Friday, December 21, 2007

Update from Ramadi ...

Dateline: December 30, 2007
FOB Blue Diamond, al Anbar Province
By Command Sergeant Major Larry Johnson

It is time for one more up-date from Forward Operating Base Blue Diamond. Our affairs have been very busy since our last correspondence; my two associates COL “R” and Mr. “T” are both gone on their well deserved R&R leave. The Colonel has young children at home and it is good that he will get to be with them for the holidays. Mr. “T”, (does he have any family?) on the other hand who; works for one of those alphabet agencies, always wears sunglasses, and won’t let me take his picture swore to me that he was going to the North Pole to see Santa. Said he had a deal for Santa that he couldn’t refuse.

As for me I am here shouldering the whole load. Now, I get to take all the good trips and do all the fun stuff. Last week I accompanied the Provincial Governor and others to Fallujah for a grand opening of a municipal government building. (see photos) It was one of those rare daytime helicopter flights and it was motivating to spend the day surrounded by enough fire power to take out a small Army. Plenty of Generals, Tribal Shieks, and dignitaries to go around and of course what would any Iraqi engagement be without Johnson’s favorite “If it don’t come from Safeway, Johnson don’t eat it” meal of goat, rice, and what was that……..? It was a good flight down and back, no surface to air missiles and just a few sniper rounds while we were on the ground movement.

Two days later a trip to Ramadi saw me inspecting the status of our new cantonment area located across the Euphrates River on Camp Ramadi. Things are progressing there at decent pace and we should be packing up and moving our operations in a few weeks. All military folks love relocating from one battle space to another, especially in the winter and mud. On the 24-25 of December I will be out and about with members of the Combined Arms (infantry and armor) Battalion here at BD distributing a Christmas meal and gifts to the company sized units located at the remote combat outposts that FOB Blue Diamond supports. Many of the units are up to 4 hours away by armored convoy so it will be around a 48 hour operation to get dinner, gifts, and the Chaplain by to see them all.

By the way, all of you who sent packages I can assure you that they will be well received. Thank you. You would be surprised at how many Soldiers over here have little or no family. Your thoughts and well wishes mean a great deal to them. Before the New Year, I will be off to northwestern Iraq for a reconnaissance near the Syrian border (Thank you Mr. “T”), snooping and pooping for the II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward). This is all very hush, hush so I cannot speak further about it. The trip should produce an interesting series of events.

After that I think, I am grounded until after the first week in January and by then my battle buddies will begin returning.
On a personal note, we are in the fourth quarter now and at times we are starting to feel the grind and fatigue. Right now and for the next 30-45 days is the worst and most dangerous time of any deployment. We are drained and as of yet the euphoria of rotating home soon is still a dream. By the middle of February the anticipation of leaving and rotating back to the states will convey everyone through until the end. The daily contact with friends and loved ones is really what gets all of us through this period.

I wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and we here in Iraq will be praying for all of you just as we know you are praying for us and our safety. We are all particularly thankful for your support.


Kari said...

I am happy that Larry will have the opportunity to serve all of those meals and distribute gifts during the Christmas season. That will help him to feel a little more in the Christmas spirit.

CresceNet said...

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