Update: There are over 1200 deployed heroes waiting to be adopted by you, your office or your group. Please consider adopting a hero today. A letter a week and 1-2 small packages a month is all it takes. Go to Soldiers’ Angels for all the information.
I had permission to share this letter from the author. I think it is very powerful from the true perspective of someone with boots on the ground in Afghanistan. It also speaks volume of how much it means for those serving to receive words of encouragement and care packages from home.
Hello to all from Afghanistan,
I have been remiss in emailing for some time as things here at Camp X have been very busy over the last two months. I am very happy to report, however, that my tour here in Afghanistan is coming to a close. I have been on recall to active duty for some 416 days, almost all of which has been away from my home in Baton Rouge, LA. I have spent 322 days here in Afghanistan. It has been a very long and arduous tour. I am happy I was fortunate enough to have such a strong group of people back in the United States that supported me over this extended period of time. I can’t thank all of you enough for the encouragement, support, care packages, friendship, and hope you have graciously given me. I wish to thank all of you in person upon meeting again.
This tour has probably been the most difficult yet most rewarding assignment I have ever been given. I was trained in all new methods of combat (Navy officers typically do not study flanking movements and the use of motorized ground vehicles) and thought (we are also not typically trained in Pashtun and cultural aspects of Afghanistan). I have experienced all four seasons of Afghanistan, from the cold and snow in the mountains to the excruciating heat of late July and August (not to mention the huge flies buzzing around everywhere!). I have met some incredible people, both coalition and Afghan. From the coalition side, we have been fortunate enough to work with Poles, Germans, French, British, and the list goes on and on. All are dedicated to the idea of a free and peaceful Afghanistan. I am continually amazed at the strength and kindness of the Afghan people and their culture. Once you are considered a friend of an Afghan, you and your family will always be welcome. I am happy to say I consider many Afghans friends. I hope their struggle here will continue to go well, that as the years pass more and more peace and security will find its way to Afghanistan. I think this is entirely possible, but we, and other nations in the coalition, must stay the course. It will be a difficult journey, but one well worth the effort.
We have been attacked here at Camp X over 23 times since arriving last fall and have lost four of our soldiers to enemy fire. I have been on over 85 convoys throughout the eastern provinces of Afghanistan, I count myself very lucky to have never hit an IED, despite seeing the terrible results of them firsthand. I have been given leadership challenges I never imagined. Leading soldiers, sailors, and airmen into combat is truly one of the most humbling experiences one can have. I am thankful that all of the missions I led came back with every soul and vehicle we started with.
With this being said, I will close.
I am to return to the States sometime soon. This day will be one I always remember. While I won’t be released from Active Duty immediately upon my return, my life will again begin to have some sense of normalcy. I am looking forward to seeing my fiancé and family again. I am also looking forward to beginning my work with my company again. What a wonderful company to be affiliated with. I certainly could not have asked for a more supportive, incredible company to work for. I hope I have made my colleagues proud and can’t wait to rejoin them.
I wish you all the very best as Fall begins. Thank you again for everything, this deployment would have been much more difficult without you.
As we say in the Navy, I bid Afghanistan Farewell and Following Seas…
I bid the United States, my family, friends, and colleagues an enthusiastic hello and aSalaam Aleykum…