Excerpts from a letter sent by an officer to his unit's family members as the 1AD units begin the redeployment from Iraq.
. Excitement abounds but we all are still a bit wary. We have had a few rocket attacks in the last three days of which one of them wounded two soldiers. What is wrong with these Iraqi insurgents? These people must be the same people that would go out of their way to poke a grizzly bear in the eye vs. letting him lumber by. I just cannot understand what goals are their aims other than trying to unhinge the Democratic process. They want power, I assume, with a religious base so they can control people and gain the prestige and riches for themselves. Sounds kind of like Saddam’s Baath Party system to me.
One of the Iraqis that work for me was threatened today that unless he paid $4000 dollars someone would kill part of his family. He says he will not pay as other Iraqis would do and is prepared to defend himself and his family by killing anyone that would take away his freedom.
This concept he grasps is foreign here but he has grasped it. He is willing to die to be free of fear and intimidation. I wish I could lie in wait with him and blast those godless bastards to hell as they come to retrieve the blackmail money. I can’t legally do that now as the Iraqis are now in charge. It is time for the Iraqi Police and the Iraqi people to set their own course for having safe and secure lives. I know the Iraqis are better prepared than the rest of the world and media give them credit for. The Iraqi people know they have to do this if they want to survive. These people are survivors and will make it. It will just take time...
My feeling of apprehension is really based on how will I and all of us re-enter the world we left behind. We all feel different and are changed. Will people we know see the change in on our faces and in our actions? Will we be expected to act a certain way? Will reactions to normal events we display be perceived as different now? I can only say it will work its way out and everyone will have to be patient.
I, like many, have a multitude of memories; all vivid but some good and some bad. How do you relay these vivid recollections without sounding over theatrical or a braggart or when we decline to discuss an event because it does not translate into the proper feeling or emotion thus paling or disrespecting the event or participants? I know from talking to other leaders and soldiers each are tired. They are not complacent or lackadaisical, but weary.
This weariness is probably attributed to all feeling a little blue and all being just tired of extended periods of heightened alertness. Just being slightly aware at all times, even while asleep, of noises and other peoples movements wears on the nerves. The extreme pressure of being out in sector compounds any mental recovery time to the point of dazing. Lastly, I think we are all proud of what First Armored Division accomplished here but was it enough. It seems so unfinished, though will it ever really be complete. We leave the lives of 135 soldiers here in Iraq. All died as fighters and all fought to the end. God bless them and their families...
The last fifteen months have seen freedom blossom here as one watches the caterpillar develop into the butterfly though we still are watching the cocoon in anticipation of that birth. I will remember extreme heat and biting, wet cold. I will remember laughing children, women wailing in their fits of sadness for loss of their loved ones and the glares of distrust. I will remember the sight of determined soldiers before battle and the dazed, crumbled looks of those survivors of other attacks.
I will remember how death comes to all people, soldiers and civilians alike. It is a surprise. We all fight till our last breath and we all never assume it is our last breath. We all really never know when death closes his hand around us as it comes without fanfare. As a light is tuned off at the switch, as a breeze ceases to blow, as a cloud changes shapes....all of these outcomes are unknown just as death greets each of us.
And finally the peace as each face shows the slackness of rest and the eternal sleep we will all enjoy eventually. I will remember being so frustrated at not being able to strike out in revenge that I thought I might explode. I remember true pride that I am in the First Armored Division. All these vivid memories will remain and I cannot wait to share with each of you.