaries back home who are full of innocent people.

It is amazing at the intelligence of these operations.  The Wolf Brigade has embedded Confidential Informants, and others who assist with operations. They (CI's) are actually riding in the vehicles pointing out the houses, or are inside as well when the arrests happen. They themselves are arrested, and treated the same as well, so as not to raise suspicions as to their identity. The brigade's success relies strictly on surprise and speed. Several of the locations took under 2 minutes each and 2 to 3 individuals were brought out at a dead sprint. This is done, not to allow the remaining residents to alert anyone else, prior to the next hits, which are sometimes 2 to 3 houses away. Today, we hit two houses that were empty of personnel. However, the back door was still swinging, and in the open position at 3 am. It was
obvious that whoever was there, just made it out. 

Anyway, as we are continuing the raids about 15 minutes later, we began to receive direct fire from several automatic weapons (AK47's) the distance was about 400 meters, or 4 football fields (rough
estimate) watching the green tracers coming in our direction is not a pleasant feeling. After getting my other truck online, so as not to create a fratricide situation with my gunners. My commander attempted to contact our third truck over the radio, which was
positioned in the rear of the long trail of vehicles.  (Not a good feeling, knowing that there are my soldiers somewhere else, and I cannot support them, nor know where exactly they are). Anyway, we left the area where we were (2 trucks) and drove toward the location of the contact in blackout, knowing that the other truck was somewhere in the middle. Several minutes later, we found them, and drove like a bat ...out of the kill zone. Once a status check was
complete, we drove back to the Wolf compound to re-link with the strike teams.

Well, after it was all complete. It was up to my team to process the detainees, by utilizing an explosives identity kit called "X-Spray." Of the 53 detainees, 42 came up positive for either TNT, or "Semtex" which is a type of plastic explosive. 3 of the detainees were "Emirs" or Prince's, which translates to 15 or more beheadings to their records. Let me tell you about scum. I am looking at these individuals, and taking their pictures, giving them water etc., knowing that they were more than likely directly involved with blowing up my buddies who are no longer with us, or killing innocent people who just want to live in
peace. It is very difficult to keep my composure, but my Professionalism, and Soldier Ethos must be maintained. At times, I can see my soldiers looking at me, waiting for a reaction. 

The Wolf Brigade however, lives under a different code of conduct, and at times I have to remind them as to what is not acceptable. They do not beat them or anything like that, but they definitely inflict a few
seconds of discomfort. It is hard not to take joy or be gleeful of the actions especially since we just had two memorial services for a couple of soldiers in my Battalion who were struck by IED's.

May 4, 2005 - Greg Writes



Once again, I find my self needing to write in order to keep you up on the latest. It is now about two weeks since I sent my last letter, which I am sure that you have framed on the mantle, in sequence. 

Things were running smoothly for us, as we were incorporating the Iraqi Police in with our patrols. Let me tell you, some of them are awful. My platoon was involved in an operation (curfew patrol), with the PSYOPS (Psychological Operations Loudspeaker team. Our mission was to broadcast the curfew time, and enforce it. As we stopped at a large intersection, everyone was set up in a 360 degree security posture, with the vehicles at all crossroads. All of the sudden, a vehicle came speeding up to our location. One of my gunners hit the vehicle with a 2 million candle watt spotlight, to let him know that we were there. The dismounted elements also lit their flashlights on the driver. The vehicle then slammed on his breaks, stopping about 100 meters from our location. 

All of the sudden, the vehicle accelerated coming directly for us. You can imagine the pucker factor, with all of the Vehicle Bombs that we are finding. Anyway, my gunner opened fire, with great trigger control, and fired a single shot from his .50 Cal. Machine gun, into the engine block. (For those of you that don't know, the M-2 Machine gun is a very large weapon, and is automatic. It goes thru 7-10 rounds at the slightest squeeze of the trigger.) Anyway, at that time, the rest of the dismounted soldiers in that location began to fire as well.  

By now, the vehicle was traveling at about 30 mph, and getting close to our main position. The well placed aim disabled the vehicle and it came rolling to a stop ending its travel only 25 meters from us (just for your information, the blast distance of a small passenger Vehicle Born Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) is 500 meters.) Upon approaching the vehicle, it was found to have a 13 yr old driver, mother, and cousin in the backseat. One of the rounds had hit the rear passenger in the thigh. Our medic immediately began to work on the 17 yr old male.  

When I questioned the young boy (driver) he told me that he was frightened when he saw us because it was after curfew, and the driving age in Iraq is 18. He said that he panicked and decided to drive through us to get away. Man did I give him what for. I explained that he almost got everyone in the car killed, because of his actions.

A short time later, the boys father showed up, and proceeded to box his ears. I am happy to say that the 17yr old will be fine, but I am sure that he is going to kick his cousins behind. 

  * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 The Date today is 4 MAY 05, I am sorry that I have not kept you up to date as much as I should. I recently was asked, and volunteered for a different mission. I am no longer with my Company, and am now attached over to a new Task Force. This idea was on the drawing board a couple of months ago, but no one was sure if it was going to kick off or not. Well, approximately 1 week ago, I was once again asked if I still wanted to take part in this adventure. I thought about it for oh, say ½ second and stated YES!!  

Well, you are probably wondering as to what it is that I am doing. I am the Non Commissioned Officer In Charge (NCOIC) of (an) MITT Team (Military Transitional Training Team). I am working with the ***** Brigade of the Iraqi Armed Forces. This is a team whose sole purpose is to conduct Strikes, and Raids on suspected terrorists and locations of high value targets.  

This Unit was originally founded by the Colonel (Col. ********) He was a former officer in Saddam's Army, and retired to civilian shortly after the invasion. While at home in Sadr City, he got sick of all of the innocent children, people, and coalition forces being killed from the local insurgents. He then spoke with 4 of his friends one day, and they immediately started kicking in the doors where known insurgents lived, and made citizen arrests, turning in the majority to the Coalition. He told me that the others just didn't want to be arrested. As he finished telling me this, he gave me a wink, and a huge grin.  

This wrecking crew of 5, soon turned into 50 as word of mouth spread. The Brigade, less than a year old, now has 658 members, and has been given its official status, working for the Ministry of the Interior.

My role in this is acting as a U.S. Army Adviser, and I am working through at Corp level. It is a high profile mission, and has the support, and directive from the Secretary of Defense, and other U.S. Organizations with whom I cannot mention. It is a position that I am fortunate to have, and feel very strong sentiments about. This is what I am here for. This program will and must succeed.  

This program is one that will allow the transition so all U.S. Forces can come home, and allow the success for the new Iraqi Government to take care of themselves. I do not want my children or others to have to return to this country in 10 years to fix, what we have not finished properly. All I hear in the news anymore is the American Public saying that it (the war) was not worth it. I disagree, whole heartedly.  

These are people who do not see the changes that I see, and do not see the 1000s of children and families who are praying that we stay. For once there is stability, and open defiance to the Mosques who are preaching hatred. I even saw a barbershop which had a sign in the window that read, "We shave beards". Tell me that isn't change. Ok, enough of my rampage. I digress.  

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

  It is the 5th of May and this morning the ****** Brigade received intelligence from imbedded informants that there is a meeting of insurgents in Al-Doura, a small township just outside of Baghdad.  A raid was quickly put together, and 5 pickup trucks of soldiers rolled to the location. As soon as we arrived in the crowded outdoor market, the soldiers stormed through. Immediately, 22 males standing together saw what was coming, and raised their hands high in the air to surrender. 3 others decided to either fight, or ran. They were immediately taken down. Hard I might add. Talk about justice.  

This is one of those things or gray areas that I do not step, and have to turn away. They are on their own Rules of Engagement, and don't placate. There are no rules for them, or vultures waiting for them to mess up in order to drag them through scandals. They are professional though, I do not want to leave a false impression, but they are allowed to deal there own justice by their culture. Well, during the interrogation, which by the way is handled by their Intelligence Officer (Something which I don't want to get into grin). Techniques which would land me in prison if I used, discovered that 3 of the detainees were responsible for a few of the beheadings that most of you probably watched on TV. I will be adding some more pictures to my yahoo link, of my New found friends.  

I am cautious though, as I cannot trust them 100%. There are too many, and the chances of the unit being infiltrated, is very high. I am to live on location with them the majority of the time, and sleep with my pistol under my pillow (just in case). An adviser was executed in his sleep a few months ago while working with another Iraqi unit not close to this Units caliber, but the possibility is always there.  

I do want to say, that this unit has almost no support, to include Beds, Mattresses, Blankets, Boots, Hygiene gear, Tooth brushes, etc. It amazes me that the resolve and motivation is so high. These soldiers sleep under the stars in the dirt, covered up only with their shirts, due to the lack of barracks.  

The compound which they occupy was given to them through just moving in one day. It used to be a small ranch which Saddam used to use. Out of the 150 dollars equivalent in Dinars, these soldiers have to buy their own food as well. They could work in the civilian sector as un-skilled laborers, and make more money. They choose instead to make a difference for their people. It is amazing, not a disparaging word is uttered. I look at the U.S. Soldiers, who complain that they get steak once a week which tastes a little freezer burned. I want to walk up and slap them. 

  Later on, I went into the back of my truck, and pulled out a Soccer ball which I liberated. Actually, I "secured unsecured property." The ball had lost its owner, and I assisted it in finding a home, not unlike a stray dog. Well, when I pulled it out, guys came running. It was hilarious. These were the same soldiers who disappeared when the officers came out a few minutes prior, looking for soldiers for work details. I got a good game going with myself as a goalkeeper of course. They were amazed that white Americans knew anything about the game. Here I was in full body armor diving around stopping shots on goal. I forget how old I am, and will be paying for this in the morning.  

Well, I had better sign off for now, but will write again soon, En-Shula (God willing). 

(Ma-aa sa-la-ma We-ya-kum), I will see you when I see you. 



April 24, 2005 - Greg Writes



   Well, I was going to check the boxes, but it wasn't in the proper format for ease. So, I just figured that I would write something. I am sorry that I haven't written sooner. We have just been so busy, and I kept putting it off until tomorrow. Well, I see where that gets me. Anyway, I am doing well. We have had some major injuries, and a couple of deaths, but overall it has been successful to this point.
  I did write Tom a quick note about a month ago, and yes it is ok for him to publish my letters. I am working on my next one, but due to the incidents, I haven't written anything in a few weeks. I just haven't the time. We are doing 10 to 12 hr patrols, and when we get back, everyone is exhausted and have to get ready for the next day (Weapons cleaning, re-supplies, vehicle maintenance, etc. All this is
done prior to sleep. Then come all of the reports, operation orders that have to be given to the men, backbriefs, Pre-Combat Checks, Pre-Combat Inspections, etc. So, yes my day is packed. Anyway, I will try to write more often.




April 23, 2005 - Mom Writes


 Hi Sgt,
 We haven't heard from you in so long, we don't know whether you are still kickin' the desert dust around or not. It would be nice to hear something on a regular basis, even if it is just fillin' in the multiple choice provided to you below.
 Please put an X in all boxes below that apply to your situation:
 [ ] I'm alive and still kickin'
 [ ] Too busy to write
 [ ] both hands wounded
 [ ] everything is great here.
 [ ] just kickin' back...lolligagin'
 [ ] catchin' up with my sleep
 [ ] runnin' a soccer camp
 [ ] your option?
 I know that it must be really scary for you guys there, but it is also
scary for us too....not knowing.....with you so far away in a very dangerous situation every day and night.

 Hugs.....Mother and Dad

April 12, 2005 - Greg Writes


   Well all, here is the much awaited next chapter in the Iraq saga AKA; (The Armpit of the desert).


Upon our return to Civilization, we were able to link up with our unit in our new home.  This is a compound that used to house members of the Iraqi Republican Guard, and Saddam's niece.  The main house is awesome, and our commander has a swimming pool, whirlpool, and sauna in his room. The "Palace" (House) is all Marble, with gold sinks, and faucets.  Overall, it is not a bad compound and is actually quite nice, partially due to my unit only sharing it with one other Company in our Battalion, and half of them are gone on mission at all times, 24/7.  I do have to say though, for the "elite" Republican Guard, they were housed in some crappy housing.  It is amazing that this region is one of the oldest in the world, and yet it is based upon what we would have called sub-standard in the 1930's.


The toilets are set up with a pull chain with the water tank approximately 3ft higher to allow enough water pressure to flush the waste. However, DO NOT flush the paper, as that is too much for it to handle. We have to throw it in the trash bags which are placed in each stall. The rooms are small to say the least, and there are two soldiers in each room, with all of our gear.  We have not seen our much awaited Conexes yet, and are missing much needed equipment. We are told that they will be here in 3 days. This has been getting said for the last month on a daily basis.  It has now been a week later since the last sentence and guess what?.  The Conexes have finally arrived.. whooohooo!  Below are some photos that correlate with the last letter. One day, I will get caught up with photos and entries.



March 24, 2005 - Greg Writes (to Masako)


Thank you for all of your kind, and heartfelt words. I wanted to thank you for keeping me in your prayers, as it has been rough here. Our Battalion Chaplain comes around quite a bit, and encourages us, but it is not the same as getting notes from home. I will keep in touch.


March 20, 2005 - Masako (A Dear Japanese Friend) Writes to Greg

Greetings and love to you in Jesus' name,

Please remember that prayers are continually going up for you and the men under you. Every morning before you start, please read Psaml 91 together with your buddies. Then have all of you cover yourselves and the families back home in America with the Blood of Jesus.  God never fails.  He will keep you safe under His protective covering as a mother hen covers her little chicks with her feathers.  We back home appreciate the sacrifice you and the military are undergoing to preserve freedom back home.

God bless you. In Jesus' name, 


March 15, 2005



   The date is 15 March 05, and we are gearing up for the draft of the first constitution of the country of Iraq. As of now, my company of 102 personnel is responsible for the safety and security of the majority of the Baghdad area.  The elected congress will begin their arguing on the initial draft in 2 days. It is amazing, this region has not gotten along with each other for 1000's of years, and 32 people ranging from Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds, among others are going to get together and come to an agreement in 6 days.  Yea, right.


We are as of now up grading the amount of patrols in and around the green zone, and the former Baath party area.  3 days ago, the very pro coalition regional police chief was assassinated while at a police checkpoint.  This tells you how corrupt this area is.  No one can tell who are the good guys are from the bad.  When I get home, gun fire will no longer faze me.  VBIED's (Vehicle Born Improved Explosive Devices) are a constant threat, and go off regularly. Just last week, a garbage truck loaded with over 4000 lbs of explosives drove into one of the hotels in my sector which housed civilian security contractors, and members of my Battalion. Windows were blown out > of a mile away, and caused significant damage to the hotel.  With all of this going on, the local people's resolve is not faltering.


   Tomorrow, a pro U.S., anti insurgent demonstration/ March is scheduled sponsored by one of the local Mosques. We are now waiting, to see if this is a ploy by insurgents in order to get a large group of people in one location to create havoc. It is unfortunate that we are always thinking of the negative, but our safety, and the safety of the public is first and foremost. My platoon will be on QRF (Quick Reaction Force) tomorrow, and will be the first to respond to any trouble.


      We are daily either setting on OP's (Observation Posts) usually in some type of high rise like the top of a Hotel, Water tower, or other type of high structure. This is done to report enemy activity, like enemy movement or to get a distance and direction from compass azimuth, or we are doing a combination of dismount patrol with our gun truck following close behind, or just vehicle patrol with curfew enforcement. The wonderful and ancient city of Baghdad area is the dirtiest and most diseased ridden place in the world I am sure.

People will dump their trash on the street, sometimes next to a dumpster because it is beneath them to place it inside.  That is for the lower class to do.  However, this is the lower class as well that do this.  It is such a backwards way of thinking.


The children once again are our highlight in the city.  They are the cutest things, and know no anger nor have anti-coalition sentiments.  They are constantly running up to us and want to shake hands, and ask us our names.  This is done in broken English. Their favorite sentence is; "Mr. give me Chocolate".  This translates into anything sweet.  If anyone wants to send me anything, make it hard candy.  On one patrol in what has to be the longest strip mall that I have ever seen.  (Actually it is just a street with everything for sale on the street.)  Anyway, I digress.

We were dismounted, and stopped at this shop that sells, these lady finger style pastries.  These are the most delicious things that I have tasted in forever.  They are an egg roll type shell with a flan inside, and are deep fried in liquefied sugar oil.  Oh yea, by the way, they are $2.00 for a kilo (about 25 each).  Anyway, as I was walking up to the shop, a group of boys ran up and wanted money, chocolate, or anything that we would give them.  All with the exception of one shy boy about 8 years-old.  He waited for everyone else to quit surrounding us, and he walked up to me, stuck his hand out and with much pride, just short of defiance said; "Hello Mister, my name is Yoseph!!, and I am Kurd!!!!"  He was so cute with his blue eyes and blonde hair.  At that point he just walked off.  He left me slack jawed.  He wanted nothing, just to shake hands and introduce himself.


   I then went to the shop, and ordered 2 kilos of pastries. I then turned around to the group that was still in a mob close by incase we changed our mind about giving them anything.  I then asked for Yoseph, and he shyly, but with purpose walked up and said, "I am here!!"  As I handed him the glorious box of hidden treasures, his eyes lit up.  He assured me that he would share with all of his friends.


  No sooner than I released the box, there was a mob.  It reminded me of a wilder beast that fell into a school of piranha.  My new-found friend then placed the box under his arm like a football running back on the Heisman trophy, and cocked his other hand prepared to cold-cock the next "friend" who was bold enough to make a reach for the box of gold.  After settling them down, he slowly and deliberately opened up the box, and handed each one out, making sure that he was the last one to have one.


Well, I will write soon on the next chapter in my escapades of the mysterious city of Baghdad.


Until then, take care and I am thinking of you.

Love you,



February 21, 2005 - Mom (Ruth) Muses to Editor


I received this letter from Greg today
(see Greg's letter of February 20 below).

I couldn't have asked for a nicer birthday present!  We have really been praying for him.  A week ago from last Saturday (would have been the 12th or the 13th) I was awake praying for Greg and his men.  I could not go to sleep at all!  It is kinda like a young mother with a new or young baby that awakens in the middle of the night,
(sensing that something could be wrong with the baby)....going into the nursery and finding the baby tangled up in its blanket.   I know that God gives to mamas a sixth sense, a sense of urgency, for their children (be they babies or all grown-up).   Actually the illustration of the young mama with the new baby was about Gregory....when I found him tangled up, with his blanket wrapped around his head in the middle of the night.   I'm just wondering now if this could have
been the case with the 3 minute time difference and the IED incident that Greg and some of his men experienced.  

I know that this had to be an answer to prayer and God's way of protecting Greg and his men!   This is why I made Greg promise me that he would heed the advice of a very dear Japanese friend (Masako) and saint of God, to not forget to plead the Blood of Jesus over himself and his men everyday, that God would protect them like He did for the Israelites.  He commanded the Israelites to apply the Blood of the Passover Lamb on the lintel (over their doorways) and the doorposts on either side.  When the death angel passed over to strike the firstborn throughout the land of Egypt....the firstborn in the households of God's people (the Israelites were spared) because
of their obedience to God's word. 

This shows me that it pays to be obedient to God and what he asks us to do.   If God awakens us in the middle of the night and we think we just have insomnia --- better have a conversation with God
and ask him who or what He would have us to  pray for.  You just never know......It may mean a life or death matter for someone.   Maybe, someone we love dearly.

l Samuel 15:22 says,  "And Samuel said,  Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?   Behold, it is better to obey than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams."  All God wants is our obedience and willingness to serve Him.

I do know this......that I serve a Great Big Wonderful God; a God of Love and Miracles!

February 20, 2005 - Greg Writes

Greetings from Iraq,

Well, I am finally home. We got back this evening and have been gone from our Company for almost 2 weeks. We were running our gun trucks (all brand new up Armor Hummv¡es) as a security detachment for approximately 60 to 74 big rigs loaded with everything from Tanks, to Conexes. Sometimes we were going on 3 to 4 hrs of sleep a day. I have not had a shower for almost a week, and am in the same uniform that I was at the beginning.

Anyway, we had a difficult time in certain areas, and IED's were being found everywhere. At one point, we were delayed getting out of one base by 2hrs, and 150 miles down the road, a convoy in front of us was hit with an IED, and then ambushed. We missed it by 3 minutes, and should have been ahead of them. (WHEW!!) I have some great pictures, and as soon as my baggage catches up with me, and I can download my camera software, I will e-mail them to you. At one point, our convoy was stopped along the roadside due to a broken down Iraqi Civilian truck (or as is commonly referred to as a (Haji Truck) "Haji¡" is actually not necessarily a derogatory term, but means a Muslim who has made the Haj (pilgrimage to Mecca), but is also used for the bad guys. Anyway, the Hajits (Funny name for the kids) are all over the place begging for food, or anything that you will give them. As soon as they get it, they  hide it so other soldiers don't see it, and they continue to beg until an adult (parent) shows up, and then they take the gifts. They are quite smart, and play on American sympathy.

During this stop however, I was out about 25 meters on foot checking for IED's (Improvised Explosive Devices) when a couple of young kids came out telling me "No Ali Babba" (bad guys or bombs) These kids (1 boy and 2 girls) were between 4 and 9 years old. They were shy at first, and didn't ask for a thing, but just wanted to shake my hand and be around us. The girls were the cutest thing, covered in dirt with mussed up hair, and the prettiest eyes. Then the father showed up, and I thought to myself¡¦. Here we go, here comes the sales pitch for trinkets or the begging. Well, this doesn't happen often (at all) but I was wrong. He stuck his hand out and just wanted to talk and befriend us. Approximately 2 hrs later, the truck was fixed and we were mounting up. The kids ran up and hugged my leg, and blew me a kiss, telling us that they loved us in broken English. We were then on the road again for  several hours. I have to tell you, the Haji drivers are on their own program. If we stopped for 2 minutes or 30 minutes we either had to run the line knocking on the truck doors to wake them up, or they would start cooking whole meals with propane stoves in a couple of seconds. They do whatever they want, when they want. It is crazy.

Well, I need to go. I have to be debriefed, take a shower after I cut my clothing off then go to bed. I will send you more chapters of my life story in what I can only call the armpit of the desert. My next letter will tell you about¡¦¡¦ Oh never mind, wait till it comes. Miss you all.

Love ya,


Fall 2004 - Our Story Begins - Greg Writes

Hey Mom and Dad,

I am sorry that I haven't written sooner. We have been sooo busy that I am already getting burned out. I am a Platoon Sergeant of 30 guys, and they keep me on my toes. I have just gone over the 20 years in service mark, and am still loving it. We are currently playing war games to bring up the training level for our entry into Iraq, and are going at full pace. I find myself starting back at the basics to re-train the guys. I have a very young platoon with no or little experience, and am focused on bringing them all home. Sometimes I feel that I am a little too hard on them because of the focus. I have become very intense. I am also training a brand new lieutenant, so my job has become two fold. I will try to write more often, and I love you two.

Take care,