Wednesday, December 22, 2004

I+H -- Holiday update from Phil

There are some updates from Iraq that I'll be posting later. I just haven't had a chance to get through my e-mail box after the vacation. Here is a letter I received today, though.

Phil writes:

Hello everyone!

Well, another month down! By the time I send this I will have less than four to go. Most of the Marines here, including me, are ready to go right now, especially after being away during the holidays. It will come soon enough though. There is already some excitement building because the Army unit who is replacing us has sent an advanced party and they are expanding the base.

I can't complain too much. This past month, although we were very busy, was relatively quiet for MST 1. We only have had two IED's hit us (no injuries or vehicle damage) and no one has ambushed us since the last time I wrote (knock on wood). I know the other teams and companies have had more happen but, all in all, things are getting better. There was one stretch of road that we called IED Alley because of all the IED's that were planted there. Thanks to some new ING (Iraqi National Guard) checkpoints and a permanent Marine presence in the area, an IED has not been found for almost a month.

Speaking of the ING, they and the IP (Iraqi Police) have improved significantly since I have been here. There are more of them for one thing and the training they are doing with us has improved their discipline and skill level. That has been one of the most encouraging things I have seen. I have high hopes for them during the elections!

I am doing as well as can be expected. Like I said, we have been very busy. We go out on at least one mission every day, sometimes more. The mission themselves last an average of eight to ten hours. I have gotten used to the routine but it takes it toll on you. Some mornings it is very hard to find something to look forward to but all I have to think about is my friends and family. At the end of the day I always know it will be one day closer to seeing all of you again.

I do have one new complaint that I thought would never cross my lips while in Iraq. I am FREEZING! Sitting here typing this letter on my laptop in my rack (bed for you non-military types) I am shivering and my hands are so cold it is hard to type. Today it was even sleeting. This is supposed to be a desert for goodness sakes, where is the heat?

Well, I must get to bed. Thank you all so much for you support. I feel like the luckiest guy on earth with all the packages and letters coming my way. I don't know how I am going to make it all up to you. Happy Holidays and I hope the New Year brings more peace and happiness for us all.

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