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A letter home:
On station in Operation Iraqi Freedom

By Staff
Giving thanks
We are thankful for having options of what to eat each meal. We are thankful for our families, our spouses, children, parents, and friends who care so much about us. We thank God for the country in which we live, complete with all of the blessings that He gives each of us.
We make the best of our situation, though. It is not all doom and gloom.
Our Services Squadron personnel do a fantastic job in the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation department. They provide a full calendar of events that will keep you as busy as you want to be. Plus, there is always plenty of work to do. And the weather does get better. Highs right now are barely reaching 100 and going down around 70 at night. This has caused us to start turning on our water heaters! Our water is stored in above ground tanks (even though we are not living in tents). When the temperature range was from a low of 90 to a high of 130, the water temperature stayed quite warm.
No one used any hot water to shower with. It just wasn't necessary. But the ambient air temperature has dropped over the last month and so has the water temperature.
Another bonus is that the air conditioners don't have to run as much, so everything is a little quieter now.
Without going into a lot of detail, let me say that this base is closing.
Our work here is finished and the concentrated efforts are now taking placed in Iraq. Closing this base frees up much needed manpower and assets to be utilized there, thus keeping costs down as much as possible and reducing the numbers of people required here.
How are we
received here?
The people in this country are extremely grateful that we were willing to come here and protect them against the aggressions of Saddam Hussein. That has been expressed to me on more than one occasion.
It has been fascinating to visit with some of them and, to a limited extent, share their culture. Going into town in a foreign place is always an experience.
You expect the language barrier and are surprised when so many people speak English, even if it is with a very strong accent. Navigating is sometimes tricky, but in most cases, road signs are in both Arabic and English.
It is not difficult for the local population to figure out who the Americans are in their shops and stores. We stand out like sore thumbs. But they are always glad to see us, even if some of that is because we come to spend a little money in their establishments.
It is their culture to be hospitable, though, not just because we are money-carrying Americans. As you enter many of the smaller stores, you are offered something to drink, usually a soft drink of some kind.
As you look over their goods, they begin to negotiate prices with you. Unless you are in a larger department store, prices are always negotiable. Let the buyer beware! You have to know what things are worth.
They are nice people, but they will take your money if given the opportunity to do so.
Malls are also interesting here. You find the larger department stores (some of the names are even recognizable) and the usual variety of smaller stores. The food courts are unbelievably Americanized. Name a fast food place from the States and more than likely you will find it here.
How about Iraq?
There are some that want us to fail in our attempts to re-build Iraq. This is because there are some who were doing very well under the old regime and no longer are able to do so. Watch carefully next time you have the television on a news story concerning somewhere over here. Observe what is being targeted. You will see things like water systems, oil pipelines, and electrical facilities. This is because there are those out there that don't want the everyday Iraqi citizen to figure out that they were living under an evil dictatorship that was robbing them blind and that the United States can do more for them.
By destroying the infrastructure and money making capabilities, they are delaying the recovery, attempting to dishearten the Iraqi people and frustrate them to the point where they will turn on us.
They are also targeting American personnel when possible, knowing that the news will cover each event, and playing on the fact that America has no patience. The news portrays things as very slow and negative when it comes to the rebuilding efforts.
Yes, it will take significant amounts of time and effort to do the job correctly. There has been a lot of neglect in many areas in Iraq for a very long time, but the job IS getting done and people are seeing results.
You also hear stories about munitions stockpiles being located. These are being found because some Iraqi citizen informed someone where to look. These are people that appreciate us and don't want to see the work of the Coalition Forces hindered. They are willing to turn on those Iraqis who fight against us.
This will be the last letter that I will be able to send out. It is almost time for me to return home. I have enjoyed sharing these thoughts with you over the past couple of months and hope that you have gotten something out of them.
I urge you to continue to remember the many thousands of service members that are still deployed in support of the war against terrorism.
They need to know that America is behind them and supports them. Don't get frustrated and impatient. Right is right, regardless of how long it takes.

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