20 March 2008

John and I are back - Rested and Ready to Spread the News

I apologize to everyone for the delay in posting. John and I arrived back in Atlanta late on 13 Mar, but each of us still had a little traveling to do before we were safely home.

John had to make a connecting Delta flight back to the East Coast, and I had to drive about 2 hours north before I finally arrived home.

I just now spoke with John for the first time since we said farewell in Atlanta on 13 March. We had similar stories about the next few days, too. John had been awarded an achievement award for Athletic Director of the Year, and had to travel once again to Atlantic City to accept his award in person (after 24+ flight hours on 12-13 March.) We both were very thankful to God that we returned safely, and that our families had remained safe and healthy during our odyssey, and most especially that God allowed us to complete our goal of visiting the site in Ar Ramadi where so many brave men lost their lives on 6 April 2004.

The next logical question for John and I (and everyone reading this blog) is, "What's next?"
That is a very good question that I, too, have pondered for the last few days. I have enough troop and Iraqi citizen interviews, images, anecdotes, Chuck Norrisism's (troops kudos to Chuck's super human powers), and details from four other stories that I am working on to keep both myself and our readers busy for as long as we can keep you interested (months, I hope!)

My sincere desire is that you share these blog posts with your family, friends, neighbors, both state and U.S. Representatives and Senators. Everything I have posted here is the absolute truth, is documented down to date-time-name/rank-unit, and most importantly, is NOT being reported by the mainstream media.

Neither John nor I are political. We are simply American citizens, who believe in the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the tenants of our Founding Fathers. America should be the "Land of Opportunity" and yet, our citizens are not often reminded that "Freedom is not free!" None of us would enjoy the civil liberties we have today if our forefathers had not opposed and thrown off England's yoke of oppression. My personal opinion also champions the God-given right espoused within the 2nd Amendment. Here's a quote you won't see in many papers. "No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms (within his own lands or tenements.)" Thomas Jefferson, Draft Virginia Constitution, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson 1:353 (J. Boyd ed. 1950.)

The troops I interviewed during our three week sojourn ranged from every age group, ethnicity, religion, and repetition of embed assignments that you can possibly imagine. With all those variables being considered, I discovered one universal voice in these troops.

"If we pull out now, it'll be a blood bath." "The only reason that security is as good as it is now is that these people (Iraqis) know we've got their backs. If we leave now, then not only would the blood of our fellow Marines be in vain, but our new allies would be massacred. If that happens, then our (U.S.) sons and daughters will be here in ten to fifteen years to try to fix an avoidable mistake." "Pull out now? Are you f------ kidding me? Things are almost back to normal. No attacks against U.S. forces in Ramadi have been made in the last 265 days. Why leave now? If we did, the bad guys [AQI, Iranians, Syrians, former Baathist's] would come back here and kill every Iraqi that worked with us to improve their situation. It would be pointless to pull out now. Besides, what would I say to the families of my fellow Marines that died for these people?"

These thoughts and sentiments are almost identical to those I heard during interviews in January of 2007. The difference is that now the troops are much more emphatic. Many of them have not fired a shot in anger in months, but they all recognize that situation is a "good thing" that has come about because of their security presence here in Ramadi and Fallujah. The Iraqis are taking over security in many areas, but they appreciate and need our expertise, technology, and air power to enable them to do their jobs to the best of their ability, and with the minimum loss of life.