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August 2004

Thundering Third! - Part 6

The following is the latest letter from LtCol Willy Buhl, Commander of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, in Iraq. Again, LtCol Buhl gives you the straight info on what his Marines are accomplishing every day in Iraq.

Dear Families and Friends of the Thundering Third, Greetings again from Camp Abu Ghurayb. This is my fourth letter to you as we prepare to begin the month of September, and the third month of our deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 2.

The big news that has already reached many back home, and is included as an attachment to my letter, was our recent tactical deployment to positions south of Fallujah. Responding to emerging threats from Fallujah, the Thundering Third was assigned two traffic control points south of the restive city. Immediately upon occupation of these positions, enemy forces from within Fallujah began to attack us. We responded with heavy firepower ranging from aircraft to artillery, mortars, tank main guns, heavy machine guns, automatic grenade launchers, TOW missiles, AT-4 rockets and our Marines and Sailor's personal weapons. Over a week-long period, the Battalion performed magnificently, defeating every attack the enemy could muster. This was a team effort that included Forward Air Controllers, Artillery and Mortar Forward Observers, Combat Engineers to dig us in, tank platoon attachments, a forward Battalion Aid Station (BAS), logistics sustainment, motor transport, communications, and other capabilities resonant in a reinforced Marine Infantry Battalion. Wherever attacked, your Marines and Sailors delivered precise and devastating fire on the enemy. While Kilo Company is described in the attached news article below, India Company was also in on the action, relieving Kilo after several days of combat there. India Company completed a magnificent battlefield handover with Kilo, while still in contact with the enemy. Throughout the next few days, the Marines of Company I carried on in the proudest traditions of our Battalion, engaging the enemy at every chance. Despite the heat and potential for danger, morale was high - Sergeant Major Sax and I couldn't be more proud of their performance.

Following the events described above, the Thundering Third conducted an operation to locate caches of ordnance, explosives, etc. Over a 48-hour period, the Thundering Third, reinforced with Iraqi Special Forces soldiers from the new Iraqi Army, searched a large area of agricultural land and small towns adjacent to rivers and canals in our zone. The operation was successful in a variety of ways, from locating a number of significant caches, to integration with host nation forces, to cross company coordination, and integration of civil affairs personnel who handed out over 1,000 soccer balls to parents and children. Temperatures during this operation hovered around 120F and the conditions were demanding. Again, your Marines and Sailors performed at the "3/1 Standard" and conducted a safe and successful operation maintaining initiative in our zone. In my next letter, I will highlight some key points about the new Iraqi Army and the Specialized Special Forces that have been attached to us and are doing a tremendous job alongside our Marines and Sailors.

Continue reading "Thundering Third! - Part 6" »

Google Email for the Troops

Since some of the other Gmail for the troops sites don't seem to be working, I'll take a shot at it.

If you are a military member and want a Gmail account, email me from your .mil email address and I'll have someone send you an invite to creat a Gmail account.

I'll update below on how we're doing with this:

Got about 16 110 invites from myself and others right now.

08-31-04: So far, one Air Force Sergeant has recieved a new gmail account.

09-01-04: One Army Staff Sergeant just received a gmail account.

09-03-04: Two more Army Sergeants in Kuwait and one Chief heading to Tikrit received Gmail accounts. (Thanks to Phelps and Paul)

The Convention - Post #1

One of the benefits to staying up all night with a new born, you get to watch late night TV. I watched McCain, the 9/11 widows, and Guiliani.

McCain was too boring until the very end (transcript). He's never really been a dynamic speaker - the context was powerful, but the delivery was not very energetic. Dick Cheney will be much more enjoyable. McCain's dig at that asshat Moore was perfect, though. And his ending was right on target. The transcript doesn't include the pitch of his voice and canter of his speech.

...My friends, we are again met on the field of political competition with our fellow countrymen.

It's more than appropriate, it's necessary that even in times of crisis we have these contests and engage in spirited disagreement over the shape and course of our government.

We have nothing to fear from each other. We are arguing over the means to better secure our freedom and support the general welfare.

But it should remain an argument among friends who share an unshaken belief in our great cause and in the goodness of each other.

We are Americans first, Americans last, and Americans always.

Let us argue -- let us argue our differences, but remember we are not enemies, but comrades in a war against a real enemy, and take courage from the knowledge that our military superiority is matched only by the superiority of our ideals and our unconquerable love for them.

Our adversaries are weaker than us in arms and men, but weaker still in causes. They fight to express -- they fight to express a hatred for all that is good in humanity. We fight for love of freedom and justice, a love that is invincible.

Keep that faith. Keep your courage. Stick together. Stay strong. Do not yield. Do not flinch. Stand up. Stand up with our president and fight.

We're Americans. We're Americans, and we'll never surrender. They will.

But Rudy? Can Rudy work a room or what (transcript)? He had me laughing, angry, sad, proud, etc. Good speech.

...But it is important to see the contrast in approach between the two men; President Bush, a leader who is willing to stick with difficult decisions even as public opinion shifts, and John Kerry, whose record in elected office suggests a man who changes his position often even on important issues.

When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, John Kerry voted against the Persian Gulf War. Later he said he actually supported the war.

Then in 2002, as he was calculating his run for president, he voted for the war in Iraq.

And then just 9 months later, he voted against an $87 billion supplemental budget to fund the war and support our troops.

He even, at one point, declared himself an anti-war candidate. Now, he says he's pro-war. At this rate, with 64 days left, he still has time to change his position at least three or four more times.

My point about John Kerry being inconsistent is best described in his own words when he said, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it."

Maybe this explains John Edwards' need for two Americas -- one where John Kerry can vote for something and another where he can vote against the same thing...

Who needs to focus on four months in Vietnam when the rest of John Kerry's life is a freakin' mess?

I just read that Kerry is preparing an address in response to George Bush's speech Thursday. He must be quaking in his boots, er, his five hundred dollar Italian loafers...

Update: NRO's Ramesh Ponurru thinks McCain was better than Guiliani (I think that's the first time I've linked to NRO).

My wife thinks Cheney will still step down for McCain. I was trying to see if there were odds in Vegas on it. Anyone know how to find that out? (No, I am not going to call your bookie)

Who Supports America?

Toby Keith, that's who...

This is from Amy K. whose Marine husband, Brian, came home from leave recently. I'll let her explain what happened:

Seamus and Matt:
I know you've probably heard Toby Keith is very supportive of the military. I had the opportunity to experience this first hand. I had bought Brian tickets to see Toby Keith for his birthday while he was home on leave. Wanting to make this the best birthday yet, especially since he was on R&R, I contacted Toby's management company to see if there was ANY way that Toby could say "Happy Birthday" to him during the concert. I faxed a letter including a copy of my id card along with a couple of pictures of Brian in Iraq. Imagine my surprise when I got a phone call from Toby's management company the next day! Amanda at Tokeco informed me that Toby wouldn't be able to say "Happy Birthday" but would backstage passes for a meet and greet be acceptable? Of course my answer was an emphatic YES!!! I am attaching a copy of the photo taken of us with Toby at the concert. Needless to say, Brian thinks this was the best birthday ever. He goes back to Iraq this Saturday. Although I am sad to see him go yet again, I am eager to get the ball rolling again for his quick, PERMANENT return home in sometime next March. Toby is a wonderful supporter of the military and I am so glad to have him on our side. I hope everyone affiliated with the military in any manner is aware of this.

Amy K.
29 Palms, CA

Picture of Toby Keith, Amy, and Brian is in the Extended Section:

Continue reading "Who Supports America?" »

Another Group of Sailors for the Truth!!!

Chris Roach of AFF's Brainwash - Man-Sized Target (blogroll it if you haven't yet) sent the link for the following informative site:

Pleasure Boat Captains For Truth. Here's a taste:

"George W. Bush says he gave up drinking in 1986. That's a lie. I remember a night back in 1980 when he gave up drinking, after only three or four beers. I asked if everything was okay, and he nodded. Another lie, because then he threw up all over the deck. When I asked him to help clean it up the next morning, he started crying so hard that I figured, just forget it."

--Wilbur Buckley, Skipper, S.S. Xanadu

You just have to check this very informative site out - it has educational topics like "Drunk Girls" and "George Bush in Vietnam". Thanks to Chris for the laugh.

Second Letter From Marine Sniper Fighting Sadr's Thugs

The following is the second letter (link to the first letter - Don't Count the Days) from Marine Sergeant Kevin who is in charge of several sniper teams in Iraq. In fact, his teams have been fighting Sadr's thugs around the Najaf cemetary and mosque. Here's his notes (I did remove some personal information about his family) about what it's really like fighting as a Marine Sniper.

Family and Friends,

First, I want to say that My Marines and I are safe! The power of prayer is amazing!

Several days worth of fighting, negotiating, planning, and peace talks came down to three days of intense fighting around the Mosque. Several days prior to the 25th we were ready to go......on standby........tonight's the night........stand down. (you get my point!).

The early morning of the 25th my platoon was attached to Alpha Compnay, ¼ to support the fight in Najaf. 1/4 sniper platoon was supporting Charlie Company with Special Forces. Charlie Company was to advance first and establish a foothold east of the Mosque. Once they had done this, Alpha Company was to advance and establish a foothold northwest of the mosque. With 1/5 and 2/7 surrounding the mosque from the south and north.

At 2300 Charlie company begins their movement with Tracks! At this point we are getting ready at FOB Baker with A Co. by the time we get settled in (we are O/O for movement) we get the call......get your s@#$... the tracks are on their way to pick us up. Charlie Company had little resistance, but Tanks are taking heavy fire (enemy is rolling IED's down the street in barrel's at the Tanks). Within 20 minutes the entire company is loaded up in Tracks ready to go! (Did tell ya that Murphy lives on my shoulder? As we were loading the tracks, we were to load in the last tack, Number 8. Number 8 went down right there in front of me! Damn! I have 16 people, and now I have to spread load my Marines. A very uneasy feeling. I keep the majority in one track and I take myself and a team and we get into another track.

At, this point I will not lie. As we moved toward our objective in the back of the tracks, I thought to myself, "This is it". I prayed for the safety of all the Marines, Soldiers, and Sailors and our families and I even prayed for the ENEMY, for what was coming their way I would not want to be on the receiving end of!

We stopped at our consolidation point and within minutes we took Mortars. They had the placed pegged. While we waited you could hear the fighting going on at the Objective. We got the word, and in we went. Tracks picked up their pace and they menuvered quickly. The entire time I am thinking to myself.....I hope they drop us off at the right spot, but if they don't how can I link up with my teams? Hell, at this point I thought we have a plan go with it and hope for the best. I was the last one on and the first one off.

As the ramp dropped I could hear the weapons being fired all over........I get off and I see that we are on the street (phase line corvette) by the cemetery (the right spot!) We take cover along side the street and you can see the remains of the prep that arty and air had done in the days prior of fighting. It takes several minutes and my platoon is finally together.

The Marines start clearing the bldgs. Once they are done we move in to take up positions. I attached myself and a team with 3rd plt, and 1st team with wpns, 2nd team with 1st plt. All three taking up different bldgs north of the Mosque. As soon as we get into the bldg we start taking fire from the south. Fighting starts at the top of the bldg, we cannot move to the top because it is still not clear. Then we take our first KIA, A marine is shot in the head from a bldg between us and wpns? Finally we get the go ahead and establish two poistions south/north. We literally fight until sunlight. I found a small (what looked like a closet) room for a hide over looking the cemetery. Myself and my spotter were cramped into this spot for two days.

Because once the sun came up.....The enemy snipers had our position dialed on! No kidding, I give these guys respect (and you do when they start shooting through walls at Marines) It is a MOUNT Environment and you try and record the shot, but with the adjacent bldgs the sound gets thrown around and it is hard to tell where he is shooting from (this is good if you are the shooter!) They were not using the tops of the roofs (totally different from Fallujah) they were set up just like us! Inside the bldg shooting through loopholes. However, we had three snipers shooting at us all day and it took several hours to find and record their position. Once we did, we called AIR strikes and leveled the bldg! By the end of the day we did not have sniper fire on our position.

Continue reading "Second Letter From Marine Sniper Fighting Sadr's Thugs" »