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Tuesday, October 28, 2003  
“Each soldier a rifleman”: radical shift in U.S. Army “Every soldier is a rifleman.” That’s a credo of the U.S. Marines. It’s now also becoming the motto of the U.S. Army—a radical shift in how the Army trains all its enlisted troops.

10/28/2003

Monday, October 20, 2003  
Recap: RCT-5’s accomplishments during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM are a testimony to the mettle and competence of the Marines and Sailors of the RCT. Ellyn Dunford - wife of Col. Dunford


4th Battalion, Light Armored Reconnaissance, Alpha Company’s Colors & Platoons
Red platoon, 1st platoon.
White platoon, 2nd platoon.
Blue platoon, 3rd platoon
Green platoon , Weapons platoon - My LIL Bro’s platoon
Black platoon, H&S platoon

Light Armored Vehicle:
Primary function: Wheeled light armored combat vehicle
Range: 410 miles (660.1 kilometers)
Speed: 62 mph (99.2 km/hr); Swim speed: 6 mph (9.6 km/hr)
Crew: Driver- LiL Brother, gunner, commander and six troops
Armament: 25 mm chain gun, M240 7.62 mm machine gun mounted coaxial to the main gun
Other features: The LAV is a family of vehicles operated by the U.S. Marine Corps; other models offer air defense, anti-tank, assault gun, combat support, and combat service support capabilities
Marine Corps Structure: (generally speaking – Alpha Company is structured a bit differently)
l Fire Team: Four Marines; led by a corporal
l Squad: Three teams; sergeant
l Platoon: Three squads, 36 to 50 Marines; lieutenant
l Company: Three platoons, 150 to 200; captain
l Battalion: Three companies, 900 to 1,000; lieutenant colonel
l Regiment: Three battalions; 3,000 to 4,000; colonel
l Division: Three regiments, 9,000 to 20,000; general
l Expeditionary Unit: A reinforced battalion, an aircraft squadron and a support group, 2,200; colonel
l Expeditionary Force: A division, an air wing and a support group, 45,000; general
Note: Sizes of units vary greatly depending upon roles and missions.
The following gives you a better idea of the numbers in our units and explains the terms often used in the media:
1st Marine Expeditionary Force (1st MEF or I MEF) (30,000 marines)
1st Marine Division (1st Mar Div) (12,000 marines)
1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion (1st LAR) (1,000 marines)
4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion (4th LAR is a Reserve unit which supports active units)
(4th LAR has 5 companies of app. 150 marines in each – all Companies are currently deployed in Iraq)
Alpha Company of 4th LAR is currently not with the rest of the 4th LAR Battalion and is attached to 1st LAR.


Ellyn Dunford - wife of Col. Dunford - the Regimental Commander....

Ladies and Gentlemen...Everyone has been wondering what went on for our guys in Fifth Marines so I asked Joe to give me a synopsis... It's a little dry but I think it explains how busy your husbands have been... excuse the lack of mail. This will be printed up in a booklet form for all the RCT5 members to have as a record of their activities. I thought you would find it helpful. Ellyn

>From 20 March 2003 through 20 April 2003, RCT-5 moved over 1,000 kilometers and destroyed the enemy in a number of pitched battles on its way to Baghdad and beyond. The RCT combat losses included 12 killed in action and 126 wounded. The Marines of the RCT spent 18 days in MOPP 1 or 2. Throughout, the RCT was challenged by extended lines of communication, austere weather, and extremely limited resources. The RCT accomplished all assigned missions with minimal loss of friendly life or equipment due to the speed of action maintained by individual Marines and leaders. Once the RCT attacked across the Iraqi border, it continued to press the enemy and keep him off balance. In the end, the pressure exerted by RCT-5 on the enemy robbed him of the initiative and shattered his will to fight. With RCT-5 in the lead, the 1st Marine Division reached Baghdad in less than three weeks, the fastest advance on a capital city in military history. RCT-5’s accomplishments during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM are a testimony to the mettle and competence of the Marines and Sailors of the RCT. Their indomitable will, innovativeness, flexibility, aggressiveness, and initiative allowed the RCT to attack along an unexpected avenue of approach and rapidly cover great distances while consistently integrating combined arms and maneuver at the decisive time and place. OUTSTANDING, JOB WELL DONE SOLDIERS.


April 29, 2003

Regimental Combat Team (RCT) 5 deployed to Kuwait during January and early February 2003 in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. Upon arrival in theater, the RCT was organized for combat and integrated with the equipment from Maritime Repositioned squadron 2. From mid-February through late March, the RCT conducted planning and rehearsals in preparation for Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. The major subordinate units in the task organization for Regimental Combat Team 5, included: Headquarters Company, Fighting Fifth Marines, 1st Marine Division; 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalions, Fighting Fifth Marines, 1st Marine Division; 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance (LAR) Battalion, 1st Marine Division; 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division; and Company B, 1st Combat Engineer Battalion (CEB), 1st Marine Division. 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines, 1st Marine Division, and Combat Service Support Company (CSSC) 115, 1st Force Service Support Group provided direct support to the RCT. 7th Battalion, Royal Horse Artillery, 1st United Kingdom (UK) Army Division reinforced 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines and a British NBC Decontamination Platoon also supported the RCT. Additionally, the RCT was reinforced by: detachments from Headquarters and Service Company, 2nd Amphibious Assault
Battalion; VMU-1, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing; Aviation Support Liaison Team 5, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing; detachment, 1st Intelligence Battalion, I Marine Expeditionary Force; US Army psychological Operations Teams; and detachments from Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division. RCT-5 crossed the line of departure with 7,503 Marines, Sailors, soldiers, and British soldiers supported by over 2,000 vehicles including tanks, light armored vehicles, and other pieces of rolling stock. Following the successful seizure of the strategically important Rumayla Oilfields during the Opening Gambit”, all British units detached. The RCT’s personnel strength remained between 1,000 and 7,000 for most of the war. For several days during the advance to Baghdad, the RCT joined an additional 900 Marines and Sailors of 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division.

March 18, 2003, after weeks in Kuwait, the 1st Marine Division was ordered to move to its attack positions and make final preparations for combat.

March 19, 2003, RCT-5 key leaders met at the RCT command post to confirm the scheme of maneuver and fire support plan for the seizure of the Rumayla Oilfields. The RCT also conducted final checks on weapons and equipment. The Iraqis launched several SCUD missile attacks into Kuwait while the RCT was in its attack positions, causing the frequent establishment of Mission Oriented Protective Posture MOPP) 4.

March 20, 2003 the RCT received a warning order from the Commanding General, 1st Marine Division indicating that the attack into Iraq would occur within 24-48 hours. A quiet confidence characterized the climate within the RCT. Throughout the day, 1st LAR Battalion conducted counter reconnaissance along the Iraqi border across the RCT’s frontage and provided ever watch for engineer reconnaissance by Company B, 1st CEB. RCT key leaders were called together once again in the afternoon for final coordination. Shortly after leaders were briefed on the timeline detailed in the warning order, the Division Commander called the RCT Commander and asked how soon the RCT could be prepared to attack. After a quick assessment and confirmation with his subordinate commanders, the RCT Commander responded that RCT-5 could be prepared in four hours. Almost immediately, the RCT was on the move and subsequently attacked across the Iraqi border on an accelerated three hours notice. The RCT’s initial attack was thus conducted at H-9 hours. RCT-5 was the first ground combat unit to attack into Iraq. Because of the extensive rehearsals, detailed briefings, and thorough preparations for combat by commanders and key leaders throughout the RCT, RCT-5 was able to quickly respond to the emerging Iraqi threat to the oilfields in Southern Iraq. The speed with which the RCT responded in the initial hours of the war would characterize its performance throughout the war.

The summary of RCT-5 Actions:
1 20 March: RCT-5 attacked into Southern Iraq as the 1st Marine Division’s main effort and was the first ground combat element to cross the Kuwait-Iraq Border. The attack was a pre-ground day operation and conducted at H-9 hours. RCT-5’s mission was to seize the strategically significant Southern and Northern Rumayla Oilfields. Additionally, the RCT was to block the 6th Armor Division and 51st Iraqi Mechanized Infantry Division in order to prevent interference with RCT-7’s attack at H-hour on G-Day. The RCT attacked utilizing two reach sites each consisting of three lanes. Just prior to the attack, an enemy minefield was detected in the middle lane of the western breach site. The lane remained fouled during the attack. With over watch provided by 1st LAR Battalion across the RCT’s zone of action, and subsequent to a 30-minute schedule of preparation fires provided by the 11th Marines, RCT-5 attacked into Iraq at 1730 Zulu on 20 March 2003. 2nd Tank Battalion led the attack through the western breach site. The RCT’s main effort, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, organized as a mechanized task force, followed in trace of 2nd Tank Battalion. 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, followed by 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, attacked through the eastern breach site. 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines, CSSC-115, and the RCT-5 command elements also crossed into Iraq through the eastern breach site. As part of the Division scheme of maneuver, RCT-5 controlled the movement of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion and RCT-1 through the western breach site to their assigned zones of action. Notwithstanding the accelerated timeline for the attack and the extraordinarily poor visibility in the area of operations, the RCT accomplished its initial mission with minimal loss of life or equipment. Battle damage assessment, and interviews with enemy prisoners of war captured during the attack, confirmed pre H-hour estimates of brigade sized enemy forces in both the Northern and Southern Oilfields. The enemy forces were largely dismounted but supported by T-55 tanks, mechanized vehicles, surface to air missiles, air defense artillery, mortars, long rang artillery, and multiple launched rockets. The most intense fighting took place in the Southern Rumayla Oilfield at Pumping Station 2 where the RCT suffered its first casualties.

2 21 March: The RCT command post displaced by echelon to the vicinity of Highway 8 between the Southern and Northern Rumayla Oilfields. Through the early morning hours, the RCT consolidated on assigned objectives and processed hundreds of enemy prisoners of war. The desired end state was achieved: 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines seized the Northern Oilfield intact and established a blocking position at the Saddam River; 2nd Tank Battalion seized a blocking position oriented east on highway 8; 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines seized gas oil separation plants 1 and 2 in the Southern Rural Oilfield; and 1st Battalion, 5th Marines seized gas oil separation plants 3 and 4 and pumping station 2 in the Southern Rumayla Oilfield. After supporting the attack, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines occupied position areas in the Northern Oilfield. CSSC-115 established a rapid re-supply point in the vicinity of the RCT command post.

3 22-23 March:
, the RCT completed a relief in place in the Rumayla Oilfields with the 16th Air Assault Brigade, 1st UK Army Division. Following the relief in place, the RCT conducted a road march on Highway 8 and crossed the Euphrates River at the intersection with Highway 1. After the river crossing, RCT-5 conducted a forward passage of lines with 3rd LAR Battalion; 3rd LAR Battalion had earlier engaged and destroyed an irregular battalion sized enemy force. RCT-5 attached 3rd LAR and continued the attack along Highway 1 as the Division’s main effort in order to clear enemy in zone and facilitate the Division’s attack toward Baghdad.

4 24-26 March: The RCT continued the attack as the Division’s main effort. Each of the battalions engaged and destroyed irregular enemy forces during this period in actions characterized by initiative and aggressiveness. While the enemy along Highway 1 fought with determination, their hasty defensive positions and ambush tactics were ineffective in slowing the RCT. 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines and other battalions of the 11th Marines provided continuous fire support throughout a period of very poor weather. The Cannon Cockers also provided counter battery fire that quickly silenced numerous enemy indirect fire attacks on the RCT. The RCT uncovered multiple caches of weapons, ammunition, and equipment along the axis of advance. In the most significant action of this period, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines led the RCT north on Highway 1 to an objective just east of Ad Diwaniyah. En route, the battalion engaged in heavy fighting with a company sized irregular enemy force. The battalion overcame the fog and friction of war during a horrific sandstorm, which was followed by rain, and golf ball sized hailstones. Many enemies were killed and over 20 were taken prisoner of war. After consolidating on the objective, the battalion repelled an enemy’s counterattack supported by armor and mechanized forces.

5 27 March: The RCT continued the attack as the Division’s main effort to seize Hantush Airfield. The RCT confronted irregular enemy forces along the axis of advance; 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines engaged and destroyed an enemy company sized unit with armor and mechanized vehicles on the objective. After a successful seizure of the airfield, RCT-5 was ordered to consolidate back south of the Ad Diwaniyah crossroads. The withdrawal from Hantush was
related to a decision by the Combined Forces Land Component Commander(CFLCC) to
conduct an operational pause.

6 28-30 March: The 1st Marine Division conducted an operational pause to consolidate combat service support. Throughout this period, RCT-5 conducted limited objective attacks and local security patrols along the Highway 1 corridor consolidating its gains and clearing enemy in zone. 1st LAR Battalion conducted patrols north of the RCT defensive positions along Highway 1. Numerous enemy weapons caches were uncovered. 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines uncovered a significant enemy ammunition supply point just east of Ad Diwaniyah. Enemy contact was frequent and the RCT continued to experience regular indirect fire attacks from enemy mortars and artillery.

7 31 March: As 1st Marine Division’s Main effort, RCT-5 again attacked the Hantush Airfield in order to open a C-130 airfield as a Forward Arming and Refueling Point(FARP)/Rapid Re-supply Point(RRP). 3rd LAR Battalion was assigned as the main effort and led the RCT attack north. Along the axis of advance, the enemy engaged units throughout the column with direct fire. An enemy company with armor and mechanized vehicles defended the northwest corner of the objective. The scheme of maneuver was developed to deceive the enemy into believing that the Division would continue the attack to Baghdad along Highway 1 vice along Route 27 to Highway 6. Shortly after the objective was secured, the Commanding General, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing arrived on scene for a personal inspection of the airfield. His assessment was that the airfield would support C-130 operations and within 24 hours Hantush received the first re-supply aircraft. by that time, RCT-5 was again attacking toward Baghdad.

8 1 April: The RCT as 1st Marine Division’s main effort attacked up Route 27 to seize a bridge over the Saddam Canal in order to facilitate the movement of follow on forces. 1st Battalion, 5th Marines led the attack as the RCT’s main effort. An enemy company sized element put up strong resistance from defensive positions both north and south of the canal. 1st Battalion, 5th Marines quickly destroyed the enemy and facilitated operations for Task Force Bridge to establish an additional bridge crossing site across the canal. 1st Battalion then facilitated forward passage of lines by other RCT forces in order to prepare for the attack across the Tigris River. 5th Battalion, 11th Marines reinforced 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines during the attack along Route 27.

9 2 April: RCT-5 continued the attack as the Division main effort along Route 27 to seize a bridgehead at the Tigris River utilizing an established bridge at An Numaniyah. 2nd Tank Battalion with 1st LAR Battalion and 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines following in support attacked across the Tigris as the RCT main effort and faced significant enemy resistance from an enemy
battalion (rein). Numerous tanks and vehicles in the RCT were hit with RPGs, machine gun and small arms fire from enemy positions astride Route 27 and from within An Numaniyah in the vicinity of the bridge. At that time, one M1A1 was designated a mobility kill. 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines with 1st Battalion, 5th Marines following in support conducted a supporting attack to the northwest and assisted Task Force Bridge in their efforts to establish a second bridge crossing site across the Tigris. Numerous enemy defensive positions, abandoned vehicles, and additional caches were found on the nearside of the Tigris River.

10 3 April: RCT-5 continued the attack as the Division’s main effort along Highway 6. An enemy reinforced armor and mechanized battalion was confronted in the vicinity of Aziziyah. 2nd Tank Battalion cleared enemy along Highway 6 while 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines dismounted and cleared enemy forces in Aziziyah. Enemy resistance was significant and fierce fighting continued for several hours in the town. The enemy order of battle included T-55s, T-62s, mechanized vehicles, air defense artillery, long-range artillery, and mortars from the Republican Guard. This was the most significant battle against enemy conventional forces during the war. The enemy fought from defensive positions along the highway and defended with two dismounted companies from within the confines of the city.

11 4 April: RCT-5 continued the attack along Highway 6 as the main effort to clear the southeastern approach to Baghdad. As the RCT main effort, 2nd Tank Battalion confronted fierce enemy resistance in the vicinity of the 61 easting from an irregular enemy force of several hundred fighters from Syria, Jordan, Egypt and other Middle Eastern and African countries. 2nd Tanks faced a barrage of RPG, machinegun, and small arms fire on their flanks from buildings, trench lines, and areas of vegetation that lined the highway. Numerous RCT vehicles were struck and two tanks were assessed as mobility kills; the battalion also suffered a number of KIAs and WIAs. 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines followed in support of 2nd Tanks and conducted a dismounted attack on both sides of the highway from the 61 to the 65 easting. 3rd Battalion’s attack involved over eight hours of close combat. As 3rd Battalion cleared along the highway, 2nd Tanks continued the attack and engaged enemy forces en route to the seizure of a Division objective at a cross roads east of the Diyala River and west of an Al Nida Republican Guard barracks and command post. As 2nd Tanks and the RCT Command Post consolidated at the crossroads, the enemy attacked with RPGs and indirect fire including rockets and 120mm mortars. Also during the consolidation phase, an Iraqi Republican Guard General Officer attempted to run a blocking position established on the eastern side of the objective by 2nd Tanks; the general was killed and his vehicle destroyed by .50 caliber machinegun fire. The support provided by rotary wing close air support and 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines during the attack from the 61 to the 65 easting was critical to 3rd Battalion’s destruction of hundreds of enemy fighters. 3rd Battalion’s actions uncovered a well-stocked terrorist training center during its attack.

12 5-7 April: RCT-5 conducted aggressive reconnaissance to identify crossing sites along the Diyala River. No suitable sites were identified despite the superb efforts of 1st LAR Battalion. Units throughout the RCT experienced mortar attacks and casualties were incurred. While moving to the RCT’s defensive position, the forward CP of 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines and Echo Battery, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines were attacked by BMP-2s. 1st Battalion, 5th Marines responded to support and destroyed the BMPs with AT-4s. 1st LAR Battalion conducted a zone recon south of Highway 6 where they experienced significant contact and uncovered a large number of enemy caches.

13 8-9 April: RCT-5 conducted a forward passage of lines with RCT 1 and crossed the Diyala River en route to an attack on the northeast suburbs of Baghdad. After significant enemy contact in a congested urban environment, the RCT consolidated all forces in the vicinity of Highway 5 north of Baghdad. The RCT received artillery and mortar attacks during consolidation. In the early evening, RCT-5 received an order to move west in order to block enemy forces from using highway 2 as an avenue of ingress/egress to Baghdad and to conduct a link-up with the US Army’s, 3rd Infantry Division. Together, these actions completed the cordon of the city. 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, with the jump command post in trace, conducted the attack and moved over 30 kilometers to Highway 2 with less than two hours notice. By first light on 9 April, RCT-5
was in a position to isolate Baghdad from the north.

14 10 April: RCT-5 attacked into Baghdad as the Division’s main effort. 1st Battalion, 5th Marines was tasked with the seizure of the Almilyah Palace, the search of two possible American POW holding sites, and the search of the Iman Abu Hanifah Mosque where a Saddam Hussein sighting had reportedly taken place hours before the attack. Significant enemy contact in several locations along the axis of advance and in the objective area, characterized by a relentless barrage of RPGs, a torrent of heavy machinegun and small arms fire, resulted in the commitment of the RCT quick reaction force in support of the 1st Battalion. In securing their assigned objectives, 1st Battalion experienced heavy casualties and killed an estimated 100 Saddam Fedayeen fighters. Fixed wing aviation played a significant role in securing the Iman Abu Hanifah Mosque. Two USAF A-10 Warthogs made multiple low altitude strafing runs with their 30MM cannon and dropped two bombs that helped silence the resistance. Following 1st Battalion’s attack, thousands of Iraqis spontaneously took to the streets of Baghdad to cheer and thank the Marines and Sailors of the RCT for liberating them from Hussein’s oppressive regime.

15 11April: RCT-5 conducted security operations in sector in Northwest Baghdad. Numerous weapons and equipment caches were uncovered. The people of Baghdad continued to provide the RCT with a warm welcome.

16 12 April: 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines conducted an attack on Ba’Qubah. Numerous weapons and equipment caches were uncovered and an enemy irregular company sized unit was destroyed west of the city by Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines. Operation Iraqi Freedom officially entered Phase IV.

17 13-17 April: RCT-5 (-) followed in support of Task Force Tripoli in a movement to contact north to Samarra and Tikrit. 2nd and 3rd Battalions, 5th Marines with 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines (-) and CSSC 115 (-) conducted the movement to contact to Samarra. The remainder of the RCT remained in Baghdad as the Division QRF force and completed a relief in place with RCTs 1 and 7. Following the movement to contact, RCT-5 conducted security operations in assigned sectors in both Baghdad and Samarra. During a patrol to Samarra Airfield, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines located five derelict SU-22s and a L-29 along the road; additionally a tremendous amount of aviation ordnance was uncovered at the airfield.

18 17 April: The RCT-5 was ordered to conduct a relief in place with 2nd Brigade Combat Team (BCT), 82nd Airborne Division in the Al Qadisiyah Province. The RCT Alpha command group along with the Alpha command groups from 2nd and 3rd Battalions move to Ad Diwaniyah to effect liaison with the Army Brigade.

19 18 April: The rest of RCT-5 (-) conducted a tactical road march from Baghdad in order to effect the relief in place. The RCT-5 command post co-located with 2nd BCT, 82nd Airborne Division.

20 19 April: 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines moved south to As Samawah and began to conduct a relief in place with a battalion from the 82nd Airborne as 3rd battalion, 5th Marines begins the relief in place at Ad Diwaniyah.

21 20 April: RCT-5 completed the relief in place and assumed responsibility for security in the Al Qadisiyah Province.

>From 20 March 2003 through 20 April 2003, RCT-5 moved over 1,000 kilometers and destroyed the enemy in a number of pitched battles on its way to Baghdad and beyond. The RCT combat losses included 12 killed in action and 126 wounded. The Marines of the RCT spent 18 days in MOPP 1 or 2. Throughout, the RCT was challenged by extended lines of communication, austere weather, and extremely limited resources. The RCT accomplished all assigned missions with minimal loss of friendly life or equipment due to the speed of action maintained by individual Marines and leaders. Once the RCT attacked across the Iraqi border, it continued to press the enemy and keep him off balance. In the end, the pressure exerted by RCT-5 on the enemy robbed him of the initiative and shattered his will to fight. With RCT-5 in the lead, the 1st Marine
Division reached Baghdad in less than three weeks, the fastest advance on a capital city in military history. RCT-5’s accomplishments during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM are a testimony to the mettle and competence of the Marines and Sailors of the RCT. Their indomitable will, innovativeness, flexibility, aggressiveness, and initiative allowed the RCT to attack along an unexpected avenue of approach and rapidly cover great distances while consistently integrating combined arms and maneuver at the decisive time and place.

10/20/2003

Friday, October 17, 2003  
Through the Iraqi Childrens' Eyes
Supplied with pens, crayons, pencils and paper from New York City, we watched amazed as these very young survivors brought their experience of "Operation Iraqi Freedom" to life. When asked to provide written accounts of their beliefs, they refused - fearing the implications should Saddam Hussein return to power. The depth of these Iraqi children's reaction to America's war is measured by these powerful and compelling images.

One ten-year-old boy's pencil drawing of a U.S. Marine tank is done with the accuracy and precision of an automotive designer.

10/17/2003

Wednesday, October 08, 2003  
4TH LAR Alpha Company’s Rear party is home, Outstanding!
Welcome home all, outstanding job.

10/08/2003

Tuesday, September 16, 2003  
Keep the prayers coming
Please don’t forget, there is still a rear party in Kuwait that will return several weeks from now too.

4th Company “C” ‘s Iraqi War pictures and article.

Biolans Serving America - alumni association

9/16/2003

Sunday, September 14, 2003  
Welcome Home LiL Bro
[KV's E-Mail]
Hi Everyone,
At approximately 9:00 pm (that's 21:00 military time), Major Miner called to tell me Alpha Company's plane landed in Germany!! They expect that to be their only stop! In a few hours (hopefully) they will taxi down that runway and it'll be a straight shot (God willin' and the creek don' rise - as my mom always said) to March AFB! They do not expect to have any other layovers. The flight was delayed a little at take off time, but they expect to make up the time. It is looking right now (again, that may change) that they will arrive pretty close to the tentative schedule I've previously sent out:

10:10AM-12:00PM Flight arrives at March AFB, Inspect & load gear, load buses
12:00PM-1:30PM Drive from March AFB to Camp Pendleton, Ca
1:30PM-3:30PM Arrive at Camp Las Flores, turn in weapons, account for all gear
3:30PM-4:30PM Release Marines/Sailors to families for 96 hour liberty.

The operative word there is tentative (that means possibly or maybe or approximately). It is up to you when you would like to arrive on base. I am unable to give you an exact or even a close estimate as to the time the buses will pull into the ramp area of the 4th LAR Reserve Center. Your guess is as good as mine. You will not be able to go to the buses or spend time with your Marine immediately after the buses pull in. Once the buses pull in, they will lock the gates behind them. They must make sure all weapons are secure before releasing any Marines/Sailors. As excited as you must be to see your guy, try to remember that "rushing" the buses only delays the process so that everyone will need to wait longer to have their Marine/Sailor released for liberty.
Speaking of liberty, I'll be leaving my computer in the OFF mode during the 96 hour liberty. I've tried to answer as many potential questions in all of my updates, but have not gotten to all of the individual emails. There are many and I am few. Just letting you know because I don't want people thinking I'm ignoring them, but as I'm sure you can understand, I'll be spending time with my hero, too.

Just a stone's throw away! Try to remember all that I've mentioned about the possible chaos that might ensue tomorrow once you get there!
Take Care,
Jennifer Miner
4th LAR A Co. KVA

9/14/2003

Friday, September 12, 2003  
Reserve Tours Are Extended


9/12/2003

Thursday, September 11, 2003  
Planeload of Civilians Applauds Returning Marines from Iraq-unproven

Truth or Not, will be waiting, it may just happen REAL soon.

9/11/2003

Wednesday, September 10, 2003  


Update

Back from BATTLE
Deepa Bharath, Daily Pilot

Corona del Mar man, injured while serving in Iraq, is now settling into the strangeness of home

The morning of Aug. 16 dawned the same exact way it had for U.S. Marine Cpl. Bryan Bergey for the last seven months. He woke up at 4 a.m. after sleeping on sand and rubble for a couple of hours. He ate his usual breakfast of powdered eggs from a Meals Ready to Eat pack and set off in 140-degree desert heat to patrol a bridge across the Euphrates River. It was quiet except for the gurgling river below and their own happy chatter — about going back home to Corona del Mar in a week, about getting in the ocean, seeing girls and the pure joy of eating real food again. And then it happened. The explosion.

It was an ambush by Iraqi soldiers and as always, it was sudden, unexpected and bloody. Bergey, who celebrated his 23rd birthday in the Kuwaiti desert in February with fellow Marines, was struck by hot shards of metal from the powerful explosives. They hit him in his right eye, throat and forehead. The powerful impact also fractured his skull and busted his tooth. But Bergey kept going. "My face was covered in blood," he said. "People were screaming. There was blood everywhere." But the Marines had to regroup and fight back. "It was pretty intense," Bergey said. "I don't know how long it lasted. I don't remember anything." It was as if the people fighting a bloody battle on that bridge were caught in a time warp. When it all ended, the Marines took several prisoners and Bergey, one of three men seriously injured, was sent back to his camp. "They did my first surgery there," he said. "Basically, they just sewed up my eye."

ON THE MEND

He then was moved to Germany for follow-up treatment and after spending three days there, returned to the Miramar base in San Diego. He had his second surgery that involved removing pieces of explosive from his eye, forehead and throat. Bergey came home on Aug. 28. It's only been seven months, but he feels like he is a different person. "I look at a picture of me before I left," he said, feeling the patch on his right eye. "And I look at myself now. I look pretty much the same. But I'm not the guy in that picture. I'm a new person." He's not quite the quintessential soldier-philosopher, but he now has a new-found appreciation for life. "I'll never take anything for granted ever again," said Bergey, whose eye is still healing, still has pieces in and is not expected to ever again be 100%. "That's for sure."

Bergey was one of the first groups of Marines to be deployed to Iraq. He waited with his team in Kuwait, marched onward to Baghdad and beyond. After the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, Bergey became part of Operation Scorpion that was responsible for catching terrorists and members of Hussein's Baath Party.
"We'd patrol the streets all day and then have raids all night," he said. "We busted a whole lot of people. It was all about speed and stealth. We'd go to a house in the middle of the night and get those guys without confrontation or firefight." And that, in a nutshell, was their mission.

A STRANGE RETURN

Sleep was something that happened when there was time. A couple of hours here and there, sometimes never. "My clock was totally changed," Bergey said. "But it got normal. It wasn't a problem after a while."
What seems strange for Bergey now is so-called normal life in Corona del Mar. "It always feels like I'm forgetting something. When I walk into my room and walk out, I look around and wonder." His mother, Pam Bergey, says she is concerned about her son's "healing process." "I know it's going to be slow," she said. "We have to take things slow. We wanted to give him a big welcome back party. But we called it off because we didn't want to do too much too soon." She knows how lucky she is to have her first-born sitting in her living room couch. "He's fortunate to be alive," she said. "I'm relieved. I'm proud."

ENJOYING TODAY

The future, for Bergey, is more of a puzzle than the many strategic moves he has made in war over the months. "I don't know," he said. "I'm just taking a break. I'll figure it out later." All he has known since he graduated from high school was the Marine Corps. "It becomes your family," he said. "The people you're with -- they become your brothers. Some of them are friends for life." It's hard for Bergey to explain it in words. "You'd do anything for each other," he said. "Just anything." Bergey will be awarded the Purple Heart later this month. But he may not necessarily have a future in the Marines. "I've injured my shooting eye," he said. "But I'm a soldier. And I'll always be a soldier. I could never be an office boy." For now, he's just going to enjoy the simple things life has to offer. Like, eating Mexican food. Sleeping on a bed. Dating. Hanging out with friends. Watching television. "I've seen a lot," he said. "Good and bad. But I don't have any nightmares. I'm glad I did what I did. I hope the people of Iraq have a better future because we did. And that's all that matters."

9/10/2003

Friday, August 29, 2003  
C-span has been showing; Iraq War Photographer Interview & Embedded Journalists

Note: Parties for Alpha Company and H&S Company have arrived back to Camp Pendleton! Holding off posting more of Alpha Unit’s current updates at this time. My LIL Bro’s safety is of the up most importance.

8/29/2003

Thursday, August 21, 2003  
[E-mail from my MoM]
My mom, my gradmother called me tonight and said your dad received a call from LiL Bro and that he is okay. He was there in the vehicle where his fellow Marines were seriously injured. Several were LiL Bro's friends, so I am sure it effected him. Please remember these brave Marines as they receive medical treatment and pray for their speedy recovery. I know that God is watching over LiL Bro and am thankful he was not injured.
We know our loved ones will be home soon and thank God for their safe return. We must not forget those who are still serving in Iraq. We know They'd Watch Our Back if the occasion arises, so let's watch theirs and keep them in our daily prayer as if they were our sons or daughters.
Love,
MoM

8/21/2003

Wednesday, August 20, 2003  
White Platoon; Prayers, Thanksgivings & Commendations
[KV’s E-Mail]
Friends and Families of Alpha Company,

I regret to inform you that on 8/18/03 we had six Marines injured while disposing of unexploded ordinance. This ordinance was confiscated during counter insurgency operations in the Northern Babil Province of Iraq. Through their vigilance and active patrolling, White platoon apprehended nine enemy suspects with ordinance that would likely have been used against coalition forces. Their actions in locating this ordinance may have saved lives. The Marines of White platoon should be commended for the capture of this dangerous material and the Iraqis who intended to use it.

Three Marines, Sgt Bauer, Sgt Kendall and Cpl Garcia have only minor fragmentation wounds and have been released back to the company, while three others, LCpl Bergey, Cpl Whiteman, and Cpl Uribe have more serious injuries and have been evacuated back to Germany. Our prayers go out to the evacuated Marines and their families. All of which were able to call home before flying out to Germany.

The company will continue to operate in Northern Babil until relieved by the Army at the end of this month. I want to remind everyone that what your Marines have accomplished is nothing short of remarkable and you should all be incredibly proud of their actions.

Semper Fi,
Major Mark Miner

8/20/2003

Monday, August 18, 2003  
Please: keep praying for all our soldiers in Iraq, not all have have been given good news lately.
Joked about this unit's home base, Italy. Take it back as it can be an expensive plane ticket visiting their homecoming, 8 months from now. 173rd Airborne is not expected to return from Iraq to Italy until April of 2004.

Support Our Troops: your morale; not bitterness: bring them home now, woes me. Maybe reminding the government we shouldn't be out gunned, send in the Calvary, Charge! Control the situation, not police it.

8/18/2003

Saturday, August 16, 2003  
LIL Brother’s Call
September. returning flight home; Rolling Stones Magazine: July 24, 2003, page 78.
{All Unofficial}

With 911 approaching. Pray you have a safe return, hope too an event is planned honoring your duty, LIL Bro. Now that is the place to be 9/11 remembering the Victims, the bad guy’s soil showing off USA’s Might.

[KV’s E-mail]
There are currently 3 Marines in the advance party (those families have been notified) and once they arrive we should have a better idea of when the main body of Alpha Company is due to return. Many of you have emailed/called me saying that your Marine/Sailor has said he has a definite return date of September 10th. In a recent phone call from Major Miner I asked him specifically about this date. He said, "We do not have a confirmed return date at this time and all speculative dates are merely guesses at this point." Major Miner is aware that I pass on any details that I can to all of you, therefore he will not even speculate about a return date with me until he has a confirmed date. He called to tell me that a recent injury in the battalion was not an Alpha Company or H&S Company Marine. I hope to have more details on that in the future, but that is what I know for now. He also said that a small unit of Polish troops came in to assess the Area of Operation to see what they will need to take over for our unit. This sounded like a positive turn of events to me. I asked how well they communicated with the language barrier. He told me that their English was better than our Polish! I thought that was pretty funny. Then the phone call was cut off. I often tell Major Miner to please put some tin foil on his head to get better reception with the satellite phone, but as of yet, he hasn't done so. Maybe one of these days we will actually say good-bye and hang up instead of getting cut-off a couple of times in order to get the info across.
I realize that with a possible return date potentially a month or so away that we are all anxious to get started planning wonderful welcome home activities! Truly, I do not know when the return date will be and will pass on the info as soon as I know. The PWST (Peacetime Wartime Support Team) staff will also give me the information about the retrograde to pass on to all of you as soon as they are able. Please refrain from calling them and asking questions about the return process, return date, mail situation or other things that can be handled through the KVN. They are very helpful when it comes to serious family issues or problems with pay, etc. Whenever they can, they give me info to pass onto all of you that hopefully answers many of your questions. If you still have unanswered questions, you may choose to refer to the "Website" section of the newsletters. There is a wealth of information at those websites and it may be a good idea to check there first before calling the PWST staff.
Thank you to all who have been so patient during what I hope is the home stretch of this deployment. Let's keep our fingers crossed that we will soon have a definite return date.
Take Care,
4th LAR A Co. KVA

8/16/2003

Friday, August 15, 2003  
Found a fantastic MSN Group about our Devil Dogs, H & S Co They have pictures too.
8/15/2003

Monday, August 11, 2003  
Feature: Raid in Iraq's 'Indian Country'

{Late Posting; KV-Emails}
E-Mail Your Marine [further below] Talk of Return Dates, Mid or Late September: Unofficial

[KV's-Email]
Hi Everyone,
Recently I forwarded to the Alpha Company email addresses two of the press release emails that I sent to all of you. I got a short reply from Major Miner that the attachments did not come through. Since I am uncertain if he meant the email that was being forwarded or the text file that was attached to one, I'm going to stay on the safe side and advise that you send neither. All text you wish to send to your Marine/Sailor should be in a "Write email" format. You may wish to cut and paste excerpts from other sources into the email you are writing, but don't attempt to forward emails or attach documents. I've copied the previous email I sent which has the email addresses for each platoon as well as the instructions on how to use them.
Hope all is well!
Take Care,
4th LAR A Co. KVA


Instructions
"There are email addresses - one for 1st, 2nd & 3rd Platoons and one for the H&S and Weapons Platoon combined. I suggest that you ask your Marine/Sailor which platoon he is in the next time he calls if you don't already know that info. I have listed the email addresses below.

Here are the steps to follow:
1) Put the rank, first and last name and platoon of your Marine/Sailor in the subject line, for example: Re: Sgt. John Brown - Weapons Platoon

2) Emails must be text only! The bandwidth is not large enough to accommodate picture or video files. If you send large files, it could take hours to download thus preventing others emails from being read.

3) Please limit your emails to approximately 500 words. Most likely the way it will work is that a representative from each platoon will download the emails from a main computer and then bring them back to their platoon. If some people send novels, this will make it so that others won't get their short love notes through.

4) Do not post these email addresses on your website. This is meant to be a form of communication for immediate family and friends only. If too many people send emails, it will be similar to the mail system during the beginning of the conflict. Wonderfully generous well-wishers sent vast amounts of packages which actually delayed the arrival of letters from family members. Hopefully, if all goes well, this will be a faster way to communicate issues you are dealing with at home that you may wish to bring to the attention of your Marine/Sailor in less than 14 days (via snail mail).

5) Do not expect a reply from your Marine/Sailor. It is not likely that many of them will have access to a computer to send you a reply to the email, but some may. Please don't be disappointed if you do not receive an email from your man. He appreciates the sentiment from you even if he is unable to respond.


***Note there is an e-mail address for each platoon; #4 above, unable to post it***
The test here: what is your Marine’s Platoon. Let me know the Platoon; I'll e-mail you back the address.


Again, the snail mail has been pretty reliable lately. Both letters and packages have been arriving in as little as 14 days (although some take longer). Please continue to use the following address:

Rank, First Name Last Name, USMC (i.e., Sgt. John S. Brown, USMC)
Co. A, 4th LAR Bn
UIC 39860 BOX 1796
FPO AP 96426-1796

I hope these email addresses work out! I think if we all use them responsibly to send positive, cheerful and informational letters (not the usual junk, chain or joke mail) that all will benefit by having this added form of communication!
Take Care,
4th LAR A Co. KVA


Talk of Return Dates, Mid or Late September: Unofficial

Hi Friends and Families of Alpha Company,
I am passing on a command statement from Major Miner. Some Marines/Sailors have been able to access personal email accounts at a nearby Army facility during breaks in-between missions. Some may not have that capability. I spoke with Major Miner about the possibility of setting up some email accounts for each platoon for text messages only. Again, not a certainty, but I will update you more on that if I receive any new word. The email below mentions the possibility of the September return date. Major Miner has heard from several higher ranking officers that it is looking more and more hopeful for a September return date. (Disclaimer: No return date has been set as of yet and all return plans are subject to change.) He told me that 4th LAR Battalion has secured their area of operation very well and other troops would be able to take over at any time without difficulty. Once again, another email to tell you what a fantastic job your Marine/Sailor is doing!
Take Care,
4th LAR A Co. KVA



Friends and Families of Alpha Company,

I want to express my praise and thanks for all of your support over the last
six months. Family support has been our greatest combat multiplier, allowing
the Marines to focus on their missions. This has resulted in consistent and
positive performance from the Marines of Alpha Company, which has been
recognized by both the division and I MEF. You should all be very proud of
their accomplishments.

Undoubtedly, you are all eager to know when we are coming home. We have
been told that the 1st Marine Division plans to have us home by mid to late
September. There is every indication at this point that we are still on that
timeline. Unfortunately, twenty Marines from Alpha Company will be required
to stay in Kuwait for another month as our equipment is cleaned, inspected
and loaded on ship. These names will eventually be released to the KVN
through Jennifer Miner and Lt. Col. Chene.

Please understand that the Marines who stay behind do not have a choice and
are in specific billets or military specialties that are required for the
embarkation process. Most of the selections have already been made and when
your Marine calls, he should be able to inform you if he is on the rear
party list. I am going to delay sending a list of Marines until we have
final word on the numbers needed.

Operationally, we continue to provide stability in the Northern Babil
Province, just south of Baghdad. The Marines of Alpha Company conduct many
types of missions such as humanitarian, rebuilding infrastructure, law
enforcement support for local police and various combat operations from
raids to counter ambushes. They are exercising the full spectrum of their
training and capabilities. Over the last few nights our raids have been very
productive, greatly reducing the manpower and weapons used in anti coalition
activity.

We are going to continue to push hard for the next few weeks as Delta
Company joins our Task Force and increases our ability to take the fight to
the enemy. Thank you once again for your support. I'll send another update
once more information becomes available.
Semper Fi,
Major Mark Miner


Hi Everyone,

I spoke with Major Miner today and he said that not much has changed since the last command statement he issued. The mail continues to get there in approximately 14 days which is doing wonders for the morale of the men. Please continue to use this address:


Rank, First Name Last Name, USMC (i.e., Sgt. John S. Brown, USMC)
Co. A, 4th LAR Bn
UIC 39860 BOX 1796
FPO AP 96426-1796

Everyone is fine and they are getting more excited about hopefully being able to issue a return date soon. Many Marines have been calling home with statements such as, "I'll definitely be home by...(fill in the blank)." I asked Major Miner if there is any solid information on that end that would make them so certain. He said that there are no confirmed return dates at this time. However, they are still hopeful that a majority of Alpha Company will be home mid to late September (this does not include the advance party (app. 3 Marines) and rear parties (app. 18 by plane and 2 with the vehicles by ship). Again, this is not definite and is contingent upon if and when the replacement troops arrive. The individual Marines assigned to the rear and advance parties have most likely contacted their families by now, so you most likely know by now if that assignment affects the return of your Marine. These assignments are not set in stone and are subject to change.
As you know all too well by now, all of my information regarding return dates is always filled with several disclaimers. I've read many articles about the disappointment felt by the Army's 3rd ID. I truly don't want anyone to feel that we have a return date and then, if it changes, be crushed that you had made grandiose plans that must then be canceled. That is why I keep reiterating that we do not have a confirmed return date. Of course, I will keep everyone updated as to the progress, such as when they are heading to Kuwait (which will hopefully be at the beginning of September) to clean the vehicles and put them on the ship. I asked Major Miner about how long before their actual return would we have a definite return date. He said that they often give an estimated return date about a month prior, but official word of the actual return date won't come until they have a flight schedule with names. This is generally issued a week prior. I realize that is short notice for out of town families, so you may wish to look into airlines, such as US Airways and American Airlines, that may be able to accommodate military related flight situations without being outrageously expensive.

As far as what will happen once they return, here's the current plan that is subject to change (of course). They will arrive in buses on base and check in their equipment. Once they have been cleared to go, they will have approximately 4 days of leave. Then they will return to base to start the demobilization process. For most of the Marines/Sailors, this will take up to one week, give or take a couple of days. Some of them may choose to stay on active duty depending on their civilian employment situation. It is feasible that they may stay on duty up to 90 days. I've read a few articles that talk about how the Marine Corps is trying to assist with the transition process from military to civilian employment by allowing Marines to stay on active duty a while until they are able to secure employment elsewhere. This may be something your Marine/Sailor is considering. After the Marines/Sailors are demobilized it will be a while before they have another drill weekend, thus giving you time to have them all to yourselves!

But, of course, there is the USMC Birthday Ball!
I hope to have some solid details for you on this in a couple of weeks. They are still finalizing all the details, but once they do, I will most certainly pass them on. Don't worry about purchasing tickets. They are handling that over in Iraq. That leaves you (I'm talking to wives, fiancees and girlfriends here) to focus on the fun stuff - like finding a ball gown! Yes, just like our men are looking forward to the ball as a light at the end of the tunnel, you too can keep yourself busy planning for the fun stuff for when he gets home. I believe it may make the remaining time go by a little easier.
Hope this helps answer some questions.
Take Care,
4th LAR A Co. KVA


LiL Bro, how are the Poles doing? Heard you're now helping with their training. Be nice to Lithuanians.
PS, how’s Iraqi democracy working out, still Mickey Mouse, no problem since your own State crisis: if you hurry home you can watch T3 before Terminator is your Governor.

8/11/2003

Thursday, August 07, 2003  
Maybe The Replacement
The new Polish-led division will operate in a territory a quarter the size of Poland (31,000 square miles) and includes four predominantly Shiite Muslim provinces south of Baghdad now occupied by the US Marine Expeditionary Force.

8/07/2003

Wednesday, August 06, 2003  
"I have the heart of a father, and he's my son," Salem said. "Even the prophet Abraham didn't have to kill his son."
8/06/2003

Monday, July 28, 2003  
[KV’s E-mail]
Hi Everyone,
Below are links as well as the text from two articles forwarded to me, These articles discuss many of the missions Alpha Co. has performed (especially humanitarian) that have been mentioned in some of my previous emails. It may also give you a little peace of mind to know that much of the tragedy you hear in the media has been taking place in the "Sunni-Triangle". Alpha Company's missions are mainly based in non-Sunni Iraq. You may also find the information regarding the "numbers" interesting.

I know I've told you time and time again what a great job your Marine/Sailor is doing over in Iraq. But guess what...
I'm going to tell you again!
I spoke with Major Miner today. He gave me an update!

"Gen. Mattis (1st Mar Div) and Lt. Gen. Conway (1 MEF) visited Alpha Company and had nothing but praise for the work our Marines/Sailors have been doing. Gen. Mattis said that there are no guarantees of a return date for us, but they are shooting for September. Their visit and compliments were incredible morale boosters for the men. Right now, we are the biggest show in town and consequently, we're getting all the support we need from 1st Marine Division as far as requests for manpower and supplies. We are the focus of effort for the Division as we have the most active Area of Operation (AO). We are making great progress in suppressing insurgent activity in our AO. The past few days have been relatively quiet for us but we are gearing up to go out on another mission today. The news of the deaths of Saddam Hussein's sons has helped to improve the morale of Alpha Company as well. Considering the situation, the morale of the men is relatively high."

I was certain to ask Major Miner if it was okay for me to mention the possibility of a September return date, as I don't want to get anyone's hopes up falsely. He knew that many of the men of Alpha Co. would call home repeating the words of Gen. Mattis, so it may be best to give everyone the "heads up". Please remember, this does not mean we have a return date and does not mean that it will definitely be September. Everything and anything can change in the Marine Corps, even if it comes from a general. So, don't start making vacation plans just yet. But, do keep your fingers crossed and keep up the praying for a speedy return.
Please feel free to brag to everyone you know that your Marine/Sailor is a key player in the success of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Take Care,
4th LAR A Co. KVA

Articles of Interest
Unlike Baghdad, U.S. Troops Appear Safe in Southern Iraq {From KV}
Local Marine units staying busy in Iraq {From KV}
A Real American Hero

7/28/2003

Thursday, July 24, 2003  
LiL Bro’s Call, Wooden Booths Near The Babylon Ruins
{{{MoM took the call; her synopsis}}}
He says he’s just fine and as always in good spirits. He hopes to be coming home around mid-September **not confirmed; been discussed in previous posts**. He has not received mail for 2 months. I asked LiL Bro if he lost weight: said no because he has been eating hot meals each day. LiL Bro has not been w/ Major Miners group since he volunteered to go to Kuwait back in late June. He is presently back in Iraq stationed near the outskirts of Babylon in Al Asad where he can see The Babylon Ruins. Sleeps outside next to his LAV, which he will no longer drive until his return back to Camp Pendleton. The top gun(s) were removed and put on another LAV, so his LAV is down. Presently doing some guard duty and yes he is watching his back. This week he will meet up with Major Miner’s group and replace another driver, so he can have a rest. LiL Brother tells everyone I love you all and thank you for your prayers.

7/24/2003

Wednesday, July 23, 2003  
Troops Eager To Leave Iraq
[KV E-mail]
Hi Friends and Family of 4th LAR A Co Marines/Sailors,
Below is a link to an article forwarded to me. When I read it, it was way more comforting than the other media I've seen lately. Again, I must add that the dates mentioned are not necessarily relative to 4th LAR and everything can change based on operational needs. 4th LAR is not specifically mentioned, but they are part of the 1st Marine Division.
Hope everyone is hanging in there and that most of you have recently heard from your Marine/Sailor.
Take Care,
4th LAR A Co. KVA

[KV e-mail]
Hello Everyone,
I heard from Major Miner today. He told me that there is not much new to tell. Alpha Company is still performing security missions as they have been doing the last few weeks. Most commonly, the procedure for most platoons is a one or two day mission followed by one day of vehicle maintenance and an attempt to stay "clean" (that word is quite relative to the environment - they wash uniforms, take a shower, shave, etc.). Living conditions are improving for them. They just received a shipment of non-MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) food and a whole lot of Gatorade. (I think that might make a good commercial for that company! Hook me up with that ad agency!) Right now, the Marines/Sailors are on a rotation of making one free phone call from the company satellite phone. They also have regular access to a DSN phone, but often times the line is long and the Marine/Sailor may choose to sleep instead of stand in line. Occasionally they have access to "morale phone lines" which may be what was referred to in one of the articles I sent out. Everyone in the company is hanging in there. Major Miner mentioned that in the July 7th edition of Time magazine there is an article in which there is a picture with a few 4th LAR Marines (Capt. Taylor, 1st Sgt. Weitzel, Gy. Sgt. Bemis and Lt. Col. Divine are the ones he mentioned). I have not personally seen it, but you may wish to pick up a copy for your Marine/Sailor. He said that another large shipment of mail came in today and it was exciting to all. I'd like to remind everyone to use the new address as follows, even if there is a different return address on the mail that comes from your Marine/Sailor. Please use:
Rank, First Name Last Name, USMC (i.e., Sgt. John S. Brown, USMC)
Co. A, 4th LAR Bn
UIC 39860 BOX 1796
FPO AP 96426-1796
This has been our most efficient address to date.
Hope all is well with everyone.
Take Care,
4th LAR A Co. KVA

7/23/2003

Friday, July 18, 2003  
[KV's e-mail]
Hello Everyone,
Just wanted to pass on some things that were emailed to me that may be of interest to all of you. Giovanni Ponciano, who heads a chapter of the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) and is a former Alpha Company Marine informed me that "the last time Alpha Company was activated... 12 years ago for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, we were gone for just over 6 months. Looking back at all the rumors of when we were supposed to come home... there were quite a few. It got to the point of simply not believing anything until we got onboard a plane to come home." (Thanks for the update, Gio!) It goes without saying that it is the norm, not the exception, to have continual rumors of return dates coming in. I'm certain we are all hoping it will be about the same time frame for Alpha Company to come home from this war as they did from the last one.
Below is a letter sent to me by a father of an Alpha Co. Marine, Scott Bergey (Thanks Scott!) that is a wonderful anecdote that just goes to show us how our Marines/Sailors are doing such a spectacular job, they are being noticed by "upper management"!
Take Care,
A Co. KVA

To Fellow Marines and Friends, July 15, 2003

This past week at the Marine Memorial Club in San Francisco, I was able to attend a panel discussion of 5 Iraq war embedded journalists. It was hosted by war correspondent Joe Galloway and attended by over 100 people including Major Gen. Mattis (1st Marine Div) and Major Gen. Amos (3rd Marine Airwing). Both these men are currently commanding forces in Iraq. After the presentation I had the opportunity to meet Major Gen. Mattis and his two aides. Of course the topic came up about my son, Bryan, being in Iraq with the 4th LAR and the General seemed really interested in how I was feeling about Bryan. He commented how great the guys were doing, especially the 4th LAR, and I beamed with pride for all our guys.

Next morning at breakfast who walks in but the two Generals in civilian clothes. We said hello and discussed more about our mutual friends in the airline industry, and then retired to our separate tables. Not 5 minutes later, my cell phone rang and it was Bryan on a SAT phone from the sands of Iraq!! "Bryan, guess who's 3 tables away from me having breakfast?" He couldn't believe it… "Dad, he's one of the #1 guys in Iraq!!" I asked if he'd wanted to talk to him and Bryan said "NO"….well….do you think he would?" So, I asked the General if he would like to talk to one of his marines in Iraq and General Mattis said "Sure" and took the phone with a warm "Hello, Lance Corporal.". They talked for a while as I watched on with Marine Pride. From the top of the Marine Memorial Skyroom to some dusty old sand dune in the middle of Iraq a General engages with one of his marines. How great is that?

Semper Fi kicked in full boar, so I decided to cash in on some of my "senior captain perks" with American Airlines. I arranged for Gen. Mattis and his aides to be given special attention on their trip back to the war zone and it was a great experience to help out in some small way in seeking justice, freedom and victory for 911.

Respectfully,
Captain G. Scott Bergey
American Airlines

7/18/2003

Tuesday, July 15, 2003  
Calls, wooden phone booths now
Wonder if they are like most phone booths now, no coin slots and no number for you to call back.

7/15/2003

Monday, July 14, 2003  
A Soldier's Bravery is Knowing
Prayers to his speedy recovery & his family's well being
[KV’s E-mail]
Hello All,
I want to make sure that we keep everyone informed of situations, as the arise & as soon as possible. Please pass to your KVN.
Sgt. Roberts, A Co. of Temecula, Ca. suffered a gun shot wound to his shoulder about 18 hours ago in Iraq. He went into surgery and is expected to recover fully from his wound. Just after his surgery, he was able to call his wife and both are in very good spirits.
I was able to visit Mrs. Roberts about an hour ago, she is an extraordinary lady, very upbeat and happy that her husband is going to be fine. More information will follow this week, but I wanted everyone to know that our Marines are doing an extraordinary job over there and Sgt Roberts has exemplified the uncommon courage and dedication of them all.
S/F,
LtCol. Michael P. Chené
PWST, 4th LAR Bn.
Camp Pendleton, Ca. 92055



[KV's e-mail]

Hi Everyone,
I spoke with Major Miner and he did not have any new information to pass on and he did not issue a command statement at this time. I usurped the conversation with news of our youngest baby's first real word, "Tuh-tahl" (translated: Turtle). I did get out of him how they are still running similar missions as previously stated. They keep very long hours and are very busy all the time these days. On a regular basis they capture "bad guys". He's aware of the things we hear on the news that make us so anxious and said that most of what we hear pertains to Army units. Yousifiyah is south of Baghdad, and they sometimes have missions in Baghdad, but most of there work is south of the capital. There's a good chance they will remain stationed where they are for the remainder of the deployment. They have not received mail in about a month but hope to soon since we started using the new address:

Rank, First Name Last Name, USMC (i.e. Sgt. John S. Brown, USMC)
Co. A, 4th LAR Bn
UIC XXXXX BOX 1796
FPO AP 96426-1796

I asked him again if he had any news of a return date and he replied that there are speculations of possibilities, but again, nothing has been confirmed. He reaffirmed that it is all contingent on their operations. My personal assessment is that we are much closer to the end than we are to the beginning, but no guarantees. Everyone seems to be hanging in there and all the Marines have access to a phone approximately once a week. Not all Marines utilize this opportunity as the line is often long and some choose blessed sleep over an extended wait in the heat. But every one of them misses their friends and family back home and they constantly envision their joyous homecoming day.
I hope to have something more concrete to pass on soon.
Take Care,
4th LAR A Co. KVA

Sounds like the Major's son is pronouncing some Iraqi city like me, Tuh-tahl.

7/14/2003

Wednesday, July 09, 2003  
Lets Not Forget All Our Soldiers on Foot, the Army; sorry that our Fighting Soldiers can’t all be Marines & Sailors in this War. While reading this, imagine being the age of 19; today there is one less Teen Soldier, Pfc Chad in Iraq, no longer a teen, 20. Being a Teen Soldier in Battle, Outstanding!

[E-mail for families of the 173rd Airborne Able Co 3rd Plt]
To the Wives and Families of Able Company,
First, let me begin by assuring you that all of the troopers are doing fine. We thank you for all of the mail and the packages you have sent. A little bit of mail goes a long way to keep morale up and we truly appreciate it.
It seems like this deployment has been marked by a series of strange and seemingly unreal events. On 26 March we jumped onto Bashur Drop Zone and landed in the most God-awful mud you could ever imagine. By the time the men made it to the assembly area they were unrecognizable. They were simply muddy blobs with white eyes. Luckily, the temperature dropped into the low 40's and we got to spend our nights freezing in the rain.
Three days later we were brought to a prison that Iraq used to hold Iranian POWs during the Iran-Iraq War during the 1980s. The men affectionately named it castle Gray-Skull. Our first night there the son of the commander of the local Kurdish fighters brought us tea served on a silver platter. It might have been a hole, but for a few nights it kept the rain off of us and we finally dried out.
We then returned to the airfield at Bashur Drop Zone where we guarded various locations as the Air Force expanded operations there. We made a few trips down to the city of Irbil to drop of supplies, but that was about it. The big question was when we were going to leave the airfield and go south to do something.
On April 8th our company was sent south along the Green Line with the Special Forces soldiers of FOB 102 ahead of the rest of the battalion. Two days later the rest of the battalion arrived and it turned into a race to get to Kirkuk. The Peshmerga were driving across the ridgeline by every means possible, bus, dump truck, trash truck, and even donkey carts to do one thing---------------loot the hell out of the city. The SF guys were driving their Land Rovers and we were driving our HMMWVs and and a bunch of acquired local flatbed trucks in hot pursuit of them. It was definitely one of those "hurry up and go" moments.
On the 10th of April alone the battalion seized two airfields and the K1 oilfield. We operated for a few days out of the second airfield then moved into the city. Initially we went and occupied the government building after kicking out about 400 of the Peshmerga looters. The guys somehow managed to get the local engineers together, got them out to the water and electrical plants and got the power and water turned back on to the city.
Our next chore was re-establishing the police in the city. While 2nd Platoon was dealing with the politicians in the government building, 1st Platoon established the Rahem-Awa Police department in the north of the city and 3rd Platoon took hold of the Qoria Police Department in the south.
The men learned how to be policemen and in turn trained the locals on how to police their own town. At first our guys were the ones who really did all of the work, but gradually the police have assumed more of an active role in the city. From training the police to equipping them the guys have done an outstanding job and I'm proud of them.
A few weeks back we went down south to Balad about 30 kilometers north of Baghdad along the Tigris River to participate in Operation ............ Strike with the 4th Infantry Division. There the company conducted a series of raids to round up targeted persons as the battalion's main effort and performed superbly.
We're back in the city now and just loving every minute (that's not true.) Rest assured that all of us here wish that we were home. Don't get me wrong, we love this fly-infested, desert paradise called Kirkuk, but the thrill is over. Unfortunately we haven't heard any word yet of our redeployment, but we're keeping our hopes up. If they told us we had to be on a plane in 5 minutes and the airfield was on the other side of the airfield we'd make it with 4 minutes to spare.
Tomorrow we'll be celebrating the 4th of July here. Our little abode in the city is actually pretty nice (it was very kind of the Ba'ath party to leave it to us) . Our Interpreters assure us that they have 135 T-Bone steaks lined up for us. I don't think that many T-Bones exist in this whole country, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed. We've had some horse shoes made, but unfortunately won't be able to drink beer during the game..............regulations I'm afraid.
I hope you all enjoy your 4th of July. Just remember that your loved ones here think about you constantly and miss you very much. The 1SG and I couldn't be prouder of these men. They truly are the best and I honored to be among them. I look forward to seeing you in Italy (hopefully very soon!!!!)
Sincerely,
Captain E. Baus Able 6


Italy, what the USA is not good enough to come back to now, sure Chad when the time comes have a great vacation, err return to duty-station.

7/09/2003

Friday, July 04, 2003  
"Rolling Destroyers"
[E-Mail]
Hello Everyone,
I spoke with Major Miner and am glad I can send out an update today. Many of you have emailed me with concerns as the media has been reporting more tense situations lately. Major Miner's command statement for June 30th is as follows:

"Everyone in 4th LAR Alpha Company is okay. We are still performing similar duties as I have reported in the last few statements. We are based out of an Army facility near the town of Yousifiyah (spelling still hasn't been verified). We run regular missions in and around the city of Yousifiyah helping to rebuild the infrastructure. We are providing funds and security to help rebuild police buildings and forces, youth centers and other civic places. We are talking to the people of the city to try to help them in the rebuilding process as well as to attempt to get information regarding the recent ambushes similar to the ones you may have heard in the media. We are taking very aggressive counter measures against the potential ambushes of some of the patrols. Although the Marines are on occasion in dangerous positions, their commitment to staying alert and ready at all times has stopped many ambushes from being initiated. We are mostly operating as platoons to conduct these missions. As you may assume, we are very busy."

Some of you have asked about different information regarding things you may have heard from your Marine/Sailor about these missions. The Alpha Company Marines often work in conjunction with Army units. It is not unusual for LAR missions to include traveling tens or hundreds of miles in a day or two. They are seldom one big company performing tasks, but will send a platoon here or there (and occasionally individuals) as needed or requested by their own command and commands from other units. It is the duty of reserve units to augment and support active duty units as necessary to the success of the mission. This can take on many different forms for Alpha Company as our vehicles are very versatile. Many of the Iraqi people (both for us and against us) refer to our vehicles as the "Rolling Destroyers". They are more fearful of our presence than the presence of other units, such as infantry soldiers who are often transported in Hum Vees or other non-armored vehicles. Alpha Company is truly a menacing force that the "bad guys" are more afraid to attack than some of the other units. That is one of the reasons they are working so hard these days.
I do not expect to receive another update for a week or so.
I will be off-line for the next four days and unable to send out or respond to any emails. If you need it, which I hope you don't, the number for the American Red Cross is 1-800-951-5600 in the case of life-threatening emergency to an immediate family member of your Marine/Sailor. If you need assistance with other non-emergency matters, you may wish to refer to the list of resources and websites in the newsletters or contact MCCS One Source at 1-800-433-6868.

The key point of this email that I'd like to emphasize is: "Everyone is okay."
Take Care,
4th LAR A Co. KVA

7/04/2003

Thursday, July 03, 2003  
C-Span has been running nightly, Rebuilding of Iraq, showing USEF touring around Iraq and evaluating its rebirth; the video was taped mid June 2003. Not a lot of our military is being shown, yet you will see what your Soldiers sees daily.

E-mails With Updated Mailing Address, includes more than one
Hi Everyone,
Below are excerpts from an article from the following web address:
http://www.wmbb.com/features/military/MGBG3V3KQGD.html
This was sighted by KV and mentions the city near which Alpha Company is currently stationed. Thanks KV! Also, the following web address is an article focusing on LCpl MacDonald, the fallen hero of Bravo Co.: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A37415-2003Jun26.html?nav=hptoc_m
I bet for many of us, this year, Fourth of July will have new meaning.
Take Care,
Jennifer Miner
A Co. KVA

June 9, 2003

COALITION AND IRAQI POLICE WORK TO MAKE IRAQ SECURE (June 9, 2003)

CAMP DOHA, Kuwait -- Coalition Forces continue to aggressively patrol Iraq to eliminate crimes against people and property, rid populated areas of weapons, ammunition and explosives, and stop the black market trade in fuel and other commodities. Coalition Forces also continue to conduct joint security patrols with Iraqi police to increase the professionalism of the police force and prepare them for their role in a self-governed Iraq.

Weapons Turn-In Program:

Iraqi citizens voluntarily turned in a variety of weapons under the Weapons Turn-In Program that began June 1. As of today, Iraqi citizens have delivered to Weapons Collection Points a total of 44 pistols, 67 semi-automatic rifles or shotguns, 232 automatic rifles, 24 machine guns, 78 anti-tank weapons (i.e., rocket-propelled grenade launchers), 101 grenades and other explosive devices.

The amnesty period for the Weapons Turn-In Program will run through June 14.

Coalition Activity:

...Marines from the 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion raided a suspected arms market in Al Yusufiya yesterday, capturing four individuals. They also took 12 AK-47 rifles, 2 light machine guns and a shotgun...Hi Everyone,


I spoke with Major Miner. He has issued a statement as follows:

"Everyone in Alpha Company is O.K. It is very hot! It gets up to 120 degrees and the locals call the place we are in "Hell's Oven". We are currently south of Baghdad in a small city called Yousifiyah (uncertain of the spelling). Most of Alpha Company is together, with the exception of a few Marines who are currently stationed in Kuwait for a short tour of duty helping another unit load ships. We are currently our own task force. We are still running small security operations and other civil military operations rebuilding the infrastructure of some of the small cities. Some improvement projects include schools, youth centers, police stations, etc. We are helping train Iraqi police forces, acquire uniforms and equipment for them and get them accustomed to standard law practice. Due to the uniqueness of our unit as far as mobility and fire power, we are the only unit in the area that has such a high level of capability. That makes us very useful and very busy. The Marines/Sailors of Alpha Company are doing a great job. In the few recent instances in which their combat skills have been put to the test, the Marines performed very well due to the fact that they are staying alert and are always ready."

I think that may have been the most my husband has put into a statement this whole deployment. He is not one to ramble on about the details, I'm much better at that, so I'd like to explain a couple of things to help put your minds at ease. The first is, the fact that they are so versatile with the light armored vehicles being able to move rather quickly yet still have big, huge guns (in layman's terms), that is one of the main reasons why Alpha Company is so coveted and still there even with a majority of Marines returning. Also, they have conducted their missions so well, it's hard to give them up. The whole war is still called "Operation Iraqi Freedom", however, it is broken down into smaller submissions with operation names that you may hear in the media. Our task force is not part of another operation, which will remain nameless. This is confusing, I know, but I'm hoping that when you see an injury in the media that this will help you rule out the possibility that it is your Marine/Sailor. 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion is still part of another task force and they have been referenced in the following article sent to me:
http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2003/iraq/war.tracker/04.25.index.html

Another issue: Mail
We have a new mailing address effective immediately. Please use the following address for sending all letters and packages:
{This is an example for my brother not sure if it’s for your Marine too}
Rank, First Name Last Name, USMC
Co. A, 4th LAR Bn
UIC XXXXX BOX 1796
FPO AP 96426-1796

If you know your Marine's/Sailor's platoon, you may wish to write this on the bottom of the letter/package as it will help them to sort it out once it arrives to the company. It is not necessary that you write their platoon on the address. If you do not know your guy's platoon designation, simply write the address as you see it above.
If you have sent mail to the other address that has not arrived yet, it will eventually get rerouted to this new address and find him. I know this is a major point of frustration for all of us. I appreciate all of you who have emailed me saying that you've written/called your Congressman/woman on this issue. It is truly out of the hands of anyone in the chain of command for our battalion. There is little that I can recommend other than keep writing and hoping for the best. Also, if you're sending packages, try to remember that your Marine/Sailor has all the basic necessities for survival and that he has to carry around in his pack anything that is not edible or that can be distributed to others. There is no place for storage as they are constantly on the move.
I realize that to many it seems like an eternity has passed since the departure of Alpha Company. Just to put it into perspective, you may wish to access the following web address that is an article about a reserve unit that has been committed for an extraordinarily long time of 17 months and are now finally deactivating:
http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/6492AAA8AD9AC92085256D4A007A3DEF?opendocument
Alpha Company has been deployed less than 5 months, eventhough it may feel like years.

I hope everyone is hanging in there. I truly look forward to when I get to meet all of you in person at their homecoming!
Take Care,
A Co. KVA


7/03/2003

Wednesday, July 02, 2003  
[Letter to my family]
Happy Birthday Lance Corporal, LiL Bro on your first birthday in Iraq, you're One Year Old, in Iraq. Well if the family was all together we would have said it in unison. Just to share some thoughts in keeping up the spirits and morale like all celebrations will.

Where was the oddest place you celebrated a Birthday? For me in Montana with Great Grandpa, there were even bears that summer trying push their way into the cabin as I slept by the door. This happened because we fed them hoping to gain some pictures close up.

If your wonder when LiL Bro may be coming home, lets remember his order were up to one year and it may be a really neat experience for Him. Have been told by a few Marines who are in the 4th LAR Battalion that they know “of” LiL Bro and some have returned already. Yet one Sergeant said: hope I’ll get to know him better when I return, return? Also keep in mind that after WWII, soldiers were being sent to Japan out of boot camp, this after the war was all over. LiL Bro is part of the early occupational force in Iraq. He could have been stationed in Okinawa, Japan for several years as some Marines are right now. Unfortunately for these Leather Necks they are the first group and have to do the dirty work so future men can come too. I’m sure you are all concern for his safety, remember God’s Will is our Peace. This may be God’s Handy Work for these men’s future endeavors in life. Also, keep in mind, LiL Bro saw the walls where the the original phrase was coined, The Writings on the Wall, how neat is that.

Back to his safety, lets remember he has a weapon he carries and may be safer there than the streets we live. Think about the murder rate numbers they throw out for cities comparing past years to present years. It’s a false number because as time marches forward you have better healthcare and technology. So at present day people are recovering from being shot in the head but in the past a wound to the hand would kill you through infection. So in reality today’s numbers along with future murder rate numbers are really lower in comparison but may seem higher due to population growths. The real number to be looking at is attempted murder. In light of this thought, think of all the murders that have occurred or have been attempted since April 1st 2003 in the USA.

The unrest in Iraq is not so complicated when you think of this quote: Birds of a feather flock together. Saddam was a criminal and so, anyone with real authority, was a criminal too. Now how do you police Iraq when the criminals and the police live next door to each other in the same tribes. The policeman does his duty but when the criminal recognizes his identity he then uses extortion so he may still have his way through threats or even kidnapping the police’s family members. Then the police quit or turn a blind eye for their family’s safety. Unless you can find a police force that the criminals can’t extort this will be, that is why the US soldiers are the best they have. Not all Iraqi people are bad least we forget too.

Now I wrote this because we have to start having better morale for the troops, your Marine. We are Christians and our party gifts to the world on this celebration: we can’t let the bitterness carry over to the troops. We all have an OSN, yet Paul the Apostle wrote in Romans; Do Not Make Your Fellow Man Stumble. Take Vietnam, mind you this is Iraq, the Vets whom are bitter or feel forgotten are sinning yet their generation sinned first by letting it happen by their rhetoric & selfishness during those times, my honest opinion. Any Vet who feels forgotten, it is their problem, as I never forgot, plus celebrate twice a year with a public holday if not more. But if we don’t think of the present times in Iraq and leave the pasts were they belong by focusing more on the current troops we are doomed to the possibilities that the same Vietnam scenario may occur when these soldiers return. It’s their day ALL, let them have their spotlight and eat the cake too, folks, they’ve earned it. Today my LiL Bro will shares his Birthday with the soldiers whom deserve the celebration the most, all our military men/woman in Iraq.

Happy Birthday to you LiL Bro, and wishing you many years to come.
Today LiL Bro when you hear 22 shots being fired, may it be in tribute to your age.

7/02/2003

Friday, June 27, 2003  
Prayers of Condolence & Get Wells
Dear Bravo Company Families and Friends,
The families of these Marines have received official notification.
Please keep them in your prayers. I have no further information at
this time. I will pass on information as I receive it.
Sincerely,
Bravo’s Co. KV
News Release

June 25th, Al Hillah, Iraq – A Bravo Company Marine died and two others
were injured when the light armored vehicle they were traveling in
rolled over on a soft shoulder of the road. The Marines, attached to
the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, were part of a quick reaction force
responding to Marines who were engaged by hostile forces. The vehicle
accident occurred prior to arriving at the ambush site. The three
Marines were immediately evacuated to a nearby military surgical unit.

Bravo Company is the reserve company located in Fort Detrick, MD. The
company was activated in February and subsequently deployed to Iraq in
support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The deceased Marine is LCpl Gregory MacDonald of Burlington, MA. He is
survived by his parents, Arthur and Diana MacDonald also from
Burlington, MA. He joined the Reserves in March 1999 and reported into
Bravo Company in December 1999. LCpl MacDonald was assigned as the LAV
gunner with First Platoon.

The other casualties are SSgt Shiflet from Ephrata, PA and LCpl Garner
from College Park, MD. SSgt Shiflet is in the hospital in a critical
but stable condition while LCpl Garner is back to a duty status. SSgt
Shiflet is the Platoon Sergeant and vehicle commander with First
Platoon and LCpl Garner was assigned as the LAV driver.


IMHO: this war has not ended and how could it since it is also a War on Terrorism. But how can you say Victory in Iraq if Saddam is not proven dead yet. See, if you do say the war is over and Saddam appears, how to kill him again under the guidelines of The Geneva Convention, because you can’t now. These soldiers trained in similar situations and took the same risks then and as they do now. Let's not forget they were en route to a Mission War, In My Honest Opinion.

6/27/2003

Friday, June 20, 2003  
[E-mail from the KV's and a reader told me per her son, that was them on ABC, fantastic & another reader told me she saw the apartments on tv too]
Hello everyone,
I heard from Major Miner late last night. They have been out working rather constantly and have had little time to call this past week. They are not sitting around base camp anymore, which can be boring for a Marine. They are out helping some other units and assisting with vital operations that I bet they will want to tell you about when they return.

Statement from the Commanding Officer of Alpha Co.:
"Alpha Company is now stationed north of where they previously were. We are near the Euphrates River living in a Russian compound where Russian workers were building a power plant. They are like little apartments. They have running water and air conditioning for a couple of hours per day during which most are able to take a shower when they are not conducting a mission. Most of Alpha Company is in one area. We are providing security for civil military operations. We're all much better as far as the sickness (some refer to as "Sadam's Revenge") that has been going through the company. Everyone is okay."

Some of you have emailed me about seeing a TV show about Marines on ABC on June 19th at 7:30 am. I did not see it and do not know if our Marines were featured. They mentioned how very hot it is over there and that has been confirmed over and again by our Marines who have called and written home. There are many rumors going around about the return date getting extended as our Marines call home. I asked Major Miner about this specifically and the truth of the matter is - they just don't know when they will come home. I know this is hard for all of us, as it was when my son asked him with tears in his eyes if he could come home soon. I guarantee that no one in the command wants these men over there a day longer than they need to be. They all have families too, but understand that the mission is what determines their return date, not the desire of the families to see their Marine/Sailor. Also, our Marines have activation orders that currently are for one year. Please try your best to take that into consideration. The USMC looks at the success of the mission as a whole and focuses less on the individual needs of each Marine/Sailor.
I realize this is very hard for us at home. Especially since we were originally hoping our guys would come home with 1st LAR back in the May/June time frame. This is why the Marines/Sailors are being cautioned from giving you a return date when they call or write due to the fact that it is stressful for all to get geared up for the return of our guy, only to find out later that the date has been moved back. Once again, I want to emphasize that as soon as I have a confirmed return date, I will send out an email. As of yet, I only get guesses and estimations from the command and the KVN of the battalion. It's all speculation and I don't want to get anyone's hopes up.
But, I do want everyone to keep their spirits up as best as they can during these trying times. If you're praying, keep praying! It's working! All of our Marines/Sailors are okay! They are, militarily speaking, doing a fantastic job!
Take Care,
A Co. KVA

LiL Bro, A/C in Iraq, you’re far better than me right now, mine is broken. Yet our separation in temperatures is a miserable 35F plus for you. Forget the shade, fill the LAV with ice, let the heat do the rest and it’s a pool on wheels. Well, your LAV is floatable so it should work in theory, backwards.

6/20/2003

Sunday, June 15, 2003  
Letter Home, Make A Father Proud
Dated April 21, 2003
Sorry I haven't written sooner, but we were kept busy and were in the Front. So no one really had a chance to send mail. We didn't start getting mail till about a week ago. Need I say it is already April 21st, and yes, we heard the war is over. :)
I will either write a letter, or if things work out well, I will be able to call. Then, I will explain all that went on. Here is a small flavor of what is to come Entered Iraq on March 23rd, went through a great sandstorm and rolled our vehicle.....No one was hurt or even scratched. Ran convoy security and set up screen lines for protection of company CP. Saw some dead bodies. Took rounds over head and Seal snipers took out the shooters. Ran security patrol through small cities. Had incoming scud missile, artillery, and mortar attacks. Saw one mortar round land about 30 meters from my paws. We had countless gas alerts, stood hours of fire watch and radio watch. Cool huh!!!!!
We do have down time, but most cases we would rather sit back and relax. We never know when we will move, so I like to stay rested.
We got word that you all are hearing about us with little food or water. I will tell you that is not true. We eat 3 meals a day and yes we have to conserve water, but I have never been without either. The only problem was the mail, but that has been resolved As far as me, don't worry about sending me anything except letters of support. If all goes well we "might" be out of here soon. That means the next few months.....Can't count on that, it's just rumors.
Talk to you soon,

LiL Bro so sweet of you to not share this on mother’s Day with your phone Call…great timing with the letter for a Dad, OUTSTANDING!!!
PS, just seems like yesterday you wanted to drive, now hearing about rolling your vehicle and being the driver was that your first wreck since you've had your license?

6/15/2003

Tuesday, June 10, 2003  
{KV's e-mail}
Hi Family and Friends of Alpha Company Marines/Sailors,
I spoke with Major Miner today and he issued the following statement:
"Most of Alpha Company spent the last three days away from base camp conducting security operations north of Al Hillal. Everyone is back from the mission for a short period of rest and are prepared for any fall-on tasks assigned to the company. We had received a large shipment of mail when we returned from our security operation. Much of it is dated late April and early May. Most of the Marines/Sailors are recovered/recovering from the sickness that has been going around (many refer to it as "Sadam's Revenge"). There have been no new cases reported. We have been assigned a DSN phone line which may allow the Marines/Sailors to call home more often than they had been before base camp was set up."

Most of you have noticed the increase in the frequency of phone calls as well as the increase in morale. Some of you have written me emails stating as such and I believe the phone calls have also improved the morale here at home. The big bunch of mail they received may be a bunch that had previously been misplaced due to the rapid movement of the company during and immediately after the main combat portion of the war. It is always a good idea to put a date on your letters as they will most likely not receive them in chronological order. As I've stated previously, don't mail anything unless you're okay with it getting lost entirely. Packages have been major morale boosters and large envelopes filled with goodies still seem to get there faster than large boxes. It is up to you as to what to send your Marine/Sailor. Pictures and letters are way up there on the hit parade and if you choose to send a care package, it does look like we will have enough time, as the expected return date is more than two months away.
It's great news that everyone in the company is okay and those that were sick are getting better. Keep up the prayers and good vibes. Looks like it's working!
Take Care,
A Co. KVA

LIL Bro, the World has a new cold, SARS, since you've been away. Also, the West-Niles mosquito born virus is again down the road from me; stick with the Saddam's Revenge, sounds beatable.

6/10/2003

 
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