Letter Home - Received 16 March 2005:
March 3rd, 2005
Grandma & Grandpa,
How are you doing? Iím not doing too bad at all. The Army has been keeping me really busy. We have been doing a lot of missions, so that is why I havenít called you guys in a while.
You really learn to appreciate and love America after going to a third world country. These people really bring the light into your eyes about how good we have it back home in the states. These people have nothing at all. No money, food, plumbing, electricity, etc. I still donít feel too bad for them though. They donít appreciate anything that we do for them at all. We give them food, school supplies and provide them with security from the insurgency. The minute we turn around they just spit at us and throw stones at us.
I am currently working on my packet for Warrant Officer School. Iíll be done with my packet in a couple of months. If I get selected for it then I will go to school to learn how to fly attack helicopters. The Army really needs Warrant Officers for aviation right now and one of my sergeants thinks that I will be good at flying helicopters because I seem to be exacting at everything I have been doing. If it does happen, I will be called ďSirĒ and people will be saluting me. That would be great.
Right at the moment I am at Camp Cuervo for 10 days doing a Quick Reaction Force mission and I will be going back to Camp Hope in 5 more days. By the time you get this, though, I will already be back. Camp Hope is right outside Sadr City and I believe itís either an eastern or a little northern suburb of Baghdad. There are rumors that we will be moving to different camps every couple of months, but itís the Army; you never know anything until right when it happens.
How is the family? I did receive the addresses for Uncle Jim and great-grandma and everyone else. I will work on writing letters to all of you guys frequently. Sometimes itís more soothing to sit down and write a letter than to talk on the phone. Donít worry; I will still call here and there so you guys can hear my voice and so you donít worry. Just remember, itís hard to communicate sometimes because we are so busy. We donít even have much time for sleep at night either; maybe 4 to 5 hours.
Well, I have to go now. Iím running out of paper in my little notebook. I love you guys very much and canít tell you how much I appreciate your support.
Love, your grandson Jeffrey
Jeffrey's First Email Message - 7 March 2005:
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, March 07, 2005 11:00 AM
Subject: Hey Grandpa!
Hi. How are you doing? I'm still doing pretty good. I have got some new news about my current living situation. I am moving from Camp Hope sometime after the 15th of March. I will be moving back to Camp Cuervo. The Army decided to give the Iraqi Police the camp for living and as their headquarters. Once we get to Cuervo we will have six man rooms until the barracks that they are building are done. We also might end up moving again to another Camp. That for the most part is just hearsay, but in the Army that is how it works out sometimes. Right now I am still on QRF and at Cuervo.
You should be getting my letter within a week or so and I am looking forward to hearing from you guys again. I will make sure I try to call you guys about once a week so you can hear my voice and have that overall satisfaction of knowing that I am safe.
We got called up yesterday to go out and secure a possible bombsite that the Iraqis may have planted. After we got there things started to get real suspicious. Apparently, we have gotten that same phone call about four different times in the past and we think someone was watching us to find out our movements and the way we set up. We did find two mortars out there and when we called EOD to come detonate the mortars EOD said they didn't feel safe and just left. So while we were waiting for instructions from higher, 2 massive explosions went off, big bright flashes then black smoke all over. It took a second or two to hear the explosion so the blast was about 500 meters away, but wow, it was intense. After that higher wanted us to go clear the field that we were in to make sure no more were out there. So we drove through and made sure it was clear (which it was) and then they wanted us to mark the site of the mortars with chemical lights so the towers could watch over them. My LT. wanted some privates from another vehicle to get out and make sure that there was really mortars in the huge trench that was dug and the other vehicles told him no, and that they didn't feel safe. (That's not how they really said "no" but you get the picture) Anyway, so the LT. was getting frustrated and I just said the hell with it tried to get out and go look and mark it. Everyone in my vehicle was like "Phillips, get in here. You can't go out there" The LT. said that I could not do that because it was too dangerous and I am too great of an asset to the platoon. So I stayed in. Eventually, someone worked up the guts to do it. I told them I wasn't trying to be brave but, the mission needed to be completed and I wasn't afraid of something blowing up. I just simply told him if its my time its my time. So he responded with "Well, when it's your time I won't be around".
So anyway I was just dropping you an email and letting you know about one of many patrols and missions that I have been doing. I'll tell you about more as time goes on.
I love you very much,
My Reply - 8 March 2005:
From: Jack [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Tuesday, March 08, 2005 3:15 PM
Subject: Hey Jeffrey!
It was wonderful getting your email. As much as I love hearing your voice on the phone, I prefer email messages because I can read them over and over, plus share them with others. I sent your message to your Mom and all your aunts and uncles and cousins and they were all equally thrilled to hear from you.
Thank you for giving me a description of one of your patrols/missions. I really enjoyed reading it, and so did the others. Please send more, lots more. Everyone back home is interested in what's going on in Iraq and getting first-hand reports from a combat soldier is *way* better than what we read in the newspapers.
I'm really happy that your new "home base" will be Cuervo. I sent your message to Ken Herrera, the morning news host at radio WTMJ in Milwaukee, and this was his reply:
From: Ken Herrera [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, March 07, 2005 3:05 PM
Subject: RE: A Message from my grandson at Camp Hope
Thank you so much for the update on your grandson's movement in Iraq. I hope it's true that ALL of the soldiers at Camp Hope are being moved back to Cuervo, it is a much nicer base with plenty of opportunity for soldiers to call/contact home. By the way the new name for Camp Cuervo is Rustimyah. Cuervo was actually the second name for the base and came from a fallen US Soldier. There is still a monument to that soldier in place at the camp. I have not heard similar news from my son but would certainly welcome it. Cuervo, or Rustimyah is only about a 30 minute convoy ride away from Camp Hope.
Cuervo was at one time the grounds of the Iraqi equivalent of West Point.... it's where Saddam trained all of his officers. The living quarters are excellent with a large hospital on base and a HUGE PX which is very popular with the soldiers. MUCH nicer than anything available at Camp Hope. In short Cuervo is about 100 times safer than Hope!!
Is Ken correct that your new base is now called Rustimyah?
Iím so happy that you now have Internet access. I hope it continues and that you write often [daily would be great but I know thatís too much to ask <grin>].
Please tell me what you would like most over there. Something that you really want that you canít get over there. Also, what would the members of your platoon like most? You have hundreds of cousins who would like to send something to you and your platoon, but they donít know what. Should they send phone cards, candy, stamps, love letters <grin>, or what? I know you asked for homemade cookies and books, and youíll be receiving those soon.
Well, thereís a lot more I could say/ask but Iím hoping that this is just the first of many email exchanges and Iíll save it for another time.
Please remember how much we love and miss you and that we pray for you constantly, as do many, many others.
Also remember these famous last words: ďDonít be a Hero!Ē
His Reply - 11 March 2005:
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, March 11, 2005 2:26 PM
Subject: Re: Hey Jeffrey!
How is it going?
I got back to Camp Hope yesterday and now Iím having a chance to respond to your email.
Things have still been on the "upbeat" over here. Constantly moving. Time flyís by but at the same time it drags. Weird, huh? Anyway I will find out for sure if I am moving to FOB Cuervo on the 15th. Until then, Hope is my home.
We went out on a mission last night and searched this manís house. We got Intel that he was involved in suspicious activity and possible anti-American business. Well, we searched the house and come to find out he was an ex-Ker-nal (couldn't figure out how to spell it. Ha Ha). Anyway he was very helpful and cooperative. His brother also worked for the Iraqi police. While I was inside we heard shots fired and we ran out. Apparently, a vehicle was approaching one of our Humvees, so two of our soldiers used escalation of force to stop it (warning shot's), then after that didn't work they shot the car up. Nobody was hurt but we did detain one and question the driver of the vehicle.
Anyway, let everyone know they can send stationary items, toiletries, and baked goods, snacks (like those little bags of Doritos), American Pepsi (that would be awesome), and anything else of that nature.
Let everyone know I love them and thank them for praying for my safety.
Love, your Grandson,
PFC Jeffrey Phillips