Jarhead Dad sends along a message from his son's Battalion Commander, Marine Lieutenant Colonel Kyser. I highlighted one paragraph in particular that Jarhead Dad pointed out to me:
Tuesday, May 25, 2004 Letter to 2/2 Families
Hello Warlord families!
We miss you! I’d like to take a few minutes to pass on what the battalion has been up to during the past thirty days. To say that we have been busy would be the understatement of the decade and I must tell you that your Marines and Sailors have been amazing not only with their flexibility and ability to adapt to changing missions and locations, but they have been amazing in terms of their courage and tenacity.
As of the 19th of April we were still in our original location of Mahmudiya (about 30 miles South of Bagdhad) and we were making significant progress in developing and improving the relationships and security situation in the four major urban centers of Mahmudiya Qada (county). Easy Company had been working in Mahmudiya city proper, Fox had been focusing its operations in Latifiyah, Golf in Yusafiyah, Weapons in Rasheed, CAAT across the AO in a Quick Response Force role and our H&S Company…as always focuses everywhere supporting every conceivable facet of our operations. Simultaneously, the 81mm mortar platoon had been making significant strides in training and conducting operations with the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps Battalion that had been started under our predecessors in the US Army’s 82d Airborne Division.
We had seen an increase in both security and “winning the hearts and minds” through the diligent and compassionate work of our Marines and Sailors, but because we also had pushed our forces into areas that had until now, been unaddressed, we also saw a significant increase in combat operations. The events in Fallujah, Najaf and Karbala that occurred right before and just after Easter resulted in a significant spike in activity as many radicals and terrorists began to take action wherever they could to try to stir up hate within the populace. The Warlords responded and at one point the comment of our enemies was that “The marines are everywhere…we can’t do anything.” At that point the battalion had been conducting intense 24/7 operations since about 4 April to provide a secure environment for the Shiite Arbaeen celebration (40 days following any Muslim holiday-the traditional mourning period-Muslims celebrate an “Arbaeen”).
The terrorists changed tactics to try to stop traffic along the major highways and the battalion responded by refocusing its efforts along the main artery running through our area and shut the enemy activity down there completely. Just as we were getting ready to re-energize our efforts throughout the Qada, we received orders to re-embark the entire battalion, move to a completely different base and then begin operations in an entirely new area. We moved our force from Mahmudiya to “Camp Fallujah” west of Baghdad and immediately began split operations. Golf Company assisted 2d Bn, 1st Marines to the Northwest of Fallujah at a place called Saclawejah, Easy assisted 1/5 along the southern portion of Fallujah and the remainder of the Battalion began operations to the Northeast of Fallujah at a place called Al Kharma (also commonly known as “Bad Kharma”). At any rate, each part of the battalion executed combat operations that included some violent engagements with the enemy and the recovery of significant amounts of terrorist weapons, ammunition and bomb making material.
After only about five days, H&S performed miracles again and the battalion then moved in force to the southern portion of Fallujah and slammed the back door on the terrorists operating in the city. Almost immediately upon our arrival, the battalion became decisively engaged and built on the situation Easy Company had been developing over the past five days. Easy and Fox, supported by Tanks, Armored Vehicles, 81mm mortars and our superb snipers began to wreak havoc upon the terrorists within Fallujah.
After only 48 hours of fighting, the battalion had succeeded in killing between 100 and 200 of the terrorists, leveled a portion of southern Fallujah and in the words of our Regimental Commander “broke the back” of the resistance in Fallujah. Within hours, the terrorists were at the negotiating table proposing a solution that developed in to what is now known as the Fallujah Brigade. Throughout those intense days, the battalion performed magnificently and earned a very key place in the history of the Regiment’s history.
As the Fallujah Brigade entered the city, we reluctantly departed our positions and entered what would be our fourth operating area in less than a month. We are now conducting operations east of Fallujah in an area that had, until now, been largely ignored. Our presence alone brought the rats scurrying out to engage. The result of our operations has been the virtual elimination of indirect fire attacks against key coalition facilities, the development of millions of dollars of civil affairs projects, the disruption of terrorist operations in what was once on of the most volatile areas in Iraq, and, through the superb efforts of Golf Company and our Counter Intelligence Teams, the discovery of the largest series of weapons caches in Iraq to date!
Throughout the past month, the Marine’s living conditions have varied from a firm base in Mahmudiya where they had access to a gym, internet, showers and two hot meals a day, to fighting holes and 100 degree heat, to bombed out buildings in Fallujah to abandoned buildings and open fields. Operations have been at once defensive and offensive and have reflected what has become known as the “three block war” where your Marines and Sailors are conducting full up combat on one block, peacekeeping on the next and humanitarian operations on the other. Access to the internet has been spotty at best, but we are now in a situation where we can rotate platoons back to our current location for showers, hot chow, and a brief period of rest and refit before they re-attack the missions we execute every day.
Snail mail has been regular for the most part given our hobo status, and your cards, letters and packages have been the most welcome thing you can imagine. Mail and the occasional hot shower are the highlights of our existence here and your support through the mail is literally the rock upon which we draw our strength. Thanks!
Throughout one of the busiest months in the storied history of the battalion, the Warlords acquitted themselves in the finest tradition of their predecessors from Tarawa and you should all be incredibly proud of them. As a result of those intense operations, we have had many wounded, and tragically lost two of our own to the cowards that do not have the fortitude to fight us openly. I ask that each of you remember their families in the prayers that you say for all of us every night and keep the faith that we are talking care of each other and that we are doing what Marines do … we are winning!
I must also tell you that one of the reasons we are winning, is because of the incredible support we receive every day from you all at home. The Key Volunteers in particular have done an amazing job of juggling the worries associated with this kind of a deployment while simultaneously providing that unique kind of help across the battalion that makes Marine and Navy families so very special. There are no words that can possibly describe the combat multiplier that you are, but take my word for the fact that your actions have saved lives, because your Warlords have been able to focus on the mission here. God Bless you.
As you can see, the battalion has done more in a month’s time than many do in years and done so under intense combat conditions. You should all be immensely proud of your Marines and Sailors. I am and I can honestly tell you that the battalion’s success has been the result of a magnificent team effort from the Staff, the Companies, our Regiment and the Division here and at Camp LeJeune. We were set up for success and we are winning because of it.
In closing, I must tell you that I have the privilege of walking in the shadow of greatness every day. The Marines and Sailors of Task Force 2/2 have exceeded every expectation and excelled in every mission. In a short e-mail to my wife after a ceremony I recently conducted I said the following:
“As I award these young men their medals as they stand in front of me in their combat gear, sweaty, dirty and so very young I am struck by the purity of their service to our nation and to each other. They accept the recognition but more often than not are embarrassed by it, and always concerned more for the welfare of those wounded along with them. They personify those things that so many people speak of but can never really know; the feeling of camaraderie, the commitment to the point of death to the men around them, and the unspoken hardness of their patriotism. God they are a blessing to me… and I feel so unworthy to stand in front of them to offer them such a small token. I feel inadequate and humbled to be in their shadow, regardless of their age and I walk away feeling so damned honored to be with them.”
I am honored to know each of you to have been given the rare privilege of leading your husbands under difficult conditions. It is an honor that I will never forget and a debt that I can never repay. Please know that we miss you and love you all.
God Bless each of you, God Bless America, and Semper Fi from your Marines and Sailors in Iraq.