Monday, April 20, 2009

A Brother Abroad

Provided below is an email written by a soldier with the 1-25 SBCT to his parents back when the war was still "new". His parents have given their permission to publish it.

0920 15 NOVEMBER 2004 -IRAQ

Mom & Dad,

It is with a heavy heart that I write this. Yesterday marked one month since we left home. Yesterday was one of the hardest days of my life. Yesterday we laid to rest a brother in arms. He was just a kid, only 20, from Maryland. He was in B company, I didn't know him well, but I'd seen him around. He was the first KIA in 'Duece Four' in this war and, make no mistake, war it is. I couldn't tell you about him until after his family had been notified.

At 1400 yesterday the memorial service took place. The most difficult part was when his First Sergeant called the final roll. The First Sergeant called the names of each member of his squad and each answered in turn. Then his name was called once, no response. Twice, no response. A third time, no response. Then 'Taps' began to play accompanied by the '21 gun salute'. We then filed by his helmet atop his rifle, dog tags hanging from it, all of this behind his boots and a picture of him, and each of us, individualy, turned to his equipment and rendered a final salute.

I know this is probably harder for you to read than it was for me to write, hard to believe though it is. There are some things I have been putting off saying, something I can no longer do. I am a SOLDIER. I am sworn to protect and defend and I will do that until my last breath, be it in the military or after, that is my calling. I have no desire to lose my life, but it is a price I am willing to pay for 'putting foot to ass' for my country in the name of freedom. I love you all more than life itself, that's why I'm here.

Mosul is a cesspool of insurgents, they will give us no peace. Daily we bring the fight to their door. Before yesterday, even though we were here, it still wasn't real. We were still shooting at 'pop up targets' that can't hit back. Now they hit back. They screwd up. Our innocence is gone. We will fight with honor and obey the laws of war. We will go out of our way to help the innocent, but there will be no mercy for those who rise up against us or against their countrymen, for them hell will be unleashed.

I'm sorry that these things needed to be said, but you needed to know in case they ever call my final roll. I love and miss you all very much and I WILL be home before you know it. All my love, Dustin.

(Written by SSG Dustin C. Holcomb who is with the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), Fort Lewis, WA, serving in Mosul.)

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