Here is the first mass email report from my cousin Jim, who is a Marine in Ramadi. I think the letter speaks for itself. I included a little "encouragement to vote" from Jim's dad here at the beginning:
There is so much in the main stream media lately about Iraq and a “we can’t win” attitude. Even CNN, ran the video of terrorists killing American troops. Paula and I are incensed and I hope you are too. I have refrained from becoming political during Jim’s deployments but I’m afraid I’ve reached the point where I can and must stress the importance of this upcoming election. We CAN NOT cut and run from this war. It is much, much more than the fight in Iraq. We are fighting an ideology that seeks to destroy the very thing we all hold dear….our American way of life. Please, consider your vote carefully but most importantly PLEASE VOTE. One party would have us cut and run the other party recognizes what is at stake and has the will and the courage to win.
Busy, busy here. I’m sure Mrs A told you, but we had a mass casualty yesterday the killed three of our jundis and wounded another 15…all with burns…almost identical situation to the mass casualty I had last year in Karmah. I wasn’t on the convoy, but John Welch and Phil Palmer were. IED struck right under the utility truck they were in. All the burns were 2nd and 3rd degree…pretty bad. 4 are still in ICU. Two days before our battalion had 8 casualties from a grenade attack and a gun shot would…fortunately there were relatively minor injuries.
So, now comes today…beautiful day. I spent the day planning our battalion operation for tomorrow and I’m in the S-3 shop with an S-3 that is every bit as good as Capt Sadeq from last year. This guy is a stud. All of the sudden a jundi runs in and yells “Fire! Fire!” I run out to see one of the jundis Quonset huts completely engulfed in flames! The jundis (Arabic for soldier) live in these wooden barracks with tin roofs. They’re all about 3 feet apart and are surrounded by these six foot, dirt filled barriers to protect them from indirect fire shrapnel. I made the call to our US battalion HQ and my exact transmission was, “Red Curahee, this is Wasta-6…we have a huge fire in the IA billeting…send every water truck you have to this compound right now.” They acknowledged and w/in 10 minutes we had a huge water tanker on the scene. I just knew that all 15 of their barracks were going to burn down. We couldn’t get water to the buildings because of the giant barriers so we had to then call for a giant front end loader to pull those barriers down. The jundis were running around like banshees…total panic. Col Ali was right in the middle bailing buckets and moving guys around. Then, some ammo left in one of the barracks started cooking off so we had to back away…so the next building caught on fire. I’m was almost hopeless…I started to wonder were 300 soldiers were going to live and how my new battalion would be able to continue to fight. By God’s grace and a mighty jundi bucket brigade they put out the fire. Not a single soldier was hurt. Col Ali laughed…he said, Capt Lively, we just lose beds, pillows and blankets…no problem….we didn’t lose any soldiers.” Praise the Lord. We had an operations order scheduled for 1600. We finished with the fire at about 1550 and I asked Col Ali if we were still going to give the order…he said, “Of course, give my officers 30 minutes to take showers and we’ll be ready.” And they were…the S-3 gave a great operations order….never mind that an hour before he’d been covered in soot and soaked in water… These guys are warriors, I don’t care how you slice it.
Of course, my team is like, “Sir, we’ve been here 7 days, all of us have been shot at already, we’ve had 25 casualties and a barracks fire…HA! What’s next!” Spirits are high and we’re certainly building team work and our crisis management skills are getting honed pretty quickly.
So, yet another adventure. Wow….can we just pace ourselves a bit? Tomorrow’s operation will probably see us locked up with some local miscreants and that’s o.k. That’s why we’re here.
O.k. gotta run and clean my weapon, pack my grenades and check my radio…that’s the routine here. Camel back is always full, fresh batteries always in, radio always primed and ammo always topped off….if Col Ali rolls…I roll…24/7. I love it.