Family, friends, and sometimes even troops themselves send I-Report salutes nearly every day to U.S. military serving their country away from home. Take a look below as family and friends share stories of the troops they love.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
'Making this world a better place'


We have a yearly Christmas party for friends and neighbors at the home of Mary and Paul Bailey in Sag Harbor, NY. This year we asked everyone to pose with a sign in front of the tree to say thank you to our troops. All of us at the party want the troops to know that we know how lucky we are to have men and women willing to sacrifice for the good of our country. We have no doubt that they are making this world a better place for our children and grandchildren. We want all of them to know that we know how lucky we are and think of them often.

-- Mary, Paul & Kelly Bailey in Sag Harbor, New York
I wrote a letter home while I was in Iraq. It commented on the positives that I saw as a combat advisor. When my family tried to publish the letter in several newspapers, they were told that it was too conservative. I really believe that the American public needs to hear a positive story from Iraq. Below is the letter:

It looks like I have 77 days till I am home. This being my first combat deployment, I can honestly say that it has been extremely productive. I have learned more this year then all my time in the Marines and Citadel combined. I know that my mission was to come and train the Iraqis, but really I think that they did the same to us. The most important thing I have learned from the Iraqis is to deal with stress. You can't stress about anything, because no matter how much you stress, whatever it is will happen. There is a fine line between planning ahead and stressing out. Also I have learned to respect others' ways of doing stuff. The Iraqis do not patrol the way we do, nor do they practice the same TTPs that we do for Intelligence, but they get it done. While I am doing the "school taught way" the Iraqis just go out and get the information. Last week I was doing some analysis on the relationship of one guy to others. I had charts out and I was drawing on the white board. The Iraqi S-2 looked at me and told me to stop, we went on a patrol and asked a few people about that guy and we had the information. I have lived, slept, ate, cried, and laughed with these Iraqis. From this year’s experience, I can honestly say that I will be extremely mad, the next time I hear someone say that Iraq is a lost hope, that the Iraqis can't do it. They are wrong. These Iraqis have what it takes. This year we started with the most dangerous part of Iraq, the center point for Al Qaeda, and now we are living in one of the safest areas in Iraq. It was not my doing, my teams doing, nor any Americans doing, but rather it was the work of this Iraqi unit.

We have had the attention of many "top dogs" from America and Iraq. Last week I meet with the SgtMaj for Iraq. Prior to that a Senator came to talk to the Iraqi General from our Brigade. We have seen the 4 Star General of all Iraq twice. There has been of a mixture of our political representatives. It is nice to meet these individuals, and I am thankful to meet them, but the one problem I see, is that all of them praise the Americans surrounding these Iraqis. The whole time, the Iraqis did the work. Yes, we advised them and we went on the operations with them. We have been injured as well, but the Iraqis did it. They are in the lead and they need to be praised.

I will be getting my Purple Heart presented to me soon. Although, I am still fighting getting it (I still don’t think I deserve it, for a wound that I took care of and continued my patrol), if I do have to accept it, I want those that were to my left and right to give it to me. There is rumor of other awards, but I can not confirm any of them.

So, back to my opening. I have 77 days left. 2 1/2 months. Some of my team has started questioning if we can accomplish more in the little time we have. Out of those 77 days, we have to break down our stuff, prepare for the Relief in Place, conduct a Relief in Place, pack, and fly from one base to another till we are in Kuwait and on the way home. Bottom Line there is about 1 more month of work. I think that everyday we can influence the Iraqis we fight beside, and for the NCOs and officers, we can influence some of the Americans. My goal is that the Iraqis can teach my replacement some.

My replacement is a 2ndLt straight out of school. I haven't meet the guy, but I know how it is to be a new 2ndLt doing a senior captains job. I know that I had a lot to learn. I did learn, but it was through the hard way, making mistakes, taking chin shots, and trail and error. This deployment forced me to learn above and beyond what I should have in a traditional deployment as an intelligence officer in Iraq. I could have been in a shop, in front of a computer, reading emails all day long, making analysis of an area I have never seen, in my little lane. Instead, I have patrolled the streets I have to make an analysis on, faced the enemy I am reporting on, expanded my lane ten fold, and worked with some of the finest American and Iraqis both countries has to offer.

For those at home. No matter what you think of this war. No matter whether you think we should be here or not. We are here. We are fighting daily with an enemy. We have sustained injuries and been tired beyond the point that is healthy. Our morale has been crushed by those that report that we are doing a useless job. The bottom line, we are doing the good work. We have offered a future to a country that in the last 50 years has had no hope. Yes, some of laid down their life for another country. This country will have a future. Is it for us to decide, as a country, that another country filled with people much like ours, can not have a future. Or should we as the ones with all we want and desire, be the better country and give a lesser country support. The US is filled with Christians, Jews, Muslims, and other religions. Last time I recalled, unless the Bible or the Koran changed since I was deployed, most religions have lessons on helping people in need. Am I saying that as a country we should pivot of what religions say, no. I am saying as a fellow person we should. It is the right thing to do. It may or may not be in our best interest, but sometimes we must look beyond our best interest and look at the best interest of others. This is my choice, I am not asking anyone to take my belief as there own. I am just one of the many pawns in the choices the American public makes as a whole.

A reemerging thought that I keep writing is that the Iraqis are the reason for our success in Ramadi. I will say that not all Iraqi Units are at this level, but they can get that way. I have been blessed with fighting along side of a unit that is a head of the game. But it took time for them to develop to the unit they are today. There is hope in all of this, it just takes time...the question is, are we going to give the time they need to develop or are we throwing in the towel? Not my decision, I follow the orders that come down the chain from our Commander in Chief. I will put a smile on my face and say Aye Aye, Sir to whatever he says. I am a Marine, and that means I do the will of the President, which he takes from the American civilians.

If these views sounded like I look at life as half empty, I don't. I am typically one that looks at it as completely full. I love the life that has been presented to me. I have a job that allows me to have most of what I want, I have a wonderful family that raised me, and I have a wonderful fiancé, that words can not explain her greatness. I am truly blessed. I am American and because of that, I have many things that people from other countries only dream about. As a 24 year old, I have a great life that those considered well off in Iraq don't. I look to the left and right and see 19-30 year old males that have more than 50-60 year old Iraqis have. I can honestly say I have a great life, but being here, I am shamed to think we would give up the fight to offer others the same life.
On CNN TV
Every weekday morning on Headline News' Morning Express, anchor Robin Meade and her team do a shout-out to U.S. troops by showing off photos and videos sent in by their loved ones. Tune in every hour between 6 and 10 a.m. to see the salutes on air, or click through the archives on this page.
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