Promoting a peaceful approach to solving social, political and economic problems!

Letters from Iraq

Army National Guard Spc. Michael G. Mihalakis
Nov. 2, 2002, Fort Leonard Wood, MO. (Basic Training)

I don't even recognize myself anymore. I have a completely shaved head, Army uniforms, and zero fat. The very few seconds I get to look in the mirror while I shave each morning, I try to remember who I used to be. Every soldier is going through the same change. It doesn't matter who you are: prom queen, high school football star, scholar, idiot, or whatever. As soon as you get here, you become a copy of the person next to you. It sounds like hell, and to tell you the truth, it is. But I'm loving every minute. I'm learning so many cool things.

July 7, 2003, Baghdad

How can I possibly put the last 7 days into words? We got into Baghdad on the 2nd of July. It was about an 8-hour drive from the Kuwait border to Baghdad. When we crossed the border it was like entering a new world. The sides of the roads were covered with starving Iraqis begging for food. Kids as young as what looked to be 4 or 5 would run up to the vehicles. We were given a direct order by the company commander not to throw food or water to the starving people because there are too many Iraqis getting run over by our convoys when they run after the food. It is so hard to tell a starving 5-year-old who is begging for food to go away. Every time our convoy would stop, we would be ambushed by kids trying to get food; it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to watch.

Finally I gave in. Sitting up in the gunner's hatch, I can see everything. A sickly barefooted 6-year-old approached the vehicle; he looked so sick. He was touching his lips saying "please, please." I told him to go away and he just looked up at me. It looked like he wasn't going to make it much longer in the 133-degree weather we had that day. Again, I shouted "kief!" which is "go" in Arabic, and I pointed. As we drove away, I threw an ice-cold bottle of water out the window to him. Luckily no one saw me.

I love you guys. And please try not to think too much about it, it sounds a lot worse than it is.

Mihalakis died of injuries sustained when his Humvee overturned on Dec. 26. He was 18.

Mihalakis' final letter


Army Pfc. Jesse A. Givens
April 2003, Camp Victory, Kuwait

Hey, angel. [ ... ] Every day I think, worry, and pray for you. I want so bad to hug you. I want to listen to your breath beside me while I sleep. Please don't get used to me being gone. I am sorry I'm not there with you right now. I know it doesn't seem like it all the time, but I try to be there when you need me. Usually I can make it happen but there was no way to get out of this. I guess this way at least I can give you and Toad and the Bean food and a home. [ ... ] It may be awhile before we can make phone calls but I will continue to write as much as possible. I love you! Give Toad and Bean hugs and kisses. Count the stars ...

Later that month, Givens wrote again to his pregnant wife, son and unborn son:

[ ... ] In the next few days we will be moving again. We are heading into a real bad place, I guess. We have a bunch of want-to-be GI Joes who say they can't wait to kill someone. Personally I [don't] give a s--t if we kill someone or never fire a shot. I don't want medals or to be a hero. I just want to come home and be a husband and daddy again.

Givens, 34, drowned on May 1 in Habbaniyah. "Bean" was born four weeks later.

Givens' final letter


Army Sgt. Patrick Tainsh
April 7, 2003, near Nasiriya

We are sitting at Al Salem Iraqi Air Base. [ ... ] I have a little time so I thought I would write. We've been in Iraq for 2 days now. Light resistance on the way here, and nothing but sand and mud-built shacks. The majority of the people greet us with open arms, but there are those who hate us. I'm doing good. This morning U.S. forces entered downtown Baghdad. We cheered [ ... ]

It's weird, Dad, to be at war. These people are so oppressed that to see the kids living like this hurts. I cried the other day when 2 kids asked for food and I couldn't give it to them. We are very close to Baghdad, and sometimes you can hear the bombers overhead. I am glad to be here with these guys. They are really good men. Aside from lack of sleep we are all doing well. Please do me a favor and call Tracy and tell her I'm thinking about her and I miss her. [...] Gotta go. Write back.

April 10, near Baghdad

We had a mission yesterday vs. a Baath Party-occupied village, and took 14 POWs with no casualties. [ ... ] We are advancing very rapidly with aggressiveness. It's really awesome to see a cavalry troop work and win. [ ... ] Everyone is doing their job well, and the commander is very pleased. I can't tell you where we are, but we are close [to Baghdad]. The region isn't desert; it's like a tropical region of the country—palm trees, vegetation and rivers.

The people are very friendly and welcome us with open arms. They want to give us gifts, but we don't take anything. [ ... ] I traded a Marlboro to an elder yesterday for an Iraqi-made cigarette, and it was OK. He wanted me to take the whole pack, but I insisted he take mine, which he did. He said "Bamerican, Bamerican," and was very happy. They really want us here. You can see it in their eyes. They are very affectionate and appreciative, chanting "Bush, Bush."

Aug. 29, Baghdad

It's been a lot of dismounted stuff recently. After 9 hours in the heat with 80 pounds on your back, you don't want to do much except sleep when you get back. [ ... ] I saw the U.N. building today. It's pretty devastating when you see it up close. These people out here are something else. They just don't care that other people are trying to help them. But I guess that's the face of war, and yes, it's still a war. Don't believe everything you see on TV.

Dec. 2, Baghdad

I tried calling yesterday but got the machine ... We're doing ok just busy hitting the enemy hard lately ... Long days and nights ahead ... Division is saying we'll be home in March ... I know how many days but I can't tell you on an unsecure line ... Gotta go. I'll try to call again.

Love, Patrick

On the night of Feb. 11, 2004, Tainsh's patrol was hit by an improvised explosive device; an ambush ensued. His commanding officer wrote afterward: "Although Sgt. Tainsh was immediately mortally wounded, he started laying down suppressive fire in order to secure the area for the medic to move forward. Sgt. Tainsh stopped laying down fire only after he felt the area was secured. He then dropped down and tapped me on the shoulder to let me know he was wounded." He was 33.

Tainsh's final letter.


Marine Cpl. Jeffrey B. Starr
April 17, 2003, Baghdad

Dear Mom & Dad,

What's up!! Almost home! We leave this godforsaken palace either today, tomorrow or sometime next week. Then we hoof it back to nasty Kuwait. We will be there as long as a month or as short as a week. Either way home is almost here. Most importantly the fighting is over. We got in our last firefight, knock on wood, about 2 days ago. I am fine, I'm in one piece (no purple heart here, thank God), mentally I am still sane. No postwar trauma, [not] too bad anyway.

I got your two packages, bubble-wrapped ones. Thank you very much, they were perfect. Well that's the latest, I'll hopefully call before I write again. I'm almost home and you can stop worrying.

I love you guys.

Having completed his first Iraq deployment in April 2003, Corporal Starr returned in March 2004.

April 17, 2004 Fallujah

Holy shit. I never thought that a week and a half ago I would have been through what I have. A few of my close friends have been hurt and one of them killed, but it hasn't really hit me yet so I am alright. The worst is over. This shit should be done in a few weeks so I can talk to you more then.

At one point during the fighting, Starr's unit was trapped behind enemy lines. He later wrote an essay describing the incident.

After moving west a few more streets we turned on around and started heading south. By this time we were shooting at everyone we saw, weapon or not. Next thing I know I am on the floor of the track looking up at a ball of fire. I was covered in blood and had parts of our lieutenant's leg on my face and flak. [ ... ] An armor-piercing RPG [had] penetrated the front left side of our track. [ ... ] The driver [ ... ] didn't know there was a fire and continued heading south. He was lost and the noise of the track [prevented] us from yelling to him and the fire [prevented] us from getting to him and the lieutenant.

[ ... ] I don't know exactly what time it was but late afternoon is when we dismounted the burning track. As we exited out the hatch of the track we were taking fire from the north, east, and west. That left south into the houses our only direction to egress. Most of us ran across the street to the front lawn of a house and started to return fire. The driver of the track was in shock and wouldn't leave the track. McCarver and our platoon sergeant, Staff Sgt. Segrado, pulled Lt. Ayers from the flames. Garcia had run back for the crew chief but he was trapped inside and unable to escape. The rest of us continued to fire at the enemy who was down every road and in every window like cockroaches. We ran into the house to clear it [ ... ] and 3 of us immediately went to the roof to keep the enemy from coming any closer.

[ ... ] I noticed the sun was getting closer to setting when RPGs and rockets started hitting the rooftop. We had to fall back inside and downstairs. All of us were in the hallway [ ... ] There we waited. It's hard to say how much time went by before we start-ed hearing them all around us. At first we hoped it was friendly, but it was definitely Arabic.

Starr was killed by a sniper on May 30, 2005, while on patrol in Ramadi, walking point. He was 22.


Army First Lt. Kenneth M. Ballard
July 27, 2003, Baghdad

Things have really started to calm down [ ... ] One of the areas we patrol is largely Christian. They made/make up the middle class. We have little to no anti-American activity, [although] there is a lot more Iraqi on Iraqi violence. With more and more public services coming back on line, people are slowly getting back to normal. [But] no matter how hard we help to get the services back up, it is not fast enough. They don't understand that after 12 years of decay it will take some time, plus they don't want to work. Life is slowly getting better for us as well. Our new base camp (Kamp Krusty) will be finished in October. It is at their old War College. It will have a full-size pool. Our barracks building, which 3rd Infantry Division is still in, will have a private gym for us, [illegible], an Internet café, and last but not least, AC in every room [ ... ]

August 2003, Baghdad

There are some times here that you are able to stop and look around you and find a moment of peace. We were crossing the Tigris River at night under a full moon. The light was dancing on the water, a light breeze floated through the trees. You think to yourself how nice this would be with someone special, then flares light up the sky and you see tracer fire off in the distance and the cold slap of reality sets in that you are in the middle of a war zone.

Aug. 12, Baghdad

Ok, so things keep changing.

My company just got traded away to the 82nd Airborne's 2nd Brigade. What that means is we will live at Kamp Krusty but work in the 82nd's area. They have been getting the snot knocked out of them and they asked for tanks, so they sent us. The unit we are going to draws 400-500 gallons of fuel a day. My tanks use 2,500 gallons a day. [ ... ] On one of my tanks I carry as much small-arms ammo as one of their 700-man units. These guys are in for a big shock.

Aug. 16, Baghdad

The locals are different in every sector. In our old sectors we were able to build "good" relationships. In our new area it is a very different place: openly hostile is closer to the mark. We view most of the locals as someone to be dealt with and nothing more. Our CO wants us to embrace them with open arms and love our fellow man. Too many of us have a bad taste in our mouths about it all. They have no respect for weapons, each other and life; and if that is the case then how are we supposed to look at them any differently?

Ballard, 26, died in Najaf on May 30, 2004, when a passing tree branch triggered the unmanned machine gun on his tank.


Marine Capt. Alan Rowe
Summer 2003, Najaf

Right now I'm getting ready for bed. It's been a long day. Got to go out in town, I saw some interesting things [ ... ] I had a meeting at a restaurant and ate Iraqi food, which was very good. We had rice, and we had shish kabobs and we had an interesting meat, kind of a sausage thing, called tikit. [ ... ] There were some beans and some sauce, and we had some yogurt and some cucumbers and tomatoes. And it was really very good.

[Then] we went over and visited some families who didn't have a place to live and we talked to them about finding a new place to live and they had a lot of kids and I had some candy and I gave it to the kids and they really liked that. There was a little girl about your age, Caitlin, and a boy, about your age, Blake, and they were cute and they smiled and I took my pictures of you and Caitlin out and I showed the pictures of both of you to the kids and they thought that was very nice and they actually kissed the pictures and that's one of their ways of showing respect and kinda like saying hello to you.

Rowe, 35, and two other Marines were killed by an improvised explosive device on Sept. 3, 2004, in Anbar province. He was promoted to major posthumously.


Army Capt. Christopher P. Petty
Oct. 30, 2003, Al Miqdadiyah, 60 miles northeast of Baghdad

Happy Halloween, sorry it has been awhile since I wrote. Things have been busy. Ramadan began the other day and so far the attacks have increased each day. [ ... ] You will most likely hear about it in the news soon, but an M1 Abrams tank was destroyed last night. Reports are unclear as to what caused it. However, it was clear that 2 U.S. soldiers lost their lives and an acclaimed indestructible tank had its turret blown off. That makes six soldiers killed in our brigade alone in the past four weeks.

Petty, 33, and four others were killed when their Humvee hit an IED in Najaf on Jan. 5, 2006. He was three weeks into his second tour.


Marine Capt. Michael D. Martino
March 22, 2004, Fallujah

These former military guys are the ones probably causing all the trouble. You can't go through the town of Fallujah without being shot at [ ... ] The people away from the Sunni Triangle will wave at you, but the Sunnis will give you the finger and throw rocks at you. These are the little kids too.

April 2, Fallujah

The marines are taking a different approach to things here, more aggressive. Two nights ago, I was briefly attached to the Light Armored Reconnaissance Vehicles (LAR). Our northern element got ambushed. Big mistake for the enemy, because a C-130 gunship was on station and made mincemeat out of them. I think they were expecting the Marines to run away like the army had in the past, but they have been surprised to see that we stop and fight.

You may have seen on the news about the American security guys who were burned and paraded around the city. The security guys were the civilian security crew that protected the base at the small camp I was at, to the southeast. I know some of them, but I don't know which ones were killed. I saw the video on TV. I wanted so badly to shoot those bastards parading around the streets. These people are hypocrites. Islam strictly forbids its followers from desecrating the bodies of the dead, even animals. I have no respect for these people who claim Islam is the only true religion and don't even follow the rules of the Koran.

April 28, Fallujah

I'm back at our camp for 24 hours to get some R&R and resupply myself. I haven't changed my clothes in about a month. I've been living out of a backpack the entire time. [ ... ]

Right now we are holding back because of the so-called ceasefire [...] I'm not sure how long it will be until something constructive comes from the negotiations. My personal opinion is that we should level the city with air strikes and make it into a parking lot. We are fighting mostly terrorists who don't care about the city and won't negotiate [ ... ]

I love and miss everyone. Pray for me and my fellow Marines. I look forward to seeing you in October.

Martino, 32, died on his second tour of duty, when his helicopter was shot down on Nov. 2, 2005. He was promoted posthumously to major.


Army Second Lt. Brian Smith
April 7, 2004, Fallujah

This first part will be nearly incoherent but I'll send it as I wrote it.

[ ... ] I do not say that I have not slept. I have. About seven hours in the last forty-eight. Three of those in the turret of my tank.

This run began when the Marines got their collective asses handed to them in Fallujah last weekend. They were hurting even before the civilians got dragged. Dragging. It amazes me that dragging a corpse could horrify or enrage a population. The corpse doesn't care. It won't turn into a freaking vampire if maltreated after death. Hell, most of the ways I am ... Screw it. I am too tired to bother with cleverness.

You all know the background better than I do.

Last Monday we picked up one of the Marine outpost missions while they headed into Fallujah. 12 hour shifts. The drive down there is through some of the most dangerously narrow, canalized terrain in sector. We had two IED spottings on the way out, both later shown not to be IEDs, and had one vehicle throw track when it had to turn around after I ran out of road. [ ... ] I got about three hours of bad sleep in the turret.

We got back, put the tanks in the barn and started to go to sleep. Then back up, down to the barn and out as Hajji started to attack everything that moved in Khalidiyah. One of Apache [Company]'s Bradleys took a very unlucky RPG hit. The initial report was that the commander had been killed. Every crew in Apache mounted up and stormed Khalidiyah. We assembled in the barn and set out sections as needed. After nightfall we were killing anything that moved.

April 26, Fallujah

Try not to kill somebody at night. It is difficult to grasp the experience at night. Tank commanders have a thick layer of technology, and often other soldiers, between them and their targets at all times but after sunset, acquiring, engaging and destroying targets (i.e. people, vehicles, buildings, livestock, what have you) takes on the feel of a video game.

Hosing down person-shaped, gritty green blobs scampering around in the gunner's sight does not really allow for full appreciation of the impact of the act of ending the life of another human being. Add another layer of separation by ordering someone else to actually perform the act. In the end, I felt and feel nothing. Not a damned thing.

I was not sure what I expected to feel, much less what I wanted to feel. This is one of the questions about myself I hoped to answer by joining the Army. I am really not satisfied with the answer I found. How can I even appreciate the humanity of the person I had killed if all I ever saw was a green mass lying in the grass? I gave the fire command, the gunner lased then engaged with [the] coax[ial gun] and the target disintegrated.

For those of you professionally interested, the fire command was nothing more than, "Kill that guy."

May 11, Fallujah

I honestly do not remember how many days I spent out there. I am doing my best to ignore the passage of time.

Eventually, we surrendered and went back to [Camp] Manhattan. It sure looked that way to us on the ground. The Marines pulled back, Iraqis showed up with old Baathist-era flags and tried to cross the bridges we were guarding. We were not allowed to shoot them. This happened about the same time the press learned that detainees were being abused in the prison east of Fallujah. Goody.

What did Hajji learn that week? First, the U.S. can be defeated. Second, if he surrenders he will be stripped naked, have electrodes attached to his testicles and [be] made to stand in a tub of water. Fucking brilliant. Where is my goddamned propeller-hat? I need to get into the spirit of things.

May 27, Anbar Province

Hot. Overworked. Temper short. Iraqis stupid. Hajji trying to blow me up. Insert new date and repeat.

June 26, Anbar Province

"There it is again."

"I see it."

"What is that?"

I shook my head to knock loose the sweat collecting at the tip of my nose. The heat was brutal and we still had another three hours to go in the shift. I was pretty sure I knew what Kimmerling was pointing at. An intermittent white flash coming from a second story window or doorway about 300-400 meters away from us. It looked like someone was flashing us with a mirror. This happened sporadically for an hour or so every few shifts when we were in this zone.

Kids. Screwing around with a mirror. I had ignored it earlier in the year. The heat had drained me of all patience now.

"Can we shoot it?" This from Sgt. Hise.

"Yeah. Traverse left. Up. More left. Little higher. That gap right there between the palm trees. No, up higher. More left. Hell with it. That will do. When you see it, engage and kill it."

We waited. Maybe whoever it was would notice that the tank's cannon was no longer looking down the road but was now pointing directly at him. Maybe he would realize that this is not a game. Maybe, just maybe, he would realize that we were hot and tired and terribly, so terribly frustrated with this place and these people that we would respond to even the slightest provocation with enthusiastic and brutal violence.

Smith, 30, was shot dead in Al Habbaniyah on July 4, 2004.


Army Spc. Justin W. Johnson
April 8, 2004, Baghdad

A big battle broke out and we were in the middle of it. We had to escort wounded soldiers to another base and were getting shot at. My front right tire got shot out, and after our tire got fixed, on the way back to base, we got ambushed. They missed my truck but hit the one behind me. That night we lost 10 soldiers and 49 got wounded. [ ... ]The next night we took a wrong turn and ended up in the middle of Sadr City around midnight. We had to drive through burning roadblocks, ram cars to get them out of our way and do about 60 mph to get out alive. We were informed that it is no longer a peacekeeping mission, now it is war again!

Johnson, 22, died on patrol on April 10 when his vehicle was hit by an IED in Sadr City.


Army National Guard Sgt. Frank Carvill
May 1, 2004, Baghdad

Fighting like this is a disaster for the U.S. and CPA efforts to get Iraq running again. As long as there is a guerrilla war here, then it will be impossible for Iraq to recover from the near endless wars and economic sanctions since 1980. That is the tremendous obstacle in the way of American "success" in bringing peace and prosperity to this unfortunate country. [ ... ]

Although several of my colleagues would disagree, I don't think we have "lost" the goodwill of the majority of the Iraqi people (yet). While I only have my limited exposure in Baghdad, I think it is accurate, up to a point. But if we keep getting drawn into fights in Sadr City, Fallujah, Najaf, etc., we only feed the propaganda machines of the insurgents who paint us as murderers.

In late April the world saw the first photos of the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib.

May 10, Baghdad

I am at a complete loss as to what happened with regard to the prisons. The guys I work with simply don't understand what caused this to occur. We have nothing to do with the prisons. [ ... ] We are a National Guard unit. Many of the guys are older, with families and simply want to do the tour and go home. We have been and continue to operate in dangerous and volatile areas with amazing restraint considering we are repeatedly engaged. No one in my unit would have anything to do with what those idiots did. [ ... ] FYI, one of our heavy vehicles got stuck today in soft ground. The local Iraqis came by with a bulldozer and a front-end loader and helped us. The Iraqi guy who organized the vehicle rescue refused to take money. We have not lost yet.

Carvill, 51, died in Baghdad on June 4, when his convoy was ambushed. He received a posthumous promotion to staff sergeant.


Marine Lance Cpl. Kane M. Funke
June 2004, Hit

Hi Mom, sorry it's been so long since I've last called. Listen, I've got some news for you. Now don't worry I'm fine, but I got a story to tell you about today [ ... ] We left in the morning to go do a route clearing patrol on MSR [main supply route] Bronze, the main highway, and I ride in the first vehicle usually but they decided to bring along an interpreter and he took my spot in the first vehicle and they moved me back to the third vehicle. Now the thing about an IED is that it usually hits the second or third vehicle because they use the first and fourth vehicles as kind of an aiming post to know when to blow it. I told them when I first got back there I hated being in that vehicle and that I had a funny feeling about that mission. Well sure enough, on our way back from the patrol, right on Bronze we got hit [...] No one was injured just minor cuts and bruises.

[ ... ] Earlier tonight we went out on the same kind of mission just different part of the road and there was no interpreter so I got my usual vehicle. I usually sit inside behind the driver but they wanted me up in the turret on the gun today. So I'm the only one exposed to the outside. I told them I was scared and didn't want to go up there. I already had a bad headache from the first one. They wanted me up there because they didn't want me to be in shell shock and they wanted me to get back in the game.

[ ... ] On our way back to go to Bronze maybe a mile away from the last one another one hit us. This one was bigger. It was a 155 [mm] artillery shell filled with C4 [explosive]. [ ... ] The force of the blast knocked me out and slammed me against the gun, and they said I fell lifelessly down into the hummer. They shook me and turned me all over looking for blood but there was none. Lance Corporal Daniel shook me and I came to, finally, and all I remember him saying is, "FUNKE get back on the gun, damn it! Get back on the gun." I did. I got up and got back on the gun. I was ok. [ ... ] Your boy's alive mom.

Funke was killed in action in Anbar province on Aug. 13, about two weeks before he was scheduled to leave Iraq.


Marine Lance Cpl. Richard Chad Clifton
Sept. 5, 2004, Ramadi

I've been in Iraq since like last week (it's Sunday now) and it's hot as balls, bro. I'm in Ar Ramadi, in the Al Anbar province. Ghetto shit hole from hell. We had a convoy the other day through town and there was only serious hate going on there. No smiling children, no waving dumb asses like on TV ... just a bunch of mean-looking young Iraqi males capable of causing me to have a bad day.

Jan. 1, 2005, Ramadi

Hey, sorry I've been a bit absent. I've been trying to find the energy, both physical and mental, to drag my ass over to the internet center and all that it entails. To say I'm exhausted is beating a dead horse with a stick, I know, but shit ... I'll come home and I'm going to sleep, uninterrupted for three days, except to piss and eat. And maybe not even then.

Been running some ops, quick little insignificant raids and whatnot. Keeping busy. Everyone is all spazzed out over the lack of direct contact [ ... ] It's like that scary music in a horror movie that keeps building up to a climax but then it's just a cat or something stupid that crawls out from the shadow ... anti-climax, sort of, but keeping with our paranoia.

[ ... ] I asked one of my buddies what his [New Year's] resolution was. He said to kill one more dude before we leave. Don't think he was joking.

Missing you,


Jan. 24, 2005, Ramadi (journal entry)

I was on post this morning with Ben and basically we were talking about why the fuck we are here, besides you know, having fun and being bored all the time and people trying to kill us. All this was while aiming weapons at traffic (it's necessary when you have a scoped rifle, and you need to use the scope, don't judge me!).

I realized, we're in Iraq because it doesn't matter about freeing Iraqis. They will piss away their freedoms [ ... ] It's their culture. But at least all these foreign fighters and extremists now have a battlefield, a place to stick it to us Americans. And that's fine with me. I'd rather fight them here than have my family killed in a bombing or [have] snipers gun down an innocent in the street [in America]. So basically, we're here to be like ... fucking bring it. Its better here than home, you know?

Pick your battles.

Jan. 27, Ramadi (instant-message exchange)

IT'S ROB: Did you hear about that guy ... a Marine who went nuts and killed cops back home? He was stationed at Pendleton and he didn't want to go back.

[CLIFTON]: Yeah, King knows him from 2/4.

IT'S ROB: No shit!

[CLIFTON]: They lived with us before the war ... we replaced them here ... cool guys ... we turned into them ... when we got here, everyone was like, damn these guys are depressed. They shoot at everything ... we won't do that. Here we are now. If it moves, it dies. We are so those guys ...

Clifton, 19, was killed on Feb. 3, 2005 in Anbar province. He would have made corporal in March.


Marine Cpl. Bradley T. Arms
Oct. 31, 2004, Camp Fallujah

Over this last ops I was really thinking about why I am out here fighting this war and feel it is becoming more clear now. When driving or walking through the small villages the kids run out and cheer us on [ ... ] but as we get to the marketplaces we only get cold stares from the men over 20. [ ... ] It's extremely hard to change hearts that have hated for so long. But as long as we can keep the younger generations openminded then we will win this war, even though the fruits of my labor will not be realized [until] the children of this country rule [ ... ]

Arms, 20, was shot and killed on Nov. 19 in Fallujah as he went to the aid of fellow Marines during house-to-house fighting.


Army Sgt. Cari Anne Gasiewicz
Nov. 3, 2004, Abu Ghraib

Subject: not a good day

Hi Mom, I just wanted to email you to tell you what happened yesterday [ ... ] Here is the story. At 0900 hours we had a convoy of vehicles passing in front of the prison get hit with a bomb that was planted on the side of the road. Its purpose was to stop the convoy, and then a car loaded with explosives, in our parking lot in front, was suppose to come and hit the convoy. They had people lying in the grass all around the prison and started shooting at the towers. The towers saw what happened and started shooting at the car and the people. They killed the driver of the car bomb and everyone in the convoy was ok.

At 1230 hours we had a firefight that lasted 45 minutes. All the towers were shooting at the same grass points as in the morning. Well a guy I work with from another office (a civilian) thought someone was knocking on his door. He didn't realize that we had rounds coming into the compound from all around. He opened his door and got shot in the stomach. This morning I found out that he died from his wounds. They stopped the bleeding, but it started up again and they couldn't stop it.

It has been absolutely crazy here, we got like 400 new soldiers in and they are sleeping all over the place. It has gotten nasty, muddy and wet here too. It has been raining for the past 3 days. [ ... ] Miss and love you guys,

Gasiewicz, trained to be an Arabic translator, died Dec. 4 in Baqubah, riding in a convoy that was hit by a pair of IEDs. She was 28.


Marine Cpl. Ian Stewart
Nov. 6, 2004, Fallujah (journal entry)

The battalion commander came to talk to us. He told us it will be a tough fight. Some of these buildings are rigged to blow. Suicide bombers will be out and IEDs will be on the street.

I am not so much scared as I am VERY AFRAID of the unknown. [ ... ]If I don't get to write again, I would say I died too early. I haven't done enough in my life. I haven't gotten to experience enough. Though I hope I haven't gone in vain.

Nov. 13 (journal entry)

For seven full days we have been moving through the city doing door-to-door searches and clearing the buildings [ ... ] We find weapons, AK47s and RPGs and knives.

At night we stay in houses belonging to the people. The first night our interpreter cooked for us food left in the house. It is a good thing the Iraqi people have big families so there is plenty of room to sleep. They have these really soft blankets. [ ... ]

We are the only ones in the city so the stores are open to us to get candy, soda, and cigarettes. Sometimes I feel bad for the people, but also am mad at them for not fighting for their own freedom.

Nov. 23 (journal entry)

They say the city is not fully cleared now and so we need to press on. That means leaving a comfortable house. [ ... ] After sixteen days we still have yet to shower, eat hot chow, or more importantly use the internet. Supposedly we will be going back for Thanksgiving dinner. That means for sure we will be back for Christmas dinner! Smile.

Stewart, 21, was ambushed and killed in Fallujah on Dec. 12.


Marine Lance Cpl. Trevor D. Aston
January 2005, Haditha Dam

We're still hitting it hard and working 16-18 hours a day, everyday. [ ... ]The talk about what we're going to do when we get back home is nonstop. A good steak is high on my list.

We've taken a lot of casualties—three from our company. Good Marines, all of them. It's really hard to say goodbye. I won't kid you, it's taken its toll on us. I'm sure I'll have a few sleepless nights when I get home.

Thanks for all the care packages, and the car info. Those brochures are dog eared. I think I'm just going to look for a good used truck. After we get back to Austin, I'm going to head your way for a few days and eat all your food, and use up all your hot water!!

Well, I've got to go now and get back in the fight. I love you, and I'll see you soon.

Semper Fi,


This letter was never mailed. Aston, 32, died in an accident at the dam on Feb. 22.


Marine CPL. Kyle Grimes
Jan. 16, 2005, Firm Base Pickering (Fallujah)

There will be heightened security for elections. I expect to be busy around that time, just because these people feel safe whenever we are around. I wonder why? I usually get so incredibly bored whenever we are working with civilians. But you also can't trust any of them. I am getting tired of not being able to trust average people. But I really have no choice with this place and an enemy like this. One thing is for sure. I know men that I can trust my life with. That is a great feeling.

Grimes was one of 31 U.S. service members who died on Jan. 26 in the crash of a CH-53E helicopter near the far western city of Ar Rutbah.


Army CPL. Stephen McGowan
Jan. 20, 2005, Ramadi

Well, things are definitely picking up here now. Apparently there is a cell of suicide bombers in the area as well as Mr. Al Zarqawi himself. So we are getting hot and heavy for the elections. Our FOB [forward operating base] was mortared today with one casualty. A suicide bomber hit and killed four soldiers yesterday, and a sniper is out taking shots at us now. So I have a lot of work to do.

[ ... ] A new, nasty rumor has been floating around lately. Some of the officers are thinking that we may be extended until December for the [parliamentary] elections here. The last unit was extended for these elections, so who knows. So while you're praying, pray that we come home soon as well. I would rather not do another four months on top of the year. But we will stay as long as we have to.

Feb. 1, Ramadi

Well the elections are over, as I'm sure you have seen on CNN. [ ... ] The only unfortunate part was that only 1,500 people voted. That's about half of one percent of the city's population. So I wouldn't necessarily call it a success, but it was the first real election here. [ ... ] Some people are disappointed at the election turnout, but you have to understand the society we're dealing with. These people have never had even a taste of the freedom we are offering them. They have never had a country of their own that was worth fighting for. It's like offering a book of wisdom to a blind man. It's useless without helping them along. But, I do know this country will be left better than we found it. So I will continue to throw on my flak vest and pick up my weapon each day, head out the gate, and try to get them one step closer to freedom, and myself one step closer to home. Take care, all.

Feb. 5, Ramadi

Just a quickie today. Things have calmed down a little since the elections. And since it's been raining recently, hajji just doesn't want to come out and play. So, I have been catching up on sleep and getting back to my old schedule in the gym.

Feb. 11, Ramadi

I hate always saying the things are the same here, but they are. Sometimes the good guys get hurt, sometimes we get the bad guys. We have done a couple of raids the past few days so that's about normal. The raids we go on are becoming routine for me. I know they must seem exciting to people back home, but the adrenaline isn't quite the same any more for me.

McGowan, 26, and three other soldiers were killed by an IED that hit their vehicle inRamadi on March 4, 2005.


Army CW4 Matthew Scott Lourey
Feb. 9, 2005, Balad

I have 2 days left at Balad air Field, then it is a move north. I am looking forward to the change. I expect the danger level to remain the same. I have already operated in the [new] area a couple of times, it actually borders the sector we patrol, so it isn't much of a change. Enough to make me look forward to it, though. [ ... ] I never have much to say because things seem so stagnant.

Lourey and a fellow soldier died on May 27, a day after their Kiowa Warrior helicopter crashed under small-arms fire in Buhriz.


Army Sgt. Kenneth Levi Ridgley
Feb. 13, 2005, Mosul

Hi honey,

I hope you have a good Valentine's Day. I love you sooo much! I can't wait for all this to be over. Five guys got hurt today. They were dismounted (walking) in the city and a car came at them, shooting out the windows. A single drive by killed an Iraqi soldier, shot a little kid in the face, sent two guys to Germany, then home. Luckily the others just had minor shrapnel injuries. One of my snowboarding buddies was shot in the abdomen. He's doing OK, but will be going home. The other guy was shot in the leg. Sometimes I don't know what to think about all of this. It seems so senseless that all this bloody combat will ever solve anything.

Ridgley was shot and killed in Mosul on March 30, 2005. He was awarded a posthumous Silver Star.


Army col. Theodore Westhusing
April 14, 2005, Baghdad

It is really an eye-opener how the real person comes out over here in battle, the heroics by so many ... At times, things appear suspicious with a few [Iraqis] we are training and working with, and we don't know how they are going to react. Remember, some were Saddam's elite army special forces and guards, who never liked us and now we work/fight side by side. There is a chance the enemy could be right beside you.

May 10, Baghdad

Life is worthless over here to so many. Killing everywhere and always ongoing. So many people don't care and have appeared to have given up. But I won't, I need to be here to help them ...

Westhusing, 44, died in an apparent suicide on June 5, 2005. He was less than a month away from going home.


Army National Guard SPC. John f. Thomas
June 12, 2005, Baghdad

Dear granddaddy and Manolita,

I hope all is well when this letter reaches you. All is well with me. [ ... ] So far we have only lost soldiers to injuries and family problems. There is a soldier who went home for 10 days to see his newborn. That was 18 days ago now. We are assuming he has no plans of returning.

Thomas, 33, was killed by an IED on July 24, 2005, while on patrol in Baghdad. He was promoted posthumously to sergeant.


Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Travis L. Youngblood
June 23, 2005, Anbar Province

I'm going to need a lot of support from you guys when I get home. I have accepted the fact that any day I'm here could be the day I die. That doesn't bother me anymore. I've come so close to dying on at least 10 different occasions, I figure I can keep my luck, or whatever's working, up until I leave. I've had RPGs fly within inches of me. I've seen the guys they've hit. It blew them to pieces. We literally had to move rocks and debris to find hands, legs and other parts so we could send them home. I've had roadside bombs explode next to me, but they've been placed wrong, so I didn't get hurt [ ... ] I've been shot at countless times, I mean machinegun fire pinging and zipping past me. I had the goggles on my helmet shot.

Ever since the AAV (the shitty armor[ed] tank-tread troop carrier we ride in) got blown up and I ran through the fire and exploding rounds/rockets/grenade/explosives that were on fire to pull out bodies of guys that I knew were dead, I can't sleep for shit. Seeing guys with third-degree burns so bad that the skin comes off when you touch them, screaming bloody murder, really has a habit of fucking you up. [ ... ] Just remember, I love you! And I'm doing everything possible to make sure I come home in September or October or whenever they turn us loose from here. [ ... ]

Love, Travis

Youngblood, 26, a Navy medic assigned to a Marine reserve unit, died on July 21, 2005 of injuries sustained in an IED explosion in Hit.


Army PFC. Marc Delgado
Oct. 19, 2005, Baghdad

Hey mom. Sorry it's been so long since I've written. But we've been working 12-hour days and then doing other stuff on top of that, so writing to you is hard. I'm sorry. But I took the time to write you [now] because I'm tired anyway and I don't really care anymore. I'll just be tired ... I do the same thing everyday so any news is new news to me ... Well, I can barely keep my eyes open so I'm gonna go. Love you, mom. I'll see you in about 3 months or so.

Delgado, 21, was killed on Nov. 24, 2005 in Baghdad when an IED detonated near his Humvee, causing it to flip into a canal.


Army Capt. Ian P. Weikel
Dec. 15, 2005, at Taji

Please pray that I stop worrying about the IEDs and such. It's good to have a healthy sense of fear, but with all the focus and bad thoughts I think that it's making me dwell on it too much and that's not a good thing. It doesn't make me effective as a leader. It gets back to trusting God. Please pray that I learn and pray to put this whole deployment in his hands [ ... ]

Weikel, 31, was killed by an IED on April 18, 2006, in Balad.


Marine Pfc. Rex Page
Feb. 24, 2006, Fallujah

Hey guys,

How are things going at home? Warm here, like in the 80s. And they're talking about a civil war here now, with the bombings of the [Samarra] mosque. People are flocking to the city. We had to shut down one of the entry points to the city this morning because too many people were trying to come in.

Page, 21, was standing watch on a rooftop in Fallujah on the night of June 28, 2006 when he was killed by a sniper. He was promoted posthumously to lance corporal.


Army Capt. Jason Hamill
March 5, 2006, Baghdad

Yeah, shit's been pretty crazy. Locals have been out of control because the Golden (Shia) Mosque was blown up. [ ... ] There is going to have to be a civil war. It has to happen. If it happens while we're here, so what. Our stance is we're not going to get involved. We'll pull back and overwatch. [ ... ] The Shia are upset, though, that we're here to bring stability to the area and we are not doing it (not taking their side I mean), so they also sometimes attack us to get the message across. We can deal with it.

Hamill, 31, and two other soldiers died on Nov. 26, 2006 in Baghdad when an EFP (explosively formed projectile) pierced their armored vehicle. He was scheduled to go home the next day.


Army First Lt. Amos C. R. Bock
March 12, 2006, Baghdad

The best we can tell is it was the work of hardcore Sunnis, think Al Qaeda types. So who gets the blame? That's right, us. I have actually heard out on the streets where some of these people think it was an American suicide bomber. Since that is one of our favorite tactics, I can see how the average hajji would come up with this idea. But on the [off] chance that the Americans didn't have anything to do with it, the Shia were going to burn a couple of Sunni mosques and kill a few Sunnis just to be on the safe side. The Sunnis are now worried about random violence aimed at them, so they start shooting up random cars that come into their neighborhoods, including police cars.

Now for the government response. A 20-hour curfew will be put into effect and enforced by the Iraqi Security Forces. These forces include the Iraqi Police (IP) and Public Order Battalions (POB) in our area. These wonderful forces are under the Ministry of Interior, which is a hotbed of militant Shia groups out of Iran. Now, the IP and POB are the ones that have been given an order by their government to protect the Sunni neighborhoods against reprisal attacks, and orders by their religious leaders to kill Sunnis. This is a no-brainer: they go about killing Sunnis and shooting up local mosques. The few who aren't actively involved in the violence refuse to do their jobs and stop the violence. The curfew may have worked in some parts of the country—think Green Zone—but it was a complete bust for the first three days here.

That same day Bock wrote a separate e-mail to his uncle:


I just shot out the normal long email, but will fill in the gaps. First, for the day of the bombing. One of our [platoons] found the Mahdi [Army] killing locals just outside the FOB. A small firefight ensued and the Mahdi got the worst of it. They killed between 5-7 [militiamen], wounded probably [twice] that many and captured four. I ended up getting the mission to transport the prisoners later on that night along with my normal patrol. Two of them were IP. I wonder if they will get fired or promoted because of the incident. Since then the number of bombings in our area has taken off. We are seeing them every other day at least, and the route into work is not improving. They blew the shit out of an M1 yesterday right outside of the FOB. [ ... ] We are waking up to explosions every morning at this point.

Bock, 24, was killed by an IED in Baghdad on Oct. 23, 2006.


Army Capt. Blake Russell
Mar. 13, 2006, Baghdad area (IM exchange)

BELLINDA (9:18:14 AM) How do you feel about those Mahdi guys?

BELLINDA (9:18:26 AM) Good thing? Bad thing?

BLAKE (9:18:38 AM) I hate them

BLAKE (9:18:43 AM) They are a cancer

BELLINDA (9:19:07 AM) Are they just like a big gang or something?

BELLINDA (9:19:30 AM) Going only after the Sunni?

BLAKE (9:19:32 AM) Yes

BELLINDA (9:20:22 AM) The only story I had heard about them said that they had attacked a group of Sunnis that had been known to sympathize with U.S. attackers

BLAKE (9:20:16 AM) They 'protect' Shia

BELLINDA (9:20:34 AM) So they are like thugs then?

BLAKE (9:20:52 AM) They suck

BELLINDA (9:23:47 AM) Are most of the IA [Iraqi Army] Shia?

BLAKE (9:24:23 AM) Yes

BELLINDA (9:25:02 AM) I always wonder how they feel about their own population and the things going on there

BLAKE (9:26:36 AM) Like everyone, if they are educated they understand the complexities of civil society but the uneducated are easily manipulated

BLAKE (9:26:53 AM) It's always easier to hate what you don't understand

BELLINDA (9:27:16 AM) That is why people like Saddam try to keep their people uneducated....

BLAKE (9:27:30 AM) Yes

BELLINDA (9:27:55 AM) See, you are knee deep in psychology and sociology there

BELLINDA (9:28:08 AM) You thought you had it bad at home!!!

BLAKE (9:28:20 AM) Yes I am

BLAKE (9:28:25 AM) You are rubbing off on me

Russell, 35, died July 22, 2006 from an explosion while investigating a munitions cache outside Baghdad. He was on his second tour.


Army Maj. David G. Taylor Jr.
Aug. 9, 2006, Baghdad (journal for his newborn son)

It occurred to me again that I don't know how old you'll be when you read this. It wouldn't do to write things an 18-year-old might understand if you read this when you're five. I think I'll assume you're young when you read this. Anything you don't understand, we can talk about when you're older.

That was on my mind the other night when I was sitting in my HMMWV [Humvee] on a street in Baghdad, waiting for one of our companies to raid a suspected militia warehouse. It's a bad part of town. It was 0300, I was tired, and I started thinking of some of the more complicated aspects of this fight here.

[ ... ] We were raiding a place reputed to be where one of the Shia militias stores rockets, IEDs, and small-arms weapons. We were the Shia's saviors when we arrived in 2003. Back then, only disgruntled Sunnis who were loyal to Saddam attacked us. Now it's kind of the other way around.

Shia militias kill Sunnis. Sunni militias kill Shia. Foreign terrorists kill them both to incite more Shia/Sunni violence, hoping for a civil war. All of them target U.S. forces, but the Shia and Sunni aren't bold enough yet to admit they do it. [ ... ] It's annoyingly complicated [...]

So what does all this have to do with you? Well, in my sleep-deprived frame of mind the other night, not knowing if we were about to get into a fight, I thought it was going to be very important for your mom and me to help you through the moral and ethical ambiguities in the world. Everything seems to be more complicated as time goes by. It's probably hard for some people to not just throw up their hands and go with whatever "everyone" else thinks on a complicated moral question. It's our job to arm you to know the right thing to [do], in all situations [ ... ]

But how do you live those things in a place like this? Being gentle gets you killed here. [ ... ]

Sept. 19, 2006, Baghdad (journal entry)

Found out a few days ago we'll be pulling out of Baghdad about a month from now. It's pretty good news and also bad news at the same time. We'll all be glad to get out of here. I can't wait to get home to you and your mom. [ ... ] But we all hate to leave an unfinished job. This place isn't ready to stand on its own yet.

Oct. 17, Baghdad (journal entry)

Just talked to your mom. I could hear you crying a bit in the background. You were hungry.

It made me think of the week you were born. I'd hold you on my chest. You would do this thing when you were hungry—the women called it "rooting." Like a pig roots around for truffles. You would push your head back from my chest and then start bouncing it against me, over and over. Your mouth would start going like you were trying to nurse. Your head would move left and right, back and forth. It was entirely instinct, but you were so determined and so alive. It also was one of the funniest things I'd ever seen. I never failed to laugh when you'd start. I don't think I could ever imagine it and not smile. I'm smiling now, even.

And today was a brutal day across Baghdad. I responded 5 minutes after a suicide bomber drove a bomb into a National Police checkpoint. Blew it to smithereens. Severely wounded about a dozen, and half of them surely died later. They were a mess. Killed one outright. As we were securing the area and treating those still alive, we took small arms fire. ... Anyway, after all that, I imagine you rooting around and I can smile again.

Taylor, 37, was killed by an IED in Baghdad on Oct. 22, 2006.


Army Maj. Michael Mundell
Sept. 1, 2006, Fallujah

The question has been asked, by many of you, what [this place] is like. Try to imagine this: If you go out in your front yard, take a weapon with you and stare REAL careful at all the neighbors' houses. One of them may be on the roof, trying to snipe you. Also, don't stay out too long—someone down the road just might lob a few mortars at you, or drive by and fire some machine guns, or perhaps shoot an RPG rocket. So, if you are outside, be armed and know where the closest cover is—all the time. If you get in your car to go to the grocery, you can never ever go by yourself—you gotta have at least two cars and at least three people in each one. And make sure that at least one of your passengers is a medic. [ ... ]

The very second you leave the driveway, everything that is not immediately recognizable is dangerous. Is that a trash bag? An empty box? Or is it a command-detonated bomb. [ ... ] Never let any other car get close to you—EVER. Check them out closely. Is it another grocery-bound traveler? Or a car bomb. Maybe they have a machine gun sticking out the back. If they get too close, wave a flag at them, shoot a flare at them, honk the horn and blink your lights. If they don't move, or keep driving at you, you kill them. Period. Because if none of that works, they are certainly going to try to kill you. That is what it's like here.

Sept. 14, Fallujah

Audrey once asked me what the attitude of the troops is over here, about the war, about the President and so on. I have to say, it's pretty darn cynical. You can't see what we see every day (like today, dead kids [killed by an IED]) and not get a little cynical about it all. High-minded political phrases sound pretty hollow out here. Our standard joke is "we are doing (whatever it is) as our part in the global war on anti-terrorism." This isn't to say that any of us doubt that we are doing the right thing—we don't. It's just that things look a lot different down here at the point of "W"'s spear. The ones at home rattling the loudest saber aren't here helping load dead kids into an ambulance. WE are. And that just sucks, I gotta tell you.

Oct. 5, Fallujah

It wouldn't be so bad if we were taking an eye for an eye, but we're not. They won't stand and fight us, for obvious reasons—we outgun them, for one. This one injury here and two casualties there crap is really wearing me out. Worse, the jundees [grunts] are starting to get restless with the populace. Few, if any, of our [Iraqi Army trainees] are from this area. Most of them are from down south, from Nasiriyah and Basra. They are Shiite, and the people here are Sunni, so there is enough tension as it is. This faceless bombing stuff is just making it worse and worse.

Oct. 20, Fallujah

This is the sort of thing that goes on here. A couple weeks ago, Major Mouhammed, commander of headquarters company, got kidnapped in Baghdad while he was on leave. They let him go the next day. Two days ago, the [Iraqi] battalion doctor was murdered there and Maj. Lathe, 1st Company commander, was badly wounded when he went to identify the body. My guy, Captain Achmed, is late coming back from leave because he was threatened and had to move his family. Nice place, isn't it?

Nov. 8, 2006, Fallujah

One more thing. I hope that no one is making any decisions about the war based on what I am saying. I don't know what's going on in Baghdad or Ramadi or Mosul or anywhere else. You all have more access to news than I do. I can only tell you what I see, hear, think or experience. I don't have the vaguest idea as to who is winning this war, and I don't care. My job is to bring home my boys and I will do whatever I have to in order to accomplish that. Lance Corporal Danny Catron, all of 19, his wife (18) and their new baby are counting on me not to screw it up here. I could care less what is going on in Baghdad. Or anywhere else.

Mundell, 47, was killed by an IED in Fallujah on Jan. 5, 2007. Corporal Catron was still serving in Iraq at the time of Mundell's death.


Army Sgt. Kraig Foyteck
Sept. 10, 2006, Baghdad

... Today we had a big meeting and they pretty much said the only reason we are here is to show the terrorist what we can do. [That way] the terror-ist doesn't want to fight us. Blah blah... Then he said he doesn't know when we will go home but we will not get extended a second time. Apparently everything is a secret, so they aren't telling us much.

Oct. 21, Baghdad

[in] Mosul we were being at-tacked every day. Out here we are not the targets. It's one religion against an-other, we are just caught in the middle. However, if we are in the way, they will attempt to get rid of us as well. The problem here is they [the officers in charge] are limiting what we are "allowed" to do. ... If we get shot at, they want us to run. I mean, what kind of job does that mean we are doing? We take away bombs from people but we are not allowed to arrest them. Doesn't make much sense.

Foyteck, 26, was shot and killed on Oct. 30, 2006 while searching a house for weapons in one of Baghdad's more prosperous neighborhoods.


Army Staff Sgt. Ronald Lee Paulsen
Oct. 2, 206, Tarmiya

Remember when I told ya that as the forces swept through Baghdad the bad guys would move to the surrounding areas? Well, guess what. They're here. For the last two weeks, the camp has been mortared daily. We lost one of our CA [civil affairs] teams to a roadside bomb. I'm really getting pissed off. [ ... ] You have to hand it to the U.S. Army, though. We're training the best terrorists in the world. We drive around passing out money and building things, and the enemy practices their bomb-planting skills. Sometimes they hit, sometimes they miss. They're getting really good, though.

Paulsen died of injuries from an IED in Tarmiya, a small town about 40 miles up the Tigris from Baghdad, on Oct. 17, 2006. He was 53.


Army Sgt. William Sigua
Nov. 14, 23006, FOB Summerall, outside Bayji


[ ... ] Sure, by the time we leave from this deployment we might turn this city around, but you cannot erase the deep-[seated] hatred between the [groups here]. They have been mercilessly slaughtering each other for long before this war has been going on. No amount of American influence will be able to remedy that.

But I still don't think we should pull out anytime soon. Sure, Americans are going to die, and the soldiers will complain. But if you were ignorant enough to enlist into the Army hoping to stay in the comfort of the U.S. your whole military career you would be wrong. [ ... ] I am honored to have the opportunity to give back to the country that has given me so much, and anyone who thinks differently should be ashamed of themselves. If I do not come back from this deployment, you can tell people that you are proud of me, and I of myself.

Sigua was killed by small-arms fire in Bayji, midway between Ramadi and Mosul, on Jan. 31, 2007. He was 21 years old.


Lance Cpl. Anthony Butterfield's final letter.


Lance Cpl.Travis J. Layfield's final letter.

Brought to you by Ed and Jerry, Partners in Peace
Comments or Points of View about Peace
We are a non-commercial, non-partisan, educational organization.