Sunday, October 09, 2005

3rd/112th Armor BN (FIST)

Panther S-5 (Civil Affairs Team)

56th Brigade Combat Team

36th Infantry DIV (Texas National Guard)

Central Iraq


SSG Farr writes:
people around the world. That’s the latest estimate of people receiving the newsletter as of Sunday, 09OCT05. We had another painfully slow week as we were only able to go out one time this week. A bit of good news is that we are getting our trucks and troops back, so we will get back to doing what we were doing, helping the Iraqi people. This has been a pretty good week in terms of people e-mailing me and asking to be put on the mailing list. To think when I started this little “pet project” back in March I only had 25 readers, and the majority of them were friends and family. Now look what it’s turned into, a global phenomenon…don’t I wish? I have all of you out there to thank for its growing popularity. Your continued support is greatly appreciated and we could not demonstrate to the Iraqi people how much we want to see them succeed as a democratic country if it were not for your generous donations of clothing, medicine, school supplies, toys and in some cases food.

I can’t remember how many times I have been approached on this deployment by every day Iraqis who ask one question, “Why did it take you (America) so long to help us?” The only answer I have for them is we as a country were naïve. We believed the Iraqi people were in support of Saddam Hussein and his policies and he was supported as a leader. I then feel extremely small when they answer me, “Yes, of course we supported him when he gassed 8,000 innocent Kurdish civilians in the 80’s, we supported him when he sent troops into southern Iraq and killed thousands of innocent Shia’ civilians after the failed uprising at the end of the ’91 Gulf War, and yes, we supported him when he drained the marsh lands in the south which starved the Marsh Arabs almost out of existence.” For those of you out there who honestly believe they supported Hussein, I can tell you the Iraqis can be just as cynical as me. For the nay-sayers out there who think we got into this war for the wrong reasons, perhaps we did and I’m not at liberty to question policy, but I do know the majority of the Iraqi people love us and glad we are here, even if it took 12 years to liberate them from a monster. The team’s interpreters have horror stories of family members taken away and executed for no other reason than being Shia’ or Kurdish. Some may question why we are here, but I can say I’m proud to be here helping rebuild a nation. I pose one final question; if we came to Iraq with oil as an ulterior motive, then why are you paying $3.00 a gallon for gas? Think on that one awhile.

The projects are nearly complete with only the two water projects left. The schools look amazing and the work done to them in the amount of time is incredible. Next week I will make sure to go to all the projects and take pictures, that way everyone can see the final product and can be proud of the work being done here, even if no one else wants to report it.

Welcome to the “First Timers” receiving the newsletter. I hope you enjoy it and feel free to pass it around to as many people as you would like, that’s what it’s here for. Thanks for the continued support of the troops; we truly appreciate all the letters of encouragement, e-mails, and boxes. I will be more than happy to entertain any and all questions, comments, or requests. Finally, “if you can read this, thank a teacher, if you can read it in English, thank a Veteran.” Have a good week and Hook’em Horns," Paul.

“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, as long as you can.” –John Wesley

I had the pleasure of meeting through the newsletter, Merlin Selman who lived in Iraq with his family 1957-1958. This picture was taken at the Ancient City of Babylon. Notice how it looked during this time period. My father worked for the American Embassy. We became "Persona Non Grata" and had to leave as did all Americans and British in Oct 1958, because of a Military Coup staged by the Col. Abdul Kareem Kassim. The young boy King Faisil and the Prince Regent his Uncle were killed in a bloody siege of the castle. I can still remember hearing the tanks rolling through Baghdad and automatic fire coming from near the Tigris River.

“There is also a picture of the "Conquering Lion of Babylon". It was the symbol for the city and Iraq has used it as a symbol in the past. It is standing triumphant over the supine figure of a man representing an enemy. Some think the supine man symbolizes Israel and commemorates the sack of the city of Jerusalem by Babylon. It is called the Babylonian Captivity in the Bible.”

Mr. Selman has a wealth of information about this region and it has been a pleasure e-mailing back and forth and comparing pictures of what Iraq looked like when he was here as a young boy and what it looks like now. His history lessons were not learned in books, but through living it. Thanks for the lessons Mr. Selman, it’s been a pleasure.

This is the original Ishtar Gate on display in Berlin, Germany. The gate was taken by German Archeologist during Hitler’s reign.

This is the new Ishtar Gate built during Saddam Hussein's reign

The one day we were able to go out, SSG Pena was extremely busy. He treated nearly 100 people alone. The most severe ailment was chicken pox. We received word that a chicken pox out-break had occurred in a nearby village. So, we gathered up our things and went to find out. SSG Pena treated so many people he ran out of medication…05OCT05

This little girl and her brother look worse than what they were. SSG Pena said the little girl had no fever and the sores were beginning to dry up. The little guy still had a fever and had a few more days until he would be better. Unfortunately, students who were clearly showing signs of chicken pox continued to come to school, thus infecting everyone else. Unlike the schools stateside, children in Iraq continue to go to school unless they are gravely ill. SSG Pena explained to the Headmaster and teachers the hazards of letting the sick children continue to attend school. The initial mission for the day was to treat the school children, but as word spread we were in the village with a medic, nearly every infected child showed up. It turned out to be a very good day and the villagers were appreciative of our visit…05OCT05

I have mentioned three of our nine projects were water related. This is one of the water sanitation/distribution projects. Water from the Hilla River will be pumped into a filter system shown here as the two cylinders. From the filters the water will then be pumped into the large holding tank you see behind the cylinders. The project should be completed in about 10 days, “Inshallah” (god willing). That is a favorite phrase used by Iraqis when they have no definitive answer. If you ask them, “Will this project be done in 10 days?” Nine out of ten times their answer will be, “Inshallah.” In other words, if god wills it, it will be done in 10 days. But if it rains or the ground opens up and swallows everything, thus causing a delay, it was god’s will.

No way would Iraqi building standards fly in America. They cast this roof with concrete, but then added a layer of dirt, then lay plastic on top of the dirt, then placed mud on top of the plastic. The final step is to place the bricks. I’m not exactly sure how water-proof it will be, but they’ve been constructing buildings in this fashion for a long time.

2LT Colicher is shown cutting a ribbon for one of the school projects completed. The contractor is on his left and made a consorted effort to find us several miles away at another project. Once he talked us into coming to the school, we were surprised to round the corner and see several people waiting…05October05

You may recall the photo of the gentleman laying tile last week, this is his finished product.

Not only did he tile the walkway from the front gate to the school, but from the WC (restroom) as well. Items repaired or replaced on this school was the perimeter wall, roof, all windows and doors, installed ceiling fans in every classroom, tiled the courtyard, walkways and all 6 classrooms, and completely repaired the WC. Price tag: $65,000

On this particular visit, we had no medics with us. This worker at one of the projects suffered a laceration to his ankle and asked for help. SGT Langolis from Co B is a Combat Lifesaver and volunteered to "square" this guy away. For those of you unaware of what a Combat Lifesaver is, he/she is a soldier that receives extensive medical training and can give an IV if needed. That helps the medics immensely if there are several casualties; the Combat Lifesaver is a combat multiplier.

I couldn't pass up this opportunity to be cynical. No, liberals we did not injure this man and then stage helping him. As much as the liberal media and like minded lemmings like to think every good deed done here is staged, I wanted to assure you this was not the case here. There is no reason for us to stage photos, there is enough good things going on in Iraq to show without having to stage anything.

I wanted to add this poem written by the team's "Okie Friend" as she so eloquently calls herself. We truly appreciate your support of the troops and for the poem; it speaks volumes of your character. Thanks Janet.

I wanted to show two of the hundreds of “Kodak Moments” I missed while on this deployment. Yes, it was my choice to come here and help the Iraqi people, but I have still missed out on 18 months worth of “Kodak Moments.”

The beautiful little girl in the middle is my baby girl Kiersten. Albeit, this is one "Kodak Moment" no father wants to acknowledge, that his baby girl is growing up. Good thing being the daughter of a cop tends to keep the mutts away. This picture was taken with her friends before a local pageant.

This is my "horse" Zachary. When I was home on leave last December he was the same height as my stubby butt. I recently read a newspaper clipping that listed him as 5’10, 200 lbs. As long as that isn’t propaganda to psych out the other teams, he is now taller and out weighs me, but I can still take you down boy!

I love & miss you guys and I’m very proud of both of you.

Congratulations Texas Longhorns, that was an outstanding game and I was able to see every play. Colorado Buffs are next in the crosshairs, and I’m confident we’ll work them over too.

Colorado, you’re next!!!!!!!!!!!!

Paul, Lori sent me the link to this page, I love it, My lil bro was deployed saturday the 8th to Kuwait and from there to Afghanistan by Dec 1st. He sends me pictures and letters and we love getting them and seeing all the good that is being done there, All we ever hear on the news is the bad stuff and it's really depressing. Thank you again for this wonderful page. Kirsten and Zach are both awesome kids and we love them, Kirsten has stayed the night with us before as she is friends with our daughters Samantha and Connie. Hope you and all the guys stay safe and keep us the awesome work... Melissa Walker ..Huntsville Mo
Hi. I would like to make friends with people who enjoy archeaology. I've joined this site (archeaology) to try to meet some new friends but I wondered if you knew of any other such sites.
interested in archeaology
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