12/24/2003

Christmas in Baghda

Musing about soldiers on Baghdad last Christmas...

They are the REAL heros, yet Dummya is the one to get an action figure as flyboy

Re: Thank you Men
by: law_n_order_here (100/F/Jurassic) 12/22/03 04:09 pm
Msg: 437948 of 676406
1 recommendation

What's all that grass on their heads ?

Poor guys, they look so tired and glum. Christmas in Iraq is no picnic...
They are the REAL heros, yet Dummya is the one to get an action figure as flyboy.


Christmas in Baghda
Christmas in Baghda
by: law_n_order_here (100/F/Jurassic) 12/25/03 09:36 am
Msg: 439410 of 676406
3 recommendations

The soldiers of Charlie Company haven't been counting the days until Christmas. They don't count the weeks until they go home for good in February. Since their convoy was attacked Nov. 7 and a beloved sergeant was killed, they don't even count themselves as lucky.

First Sgt. William Karpowecz, has missed so many holidays at home that he barely noticed Thanksgiving.

The crusty sergeant with a mischievous smile plans to decorate the ugly 5-ton trucks with tinsel and lights. If circumstances and headquarters permit, he'll take his soldiers - those who can sing - and serenade the battalion's three other companies with Christmas carols.

Lt. Col. Rick Carlson took command in June of the 3rd Battalion which Charlie Company is part. he recalls. Mosul, about 250 miles north of Baghdad, was settling down after the U.S. invasion in March. Soldiers could wander through the bazaars, shopping and eating. They were sure they'd soon be going home.

Then, gradually, the violence against them accelerated. Grenades were tossed at the troops. Rifles were fired at them. It was back to war, with an enemy that was often invisible and deadly. They learned that going home early wasn't always good news.

'Oh, they have aged tremendously,' Carlson says of the soldiers. 'I see it physically, and I see it emotionally. But I detect it in a positive way. I see a lot of maturity.'

In June, he says, the troops' attitude was, 'What can we do for the Iraqi people?' Now, he says, 'what the soldiers are doing is, they are fighting for each other. I get that every time I go to the hospital, when we have soldiers that get hurt. The first thing they say is, 'I'm so sorry.' That one still tears me up. They have nothing to be sorry for. And yet it's the first thing they all say. ... '

'They have a wrench in one hand and a rifle in the other,' he says. 'They are continuing to go out and do what they can do for the Iraqi people every day.'

Calling home

Soldiers wrestle constantly with the issue of what to tell their families. [They] can phone home for about 33 cents a minute. Some call often; others not so much.

They measure their words.

'I tell them about some of the small successes. And whenever there's news about 101st soldiers going down, I call to make sure they know it wasn't me,' Takayesu says. 'I remind them if an Army chaplain doesn't show up at your door, it's a good sign.'

Staff Sgt. Earl Echohawk, 28, has been in the Army 10 years, He was slightly injured in the explosion that killed Kennon. He won't talk about that day. He calls his parents in Utah but never tells of the horror he's seen.

He only rarely talks to his two young daughters, Morgan, 4, and Lauren, 3. He could do it more often, he says, but 'I don't like to cry that much,'.

After he gets back from Iraq, he says he'll choose between his daughters and his Army career.

'I've been here long enough to learn what I want to know out of life. I love the Army. I love the military, with all my heart,' he says. 'But I love those girls. What's it all worth if you can't sit there and watch your young ones grow up?'

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=676&ncid=676&e=3&u=/usatoday/200 31224/ts_usatoday/soldiersmaketheirownholidayfamily


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