Major E. is our man in Baghdad with the Improvised Explosive Device Task Force. I wrote him that I wanted to salute him on our site tonight. He responded as follows:
Thank you for recognizing military service members tomorrow. I have attached some photos in case you would like to include them in your salute. They are all from Iraq except for the one with helos and high mountains, which was taken at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. Feel free to use or not.
But please, do not salute me. Instead, salute the troops who brave Iraq’s dangerous streets and highways, day-in and day-out. The highlight of this job is getting to work with America’s sons who leave the gate every day, at least six days per week, every week for at least one year. Each day, they try to accomplish their missions while scanning every inch of roadway wondering if today might be the day that they get hit by a roadside bomb, just like their friend did a few days ago. Whether that friend has returned to duty and is riding next to them, or is in the hospital, or is waiting for them in heaven, each troop gets up, puts his kit together, studies the mission, and goes back out of the gate. Every single day.
It is absolutely humbling to get out with the young troops, to learn from the savvy ones who are counting down the days until they leave, and then to pass on those nuggets of survival wisdom to the ones who have just left their families back in the U.S. As for me, my role is simply that of an information conduit, a middleman, placed because of some time spent dealing with the same enemy here and elsewhere. It is the troops, however, who do the work, every day, and take the serious risk. God bless them and thank you for remembering them on Armed Forces Day.
Feel free to publish if you care to. Please, no photo [of Major E.], and signed only, “Major E.”
Major E. added a footnote:
** If you do publish, please footnote that I say “America’s sons” because I work almost exclusively with direct combat units and personally have not yet worked with any of America’s daughters, but they are contributing significantly, beyond significantly, as well. Thus, my choice of words reflects only my personal experience after almost five months, not at all the totality of the effort here.
Major E. has tabbed the photo below “Green Zone California NG after patrol.”
Major E. has tabbed the photo below “Sgt. Ski handing out dolls.”
UPDATE: Major E. adds: “I should have mentioned that SGT Ski was from the Minnesota National Guard, the 4-5 ADA if I recall. I forget his whole name as they left right after the elections, but those guys did an incredible job of winning the hearts and minds of the residents of several Baghdad neighborhoods.”