Thursday, November 03, 2005

3rd/112th Armor BN (FIST)

Panther S-5 (Civil Affairs Team)

56th Brigade Combat Team

36th Infantry DIV (Texas National Guard)

Central Iraq


131,429 people around the world. That’s the latest estimate of people receiving the newsletter as of Sunday, 30OCT05. I wanted to start off this week’s newsletter by thanking everyone again for your Patriotism, continued support of the troops, and for your help in getting our word out. You all have truly made this deployment more enjoyable than you will ever know, at least for me. Since I’m the only knucklehead on the team to volunteer to come to Iraq, I have no reason to complain. When I first learned I was chosen to go to the Civil Affairs course at Ft Bragg in September 2004, I was just a little ticked off. I had volunteered to come over here to lead troops into combat, to find the enemy and kill him, plain and simple. Little did I know how important Civil Affairs is in today’s Global War on Terrorism. The day to day interaction with the Iraqi people changed my perception of them. I owe that mostly to my two interpreters, Ala’a and Delshad. They have opened my eyes to so much about the Iraqi culture that you could never learn in books.

Unless you are “boots on the ground” in Iraq and interacting with the population you just have no idea. The people stuck on the FOB’s (Forward Operating Bases) play an important role here. Unfortunately, for them they spend their entire time on the base camp and their only perception of Iraq is that it really sucks, especially when you receive in-coming fire from an unseen enemy. I like to think the team is mostly responsible for the over all safe environment we enjoy here in our AOR (Area of Responsibility). We have brought electricity to several thousand people for the first time, in the process of bringing clean water to thousands more people for the first time, and repairing schools that will benefit generations to come. Not to mention, we have employed hundreds of more Iraqis either here on our base camp or at the different project sites. No too shabby for a bunch of guys thrown together in May and told to “go forth and do good things.”

Everyone is already aware the Iraqi Constitution passed with a record turn out. As I stated last week, even if it had not passed it still would have been a victory for the democratic process. The next hurdle for this monumental year will be the election in December of a new, full-term parliament. President Bush summed it up nicely, “The Iraqis are making inspiring progress toward building a democracy. By any standard or precedent of history, Iraq has made incredible political progress, from tyranny to liberation to national elections to the ratification of a constitution in the space of two and a half years.” Could you imagine three major national elections in one year in America? Most people get bent out of shape over one every four years.

In the name of my peoples, I’d like to thank all…the American people for the sacrifices [for liberty]. The American nation should be deeply proud of its sons and daughters who have worked hard and who have fought hard for the best values of liberation and democracy in Iraq. With such tremendous morale, with such sometimes terrible injuries, they have braved tremendously and they bear their suffering for the sake of humanity, liberation and democracy. I would like to say to these patients and to the American people that these sacrifices have not gone in vain. Indeed we shall have a world that is free from terrorism and where the human right and democracy are respected.” –Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, after his visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.

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.

We Americans of today, together with our Allies, are passing through a period of supreme test. It is a test of our courage-of our resolve-of our wisdom-our essential democracy. Franklin D. Roosevelt

Just in case there are some of you out there who have no idea who we are, here is a team photo so you can put a face with names. Standing on the hummers holding the Texas Flag, SPC Khan and SPC Blanchard, standing l/r; SSG Pena, SSG Farr, 2LT Colicher, SSG Wasson, SFC Loud, and SPC Moses, kneeling is our Iraqi Interpreter

Unfortunately, we were only able to go out once this week. However, we did have a good day and the medics treated 70 civilians with various ailments. Pictured here is SSG Pena checking the blood pressure of an Iraqi man who suffered a stroke earlier in the year.

These two little girls were just sitting quietly watching what we were doing during one of our "road-side medicine" stops. Normally, as you’ll see in following pictures, if we stop for more than a few minutes we are swarmed with children of all ages begging us to either take their pictures or give them pens, pencils, toys, soccer balls, etc. These two were the exception.

SSG Pena with the help of our Iraqi Interpreter explains to an Iraqi civilian how to take medicine for an upset stomach. On this particular stop the chief complaint by the civilians was upset stomach. As I have explained in previous issues, many of the ailments of the Iraqi civilian population, especially in the rural areas, are intestinal problems. Much of this can be prevented with proper personal hygiene practices, but another cause is the non-availability of potable water.

The soldier in the green uniform is SPC Cole. He is a medic with the 1/108th AR, 48th INF BDE from Georgia. This is the unit replacing us in a few weeks. We decided to take him and several others from his unit out and get them familiar with the area. They were stationed up north and took several casualties, so coming down here is a great relief for them. We have been explaining to them that the work our team has done in this area has helped make the area safe. Villagers are taking responsibility for their security and keeping the insurgents out. That to me is a major victory, when the locals take pride in their country and deny the insurgents safe passage and a safe-haven.

This is a picture taken the middle of July of a little guy's finger that suffered an electrocution burn to his left middle finger. The injury occurred about one month prior to this photo. The parents had taken the boy to a local clinic and the medical attendants told them there was nothing they could do. They said if they were to treat the injury the boy would get diabetes or cancer and die. Fearing those words, the parents opted to take the boy home and let “Allah” (God) do what he would with the boy.

We checked back on him about a month later and the finger looked better. The parents took him to an actual hospital and they were able to treat it. However, the Iraqi doctors placed a metal pin into the finger in an attempt to straighten the bone. This is a photo of SPC Blanchard cleaning and dressing the finger. He took the time to explain to the grandmother the steps necessary to clean it and bandage it.

Unfortunately, their attempt did not help. This picture was taken earlier today (Sunday, 30OCT05).

When he found out we were in the village looking for him, he ran from almost 1 kilometer to see us. Although his finger is deformed, he is just as happy as any other 8 year old.

SSG Pena and one of our Iraqi Interpreters discuss the health of this little guy. According to his father, he was treated for Jaundice when he was younger. The father fearing he was suffering from it again brought him to us shortly after our arrival in the village.

Due to the size of his stomach and other visible symptoms, SSG Pena believes this little guy now suffers from a large tape worm. But without being able to run necessary tests, he is not 100% positive.

Remember what I said earlier about stopping for more than a minute and being swarmed with kids. Here is just one instance we found ourselves in on this mission. As long as the children and adults are content with coming up to us and laughing and smiling and generally being friendly, I’m happy. I mentioned some of the Georgia boys came with us this day. They were extremely surprised how friendly the people are here. Everywhere we drove the school children walking to school stopped and waved. One of the guys mentioned how nobody ever waved at them and the only time they ever raised their arm it was to throw rocks.

SSG Crump with the 1/108th AR, Georgia National Guard is seen taking in the surroundings..."Yep, this is definitely better than where we were," he commented to me.

This little Iraqi boy had the worse case of trench foot any of us had ever seen. It was so bad he had to be carried to the make-shift treatment table. SSG Pena is shown cutting away some of the dead skin.

SSG Pena continues to cut away the dead skin as SPC Cole applies a dressing to the other foot. Many of the Iraqi children choose not to wear shoes unless they are going to school. Because they regard their shoes as something of necessity, they don’t want to ruin them by playing outside in them. They would rather go barefoot than ruin their shoes, causing their parents to have to spend money on something other than food or fuel.

We have received several boxes of donated items from different people this week. I assure you the items will be distributed accordingly within the next couple of weeks. Right now is a period of slow transition for us and we’re not able to go out as often as I would like or anticipated. We are still in the tunnel, but starting to see little slivers of light. Many prior service members and war veterans know the most dangerous time of a deployment is the end, when troops begin to get complacent and think of things other than the mission at hand. I assure you, we continue to serve in the same professional military manner as when we first arrived. The guys are motivated to get home, but more motivated to get there in one piece…but only after our mission is complete and we’re told to get on the plane.

You know it was coming; How about them ‘Horns? All I can say is they are having an awesome year. All you other fans have your teams, but this year is the ‘Horns year. Oklahoma State, nice try, but go back to the drawing board and try again next year.

This picture was sent to me by a proud mom and fellow Longhorn Fan. When she read one of my newsletters and realized how big a fan I am, she sent this and other pictures of her two boys. Shown here are Devin & Kelvin Cooper and the Coach of the Texas Longhorns, Mack Brown. Thanks for the picture and Hook ‘em Horns.

Damn. I just found out about this site, and am truly pissed that I missed all the previous months of postings and NL mailings.
Very informative.

Lawk Salih
Best regards from a brit. You guys rock.

Sgt Farr, LCpl Lubke, et al:

Keep it coming. Guys like you on the Net are our Samizdvat against the Media's Pravda.

When you get back to the States, just ask around about Iraq and the war. After you see & hear The Party Line we're hearing over here, take your own initiative.
register me on your email list ok?
great job over there and thanks
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