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.
Bravo’s Co. KV
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.
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]
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!
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.
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?
Tuesday, June 10, 2003
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!
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.
Friday, June 06, 2003 Shortage of News Home:
From KV's e-mail:
Life has improved significantly for all of our men in Iraq. They are
presently in the vicinity of Al Hillal, essentially the ancient ruins of
Babylon! Al Hillal is near a huge lake, so they are telling me that they
have a much better scenic view, but their are also many more mosquitoes now.
Although all of the companies may not be exactly in this location, they are
all in the same general terrain and have the same basic facilities.
Further, they are able to communicate with each other significantly better
and hopefully in the next few weeks, everyone will see that they are better
able to communicate with their families and loved ones as well. I have been
told by 2 different Company Commanders and the Battalion Executive Officer
that they are getting 2 hot meals a day now. They are receiving more mail
now than they have in the past. It is still taking some time, but they are
getting it more regularly now. Most now have access to some buildings so
that they can sleep inside and no longer outside. All have said that their
"quality of life" has improved dramatically since they moved to this new
location although, I can assure you that they are still living a pretty
Spartan life. As I said earlier, they are trying to provide more phone
calls home for all the Marines & Sailors, so hopefully you all will be
getting more calls soon. We hope to have better communications with all of
them in the next week or so. Presently, the temperature ranges from the
high 90's during the night time to a high of 118 degrees during the day.
They are all doing a remarkable job over there and you all should be very
I had a lot of questions at the Reunion Brief about what our Marines &
Sailors are doing now and why are they the ones that have to stay. What
your Marines & Sailors are probably telling you is that they are hot, tired,
miss home, that they are doing nothing and that they love you all. What
they may not understand entirely is that they are playing a significant,
strategic role right now. Although it seems that they are not doing very
much, they are actually fulfilling a very important role in the stability of
Iraq. By their presence alone, they are maintaining stability along the
I hope that this information is helpful. I know that it is not as detailed
as we would all like, however, I remind you, that some of the operations
that they are participating in are still of a sensitive nature and we can't
discuss too openly. You all have been remarkable in your devotion to our
Marines and Sailors and we all appreciate your patience and support every
day. More to follow soon! Thanks.
LtCol. Michael P. Chené
PWST, 4th LAR Bn. 6/06/2003
Monday, June 02, 2003
KV's E-Mail: I spoke with Major Miner today, May 28th, 20003 Here is what he had to say:
"Alpha Company spent the last few days investigating special areas of interest and conducting civil assessments to small cities. We are now returning to the battalion assembly area compound which is located a little north of Al Kut. For the past few days, we were operating as an individual company and we have now rejoined with H&S and Delta Companies. We are currently enjoying a rest cycle until word is given as to the details of our next mission." Here's some more paraphrased information based on our conversation. It is HOT! Remember I mentioned how they sent out that search party to find some mail - well they did find some! And they may have information that will lead them to some more. Things are looking up. He said they eat the MRE's until they get a package with candy and then they chow down on that, so it goes without saying there is much less nutritional value than the wonderful meals they get at home. Most of them have lost a little weight and have battled a 2-3 day stomach flu. However, everyone is O.K. and there have been no injuries. Most Marines sleep on the ground or in their vehicles. There are a few that sleep on cots. The Marines have been allowed to make phone calls more frequently now than they have been for the majority of the deployment. Again, I stress that you have access to a cell phone or leave a message with a number to reach you if you are not by a phone. I've heard from some KV's who have received two or three phone calls recently. It is a little bit of a challenge to stay focused and motivated when there isn't as much activity. Please keep encouraging your Marine that he is doing a great job and that his efforts are greatly appreciated when you do get a phone call. It helps him keep going. The Marines of Alpha Company are very much appreciated by the Iraqi people and they have inspired these people to have strength when it comes to establishing their own democracy.
Lastly, we still do not have a set return date. Well, "set" may not be a word we can use when it comes to return dates in the Marine Corps. I've been updated on the return times for a couple of other units (NOT 4th LAR) and their return flight schedules change once or twice daily! I tell you this now to prepare you for when it's our turn. I know some of you live out of town and need at least two weeks notice to get a decent air fare. I don't know if that will be possible. I ask that everyone be prepared to be as flexible as possible. If you are coming in from out of town, you may wish to schedule it so that you stay a couple of days and buffer them around the return date. We're still looking at sometime in August, but again, that can change and most likely will.
Keep your spirits up not just for your sake, but for the sake of your Marine!
A Co. KVA
It's hot over there LIL Bro, can't be hotter than Death Valley, remember the fun we had with no shade. Oh it's starting to become hotter as in unrest over there in Iraq Iran.