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Letter From Iraq - Army Engineer Officer's Candid Take on Iraq

Ryan H. sent a care package to a National Guard Captain currently in Iraq. He recently received this letter and was given permission to allow me to reprint it here:

Mr. H.

I appreciate you taking the time to send a care package. I have been in Iraq for 6 months now and in some ways it feels like I just barely got here, the time goes by fast when your extremely busy.

Each day that I am here my resolve stiffens to the fact that we do need to be here. I have listened to story after story of how Saddam tortured, killed and destroyed individuals and their families. He had an extreme control of the population, the average person never traveled far and he would sentece people to die with a nod of his chin.

Not to long ago I visited with an Electrical Engineer. He graduated from Baghdad University and started his own electrical company. His business grew and he wanted to be able to order parts more effectively than doing it through the mail system. So he purchased a cell phone on the black market. With that phone he was able to order parts easier and help his customers out faster. What used to take months would only takes weeks. He did get caught and was hauled off to prison where he was sentenced to die. He was scheduled to be shot the day the American Coalition liberated the ABU Gihrab Prison. He now is a major contractor for the American Forces for some projects we are working on for the Army Corps of Engineers. In his own words, "America saved my life, I will do everything to save them and help them, help me." He also stated "American's are good people, those who don't want American's here are those that have something to personally gain by them not being here. They want civil war, they want power, they want death. I am tired of death, I want life, I want America as my friend."

Iraq is a substandard place, we are not rebuilding Iraq, we are building it. For the last 30 years this country has been so neglected it often brings a sadness to my heart and the souls of my soldiers as we look at the poverty, trash and the mindset of the people. There are those among the few, mostly the young who want the dream and are willing to stand up to the Cleric's and power mungers who only want to control as Saddam has controlled. I am proud of those individuals for they are willing to take a chance and as I have worked with them side by side they truely do have a wonderful heart and a chance to make a better life for themselves.

Once again thanks for making my day a little brighter and I will pass on some of the gifts you have given me to some of the Local Iraq natives I see on a regular basis.


CPT Derick Quinlan
116th Engineer Company (CSE)

It's not pretty. It's not perfect. But you can count on hearing the truth from those soldiering on in Iraq.